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Discussion Starter #1
Hello guys,

I am a car audio enthusiast with some very good results @ EMMA championships from 10 years ago. At the time, I was using units like Pioneer P99, DRZ9255 or Alpine F1 which were quite good. Coming back after all these years, I see a lot of new & intelligent DSPs that can connect to the car's OEM Navi or other external sources. After reading the forums, I've come to the conclusion that Helix DSP Pro mk2 would be the best compromise in terms of SQ and reliability. I still have some old Sinfoni Andante & Allegro for my future buildup and will probably go with some Microprecision/Scanspeak/Brax combo of speakers (including sub). I am now left with several options to use as transport for the Helix DAC

1) Car will be a VW Polo GTI 2018 with the new Active info display and Discover Media. I don't know what output capabilities does this discover media have and if I can use it as a reliable transport for Helix ( Even if I could output to Helix, I suppose it will alter the SQ with it's cheap internal DAC before sending it ). Do you guys think there's a way to use the OEM Discover media just as transport ?
2) I was looking for external transports and came across units from FIIO or Astell & Kern with very good storage capabilities through external cards. These can also be used for headphones, active speakers, sound cards for computers .... Inside a car they are small and convenient to use. For FIIO I am wondering if the X7 II is worth the price over the X5 if used only as transport which implies the superior DAC from X7 won't matter anyway as Helix is going to do the job ?
 

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you can use the helix coax in from the fiio. and i would go with the best dac from the start , the helix uses a very high quality dac as well
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the input. Coax sounds good. I wonder how much would you loose in terms of SQ if adding a bluetooth module to the Helix and use the Fiio this way.
 

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Thanks for the input. Coax sounds good. I wonder how much would you loose in terms of SQ if adding a bluetooth module to the Helix and use the Fiio this way.
Bluetooth uses "Lossy" compression codecs similar to AAC or MP3, but I think that you'll find that Bluetooth is good enough for everyday listening and driving if you use a Apt-X CSR capable BT source and BT receiver. The Helix HEC BT module's receiver supports Apt-X CSR. The Apt-X CSR Bluetooth audio codec provides "Near CD Quality" sound.

But for critical listening and competition you will definitely want a hard-wired, non-compressed connection via Digital Coaxial, Toslink Optical, or Asynchronous USB connection (IMO the best if you are using the Helix USB Audio HEC module).

FiiO is supposed to release a firmware update "soon" that will allow USB digital output. But I'm not sure if or when this will really happen. I don't really care for the FiiO DAPs or software. It is a bit buggy and slow IMO if you compare it to a newer iPhone or Android Smartphone. They use slower CPU processors and not quite enough RAM.

You might want to look into the new HiBy R6 DAP which uses a quad-core SnapDragon processor & 3GB of RAM. The GUI is very fast like a smartphone with a large, beautiful screen. It has Digital Coaxial output but not Toslink Optical. But the R6 does have digital USB output, and will also operate as a standalone DAC/Line Level preamp, which can be remote-controlled by another Android device using the HiBy-Link app. The R6 can operate as a Wireless DAC.

However, the R6 only has One microSD memory card slot (up to 400GB currently) and 32GB internal storage. The new FiiO DAPs have TWO microSD memory card slots.

You can also load other Android Music Player apps such as the USB Audio Player Pro app onto the R6 or the FiiO DAPs, but the R6 will run everything faster without as many glitches or lag. I know that the HiBy R6 fully supports the Google Play Store. Most reviewers say that the Hiby R6 and FiiO X7-II are very similar in sound quality. Both have Balanced and Single-Ended Line Output and Headphone Output capability as well.


You can also use an Apple iPad/iPad Mini as your playback source connected to the Helix USB HEC Module with the Apple Camera Connection Kit #3 and a iPad charger. It would be best to use an iOS app such as the "Onkyo HF Player" for the best quality.

This will also work via USB connection with an Android Tablet + USB "OTG" Y-cable connected to the Helix USB HEC Module. I use the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 Tablet/LTE/Phone (8" Samsung # SM-T715Y). This tablet also supports APT-X CSR Bluetooth. It is basically the same size as the iPad Mini and has a great screen.

For Android devices, I would recommend the USB Audio Player Pro app for bit-perfect digital playback, or the HiByMusic app, or the Onkyo HF Player app from the Google Play Store.

For this setup you would want the Helix "Director" remote or one of their simple "URC-xx" remotes to control digital volume, source selection, and tuning presets. As a slight word of caution, Helix has been having to replace or repair a few of the Display Screens in the "Director Remote". There seems to be a problem with the display becoming bad over time, but I'm not sure if all units or just a small number of them have this problem.

There is also the brand new iFi xDSD DAC/Headphone Amp that is tiny. You can connect your iPhone or Android Smartphone to it via USB, or Digital Coaxial or Optical and it will provide a Balanced or SE Line Output. It will operate as a Wireless DAC as well. See the YouTube video by "Currawong''.

To use your OEM factory Active Info Display/Discover Media head unit, you may need a MoBridge or NavTv "MOST" interface which would provide a direct Digital Optical Toslink output to send into the Helix DSP. But I'm not 100% sure about what type of communication interface or protocol your 2018 VW Polo GTi uses, so this might not work. You will have to confirm which communication interface & protocol your new VW has.

Hopefully this isn't too much information all at once!

I just wanted you to know that there are a lot of choices depending on what type of playback device works best for you and works best in your vehicle.

Good luck and welcome back to the car audio disease, haha!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wow, thank you very much for your highly detailed info. I did look for the R6 and it seems it is indeed similar to the X7 ii in terms of SQ but much faster. At this pricepoint I can't find a better option than these 2. As I am very concerned with the ultimate SQ (I am used to very high-end home audio DACs/CD-players), I will stick with Coax or microUSB and will probably bring a cable inside the armrest or in front of the gearlever (have to see about this one as that location is also used for wireless charging). I am using only IOS devices (iphone, ipad, macbook pro) so will look into this option too but I think I will go with a dedicated player. As for the car's Discover Media, I don't know the rear connections, I can only say the car will not have the Dynaudio option. Hopefully will find the connections scheme in the manual and will post back then (car will be coming in about 4 months from now). Until then, I will probably be buying the DAP and Helix.

PS : I suppose the internal DAC of the DAP won't matter as I will be outputting unaltered signal that will be processed by the Helix.
 

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Nice little car. Looks like it might be a CANbus interface?

Here's another thread that might have useful information on connecting to the Helix DSP PRO/PRO MK2...

http://www.diymobileaudio.com/forum/general-car-audio-discussion/385802-connecting-hi-res-players-helix-hd-usb-hec.html
 

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FiiO is supposed to release a firmware update "soon" that will allow USB digital output. But I'm not sure if or when this will really happen. I don't really care for the FiiO DAPs or software. It is a bit buggy and slow IMO if you compare it to a newer iPhone or Android Smartphone. They use slower CPU processors and not quite enough RAM.

You might want to look into the new HiBy R6 DAP which uses a quad-core SnapDragon processor & 3GB of RAM. The GUI is very fast like a smartphone with a large, beautiful screen. It has Digital Coaxial output but not Toslink Optical. But the R6 does have digital USB output, and will also operate as a standalone DAC/Line Level preamp, which can be remote-controlled by another Android device using the HiBy-Link app. The R6 can operate as a Wireless DAC.

However, the R6 only has One microSD memory card slot (up to 400GB currently) and 32GB internal storage. The new FiiO DAPs have TWO microSD memory card slots.

You can also load other Android Music Player apps such as the USB Audio Player Pro app onto the R6 or the FiiO DAPs, but the R6 will run everything faster without as many glitches or lag. I know that the HiBy R6 fully supports the Google Play Store. Most reviewers say that the Hiby R6 and FiiO X7-II are very similar in sound quality. Both have Balanced and Single-Ended Line Output and Headphone Output capability as well.
A couple notes -
1) The Hiby R6 has a max of 2TB storage now. There's also a R6 "Pro" (I'm not sure what all the differences are, might be partly access to more streaming stuff).
2) If someone's mainly using library, not a ton of streaming, the Hiby R3 is ~ $200, has coax out (via USB3 adapter), relatively fast and a very usable GUI it looks like (about to buy one I think, haven't seen any other coax out offerings that cheap that look anywhere near as good for my needs). Still has remote control from phone (so you can put it in the trunk even if you want and command it from an iphone or whatever (files stored and played off R3, not BT), as well as the streaming of files from say spotify on iphone to the R3.

I'm in agreement that at least some of the Fiio stuff is super sluggish. About to return an X3iii both due to sluggishness but primarily due to a quite cumbersome UI and the fact that the buttons all do 2-3 things (depending on what screen you're in at the moment) instead of 1. Just a very very slow to navigate system, even more due to how they programmed it than the obvious lack of CPU/Ram on that one.... From what I've seen the Hiby interface looks very straightforward and logical.
 

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I am wondering if the X7 II is worth the price over the X5 if used only as transport which implies the superior DAC from X7 won't matter anyway as Helix is going to do the job ?
definitely worth the price difference alone due to it being more stable than the x5iii
 

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Your best option would be FIIO connected via COAX to HELIX DSP Pro....or some other player like Clarion HX-D2 modded to coax... afew guys are using this in EMMA Competition Europe (Nigel Skingley, Tonny Evers)
 

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Wouldnt the Fiio M11 be a good fit for this? It can provide BT connectivity via Apt-x. This is something that the X7 couldnt do.
The $150 (new) Hiby R3 does AptX, as well as Coax and is pretty snappy. It's a good solution if the primary use is needing a music library w/ digital out (and perhaps remote control of the device as well - can control it from phone + stream say spotify, wirelessly, to the Hibys from your phone). For me, this is an intuitive/easy interface and it responds quickly. I'm fine streaming Spotify etc from my phone to the DAP (if I'm super concerned about fidelity of a particular song, I will have paid for the music from the artist thus no need for streaming services to be 100% hi-fi).

R6 / R6 pro are worth considering as well (FAST, 3GB ram). There are pros/cons between that and M11 / X7ii / M6(?). Depends what you need from a DAP.
 
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