Pros: Excellent sound quality and portability
Cons: User interface could be improved. Lack of ALAC and gapless playback support.
I am going to take a shot at posting my impressions of the 602. It's been a long time since I've posted a review or impressions of any kind on HF. I took me a long time to realize that reading them was of little value to me in terms of my listening experience. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading them and yes, looking at the pics but it's more for a general understanding of the product not for make a purchase decision. I'm fortunate that, for the most part, I can buy most things that I want to try and make a decision on what I'm hearing.
I remember way back, when I first saw and then heard the 801. I was skeptical, to say the least. It was large, was not and iPod, which is all I've used in terms of a DAP since the first 5 GB was released before I discovered HF. I've had more iPods/iPhones then I can remember. I love them, they have this very easy to use interface and I can use all my ALAC music without an issue. Every time I would see Fang at a meet, I made it a point to try out the 801. It was great. There was no question in my mind that from a purely sound quality perspective, it was better than any iPod I had at the time. I even found it better than my iPods with whatever portable amp I had at that particular moment. My discussion with Fang always was about the size and lack of built in storage.
Then comes the 602. So I go to the NYC meet last year and there is Fang with this new smaller portable DAP and I give it a try. I should add that the only headphone I own is the JH13. I do not feel the need for any other headphones although the HE-6 is tempting. I listen to speakers the vast majority of the time I listen to music. Anyway, so I listen to the 602 and the 801 and my comments are the same as the always have been. Still too big and not enough built in storage. At the time, I also felt the 801 was just better than the 602, which I guess was in the early development stages.
Almost a year later, I am contacted by Miguel (mrarroyo) who lives about 30 minutes away from me. He offers up the 801 and and early production (maybe pre-production) 602 for me to try for a while. I take him up on the offer and spend a few days with both players. There is no question that the 801 was better. That early 602 just didn't do it for me. I told Miguel this and he says that I should with hold judgment as my complaint, mostly lack of bass response was being worked on for the production model.
This brings me to my next encounter with the 602. I went to RMAF this year, mostly to check out the speaker rigs. Most of my time at CanJam was to go grab a buddy to hear a pair of speakers. I did find time to say hello to Fang, whom I've known for a long time and consider one of the good people in this hobby. He insists that I sit down and listen to the 602. I tell him about my earlier experience and he say, forget it, just listen. We talk about my qualms about the size (not as big a deal as with the 801) and the lack of storage. He asks what I am using and I show him a 16 GB and my 32 GB iPhone. I realize that the storage thing is really in my own head as 32 GB is plenty of music to carry around, even if lossless. I really enjoy my time with the 602. The bass is deeper than I remembered. It was closer to the 801, which was the basis of my prior comparison. I realize it's pretty light, fits nicely in my pocket. I eventually leave and when I get home, decide to ask Fang to try one out for an extended time, which is happy to do.
I've now had the 602 for at least a month. I've used it for extended listening sessions out back, carried it with my while walking the dog, took it on business trip for a hotel/Starbucks rig and I'm am not going to give it back. Fang, if you read this, just send me a bill and I will settle up with you. The 602 is a perfect match for my JH13. I have two 32 GB SD cards and have only filled one of them so far. I have not found the need to fill the other. I have plenty of music in FLAC but with all the music I have on the not filled 32 GB card.
Now to the sound quality. I'm going to keep this simple. I really like this thing. I have not used any iPods or amps since it has arrived. The sq is better than any other portable experience I've had (I don't consider the 801 portable so not part of this comparison). I've read other say it has some treble roll off and it's a bit colored. As I said earlier, that stuff is generally meaningless to me. There are so many factors that color what others say about audio that I can only speak for myself and do not expect others to rely on what I say for making a purchase. I'm 50 years old, I've been to more live shows then I can remember so I suspect my hearing has suffered although, it's not noticeable to me but I'm sure it's there. Many of you are much younger and very well may be capable of hearing things that I cannot. If it is colored and if the treble is rolled off, then I guess that is what I like. What can I say, I just like the thing. Is it perfect, definitely not but the sq is such that some of the little quirks are not an issue for me.
One other thing I like about it is that I can use it as a stand along DAC. I have been using it in my office rig and it sounds great through my Audioengine A5's. I have an Amarra 4 DAC from Sonic Studios which has been out for repair for the last month or so. When I listen to digital music I have been using the 602 as the DAC. While it is not close to the Amarra 4 it is very good through my speaker rig which consists of a Manley Stingray and Zu Soul Superfly speakers. The 602 has really come in handy for me while my DAC is being repaired.
I could try to throw out some audiophile terms for you all but I don't feel that would be doing any of you a service. You need to listen for yourself and make your own judgments on whether this or any other audio product is for you. My opinion is only that, my opinion. Just one example, at RMAF I looked to listen to a speaker that I heard was just amazing, I had to check them out. They are way more money than I could or would ever spend but I did want to hear what all the fuss was about. I went into the room, expecting to be blown away by these speakers which cost in the many thousands of dollars. They turned out to be some of the worst sound I heard at RMAF. The speakers were YB Acoustics (forget the model). So listen to your ears and make your own decisions.