Pros: Sound, size, battery life, sound, expandable memory, price, sound.
Cons: UI, button layout, limited accessories.
It's just like the title says - the Colorfly C3 is everything that a portable music player should be. Almost.
Build Quality/Form Factor
Excellent. Fits nicely in the hand and has a nice heft to it. Metal back and sides complement the glass face well. The screen is rather small and the text on said screen is also small. (Think Clip+).
Probably the best native/unaltered sound quality I've heard out of a DAP. That includes iPod 5.5, Sansa Fuze V1, Sansa Clip+, and the DX50. It's so musical and organic. There is no hiss or RF interference, even with sensitive IEMs. The SQ out of the C3 is what really made me realize how low the priority was for the iPod's sound quality. Colorfly's offering blows even the Wolfson-toting iPod Video out of the water.
- Bass is controlled and full. Never bleeds or intrudes into other frequencies.
- Mids are lush and rich and nicely-framed.
- Treble is clean and detailed although never sibilant.
Note: The EQ is limited in variety. No five-band EQ here. Just a short list of presets that sound pretty comparable to most presets I've heard from other portable offerings.
This is where the 'almost' comes in. First, the button layout, like most Chinese/Japanese DAPs I've encountered is a little funky. Like buttons (volume, forward/back) are oriented diagonally from each other. When will they realize that this layout is not going to catch on?! Also, the touch sensitivity of said buttons is a bit finicky. You've got to press dead center to elicit a response.
The interface is what keeps the C3 from getting 5 stars from me. It's just... meh. The inverted scrolling controls take some getting used to, as does the native directory sorting (folders are sorted by Date Modified rather than alphabetically). Also, because the screen is so small, you can only view a few lines of text on any give screen. This makes scrolling through lists or menus more tedious than it should be.
The C3 is what portable DAPs should be modeled after. First and foremost, it's geared to do one thing and one thing only: play music at a better-than-average level. And it does. The sound is incredibly musical and detailed - much more than a sub $100 DAP ought to. There are no 'audiophile' sound tailoring options like 12-band EQ or gain adjustment, but honestly if you're considering this player you probably aren't listening to $800+ IEMS or planars anyway. Battery life is great, memory is expandable to 64gb, and If the UI could be improved just a touch, I think this DAP would garner higher honors than it already does.
If you're looking for a no-frills DAP that sounds great out of the box without a need for external amping or DAC, look no further than the C3 from Colorfly.