Pros: Good Sound
Ok i'll just jump straight to the point, should you buy this? Absolutely Not . Here's why;
- It's a screen-less shuffle style player, obviously not intended to compete with the screened DAP market, fair enough, but if it actually shuffled properly it might be of some use.
This is by far the worst implementation of a shuffle algorithm I have ever encountered. It was doing so many weird things that it took a month of experimenting to see if I could understand a logical approach as to what it is indeed trying to do, in the end I have just branded it as buggy and bad.
There is a shuffle toggle button on the device, sounds nice in theory (and I wish other DAPs would have a nice physical shuffle switch). In theory you shuffle your entire music collection and when you find a song you like and want to listen to more on that album, you simply toggle off, right? Wrong... this doesn't really work like that at all.
First off, when not in shuffle mode it doesn't actually play the songs in an album in the right sequential order.
It doesn't read file names, it reads tags, and although the track numbers are tagged properly (in all my work), it ignores them and instead just reads tag track names, therefore the album will be played in song name alphabetical order.
Only... it might not, you see it kinda seems as tho if you have few music on your Hippo it might somewhat behave. I could swear at one time it was playing an album in the right order but filling a 32gb card up with songs and it's a different story. Either way, it's not consistent, or at least perhaps it's doing different things with MP3 and WAV files..
Back to the shuffle. It doesn't shuffle, out of 3000+ songs it would go round and round cycling through about maybe 50 tops. Trying to 'get out' of that 'shuffle list' (and into some new songs) is impossible. I would try toggle the shuffle off, listen to a new song (or two), skip forward a few tracks put shuffle mode back on and hope it would now pick some new songs (even if again just cycling through 50 or so)... but before long we're back to the previous 10-50 tracks it seems hell bent on staying with :|
And it gets worse... it kinda freezes sometimes (between tracks), waiting 1min at times till it frees itself up and resumes on a particular song (and it's always this song when it does this).
It's just bad... bad bad bad.
- Now that the shuffle mode and default mode have been sufficiently explained it, also doesn't have a 'skip album' button/feature. The Biscuit will read a single folder fine, but you can't skip it. Also, if you apply the shuffle feature it will shuffle only that folder of which you are currently in, and not the entire music on the player. That might work for some, it doesn't really work for me. Besides... because default mode is not reading file name or tags properly (but instead just from the id3 track/song name alphabetically)... default mode IS kind of a shuffle mode anyway lol.
- It is simply unusable with a 32gb card filled up with any file type (WAV, MP3 etc), because it simply can't handle that volume of tracks properly with the shuffle mode implemented, believe me I have tried. I tried 4gb cards, 16gb cards, multiple folders vs dumping all the tracks on root of card, but even just putting 200 songs on and I would start to recognise the shuffle mode going through a cycle of revisiting previously played songs (and very quick too). I even got stuck between just 2 songs a few times, going back and forth every time i hit 'next' (and no they weren't in a folder all by themselves)... it's just the ****tiest shuffle i have ever used. :/
This device is useful for a handful of albums at a time, but to be safe you will have to rename the id3 track tags with the inclusion of '01 xxx, 02 xxx' etc to ensure they play in the right order.
- And no it's not gapless, in fact I do believe there is a short fade in on every new track it plays.
- It is not terribly loud. Loud enough for most users I am sure, but whereas with the Shozy I can replaygain everything to 89-90db, the Biscuit is too low for my liking with these settings, I have to 'put back' the albums to 97db (which so many seem to be released at today).
Ok... and now the good.
- It does sound good, so good that I did a little amateur A/B testing against my Alien Shozy to see where I felt it pitched against my favorite sounding DAP to date. Once volume matched (to the best of my ears ability), i flicked the switch between the songs, and at certain times I would be fairly convinced that if blinded I could not tell the difference (between the two). These times were most prevalent when the song had lots of things 'going on'. If the song was at a part and only a few instruments playing, then the difference was more apparent, and the Shozy sounding to my ears the better player.
But out of the box, it sounded better than a sansa clip in 'normal mode', but I never persevered hard enough to see if I could find a eq setting with a Clip that would better the Hippo (because in all honestly I have given up on the Hippo Biscuit, it just collects dust in my drawer now).
- The button placement is pretty good as well, I wish the Shozy had this style of button placement, easier to seek out blind via feel etc.
- Build quality is decent, nice, strong and robust.
- It can also be connected to the PC via usb and read the card from there, rather than needing to eject it every time.
Well for $70AUD i'm not going to cry. I was looking for something like the Alien Shozy but lighter (for the gym), at first I thought I had found it, but after doing more testing found that the Default/Shuffle mode is so poorly implemented that it's simply unusable. But if anything it has made me appreciate the Alien Shozy all the more, it can skip folders/albums, is loud, has a good shuffle mode and sounds better.
Hippo Buggy Biscuit.