HiSoundAudio Studio-I

Posted

Pros: sound, power, balance, battery

Cons: interface, capicity

If you are getting one of these, it is probably for the sound and only the sound. I got one at christmas, and have been using for a few hours per day and love the sound.

 

For comparisons, Houston Symphony is playing the 4 Rachmanioff Piano Concertos over three weeks. I have season tickets, at the same elevation as the piano in the center. (close to the best seats for music in the venue.) I have been listening to a couple of different recordings, and comparison to my Studio. For this set up i have been using Senn 598 when at home or in the office, and a Ety 4S when traveling. I have also done a little comparison with my apple through a nuforce dac and audio engine 5+.

 

The sound stage is full and realistic. I have to say that the sound stage in a quiet room is like being at the symphony with the music, the visual images are of the performances I just saw. The tonal match and balance is as close to live as I can comprehend for such a small portable rig. 

 

The piano tone, warmth, and clarity are as close to live as i can tell. Just like being there.

 

The unit interface takes some time. Basic. A little confusing. but works. Basically the unit is great if you are willing to give in on the interface. It is close to the point that I am thinking of selling the unit, and going back to my iPod and DAC combination. The size and battery life suffer greatly, but it does music videos, etc. Since i am carrying the iphone and iPod anyway, i am not sure that the music quality of the studio is warranted, as this is my travel set up. Touch decision, so i will take some more time to think about it.

Posted

Pros: Size, Battery, Sound Quality

Cons: User Interface, Manual does not match unit, Issues with SD card reader

I need to start this by stating that I know what I like the sound of
I know that there are many people out there that are questioning the audio chip in this device and stating that it cant sound good with what they use

Well for my ears it sounds fantastic

I have been invoved with the music and recording industry on and off for the past 25yrs
As such I love to hear music as it was written and recorded

I know it may not be to everyones taste but this is a plug in and play device with only two differnt audio setting

(However changing these settings is not simple)

This is where I found the user interface a pain in the arse

And the manual which came with the unit was little to no help, this was also the case when trying to access any information from the HiSoundAudio website

 

My other issues with this unit are, when it arrived within a day or two it start to shut down

This was with plenty of battery life

Then it had problems reading the SDHC card, not finding it and then telling me there were albums on the card that weren't on there

 

I have sent the unit back to the selling agent, who were great about it

(However, now that they have the unit I only hear what is happening if I make contact with them, they have had it 12 working days and still not provided an update on whats going on)

 

I love the look and feel of the unit

To listen to it was and is an outstanding sound and fars superior to the ipod classic i had

 

However, with the problems that I've had with the unit i am unsure

 

Also when I tried to email HisoundAudio direct they were very helpful when I was looking at buy a unit

However, when I emailed to say there was a problem with the unit, (4 weeks ago) I never had a reply

 

This unit shows a lot of promise

However if they are to really take that step into this market then there are a few things they need to get right

User Inetrface

SD reader

Auto Shut down

 

and most importantly

Customer Services

Posted

Pros: Extreme 100 hours+ batterylife, great natural and detailed sound. Drives full size cans. Line-in for use as amplifier.

Cons: User interface

 

Hisoundaudio Studio-I and the PAA-1 earbuds

 

 

First> A video teaser with the product:

http://vimeo.com/10283236

 

This product was completely new to me. To be honest I have never regarded any digital audio player that much since I have only been using Apple products since 1998. So using other players than my iPods or iPhones has never really crossed my mind. I have been satisfied with the Apple sound, which got a lot better in the iPhone 4 line out - not headphone out - compared to the iPod 5G. I find that with some earphones like the new Beyerdynamic MMX 101 I hear a constant background hiss from the headphone out. This is not heard when using my Etymotic ER-4S. But that is another story.

 

HM601Studiocompared2.jpg

 

I use my i-products with a LOD connecting to my LISA III (which has been sold and replaced as my primary desktop by the Meier Concerto), my iQube or the RSA P-51 Mustang. I am writing this to let you know where I come from and it will be my reference when commenting on these two other portable audio players in regards to build quality, ease of use and sound quality.

 

I did not know of the existence of neither the Chinese company Hisoundaudio producing the Studio-I nor the product itself before this meet. So I was in a state of curious expectation and happy to win this and I did not know what to expect from the product at all. I still have not read a single review or test of this product so I hope my impressions are not biased any way. Well, happily I brought it home and started playing with it and it has truly impressed me in several ways - here is why:

 

The packaging

First of all the product was wrapped up nicely in the sort of box you normally see expensive watches or jewelry being delivered in. It came with USB cable, charger and earbuds - yes white earbuds! My first thought was that this was just waste and probably another cheap Chinese Apple first-generation-earbud copy. But I was so wrong in making such quick judgment in this case - more on this later. So for my first impression I think the packaging shows that Hisoundaudio considers this to be a luxury item and not just another MP3-player. Well done!

 

Packaging1.jpg

 

Packaging2.jpg

 

Build quality and ease of use

The Studio-I itself is clearly a piece of hardware someone deliberately has been pouring a lot of thought into designing. When reading the - not so well designed - website of Hisoundaudio the designers thought the reader can get a great introduction to this product.

 

Quote from the Hisoundaudio website: “Much thought has been given to the build quality too, the case is CNC carved, using block fine aluminium alloy, this makes it very tough and practically scratch resistant, ideal for the outdoor user.”

 

I have to say that the learning curve of this product is a bit steep for an all time stupid iPod user. But only having a Chinese user guide forced me to simply play around in the menus for a while and once I found out that holding the center button brings you to the main menu it was actually pretty easy to use the unit. The display does not offer high-resolution cover art nor any color graphics. Just plain simple text and the info you need during playback. Only one thing sometimes irritates me and that is that when the product is playing and the display has gone dark in order to save battery, you cannot control the unit, for instance skip track or adjust the volume. You have to "wake up" the display first which is simply done by pressing any button. This cause quiet a few extra button presses with my use pattern. In the settings menu there is an option to change the display-up time from 10 to 30 seconds. But even 30 seconds it too short when listening to music and skipping tracks once in a while. It is a minor thing but still being a nerd when it comes to usability I thought I would mention it and it makes the product feel unresponsive sometimes - even though it is not. The buttons themselves also feels a little quirky but they do function each time and it is easy to navigate (skip track, adjust volume or fast-forward by holding the button) the unit blindfolded or with a hand in the pocket, which is just as good as any iPods in this regard.

 

HM601Studiocompared3.jpg

 

The Studio-I has a headphone out on top side by side with a line-in for using the unit as an amplifier for external sources. Both are mini jack sockets. In the middle on top there is a reset button. I do not know exactly what the reset button does since I have only tried it one time. I think it just restarts the unit and maybe sets it to factory settings? It does not delete the music stored on the unit.

 

In the bottom there is a micro SD card slot, which I have not used. I simply do not have any micro SD cards at the moment. The Mini USB port for placing music files on the unit is next to the micro SD slot. A pale blue light indicates that the unit is on. The light indicator is a great idea since the display is as I mentioned off most of the time.

 

The build quality of this product is truly sturdy and feels great in its one-piece aluminum and the back is a high gloss glass - nicely done. I do not think that the hard edges is the perfect choice for a product you are supposed to have in your pocket but the small size makes it possible to keep the player in your pocket without too much annoyance.

 

Impressive battery life

It is Thursday evening as I am writing this. The unit I have has been playing since Sunday afternoon - with NO pause! I got it at the meet Saturday and started playing with it Sunday afternoon. I thought I should give the included earbuds at least two days of break in before listening to them so I let the unit play during the night time. Yesterday - Wednesday night - I listened to the unit for a few hours and now it is Thursday evening as I am writing this. I am at a hotel at a conference and I thought I could use the free time at the hotel at night to do some music listening and testing. I actually thought that I did turn it off last night when I packed my stuff but tonight when I took it out of my bag the unit was still playing. This is more than 100 hours and counting!!! There is still 1 block out of 4 left in the battery indicator. This is truly amazing. I do not know of any products of this kind, which can compete with this.

 

The sound

First of all there is no noise in this unit. I hear no background noise during music payback or when I use the product as an amplifier through the line in. I have been listening to the Studio-I with my HD650, SR325i, Etymotic ER-4S and the PAA-1 it came with. I have used FLAC or 320 kbps AAC files. It drives all of these headphones with ease even the HD650 sounds very good directly from the player.

 

With SR325i there is plenty of slam and punch but it lacks some clarity and definition compared to iPhone-->iQube. I know this might not be a fair comparison but still there is a difference, just to put things in the right perspective. Still, it drives the SR325i with ease and the resolution is great. The pairing with SR325i sounds great and it could easily become one of my portable rigs to bring with me when I am travelling and for transport.

 

It also drives the HD650 to sound great – but not world class. The bright sounding Studio-I is great for the HD650 in the bass and treble. But still the mids is not forward enough for my taste. But that is also the only thing I wish it would do better for a portable player like this. Mids are done better with the HM-601 driving the HD650. Even though the HD650 + Studio-I is not able to bring the mids as forward as I like it certainly still sounds great and the bass goes deep.

 

When using the Etymotic ER-4S the sound from the HM-601 suits the Etymotics better because the MH-601’s sound is on the warm and lush side. Still the Studio-I is able to send some of the soundstage outside the head and has a wider soundstage than the HM-601.

 

PAA-1earbuds.jpg

 

One thing I need to point out is that when I use the enclosed earbuds PAA-1 with the Studio-I it sounds surprisingly great. Even though the only experiences I have with earbuds are the Bang & Olufsen A8 and the Apple earbuds I was positively surprised by the PAA-1. Especially the Apple earbuds are no comparisons to the PAA-1 at all. The definition in the mids and treble is acceptable when listening to these is great. Only the bass is less tight and does not have the same definition as in the B&O A8.

HiSoundAudio Studio-I
Description:

As the name implies, Studio-I is specially designed for the high sensitivity, low impendent earphones. Studio-I has a more high end circuit design. It has more highs and bass extension. The bass is much more comfortable and 'real'. The sound definition is much clearer, with the highs, mids and bass sounding just like you are present in the recording studio. Of course, the battery life of the STUDIO-I is longer than that of the STUDIO. Studio-I is the best choice for hi end and highly sensitive IEMs. It can extract the full potential of high end earphones.

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Related Media/Links:

http://vimeo.com/10283236

 

 

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