Many audiophiles are obsessed with improving sound quality anytime, anywhere. Apart from a complex home audio system, they also desire a better sound on the go. That’s the reason why portable DAC / Amp (Digital-to-Analog Converter and Amplifier) was born and is gaining traction in the market.
Beyerdynamic A200p is one of those products and it is said to produce a detailed audio signal without loss. Is it really worth investing in a mobile DAC for your smartphone or PC, and who should buy the product? Keep reading for my review after 1 month testing the Beyerdynamic A200p DAC / Amp.
This is among the smallest DACs I’ve ever used. Of course it is bigger than the tiny Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS but I still can easily hold it inside my palm or put it inside my jeans pocket.
Out of the box, there are the DAC, a lightning cable to connect to Apple’s products, a micro-USB cables for Android devices, a USB cable for PCs and Macs, a leather case and some adhesive pads to stick to the knob for easy turning.
This is the rebranded version of the Astell&Kern AK10, so the two products look almost the same. The casing is made mostly out of plastic, only the volume knob on top is made of aluminum. It might not look cool but it still feels very sturdy like a premium product. On the sides of the Beyerdynamic A200p, you can find play/pause button, previous and next buttons, power/lock switch, 3.5mm headphone jack, and input port for charging and connecting to audio sources.
Everything about the design seems reasonable. However, I don’t really like the leather case because it could make the DAC bulkier and more difficult to turn the volume knob. Besides, the power switch on my review unit is not functioning properly. There are a lot of times the A200p keeps turning on and off repeatedly and I had to slightly adjust it to make it work again.
Now, the most important question is “Can it really improve sound quality?“.
To find the answer, I tested it again and again with all of my gears. I used my MacBook Pro, an old Sony Vaio laptop and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as audio sources. The headphones in the test include the AKG K545, Sennheiser HD600 and Beyerdynamic T90. The results didn’t surprise me.
There is almost no difference when I connected the DAC to my MacBook Pro, everything sounds the same and sound level is the same as well. I can only realize some differences when I connect the DAC to my Galaxy Note 4 and the Vaio laptop with the T90 headphones. The built-in DAC of Note 4 had a hard time driving the T90 and I always had to turn the volume level up to maximum. The sound via A200p becomes a little clearer and has more details, besides, it will give the Note 4’s battery a break. The most obvious difference happened when I used the DAC on my 4-year-old Vaio laptop. The sound was significantly louder, richer and the soundstage became much wider.
- Portable design.
- Compatible with most devices.
- It can improve sound quality.
- 11-hour battery.
- Volume knob with 135 level steps for precise volume level.
- Difficult to turn volume knob.
- Loose power switch.
- The difference is not so obvious.
The Beyerdynamic A200p portable DAC is available on Amazon for over $250. I’d recommend the product only if you have a device with bad built-in DAC and you are not satisfied with its sound, the A200p will be a great upgrade then. However, if your device is already good enough, you might not realize the differences because they are so subtle.