I’ve owned several Benjie DAPs and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a bit of a fanboi when it comes to their music players. Not only do they sound good for such a low price item but I also have a respect for their longevity, implementing what I would consider standard functions (breakpoint resume etc) and solid battery life. Recently they released a new model the Benjie T6. This time around there’s Bluetooth added along with low and high gain modes. Is it a worthy upgrade from their previous budget DAP offerings? Hopefully, this review can help you decide.
At the time of writing the Benjie T6 costs $49.90 and is available from Penon Audio.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
- Bi-directional Bluetooth
- Snappy, responsive User Interface
- Sharp corners
- Plastic screen cover
Packaging and accessories
First things first, there’s another one of those black, textured cardboard boxes that have been popping up lately, a different approach from previous Benjie packaging. The box is bare except for the Benjie logo on the front.
Opening it up we find the player nestled in a black foam cutout.
Underneath the foam slab are the rest of the accessories which include a User Manual, USB to Micro USB cable and some earphones.
The included earbuds are actually not just a throwaway addition. They’re really quite good and you could do a lot worse than to be stuck with these.
Build and functionality
A single CNC metal moulding is used for the T6’s chassis. The size and shape are almost identical to some of their previous models ie: K9 and X1, with an elongated shape and portrait-oriented screen.
The player has a nice feel to it, with a decent weight that feels good in your hand but the corners of the unit are excessively sharp which is a little annoying but not a deal breaker.
The back side of the player has what feels like a glass backing, which I find quite strange considering the screen is just a thin plastic.
On the front, just under the screen is a 4-directional D-Pad style control with an additional central button. I really like this method of navigating the menus but it would be so much better with an additional dedicated back/return button.
Moving to the bottom edge, there’s the Micro USB port for charging and data transfers and the 3.5 mm headphone out.
The left side contains the power button which also acts as the screen lock and the Micro SD card slot.
On the right side are the volume control buttons.
Overall I like the button layout of the T6. Controlling volume is really simple, even when the player is in your pocket. I do wish that there was a dedicated lock switch though because it’s easy to hit the volume and power buttons by accident when they’re in a tight pocket.
Screen & proper gapless playback
The 1.8 inch TFT screen displays album art nicely but just like the Benjie K6 and X1 (same display) text gets truncated and makes it difficult to navigate folders because everything is so narrow. Also just like the aforementioned models the screen on the T6 is not glass but a thin plastic that gets scratched very easily. I really hope to see Benjie upgrade their screens in future models.
Similar to previous models the T6 has a very good breakpoint resume function built in and it now also supports true gapless playback that worked flawlessly during testing. Even a lot of the much more expensive DAPs out there still can’t get gapless right so it’s a real achievement on Benjie’s part that they’ve done it so well in a budget offering.
Navigating the menus has improved over the older models but it’s still a little awkward because there’s no “back” button. So for example, if you are on the Now Playing screen and want to go to the previous screen you first need to press Down on the D-pad which takes you back to the menu and from there if you want to go back again you press Left on the D-Pad. It’s not a deal breaker although it is a little frustrating but you get used to it fairly quickly once you start using the player on a regular basis.
The UI has Benjie’s usual snappy responsiveness which is one of the things I’ve always loved about their DAPs. When you press a button the corresponding action triggers immediately, with no signs of sluggishness or delay.
There’s a ten band equalizer which has several presets and a custom setting. I tend not to use EQ but I know many people do so it’s always good to have.
There’s no built-in storage but it supports Micro SD cards up to at least 128 GB in size.
Let’s have a quick look at the main menu screen before we move onto the sound.
Going clockwise from top to bottom there is:
- Folder View
- Now Playing
DAC duties are handled by the Cirrus Logic CS42L51. The T6 sounds quite similar to many of the budget DAPs that I’ve reviewed with a bit of a warm tilt and a little extra bass bump. However, it seems to be a little more resolving and adds a touch more air to treble notes than the competition. There are no pops or hissing in the sound in both low and high gain modes. For testing, I mostly left the player on high gain even though I was predominantly pairing with low impedance IEMs.
The soundstage on this little player is impressive too as is separation and layering, with the end result being really impressive for such a low-cost item.
The 600mAh battery seems to last around 8-10 hours depending on playback volume and file format. If you’re using the Bluetooth feature expect it to be a bit less again.
Bluetooth on the T6 is bi-directional which is something I’ve only seen in higher priced DAPs previously. So you can connect the player to some Bluetooth headphones or you can alternatively connect to an external Bluetooth device like a smartphone and use the T6’s DAC to play files from your phone.
Connecting is really simple and the range is good with no noticeable cutouts or issues. Very solid.
Benjie T6 budget DAP Comparisons
RUIZU A50 ($55 USD)
When it comes to build quality in a budget DAP the RUIZU A50 wins hands down. The chassis is more complex with smoother, rounded edges and a real glass screen that’s much harder to scratch. The UI is also superior on the A50, being a little clearer with easier to read the text. Navigating the menus/folders is easier on the RUIZU too because of the dedicated Back button and scroll wheel/button.
For the best sound, I would give that claim to the T6. Although both are fairly close in audio quality the T6 has the better treble extension and because of this has a better sense of air and shimmer in the high frequencies. Then there’s the Bluetooth feature which could be a major feature that users want depending on their intended use for the device.
There’s no clear winner here, it really depends which features and characteristics are more important to you.
Mrobo C5 V2 ($49.90 USD)
This is a rather interesting comparison as the two players are priced exactly the same. Build quality is drastically better on the C5 with its finely crafted chassis but the screen has a very low resolution and album art is so small it’s hardly worth even having. Navigation is slightly more intuitive on the C5 but the button layout makes it more cumbersome to use than the T6. The biggest and best feature of the C5, in my opinion, is its massive battery life of over 50 hours of continuous playback time.
Sound quality is very similar in these players with no clear winner, so just like with the A50 the best choice for anyone choosing would likely come down to which features are more important to them.
Once again Benjie has produced a fantastic budget DAP with loads of features and great sound. Bidirectional Bluetooth in a $49 player – are you serious? The company’s trademark snappy UI is present again, as is their superior support for varying album art formats. It has PCM: 24BIT/192KHZ and native DSD support…
Granted, it’s not perfect. The plastic screen cover is rubbish and the UI navigation is far from perfect. I’ve been waiting a long time for Benjie to make a new DAP with an upgraded display with a higher resolution and better text readability so it was disappointing, to say the least when the T6 carried over the same old, tired one from their previous ultra-budget models. But you know what? I don’t really care. This thing sounds good. Really darn good. And it costs $49.
If you’ve been wondering why people buy DAPs instead of just using their smartphones and have been interested but hesitant to spend big money to find out, then I suggest you go for a cheap little player like this. If you do, I doubt you’ll ever want to play music from your phone again.
You can buy the Benjie T6 from Penon Audio HERE.