Taking the Flac
Uncompressed hi-res audio files take up a lot space, but thankfully there’s 32GB of storage on-board, and you can boost it by a further 32GB using the micro SD slot. Next to the 3.5mm minijack, the full-size 1/4in stereo headphone jack is another audiophile crowdpleaser.
Format support could do with expanding, but firmware updates are appearing that add functionality
In tests, the Colorfly could handle 24-bit/192kHz Wav files, 16-bit/44.1kHz Flac, Ape and MP3 files. A new downloadable update will apparently allow it to play 24/192 Flac files too, though there’s no word yet on when or even if it will be able to play iTunes-friendly AAC files, or perhaps more appropriately, Apple Lossless or WMA Lossless formats.
Sure enough, the sound of the Colorfly is something of a revelation. Playing some 16-bit Flac files downloaded from posh speaker manufacturer Bower & Wilkins’ Society of Sound site was simply glorious. A Retrospective by North eastern folkies The Unthanks sounded deliciously close and personal – almost indecently intimate – sustaining the atmosphere with every tic and trace from the recording sessions evident.
While I struggled to notice any difference with the upsampled 192kHz playback of MP3 files compared to their 44.1kHz source resolution, the Colorfly undoubtedly delivers a fuller and more complete sound than the same tracks played on cheaper PMPs. Also, it delivers a terrific output volume that's more than most ears will be comfortable with at full blast. There is a downside though: the battery life, during my random usage, never made it into double figures.
Still, it’s not just a portable player, oh no. The high-end Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chip and the coaxial S/PDIF digital in and outputs mean it can also be employed as an upscaling DAC (Digital Analogue Converter) as part of a hi-fi or home cinema system, raising the bar on quality at home, as well as on the move.
Digital interfacing broadens its versatility beyond a portable music player
If you spend any time at all on the Colorfly web site, you'll be convinced that the brains behind this portable player belong to audiophiles. Every aspect of the audio signal chain appears to have been scrutinised in order to deliver a quality product that’s versatile and genuinely capable bit of kit. Rarer still, in the portable world, is that it qualifies as a high-end component too.
At this price – and given its frankly, over-engineered design – the Colorfly is always going to be a niche product. But if you care about the subtle nuances of sound reproduction, and can appreciate the difference between an MP3 and a FLAC file, then it’s definitely worth a look... and a listen. ®
Thanks to AdvancedMP3Players for the loan of the review sample.
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car DAB radio
Design - as the AC above says, it's boomboxtastic. Fail
Classy logo - badge of the would-be oligarch.
Ergonomics - vertical volume slider on a device designed to be taken vertically in and out of a pocket.
Gold plated USB. Gullibility alert.
Upsampling crappy MP3s. Gullibility red alert.
'Testing' - confirmed it supports various file formats. That's some serious testing!
Equaliser - if you're going to spend serious you'll have serious phones and wont need eq. This thing will end up plugged into Beats by Dre or Bose so will need all the help it can get.
Bargepole - it should come with one
A rich seam of gullibility
I intend to produce a mat to complement this device. To the untrained eye it may look like a beer mat (possibly due to the Fosters logo on it) but in reality it is part of a signature series of mats hand engineered to dampen background electronic interference, and increase acoustic resonance producing a rich and warm sound. The mat will be on sale shortly for £600 which I'm sure you agree is a bargain for anyone who strives to attain the ultimate sound reproduction system.
I was one of those.....
...that had a full Meridian Audio setup, would strip and clean my system down every few months, had the spiked tables, the £200 cables between CD player and amp etc. etc.
All you do with those setups is listen to the hardware, not the music. Very few 'audiophiles' ever learn this or will admit to it. They cant as they feel idiots to admit they spent all that money and have forgotten the key element in it all...the tunes. Just enjoying the tunes.
Since then the Meridian gear has gone into storage (I might get it out as an ironic joke one day) and most of my listening is now done on a separate PC speaker system through a Spotify account on my PC.
I now listen to far more music and really enjoy it. I don't care what the hardware is doing anymore.
Why do we never see these tests of observed sound quality performed under anything even approaching a fair test.
In a world where so much of sound quality is perceived, and there seems to be a lot of snobbery amongst audiophiles separation from the system is essential.
In my mind the sound quality should be reviewed in a dark sound proofed room. The reviewer is told nothing what-so-ever about the system they are reviewing. The reviewer may have any music they please played for them, and for as long as they like, BUT they under no circumstances get to touch or see the kit until after they have written the review of the sound quality. This review is then sealed away from them and may not be altered.
Then and only then may they be permitted to see the kit to give the review of the aesthetics of the kit.
This is brilliant.
It's a spoof, right?