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Basic M90

Posted

Pros: The sound, the sound, the sound (also the price)

Cons: nearly everything else

This is pretty much the same weightless, rickety, tiny player apparently offered by Kogan, oRiver, Ritmix, etc. It comes decently boxed with a soft pouch, USB cable,  and nice looking (if unremarkable) IEMs with spare shirt clips. I was fortunate to get mine for $50 shipped to the US from Singapore through a Head-Fi ad. (Admittedly, this price gave one some pause considering Kogan's original $30 AUS price point - and something like the xduoo x3 now available for under $100. But I'm glad now to have done it.)

 

The unit is a light, semi-fragile fingerprint magnet. I improvised a thick, clear plastic cover for it out of a dollar store micro-cloth case.

 

If anything, the features are overly ambitious - offering a low-res camera to take horrible stills & video, along with an added FM radio, eBooks - even Atari-esque games, all in one, tiny package (reminds me of my Best Buy Sansa Insignia 10 years ago). No wifi, BT or streaming features at this price. None of these add-ons will be the least bit interesting to a modern budget smartphone user. The low rez screen soon had a single scan line of white pixels (which didn't affect readability). Inserting a (only up to 32gb) micro SD card into the little slot takes an uncomfortable amount of force. The frustrating UI and stiff buttons are more Dollar Store calculator than iOS iPod, for sure.


But, enough about what it looks like,  it's all about the SOUND, isn't it? And, indeed, it does live up to the "Kogan hype" of bright, detailed SQ.  I've been staying up 'til the wee hours, replaying, in wonderment, the same instrumental sections over and over. All this with ordinary WAV and 320 MP3 files. The M90 also plays FLAC, but not at 24 bit.

 

Even when combined with an open, airy earbud like the Monk, it has a surprising amount of subdued bass, serviceable enough for occasional garage, hiphop and EDM, even if it wouldn't be your first choice. My $3.99 Monoprice Reflective IEMs will instead squeeze out a lot more sub-bass - and at a much lower volume setting  -  while comparatively dulling the rest of the dynamic spectrum.
 
There are no custom EQ settings, which I normally avoid. But the "Pop" EQ preset pushes balanced bass and some mids up without over-cooking the highs to a forced or artificial sound. This lets select recordings reveal details more clearly - and at a considerably lower volume setting - with the Monks.
 
Using this preset, I began noticing INCREDIBLE subtleties with dual acoustic guitar strumming, rim strikes, xylos, vocals, and maracas (ooohhh....those faint, ghostly maracas!)  in Costello/Bacharach's "Painted from Memory" (yeah, I'm an _old_ dude!) :)


Beck's folksy, audio-benchmark albums, OTOH, probably sound better with just the flat setting - but you may still need more volume to really catch the sneaky stuff going on in some tracks with the Monks.

 
It'd be hard to find a more cheap (and weightless) combo than a Kogan clone like the M90 with a Monk+ plugged in - $50 for all before postage is added (or $35 w/ original Kogan!).

It simply must be the Biggest-Bang Sound for your Budget-Audio Buck.

 

They may not last too long, but it'll be a fun ride!

Posted

Pros: Detailed sound, low-cost, light

Cons: Feels cheap, hard-to-press buttons, need warmer earphones bundle

Basic, a personal audio producer from Indonesia, recently re-branded a DAP from oRiver O5. O5 is also re-branded as Kogan MP4 player, among others. Basic, fortunately, decided to keep the sound signature of the DAP, which is bright and detailed. Compared to other re-branded O5s, the company also added its own touch to the DAP by different bezel and buttons, and tweaked the firmware.
The additions include the ability to display song/album art and different graphics. The buttons are still hard to press, but the response time is better. Basic also bundled a re-branded IEM from Phrodi POD500, as IE900, but the Basic's version is without mic. The sound signature of the IE900 is flat, hence those who like bass should change to warmer phones.
For the price, around $45, the sound quality of the DAP is very good, especially if you like detailed sound. Using higher quality songs, the details kind of grabbed your attention and you might think of the old saying of 'hearing details you never heard before'.
Shortcomings are those for bright DAPs: small (but detailed) bass and smallish soundstage. The build quality is also average, with hard-to-press buttons.
I prefer to pair it with warmer cans, and if you add warmer amps, the mid and base will be much better.

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Basic M90
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Basic M90, a re-brand of oRiver O5 with additional features

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