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Benjie T6 Review - A Budget DAP You Cannot Go Wrong With

My first all-China made (as compared to manufactured in China) piece of gear was a multi-function optical media player that could read DVD Video (from all regions), DVD Audio, Audio CDs, VCDs as well as JPGs and mp3 files.  It did not matter if the discs were store bought or were burned in a computer, it read them all!  Capt. Jack Sparrow would love it! (as in Pirates, get it?).
Benjie T6 Review - A Budget DAP You Cannot Go Wrong With
Benjie T6 Review

Sonically, it sounded horrible via its analog RCA outputs but since it had an optical digital output and my receiver had an onboard DAC, it was not a huge issue. The chassis was just a rectangular box made out of thin brushed aluminum metal with minute polished silver control buttons that had a wonky tactile feel. The metal was so thin you could not stack other gear on top of it because it would slightly sag.  The clunky system menu display used yellow characters over a blue background.

Accessing disc information was slow, slower still if you inserted a DVD disc that had a complex menu. The alpha-numeric model number was long and mysterious. It was probably a secret PLA Navy code that revealed the precise location of the US Navy’s Carrier Battle Group in the West Philippine Sea!  Lastly, it had an awkward brand name that was inappropriate for a piece of AV equipment.  It was either “Tec8” or “Uni”-something.  Despite all these quirks, this multi-tasking piece of gear was excellent as a digital transport for my 5.1 AV rig for more than a decade.    

Fast-forward two decades later, and I have in my claws another China-made multi-tasker-also with a quirky name - the Shenzhen Benjie T6! Here's our review!

Benjie T6 Specs

Display: 1.8 Inch HD
CPU: Ingenic X1000
ROM: expandable via micro SD card slot up to 128 GB
Battery: 600 mAh
Connectivity: 3.5 mm jack, Bluetooth 4.0
Supported Audio Formats: AAC, MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, APE, FLAC
DAC: CS42L51
Decoding Support: up to 24 bit / 192 KHz , DSD: 64 / 128 / 256, DSD native HiFi lossless
Output: 30 ~ 300 ohm
Others: Metal body, CNC process one molding, compression
Dimensions: 85 x 38 x 10 mm
Price: PHP 2,900

Disclaimer: The 
Benjie T6 DAP we have is a borrowed review unit from Urban Audiophile. Note, this is not a sponsored write-up.

Unboxing / Accessories

The box
The box

The T6 comes in a small, black, slightly elegant hard carton box with the Benjie brand name on top.  After you unbox the T6 you will immediately see the device laying there - elegant in two-tone matte and high gloss black, strong and confident with its industrial, rectangular form factor.  It sits well protected by a wrap around protective black foam. The manufacturer even thought about cutting out a finger hole in the foam to easily extract the device.

Build Quality / Design

Sturdy build!
Sturdy build!

The lower layer stores the user manual and a USB cable. Having the T6 in my hand for the first time, I was immediately impressed by its build quality. Despite it's diminutive size, the device is only approximately 3.25 inches tall, 1.5 inches wide, and .45 inches thick, you could immediately tell that the T6 is a muscular and sturdy piece of gear. Personally, I like its sharp edges and pointed corners because it gives my large hands a solid grip and orientation on the device at all times.

On the left side of the T6 are the power button and the micro SD card slot that can handle up to 256 GB. Unfortunately, the SD card slot does not have a cover. A device of this size will spend a lot of time in a user's pocket. Sooner than later that open SD card slot, as well as the other open slots, will get a build-up of pocket lint.

On the other side are your volume buttons, and on the bottom you have the micro USB port, and a 3.5 mm headphone out. On the face of the T6 is a circular layout of four buttons, plus a fifth one in the middle. This set does double-duty as the play controls and menu navigation. Like the chassis, all the buttons and ports built solid.

Display Quality

The screen
The screen

The last element on the front of the T6 is a 1.8 inch TFT screen with a 128 x 160 resolution. I can already hear the naysayers: "Whaaaat TFT screen onleeee?". Listen up! This is a crucial design element decision by the manufacturer so that the T6 could manage up to 10 hours despite its small battery. This is, after all, a DAP for listening to hi-res music. The whining continues: "But what about album artwork?". As far as DAPs go, I'm not a fan of album art on my device because it eats up precious storage space. More so for the T6, since it has zero built-in storage.  If you want album art in all its glory, start playing vinyl.

Then maybe we can be friends again. But seriously, I easily recovered 400 MB+ when I deleted all the album artwork on my 160GB iPod. The T6's screen displays scrolling file names while screen brightness is adjustable but the default setting is viewable under most lighting conditions.

Battery Life

This little banger has the cojones to play all the popular digital audio flies: AAC, AIFF, APE, OGG, MP3, WAVE, WMA Lossless M4A, DSF & DSD.  Average charging time to top-off its 600 mAh built-in battery is around 3 hours.

Performance

Great sound, affordable price!
Great sound, affordable price!

Excited to experience the tonal character of the T6, I slid in my 128 GB micro SD composed of FLAC in individual tracks and cue files and 320 kbps mp3s. I hit the update library command, and the T6 took about 1.5 minutes to scan my card. I then went straight into my favorite hi-res test album, Rush's Signals in 24 Bit / 96 kHz FLAC ripped from an original 1982 vinyl pressing. My FLAC version captures the perfect balance of warmth (read: bass) and brightness (read: treble) of this synth-heavy album, and indeed the T6 presented the album accurately. On the song "Digital Man", Geddy Lee's ska-styled bass playing came through with precision. Neil Peart's out of this world drumming on "New World Man" was extremely enjoyable, and natural - almost organic even.

Personally, this is the way I want my digital format music to sound!

Shifting to 320 kbps mp3s, I cued Kansas' Carry On Wayward Son. The A capella song intro, which is also the chorus of the song, showed the T6's ability to present the details of a recording. Last on my list was Dick Dale and his Del-Tones take on Misirlou which was recorded in 1962. Misirlou is a traditional Mediterranean song from the 1920s which traces its origins to Greece. Again, the T6's natural tone signature was a great match for this trippy, reverb-laden surf rock classic.  

Just for giggles, I paired the T6 with my Campfire Audio Nova. The result was a noted expansion in the soundstage and overall detailed clarity yet still retaining the T6's natural sound. These were very much evident on Hollenthon's symphonic black metal opus, "Son of Perdition" and Eric Johnson's majestic guitar tone on "Cliffs of Dover".  This proves how important it is to match your equipment's respective tonal signatures to achieve your preferred sound.

With a capacity to present a natural tone, I wanted to find out if it could reveal recording imperfections. I decided on symphonic female vocals and some tracks that were less organic sounding. I settled on Edenbridge's, epic-goth-prog hybrid album, Sunrise In Eden and U2's quasi-electronic/industrial masterpiece, Achtung Baby. Both are without any doubt excellent classic albums but had some production and recording elements that I did not like at all.

On the sweeping ballad "Forever Shine On", there was an very slight amount of vocal sibilance when Edenbridge vocalist, Sabine Edelsbacher hit the high notes in the chorus.  I like using this song as a test track since its highly-emotional chorus is a perfect balance of power and drama. On U2's introspective ballad, "One", I was able to pick out the distortion in the track which was probably a result of too much studio overdubs - the rest of the album is fine, though. Despite its dark and grungy tone (which I love!), Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois helmed the recording of this album perfectly and the T6 presented it as such.

It does come with one slight drawback. I detected a slight popping noise when powering up the device and sometimes when switching between tracks. You can only detect this if you have the volume real loud.  It's a minor thing really, and it does not intrude with the listening pleasure.  I'm not a digital electronics expert but this could be the amplifier section powering up only when it detects a signal to amplify. If this is indeed a power management function that the manufacturers built into the device, then it could potentially increase battery life.  

All my listening impressions were done without using the T6's built-in equalizer. I did nose around with the 8 available presets and played with the customizable option. Personally I'm not a huge believer in EQs for DAPs since the sound is already going straight into your ears. I employ EQs and tone controls when I'm in my truck to overcome road noise or when I'm listening on my home 2-channel system.

By the way, I did most of my listening impressions via my VJJB N1 IEM. The N1 by itself deserves its own review, and I already have a title for it: "N1...Made for Rock N' Roll!".

Pros - Sturdy build, can take up to 256 GB, 8 - 10 hours battery life, low cost
Cons - Sharp edges may be uncomfortable for some, no cover on the sd card slot, no built-in memory

Verdict

So, should you get a Benjie T6?

Yes, if you want the sonic experience of hi-res audio but do not want to spend a lot.  Let's do some approximate numbers:

Benjie T6: PHP 2,900
128GB Micro SD Card: PHP 1,000
VJJB N1 IEM: PHP 1,700
Total: PHP 5,600

The individual prices can even go down depending on where you shop or if you get a pre-loved item.  For the T6 and the N1, I'd recommend getting them from Urban Audiophile: https://www.facebook.com/urbanaudiophile/. They're a solid crew who will work with your budget, and recommend gear based on your preferences. No, I am NOT in anyway affiliated with the store and its owners. I am simply sharing my own extremely enjoyable purchase experience with them.

Those who already own a mid or top-tier DAP should consider getting the small and lightweight T6 as a banger. I mean, would you take along a bulky 20K+ DAP to the beach or gym, or when you're on the bike trails or when you're drinking with your bros? And yeah, the T6 has a Bluetooth function that I was easily able to pair with my JBL Micro Wireless Speaker. A T6 paired with a BT speaker would be great during a drinking session with the bros.  You and the boys can just pass around the T6. The first one plays 3 songs of his choosing. Then passes it on to the next for his own 3 songs, and so on. Now, would you allow this to happen to your precious PHP 20K+ DAP, and allow its pretty touch screen to get smudged by grease from your pulutan?

All these being said, you can't go wrong with getting a Benjie T6 DAP.  It's natural sounding, most definitely not stale, clinical nor analytical Great detail presentation across the spectrum but with an average soundstage and depth. Wait...I can feel the presence of the audiophile snob: "Ha! That's what you get for buying a budget DAP from China!" Ignore the fool, let the snob listen to his equipment but we will listen to the music - the music you love, the albums that you grew up with, the songs that were the soundtrack to your numerous "firsts"!

Build / Design - 4.5 (5 if the ports were covered!)
Battery - 5
Features - 4
Sound - 4.5
Average - 4.5 / 5
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