Monthly Archives: September 2014

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Glimpsing the Future: Calyx M

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Calyx M

Soon to join the ranks at AMP3 is the Calyx M. In the same tier as the new Cowon Plenue 1 and Astell & Kern’s AK100 ii, this beautiful player should have audiophiles’ mouths watering.

 

Featuring DXD of 32/384 and 128DSD support, you know this player means business. Not only this, but the M also has some other nice features, such as the large 4.65” OLED screen, or the detachable magnetic volume control giving the Calyx M an analogue feel.

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The Calyx M looks lush in its anodized brown aluminium casing and the UI is dressed in dark, warm colours to match. Sporting the bass-in-treble clef logo etched on the back, the Calyx M is reminding users that it’s all about the music.

Keep your eyes peeled and glued to the blog, our Facebook page and website for news on the arrival of the next big thing at Amp3.

The brand new Plenue 1 - £740.00

The Cowon Plenue 1

The brand new Plenue 1 - £740.00

The brand new Plenue 1 – £740.00

 

Cowon’s brand new hi-res player the Plenue 1 has finally arrived, and it sure looks good. Cowon have used the experience of many years (and many players) to truly build something special.

It’s easy to see that Cowon have really upped their game with the Plenue 1. Out of the box the player itself is stunningly designed and yet simple, and once turned on the design of the UI immediately appeals to the eyes. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the default skin, there are several others to choose from so everyone’s kept happy.

Building strongly on the success of such players as the excellent X9 and Z2 the Plenue 1 is aimed squarely at the growing number of audiophiles out there who are demanding better quality sound. With a Burr-Brown DAC on board and featuring DSD support, the Plenue 1 is not messing around. Mind your back Astell & Kern, there’s a new kid on the block.

Comparisons with the recently launched Astell & Kern AK100 ii and AK120 ii are perhaps justified – apart from being pricey and featuring DSD support, the P1 even looks a bit like the A&K range. Heck, it even comes with a free genuine Italian leather case – sound familiar? All this being said, it may not be a bad thing that Cowon seem to be emulating A&K as it means that they have a pretty high target to aim for.

 

The Plenue 1 features a beautiful new UI

The Plenue 1 features a beautiful new UI

 

Impressively, the P1 ships with 128GB of internal storage on board. Perhaps not the most exciting feature of the P1, but it is incredibly important. As I’m sure most people will be aware high quality audio takes up a lot of space than your average mp3 files, so if you have encoded all your songs to FLAC then this on board storage is going to be quite important. And this is upgradable too as Cowon have fitted the P1 with a Micro SD card slot on the bottom so you can expand the total memory up to 256GB. Both the AK120 ii and the AK100 ii feature on board memory (128GB and 64GB respectively) and memory expansion via a Micro SD card slot (up to 128GB on both), but it is impressive that Cowon have managed to cram in 128GB and still keep the price down. Ahem.

The build quality and design are definitely worth mentioning as the P1 is certainly a very nice looking piece of kit. The outer part of the player is made from a single block of Aluminium which lends the player a nice heft, but also gives the impression that your brand shiny new P1 can take a bit of rough handling. Despite being a touch-screen device, the P1 features the usual play/pause, skip track and volume control buttons. Also a nice touch, the on/off ‘Digi-Logue’ switch located on the top right of the player is fitted with an LED light which glows a lovely blue colour when connected for charging and the button itself is oddly satisfying to depress when powering on or off; not all that important, but nice nonetheless.

 

Cowon P1

Perhaps the best element of the design of the P1 is the new UI. For those of you already familiar with Cowon products, the UI in the new P1 will be a big change and will probably be considered a step in the right direction by many. From the first use, users will notice that the screen is much more responsive than Cowon’s previous efforts, bringing it much closer to a user experience that will be familiar to any smart phone user. The GUI itself looks great on the 3.7” AMOLED display and is very easy to navigate. Don’t like the look of the interface? With the inclusion of 5 skin options, Cowon have it covered. Also new are the 2-channel Level Meters which bounce up and down in relation to whichever song is being played at the time.

Cowon weren’t being shy when they claimed that the P1 gave the ‘World’s Best Hi-Fi Audio Performance’. Sonically, the P1 is definitely impressive, and is certainly a great sounding player – just what we’ve come to expect from Cowon products. The heart of the P1’s power comes from the Burr-Brown PCM1792A DAC chip inside each one, enabling support for DSD and 24bit/192kHz PCM as well as all the usual suspects in terms of file formats.

 

The Plenue 1

 

There may be a few less pricey options that offer more tricks, such as the Sony NWZ-ZX1 which runs on an Android system and offers Bluetooth and Internet connectivity, but the P1 was designed to put sweet sounding music in your ears which it does with ease. The higher end of the market seem to be going back to basics and focusing on getting the music to sound as good as it possibly can.

The Cowon Plenue 1 really feels like a serious contender in the higher end of the portable DAP market, especially when you consider the price of the top-end Astell and Kern AK240 and AK120 ii. The P1 even has advantages over the AK100 ii – it’s cheaper for a start and it comes with twice as much on-board memory and boasts a slightly bigger screen. It may not be as funky looking as the space age Astell & Kern range with their signature sticky-out volume knob, but certainly is a great looking device. The Plenue 1 is looking like it could be a bit of a dark horse, and it’s certainly something consumers should consider when looking at the higher end of the portable DAP market.
The Cowon Plenue 1 is available from Advanced MP3 Players now, and if you are a music lover we are sure that the Plenue 1 will take you to audio bliss.

Box of Wonders

Cloud Media – Open Hour Chameleon 4K

Box of Wonders

Box of Wonders

Cloud Media may have their heads in the Heavens but their noses are firmly to the grind-stones as they produce yet another fantastic offering in the shape of the divine Open Hour Chameleon 4K.

Not content with simply offering media streaming solutions à la the Popcorn Hour range, Cloud Media are adding a few more cherubim to the choir, as it were.

Not only does the Open Hour Chameleon support 4K output for those of us with ultra hi-def TVs, but also features the ability to be used as a media player, a desktop computer and a games console.

The Open Hour Chameleon 4K comes with Android KitKat 4.4.2 installed out of the box, but Cloud Media plan to allow the user to be able to use up to 32GB SD cards from which to boot the OS of their choice, giving consumers huge flexibility.

This ‘box for everything’ looks to be the upcoming hot product for tech-savvy media consumers. Check out the Cloud Media website for details, and keep an eye out for release dates here on the blog and on our Facebook page.

Open Hour Chameleon 4K

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Glimpsing the Future – The FiiO X1

 

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The FiiO X1

 

Not content to rest on their laurels, FiiO have been at it again. Working away quietly this last few months, they are nearing the launch of their new DAP – the FiiO X1.

Looking every bit the smaller brother of the X5 on the outside, the X1 has a new UI and looks like it’ll pump out pretty decent quality sounds.

The X1 seems to be aimed at the lower end of the market, but make no mistake, this looks like a quality piece of kit.

For those of you who can’t wait, follow the link below to Head-fi.org where several lucky listeners have had the chance to preview the X1:

http://www.head-fi.org/products/fiio-x1-ultraportable-hi-res-dap
Make sure to check our website and Facebook page regularly for updates!

ARENAPRO4GBE4L

Waterproof Arena Swimming Pro 4GB Mp3 Player (…and more)

Arena Swimming MP3 Pro 4GB Waterproof MP3 Player & Pedometer with FM Radio – £79.00

Amongst the growing crowd of waterproof mp3 players, which includes products from big name brands such as Sony, the Arena swimming Pro 4GB Mp3 Player secures its deserved place as one of, if not the best.
First off, the logical layout is pretty much fuss free and includes alluring features such as an integrated pedometer, and an FM radio (for if you ever get bored of your 1000 songs, or simply don’t want to miss the news). The large ergonomic buttons are not only sleek and sophisticated i.e. you avoid looking like you’ve stolen some poor child’s first music player, but also deliver exceptional ease of use.
It is indeed waterproof – yes, that is more than just resistant – and can delve down to depths of an adequate 3 meters. It is completely corrosion proof, and is therefore salt resistant – this, in my opinion, is almost revolutionary as it encourages us to not simply set our sights on using it in the pool, but to venture outdoors.
I am a kayaker, and last month I finally decided to take the waterproof Mp3 plunge and invest in the Arena Pro. I was sceptical at first, however, as I powered down an exceptionally difficult grade 4 river I inevitably ended up turtling in the water, but as I rolled back up (after the startling shock of the freezing water) I was surprised to find Pharrell Williams still happily singing away, proving that the Arena Mp3 is not only waterproof, but the earphones do actually stay fitted comfortably in your ears (something decidedly hard to find these days).
Thankfully, it floats. This proves most useful for when you have that bafflingly clever moment of accidentally throwing it overboard when you are sailing, or for when you are simply swimming too darn fast and it comes loose from your goggles. Moreover, the Arena Pro is fully compatible with iTunes for all you Apple lovers, and is compatible with many other different formants from WMA to FLAC files. It also boasts an impressive 15 hours playtime – plenty of time for any venture.
Ultimately, the Arena Swimming Pro delivers everything anyone would or could ever want in a waterproof mp3 player. The player itself comes with earphones, a USB cable, and an extension cord with clip, extra earbuds, and an impressive 2 year warranty. Overall, the Arena Pro is pretty close to perfection in the world of waterproof mp3 players, and I am definitely impressed with my new waterproof music companion.

 

Arena Swimming MP3 Pro 4GB Waterproof MP3 Player & Pedometer with FM Radio