Studio V Anniversary Edition

Posted

Pros: Size, Build, Battery Life, Sound Quality (stellar!)

Cons: UI, Boot Time, Lag (scroll / software) - only with pre-installed firmware

EDITED AGAIN 4th DEC - FOLLOWING FIRMWARE ADJUSTMENT

Introducing HiSound Audio’s TOTL DAP – The Studio V 3rd Anniversary Edition

 

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Studio V3 A.E. Sonic Joy - V3 A.E. + RS1

 

After reviewing many of HSA’s earbuds and IEMs lately, my thoughts turned toward buying a new DAP.  My iPod Touch G4 (32 GB) had been getting pretty full, and I’d been tossing up between simply getting the iPod Touch G5 (64 GB) + an add on amp (probably an Arrow) so I could drive my higher impedance full cans, or buying a DAP that could do an all-in-one job.  I asked Jack from HSA for his opinion, and he steered me toward the Studio V3 A.E.  We struck a deal where I would pay for the device, review it, and if not happy, could return for a full refund.  In this review, I’ve listed the Studio V3 A.E. for its normal list price.  I paid a little under this – but I did pay for the DAP.

 

Disclaimer

I was provided the Studio V3 A.E. as a paid (but discounted) review sample.  I am in no way affiliated with HiSound Audio - and this review is my honest opinion of the Studio V3 A.E.  I would like to thank Jack and the HiSound Audio team for making this opportunity available.

 

Preamble - 'about me'.   (This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).

I'm a 46 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile - just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current mid-fi set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (iDevices) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  My main headphones at the time of writing are the Senn HD600, Grado RS1, Shure SE535 Ltd Ed. IEMs, and HSA’s BA-100, Crystal and Living earbuds/IEMs.  I've also just received the Dunu DN1000 Hybrid IEM this week.

 

I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz to grunge and hard-rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, indie, classic rock, and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range.  I am neither a bass or treble head (you could argue that I do like clarity though).  Current amps = NFB12 and LD MKIV.  I also formerly owned several portable amps - the most notable being an Arrow 4G and GoVibe PortaTube.

 

My experience with DAPs in the past have been initially with very cheap Sony offerings, then step-ups to the Cowon iAudio7, and lately to my iPhone4 and iPod Touch G4 – which are both very good sounding and have excellent interfaces.  I've also listened to various other devices along the way - including Cowon's J3.

 

I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent.  For my portable listening – it is my preferred format (space vs quality).  All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).

 

I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences.  I am not a ‘golden eared listener’

 

What I Was Looking For In A DAP

I thought I’d list (before I start with the review) what I was really looking for in a new DAP.

  • Great (neutral) sounding

  • Good build quality

  • Reasonable battery life

  • Easy to use interface

  • Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans

Did I get all of this with the Studio V3 A.E?  That’s a definite no.  Well - mostly (following some tweaking).  And for me, the two biggest ‘must haves’ were going to be sonic quality and usability.  Do I still have the Studio V3 A.E?  Yes.  No intention of returning.  Read on, and discover with me why I regard this DAP as having a ‘Jekyll & Hyde complex’, but why (for me) it’s remained a keeper.

 

This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

 

THE REVIEW

 

Packaging and Accessories

When the Studio V3 A.E. package arrived – before I opened the parcel, my initial thought was that Jack must have sent me something along with it.  The box is big considering the size of the DAP – but I have to admit it does give an impression of something “just a little bit special” being inside.

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The Studio V3 box

 

 

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Size comparison (iPhone) Tiny DAP - big box!

 

On opening the V3 box, the initial impression was “wow this thing is tiny”, and also – it does look very solid and classy.

 

With the V3 you also get:

  • An HSA VIP card

  • Warranty (in Chinese)

  • The Studio V3 manual (in English and Chinese)

 

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Paperwork in the box English page from manual


The manual itself is fairly basic – but also pretty easy to follow.

 

Underneath the display tray is a second compartment with 3 very nicely presented boxes which hold the USB plug and cable, and also a pair of PAA-1 earbuds (which despite their budget appearance actually sound not too bad).

 

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Second compartment The Studio V3

 

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2nd Compartment Accessories PAA-1 Earbuds

 

Technical Specifications

There wasn’t a lot of information (technical anyway) on the web – so I’m relying on what was published in the manual.  Relevant details include:

 

Dimension : 

 76 x 49 x 20mm

Weight :

 140g

Screen :

 1 inch matrix (128x64) OLED

PC connection :

 USB2 – standard mini-plug

Internal memory :

 4 Gb flash

Battery :

 Lithium-ion (more on battery life later in review)

Supported Formats :

 MP1-3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, OGG

Supported OS :

 Windows 98/SE/ME/2K/XP/Vista/Win7 (also works on 8), MAC OS10, Linux 2.4.2

Languages :

 Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian

Maximum output :

 10mW-80mW per channel (32 ohm load)

Frequency response : 

 17Hz to 23 KHz

SNR :

 >=96dB

Distortion :

 <=0.1%

 

Build

Four words – solid, classy, high quality.

 

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Side view with iPhone 4 in background Rear of Studio V3

 

The body is a solid piece of machined aluminium with a brushed exterior.  The colour is silvery with a light golden hued tint.  The body has slightly bevelled edges – but it is comfortable to hold.  The buttons are solid, and appear built to last.  The OLED display – while small is relatively easy to read, and can be viewed reasonably easily (dark and light).  It does suffer a little in direct sunlight - but easy enough to shade with a cupped palm.  The USB cable fits snugly, and headphone socket is tight and feels well put together.  On the bottom of the player – next to the USB port – is a micro SD expansion slot.  For this review I’m using a Sansa Ultra microSDXC class 10 card.  The card is easy to fit and is solid once input.  One note here – you’ll need to format the card to FAT32.

 

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Top view next to iPhone 4 Bottom view next to iPhone 4

 

On the top of the unit is the headphone out, and also another plug so that the Studio V3 A.E. can also be used as an amplifier for another source.  I have tried this feature – and while it works, I can’t say that it’s a feature I would ever see myself using.

 

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Micro SD Card Top Ports - Headphone Out and Source In

 

The only issue I have with the build is that I’m always worried about scratching it because it looks so classy.  It’s already received a lot of comments from my work mates – and has been instantly a topic of conversation when I’ve had it out.  Quick thought for Jack – it would be nice to include some type of soft cover (or pouch) as an added accessory for the future.

 

UI (Universal Interface) / Usability

 

With pre-loaded firmware DT-DYNAMIC 2013.01.15

Ok – here is where we meet Dr Hyde.  So far my initial impressions were very good.  First I charged the battery for the initial recommended 8 hours, and then began loading some music.  The USB interface is really good.  On plugging I got two Windows Explorer windows – the first the 4 GB internal memory, and the second had access to the 64 GB card.  Putting music on the player was simply a matter of drag and drop.  So far, so good.  When I had the card loaded with about 45 GB of HQ aac files (around 4000 tracks), I unplugged and turned the unit on.

 

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Initialising / Start Up Now Playing Menu Option

 

I’d already read a lot of the threads on the V3 A.E. – so I was expecting a slow start-up.  Initial boot took around 5 minutes.   The disconcerting thing was watching the screen initially scroll the boot messages – then seem to freeze.  Don’t panic if this is happening to you – it’s normal for everything to freeze while it’s initialising the card.  Once it starts scrolling again you notice the card is loaded and you’re ready to go.

 

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Selection screen - using tags Selection screen - folder browsing 

 

Here’s where things started to get flaky.  Although the card had loaded – the player was extremely laggy moving from menu to menu.  Scrolling was an absolute chore – and sometimes despite clicking repeatedly, it was not scrolling at all.  For anyone at this stage – patience.  What I found out later - through trial and error – is that this player does not like a big library of tracks, and that it gets more responsive around the 3000 track mark or lower.  I also found that leaving the player for about another minute after it’s initially loaded also speeds up the responsiveness.

 

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Settings screen Bye-bye (often frustrating)

 

Anyway – initially I had ~4000 tracks loaded and the player was extremely laggy.  Not used to the interface, and coming from the excellent UI in all the Apple devices – this made me very impatient, and it was at this point I discovered one of the major flaws in the V3 A.E. UI.  The central button acts as a select option, play/pause, and back option – depending on how long you hold it.  Unfortunately it also acts as the power off button.

 

So imagine if you will – laggy menus, trying to back out of a directory, buttons unresponsive because of the lag – so press the central button either repeatedly or longer (because of the lag) – and you suddenly get the “Bye” notification and the device powers off.   Aaaargh!!!  Wait 5 minutes to power on again.  Repeat process etc.  It was at this point after a further 15-20 minutes that I was ready to just box the whole thing up and return it to Jack.  At this stage I hadn’t even been able to have a decent listening experience.

 

Anyway – fast forward now 3 weeks – and things are much different.  The UI still sucks could be better – but it’s usable.  It’s extremely basic – and Jack’s advice to me (via email) was invaluable.  He advised patience and that eventually I’d get used to working the buttons – the length of time to press etc, and I have.  Like I said earlier – the secret is not to overload the player with files – and to be patient with loading.

 

The menu itself is simple – but effective.  You can either browse by selecting the music option or file browser mode.  Using the music option – your tags need to be correct.  Interesting note here (just another quirky observance) – if you have no music files on the 4 GB internal memory, the player won’t recognise tags on the files on the removable micro SD card.  For me it simply showed ‘no file’.  Once I added files to the internal memory – they reappeared.

 

Main menu options include “Now Playing”, “Music”, “Resource Manager”, and “Settings”.

 

The best part about the UI is that it’s very simple to use once you get accustomed to it.  The worst parts are:

  • Player lag

  • No back button (apart from the central one) and having it double as on/off.

  • Every time you exit a menu you have to relocate that folder again (no memory of where you last were).  This is extremely annoying – especially when browsing by folders, or if you have artists with multiple albums.

  • If you have a lot of folders – you can have a lot of clicking to get to the one you want – there is simply no easy way of getting there in a hurry.

  • No true gapless

  • It has lossless support – but does not work with 24/96 files (have to resample these)

 

One recently discovered fault (could be just my unit) is that sometimes when I power on – the volume either appears to be slightly muted, or louder than it ought to be.  This doesn’t happen very often – and usually just repowering the device of and on again puts things back to normal.  It’s happened only a couple of times in the last 2 weeks – but it is repeatable – so could be an issue just with my unit.


UPDATE 28/11
So in an attempt to get better response from the player - I decided to try removing all of the tags from my files.  I use folder browsing anyway - so no biggie.  I fired up MP3tag - deleted the tags, and tried again.  Still a very slow boot, and still some lag in the UI.   Hmmmm ....

 

Next - wiped the player - got rid of the albums I'm least likely to use - so now I was only loading about 2300 tracks (mostly full albums).  This time all of the albums loaded as FLAC - but after I cleaned up all the tags (deleted any ID3V2 tags, deleted artwork, deleted all other eroneous info except for Artist, Album, Genre and Track (title and #).  Reloaded and an instant improvement.  Load time is now about 3.5 minutes (it's pretty consistently around this time) - but a lot of the lagginess is now gone from the menus.  It;s actually pretty snappy, and a lot easier to use!  Now that I'm not having to fight the player all the time - I can have a look around.  Discovered folder play - works really well, and there is an option in settings to randomise the play (nice).  Genre tags work, as do artist and album - so if you want to create playlists you can - just by arranging desired tracks in a common folder.  The good news is that if tagged properly - you can then use the normal 'tagged playing options' to play by album - and the folder option to arrange playlists if you need to.  Takes a little managing the set-up, but all in all - the more I use the player, the better it's becoming.

 

Would I like the UI fixed - YES!  Biggest one for me would be boot time.  But it's very usable at the moment - and it's not a chore as it was in the beginning.  My Hyde is now more of an annoyance than a raving beast :)


UPDATE 04/12

Following Lee730's advice - I finally bit the bullet and reverted to firmware version DT-DYNAMIC 20111223.  I now consider the UI to still be a little primitive but very usable (no longer the Mr Hyde it once was).  Boot time with a fully loaded internal and external memory is now just a little over a minute (approx 74 seconds), scrolling is dynamic, and most of the lag is gone.  I really don't know why this version is not the default one for the player.  All in all now - this has gone from a good DAP to a great DAP in my estimation.  Sonics (as you'll read further) are outsanding, as is the build.  Now the UI is functional as well.


 

I could go on a lot more about the UI – but it’s time to move on.  The important thing is that I still have, and use this DAP daily.  And that’s simply because of the sound …..

 

Sound

Let me preface this section by making sure you know where I’m coming from.  I like the sound of my iPhone.  It’s linear – sounds great, low distortion, essentially flat frequency response.  I did not expect the Studio V3 to sound superior – yet it does.  I level matched, got my wife to assist with swapping blind, and tried it with a number of different headphones.  The V3 A.E. to my untrained ears sounds phenomenal.

 

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Once the music starts - all else is forgotten Even with cheaper earbuds - excellent sound!

 

It’s essentially pretty colourless – maybe has a very slightly brighter than neutral signature.  It’s either that or most of my other gear has been slightly darker than normal.  I won’t go on about bass, mids or treble – as that won’t get to the heart of the matter.  The V3 A.E. has a very black background.  I’ve noticed no hiss (or other noise) with even my very sensitive SE535 Ltd Eds.  The main difference between the iPhone 4 and Studio V3 A.E. (sonically) is in a greater sense of ‘air’ or ‘space’ with the music.  I know this sounds like stupid audiophile speak – but it’s the best way I can describe it.  Side by side (and volume matched to the best of my ability) – in direct comparison – the iPhone 4 sounds quite flat after listening to the V3 A.E.  If I had to guess – I’d say it was something to do with the crossfeed set-up maybe?  Anyway – the Studio V3 to me simply sounds wonderful – which is why I’m keeping it.

 

Update - spent the evening with Dunu's DN1000 Hybrid and the Studio V3 A.E.  To my ears, these were made for each other.  Crystal clear, gorgeous mid-range, punchy and hard-hitting (dare I say 'magical') bass - and I am definitely not a basshead.

 

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Studio V2 + SE535 LE - wonderful sound Studio V3 + RS1

 

And to those who are maybe scoffing at this point (like I used to with others) – remember that I have every reason to return the player for a full refund.  The UI is not good not as good as I'm used to, I can’t store all of my music (like I wanted), and features are missing that had grown to be 2nd nature on my iDevices.  I’m keeping this because it sounds great – despite everything else.

 

Power

HSA claim (on the rear of the device) that it is Class A inside – and this is one of the reasons I looked at it originally.  I wanted a DAP that I wouldn’t have to carry a separate amplifier with (a truly portable device).  And it doesn’t disappoint.  It’s perfect with my sensitive IEMs, and can still drive (with no issues) my HD600.  It sounds great with the RS1 – and when I had my K702 I even tried it for a while.  Whilst the K702 was lacking a small bit of power (didn’t quite have the bottom end that I was used to from a more powerful set-up), volume and general sonic signature on the K702 was far better than from the iPhone – and was very listenable.

The Studio V3 has 31 different settings in its volume scale – and so far I’d never had any issues with headroom.  On the HD600’s I sit close to 20.  With my IEMs – around 8-10.  There are no issues with channel imbalance.

 

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Even powers the K702 Outclasses the iPhone 4 sonically

 

Battery Life

HSA claim up to 100 hours playing lower bitrate MP3 files in saver mode (ie screen turned off).  I’m guessing from a full initial charge – that could be achieved.  But as far as real world usage goes – I’m probably using the player around 6 hours a day (playing music), and sometimes longer if I leave it in stand-by.  I have no problems getting at least 2-3 days, so I’d say minimum 30 hours with higher resolution files and normal use – probably longer – is achievable.  Anyway – given that it powers all my headphones (portable and full sized) and has very long life – no amp required – I’m very happy with its battery life so far.

 

Summary

So there we have the Studio V3 A.E.  A real Jekyll and Hyde dilemma for prospective buyers.  On the positive side:

  • Truly excellent sonically

  • Wonderful build

  • Powerful enough to use without an additional amplifier

  • Very good battery life

 

On the negative side:

  • A crude and frustrating UI (until you learn it's oddities, and get your library tweaked to overcome the issues)

  • Laggy if used with too many files (becomes snappier with fewer files + also correct tagging)

  • Significant start-up delays (hope they fix this with firmware eventually) - unless you revert back to the older stable firmware.

 

Is it worth the full retail price (USD 450)? – I’ll leave that up to the individual.  For the discounted price I paid – it is my favourite player sonically, and I use it in preference to my iPhone 4 now.  It wouldn’t take much to make the Studio V3 A.E. an absolutely excellent DAP.  Here are a few ideas …..

 

Suggestions for HSA

  • Separate on/off button (absolutely necessary IMO)

  • When back button used – it needs to go back one step only

  • Keep expansion slot – but increase onboard memory.  If the memory was even 32 GB onboard (64Gb would be ideal) – this should significantly increase the responsiveness (I’d forgo the expansion card altogether), and negate the lag from having too many files.

  • Think about adding a lock button/switch.  I had it in my pocket yesterday (jeans) and I seemed to drain the battery quite quickly.  Assume that the buttons may have been inadvertently being pushed (in my pocket) which led to screen being on almost all the time - and resulting in a big battery drain.

  • Revert back to original firmware DT-DYNAMIC 20111223 or at least make the most current firmware as stable and with the same shorter boot time.

 

Thanks again Jack for the opportunity to purchase and review this unit.  I won’t be sending it back – it sounds too good to part with.

Posted

Pros: Great Sound, Transparent, Grat Battery life

Cons: The UI Sucks

I recently decided to take a bit of a chance and buy blind into a new DAP. Over time I've slowly become more and more tired of the mainstream Apple/Sony/insert company name here MP3 players on the market and their lack of audio capabilities. Nowadays my player of choice is the iPod Touch and although I very much like my iPod's UI interface I've gravitated towards using a mobile amp to bring the players sonic signature up to speed. Although results have been very good I'm now finding myself becoming more and more tired lugging a two piece brick around so much so I've decided to give the so called boutique audiophile DAP market a shot. After a little nosing around on head-fi and some discussion with a trusted friend from head-fi, lee730, I took the plunge and got the HiSound Studio V 3rd Anniversary Edition. This player is rather pricey, a little to pricey in my opinion, but I was lucky enough to hear about HiSound running a half price Studio V promotion in exchange for an honest review and feedback on their player. I was a little unsure about this purchase due to certain rumblings I had read about it. Buggy UI, loud hiss, limited file support, player freeze ups, seemed to be the main complaints from various users concerning this player. Even so I decided to take a big chance and purchase it anyways due to the vast majority of people, both fans and detractors alike, seeming to agree that this player even with all it's short comings still sounded pretty nice.

I placed the order and got busy encoding my key test tracks from ALAC to FLAC. Roughly a week or so goes by and one day a package from China arrives on my doorstep with my new player. Inside the beat up shipping box is my player and it's accessories safely stored in a leather display box. The presentation of this product I must admit is quite nice. By nature I'm a pretty simple guy and for me it's not about presentation and fancy packaging it's more about getting to the heart of the matter and how the product actually performs but even so I still had to admit the presentation was well done. The first thing that struck me about the Studio V 3rd Anniversary Edition was how freaking tiny it was and how perfectly sized it felt in my hand. It's roughly about twice the size of a box of matches and in my opinion the perfect size for mobile use. The next thing I noticed was how solid the form factor felt in my hand. No cheap plastic on this player the whole thing was brushed aluminum right down to the buttons. I'm very happy with this players physical form factor and my opinion is don't change a thing.

Quick aesthetic impressions aside it's now time to get to the sonics of this player which is the key reason I bought it. This player sounds very nice and easily destroys a straight up unamped iPod, Sony player or Clip+. The sound characteristics, it's lean sounding and fast and to my ears teeters just slightly north of neutral. The bass sounds nice and full, in other words it has authority, but it's still tight and has punch and detail. Mids, a bit on the dry side which in my opinion is a perfect match for my Sony EX600 and jPhonic K2 sp. I generally like dry mids so for me the mids were a nice surprise. As for the highs, it's bright and full of energy but not overly splashy meaning it doesn't sound like that crazy harsh sound of someone running their fingernails down a chalk board. People who are a little touchy concerning their treble may want to give this player a second thought before committing their hard earned bones towards it. That being said I personally think it's far from harsh and would describe it more as forward sounding highs meaning the treble hasn't been overly smoothed over and doesn't roll off so early like say my iPod Touch does. I'm also both happy and very relieved to report the hiss issues reported from users using other generations of the Studio V for me is almost completely non existent. When using my Sony MDR EX 600 IEM if I listen closely I can hear a very very soft hiss. I only noticed it because I was looking for it but if I hadn't been looking for it I doubt I would have noticed it.

The interesting thing about this player is it seems to love all the gear I hook up to it. Believe it or not the DT1350 sounds quite good on it. Originally when I heard this player the first thing to come to mind was my DT1350's loaded treble would be way to energetic with this DAP. In the end I wound up with mud on my face when I hooked it up only to realize the treble now sounded a little more detailed and slightly smoother in the upper mid to lower high transition. It wasn't night and day of coarse and I still had some sibilance problems with badly recorded music of coarse but overall I was quite happy with my DT1350 treble on the Studio V. Next up was my V-MODA M-80. I thought the M-80 sound signature would become more lean with this DAP only to be shocked to find the mids were now more detailed while still sounding as warm as before. The M-80 highs, still flat which was a bit of a disappointment considering I was hoping this player would give the M-80 a little more life up top. Oh well can't win them all I guess. On the plus side the bass seemed a little less bloated and the slight bleed into the lower mids seems to have improved a bit. From there I decided to hook up my recently acquired V-MODA M-100 headphone which has a forward sounding bass. The M-100 sounded very nice on the Studio V and I realized the bass although still quite forward sounding (it has 8 db of boosted bass) was now a little more detailed and seemed just a hair quicker on my Studio V when compared to my UHA-4 amp. The M-100 highs seemed well defined and although the Studio V didn't really boost them they did seem very well extended. Overall I would have to say the whole sound signature of the M-100 sounded slightly cleaner on the Studio V. Something interesting I would like to add, maybe it's just my ears but the M-100 has a slight U shape in it's mids and when paired with the Studio V that slight U became even more apparent. Even more interesting is when I hooked up gear which is known for being mid centric at it the mids suddenly seemed to become more prominent then I was used to.

As I started throwing more gear at the Studio V (Grado SR 60i, EX600, Westone 4, K2 sp, e-Q7) I started to realize this damn player had no real coloration of it's own but instead preferred to disappear and let the gear it was hooked up to do it's own thing. Thus far this is sounding like a really great player isn't it? Sonically I have to admit I'm very happy with it. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, battery life is in the double digits as in 50 to 80 hours. I thought it sounded far fetched myself until I got the player. When I got the player I plugged it in and let it charge overnight to guarantee a full charge. In a span of roughly two weeks I was still showing two out of four power bars with roughly 3 to 5 hours a day of use. Two days ago I decided to plug it in again and let it recharge overnight and so far I'm still showing a full charge on the display.

 

Something else I think is worth mentioning is this players versatility in driving gear. Most of my stuff is known for being efficient. Probably the most demanding I have is the DT1350 which in the big scheme of things isn't really that demanding when compared to other headphones. To try and test this players amp section I shot by a fellow head-fiers home and let him have a listen. This gentleman is known around my city for having a wide selection of headphones one of which being the 600 ohm AKG K240 Sextett. I didn't expect the Studio V to drive this headphone and neither did he and it took maxing out the volume but it did drive it to an acceptable volume level with only some minor control issues in the lower bass. Although I've heard these headphones being driven better by other more powerful gear I was none the less rather impressed how well it was able to drive it.

This player is now really starting to sound like a real winner isn't it? Don't get to excited time to talk about the Studio V's achilles heel, the UI. In short, considering this player retails for a suggested street price of around 500 bones the UI can only be described as completely unacceptable. The good news, even though the UI is flawed it's still stable enough to make the player work for you. Let me try and explain. When you first turn on the player you're greeted with a HiSound logo and from there the player quickly scans your micro SD card. A few seconds later the main music app appears. Now if you hit the music app and navigate any music on it's internal 4GB memory generally you'll be OK. But if you try to navigate your music on your SD card look out boys and girls what you hear will sound like utter crap. What I mean is your music will play but it will clip and pop and if you try navigating around to find other music while there's music playing in the background the music will click pop and cut out with practically every click. I'm not even going to get into the buggy playlists option because no matter what I did I couldn't get it to work.

Thankfully there's a work around for all this silliness. If you completely ignore the music app and navigate to the Resource Manager app after clicking on it you'll then be greeted with 2 options, external memory and internal memory. Click on external memory and navigate your music to your hearts content because the resource manager app unlike the music app works generally not to badly. I did notice the odd little clip or pop once in a blue moon but overall it worked to my satisfaction.  Although I'm quite happy the resource manager works well enough to make the player work for me I still can't help but feel a little put out and bummed that such a pricey DAP's UI is buggy and can't help but wonder what was HiSound thinking when they decided to release a DAP with only half of it's UI running smoothly

 

Final judgement, this is a very nice sounding player that checks off two of the three must haves for a player to receive full praise from me. Sonically, it's a very nice capable player that will make your gear shine. All the gear I own seemed to synergize quite well with it to the point the player became transparent and I could just forget about it and concentrate on my music and what the headphone/IEM I was using could do. Physically it's form factor is the perfect size for mobile use and it feels rugged and solid in your hand. It feels like it will stand up to the test of time. If HiSound could get a firmware update out in the near future and fix or even maybe completely eliminate the buggy Music app section and playlist section on the UI this player would be a great player. As it is the UI is the only thing that's holding this player back right now and if HiSound decides to not further develop this player with a proper firmware update then they'll only be shooting themselves in the foot. This is a very nice sounding player with a premium price tag attached to it and a buggy UI in this price range is unacceptable to the customer who chooses to invest so much on an MP3 player. As it stands now I would rate this player a 3.5 out of 5 stars which can easily become a 4.75 out of five if the UI issues were addressed.

 

Posted

Pros: In review

Cons: In review

 

Well, this one has taken a while for me. First of all, thank you Jack for letting my participate in the promotion, it was the only was I was able to afford this! :rolleyes:

 

So, a little background info here. I've gone through quite a few DAPs once I decided to try to make a main portable rig. I started from a modest Clip+, which as we all know is the gateway drug. It made me want an E6, then an E7, then a CMOYbb, and finally a C421. My DAP went to an Ipod, and finally a DIYmod. I thought the DIYmod/amp combo was my end game. It sounded great, had a TON of storage, and had that sexy “Head-fi stack” appeal. But something still didn't feel right. It was a bulky combo, and one I felt was quite fragile if I happened to drop it. The battery life on the C421 is superb, but the DIYmod isn't, especially for a music skipper like myself. And also I couldn't get over the fact that it just seemed like too warm of a rig for my already warm (at the time) IEMs and cans. I was so proud of it, and it truly was a conversation piece. But when I saw this deal, I couldn't resist, and sold it away to fund this. And you know what? I'm actually pretty damn happy now.

 

I've actually had this unit for a bit, and have used it with several IEMs of both types, and am currently using them with some KSC75's. Once December gets here I'll be testing this with my Tzar 350's and report back then as well. Maybe if I get some other full sized cans, I'll post that too. More information is better. Now to stop rambling!

 

 

 

PROS:

  • Stupid good battery life

  • Can be used as a separate amp, and actually does a pretty good job at it

  • The most durable DAP I've held yet.

  • Sounds great, with a slightly bright presentation that gives good detail.

  • The sound works PERFECTLY with warmer signatures. SM3, most of the higher dynamic IEMs (save for EX series) will even out with this player, and will sing.

 

 

EH:

  • The file naming issue isn't a huge deal, once you get a tagging program set.

  • No support for 24/96 FLAC

  • Very slight detail errors on the casing (I'm very neurotic about these things, so grain of salt on this one)

  • Because of the brighter signature, I feel there is a very slight bass rolloff. This player might make some IEMs too energetic.

 

CONS:

  • The firmware. While it isn't horrible for very simple tasks, it keeps this player from being a no question asked superpower. Jack has said there will be an update though, so fingers crossed. It's not enough to keep me from recommending it though.

  • Boot time. This is related to the firmware, and it reindexes everything, every time you boot. With proper tagging (thanks lee!) it boots in a minute or so if nothing has changed, but with several files/folders, prepare for a wait if you have added anything.

 

 

Alright, now on to the details.

 

PACKAGING:

 

The packaging was nice, a faux shiny leather case with a charger, USB cable, and some updated PAA-1 earbuds were included (PAA-1 is still one of my favorite earbuds, so that's a plus). I actually like the casing and stuff, although it would be nicer to see packaging that matched the handsome champagne color of the player. Not much else to say here, it did its job.

 

 

BUILD QUALITY:

 

Now THIS is a tough player. It is completely metal, with an acrylic plate on the back, and metal under that. I'm not gonna lie, I've dropped it a few times. The ONLY damage I see is some slight cracking in the acrylic backing. While this saddened me to no end (I love my things being in pristine condition), it affected the playing in NO WAY. Thanks again flash memory ;) Speaking of dropping it, the other posters are completely accurate. You could kill someone with this thing, given enough force. It is a metal bar. I'm one of those people who feel I got a better product if it's heavier (see: stupid misconceptions of hifi).

 

It feels good in the hand. It's also a lot smaller than I imagined. When I saw the Studio, I thought “Wow, that thing is FAT”. But it really isn't so bad. I would say maybe 2 7th gen Ipods on top of one another. It's really quite pocketable, and this is probably one of my favorite things about it. It isn't a pain to get out of my pants pocket, and doesn't look like I'm smuggling a bomb when it IS in my pocket. It works out quite nicely.

 

Aesthetically speaking, it's a gorgeous piece to me. While some prefer a different look, I've fallen for this finish. Around the jacks there are some markings where whatever cutting device made them didn't make it perfect. It is barely noticeable until you start nitpicking. Nitpicking like the flattened off edges, one of them on mine is slightly uneven. Would you think about this on a day to day basis? Not unless you have a lot of free time, and forgot your headphones at home (*cough cough*).

 

Despite these minor minor cosmetic flaws, I couldn't be happier with the build of this thing. Major respect to Jack and crew on that.

 

 

INTERFACE:

 

The Achilles heel of this player, and honestly the only negative thing I can say about it. I feel the UI isn't unusable, but very clunky and primitive. One BIG example is the index check every time you boot. This is an annoyance, and a very big one depending on if you've tagged your stuff properly. It could take quite a while if you have a ton of stuff on there.

 

That brings me to another thing, this thing is P-I-C-K-Y with tagging. Thankfully enough lee730 has a VERY good tutorial on how to batch tag all your stuff when your transfer it over. If I could change one thing and one thing only about this player, I would actually choose the tagging issues. For instance, accepting ID3v2 or letting things be tagged 1,2,3 instead of 01,02,03. I can live without an EQ. But I can't live with my tracks being unorganized, especially if it's an album I haven't heard before. But once you have your stuff started and playing, it works A-OK. I would like Last.fm scrobbling on here, but I can't really think of a Chinese DAP that supports that without Rockbox. Oh well :S

 

PERFORMANCE:

 

Back to the good! This thing sounds great. It may have been because my main IEM when I had my DIYmod was too warm for it (SM3), but it opened up on this player. I also had a few dynamics that I tested on this and I really do feel that this player evens out warmer/bassy IEMs in a good way. It seems to open up the 1K-7K area, and personally I felt more detail extraction. This is a double edged sword though. With IEMs such as the HF5, I felt that it was a little too bright. I didn't get to try my impedance adapter at the time I had them, but I felt that might have helped a bit. I'm a closet basshead though, so I want my bass very VERY punchy :P


The amp only part functions great. It gets very very loud (and makes me wonder if the DAP itself keeps the amp from being as powerful as it could be). It has a very clear, transparent sound with what I feel is a slight slight rolloff under 60hZ.

 

 

 

 

Overall, I love this mini brick. Would I buy it for MSRP? If the firmware gets updated, in a heartbeat. Would I otherwise? I would be more hesitant, but would definitely be content either way.

 

Posted

Pros: Sound quality, battery life, sound quality, real buttons.

Cons: Erm, not sure there is any really. The UI isn’t stellar.

Full Review at http://www.head-fi.org/t/634747/hisoundaudio-studio-v-3rd-anniversary-edition-review

 

Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anniversary Edition Quick Review

 

Thanks to Hisoundaudio for the sample.

 

Brief:  Hisoundaudio updates the Studio V.

 

Price:  Circa US$450 or £265 (pre HMRC.)

 

Specification:  Good Question, I don’t know bar what’s up for the Studio V.

 

Accessories:  A US plugged USB power charger, a USB cable and a pair of the PAA-1 earphones. 

 

Build Quality:  Not as perfect as the sharp edged old one but it’s still essentially a block of machined aluminium.  You’re not going to break it short of hitting it with a sledge hammer.

 

UI:  It is still what I might call eccentric.  The central button is play, pause, menu and power on and off control.  You do get used to it pretty quickly but it’s weird and you will accidently turn it off trying to get to the menu now and then. 

 

In the Hand:  It’s less severe than its predecessor but it’s still an unyielding block.  No girly curves to fit the contours of your hand or any of that nonsense.  It’s right out of the Brutalism movement.  Still it bothered me not a jot and I really liked the easily felt buttons.  They are nicely pronounced and I had no trouble at all controlling the device while it resided in my pocket.  Never once did I accidently hit a button without meaning to.

 

Aesthetics:  So it’s in silver, hmm I think I liked black better but who cares.  This product is all about function, the bare metal just lends itself to that concept, pure and unfettered by such trivialities.  Think Corbusier.

 

Sound:  As good as I have ever encountered.  The amp it contains is horrifyingly good, the power it can unleash is incredible yet it has zero issue with the most sensitive IEM’s out there.  It is a near perfectly neutral sounding DAP with simply tremendous extension at both ends.  Lows on every headphone go on as far as I’ve ever heard them do so and the same for the highs.  Mids are spectacularly open and transparent too.  There may be a slight enhancement of the highs which I found meant it didn’t suit the brightest of IEM’s, but then I’m always treble sensitive.  The sound quality otherwise is pretty much flawless.   As open, transparent and dynamic as I’ve ever heard a DAP be, its gloriously and spectacularly good sounding. Its timing too is utterly impeccable.

 

Value:  Okay it’s not cheap but you get easily what you pay for.  It sounds tremendously good.

 

Pro’s:  Sound quality, battery life, sound quality, real buttons.

 

Con’s:  Erm, not sure there is any really.  The UI isn’t stellar.

 

Posted

Pros: Neutral, Analytical sound, Loads of Details, Solid Build, Battery Life

Cons: User Interface Can Be Improved,

With the latest version, Hisoundaudio has improved on the hiss by redesigning the circuit. Build quality has also improved from the previous versions, with better machining of the aluminium.

 

Most importantly, sound is still as amazing as ever, up to par with higher end players such as DX100 and Colourfly C4 IMO.

 

Compared to the earlier version, this unit has less hiss and more refined highs, Battery Life kicks the ass out of every player in the market. Charge it once is enough to last me 2 weeks :)

 

 

Posted

Pros: Sound, Battery life, size, power, looks, durability

Cons: UI just OK and while acceptable with even high efficiency IEMs, hiss could be lower, Limited to 24/48

The player, for lack of a better word, is dramatic but not artificially so. More like it has the ability to bring home the soul and intentions of a song. There's a tangibility here that you don't get from other all in one players. Music often has a personal message or story that a performer is trying to relate and it's the hardest thing kit has to do. Call it goose bump factor but it won't show up in specs. This player can transport you there.

 

It's not perfect. The ui could be more refined (but it's fine), the display larger(but it's fine), quieter (but it's fine) and sonically, it just sounds great in a natural presentation yet dynamic sort of way. It's close enough to just right that there's little to criticize and preference for some other more expensive hi end player would simply be that, a personal preference. It's dynamic, detailed, open, focused and has a unique solidity without sounding hard. It runs forever and plays 24/48 wav files. It will also play FLAC at standard def, aac, wma, mp3 and APE. There's not much here not to like if music is your main goal.

 

I can get my way around a circuit but really, when I'm listening, I just don't give a crap. I never presume to know more than those that actually create. I think they've stayed with this basic platform and refined it because, A, they know it (and there's a lot to be said for that) and B, they just plain like the way it sounds. So do I.

 

I can say that judging from comments on comparisons to the V by others, I'm glad I waited. The difference in price seems marginal considering the improvements. Even if small, they seem significant for IEMs. Probably less so for cans.

 

I've got some Ipod touches, amps with lod, a few Sansa's Rockboxed and not and this is my go to on many fronts but mostly sound as it's tops. It's easily pocket-able and lasts for days. I still have my touch if I want Internet or apps and my clip+ if I just want to clip to my T-shirt etc or am worried I'll drown the player etc. but the Studio has ended my search. It may not be the absolute best player made but it probably is at the price and it has buttons instead of a touchscreen, doesn't cost >$800, is small enough to shirt pocket completely hidden, and lasts for a long, long time. My touch 3 LOD to a custom amp is close but it still costs more and is bulkier than I have any interest to carry. Like many here (some with a lot of experience) it's become my go to player.

 

I wanted to give the line in a work out so hooked up some original AKG 701s and the lod from an Ipod touch to use the Studio as an amp. It tightened and focused the sound with more slam and bass control while driving the 701s as loud as I could ever use them. The amp stage probably adds around 6db to 10 db of gain full up. I couldn't get it to clip on the AKGs. Maxed, the volume was just bearable for a short time to test. If you don't know these 701s, they're notoriously hard to drive cans and this drove them well.

 

On it's own, there's not enough gain to play the AKGs very loud but these are the extreme and the amp is plenty strong given enough signal at the line input side. I'm sure it will be fine as is for most cans as well.

 

24/48 is top res for this unit so it won't do true Hi Def but I think you'll find that the 24 id the more significant portion of that HiDef spec. 24/48 is a great compromise for portables. 
 

Posted

Pros: SQ, can be used as an portable amp,size and battery

Cons: user interface

the Studio V is an DAP made by hisound. There are two firmware on this DAP, dynamic and BA.

I will be using the Dynamic firmware in my review and the IEM that i will be using is UM3x RC and IE80.

 

High: Really smooth high and detailed. the studio v extended the high nicely. i suspect the Studio V would not pair nicely with an bright IEM.

 

Bass: the bass is tight and punchy, its not boomy but definitely present and well controlled.

 

mids: the mids are very detailed and abit foward in my opinion. it also have an nice midrange

 

Imaging: The imaging is probably the best part of the Studio V 3rd anv. it have superb imaging making the sound like 3d.

 

soundstage: the soundstage is very wide and deep. this DAP have the widest soundstage compared to my other DAP

 

battery life: it have an very long battery life, i think around 68 hour of music playback

 

UI: The UI isnt as bad as some people say but the UI could be better (its simple to use though).

 

Special thanks to Jack also known as hisound for the promotion and a really fantastic DAP. Jack told me that the Studio V need burn in, so far i have burned in for around 29 hour. i will update my review when i notice a change in sound. i will do a comparison to the previous Studio V late when my unit is fully burned in. for this kind of quality, i think its an great value and totally worth the price.

 

edit: i forgot to mention that this player also have excellent clarity

Posted

Pros: Superb SQ, bomb-proof build, small and compact

Cons: The UI is a little awkward, but you get used to it

Simply stunning sound quality - will drive anything with its massive power output.

The UI isn't brilliant, but it is OK. English instructions would probably help (maybe I'll write some).

 

Head and shoulders above the Sansa Clip+, but then so it should be at 10 times the price.

 

 

 

Update - 5th October 2012

 

I have had this player for the best part of a month now and still love it to bits. I recently spent a week on a beach listening to this player and have to say that it lasted all week on a single charge with still 50% left for the plane home. 

 

What impresses me most is the detail and clarity that this little unit squeezes out of every track I've played on it. I listen almost exclusively to Pink Floyd and Roger Waters' material (all in flac) currently through Etymotic HF5s (which may be a little too clinical for use with the Studio), although I am seriously considering some CIEMs to go with this high end PMP.

 

I have heard detail and layering that I didn't even know existed in some of Waters' albums. I've compared a number of tracks with the Sansa Clip+ and it just doesn't pick up some of the background samples and voices like the Studio does.

 

What I will say is that this player will show up any poor quality recording or compression, so aim for the best quality formats you can and you'll be fine.

 

I am still finding the UI a bit clunky, but I am getting used to it. Also, there is sometimes a very slight click between tracks on albums where one track leads into the next (ie most Pink Floyd albums !). Whilst this is not enough to not recommend this player, it would be nicer if it wasn't there. I have not tried any other firmware with this player as I love the sound that comes as standard.

 

In all - highly recommended if SQ is your bag. Everyone at work who has plugged they (rubbish) iPhone earbuds into it have been impressed *sigh*. If it can make them sound good, just imagine what a decent pair of IEMs will sound like ;-)

 

 

 

Studio V Anniversary Edition
Description:

Hisound's Studio 3rd Anniversary edition: Perfect player in the world. Hisound's Studio hifi music player( DAP) is featured with tiny size, big sound, strongest power with longest playing time. The Studio 3rd Anniversary edition is qualified to be the perfect player in the world. Features : 1., 80 MW of out put power which is one of the strongest power DAP in the world. 2, It has 85 hours playing time battery. 3, Very portable which is only 80X50x20MM, 4, Has a decent earphone amplifier function, which is one of the best portable earphone amplifier in the market. 5, Neutral sound signature, which can be great synergy with most earphones. 6, No hiss with most headphones, even no hiss with SE 530 , TF 10 or most CIEMs. 7, Maybe has the widest sound stage among all the rest players.

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandHiSoundaudio
EAN0780563201228
Feature80 MW of outpower 85 hours playing time neutral sound signature Excellent sound quality
LabelHiSoundaudio
ManufacturerHiSoundaudio
MPNHSA -002
PublisherHiSoundaudio
StudioHiSoundaudio
TitleStudio V Anniversary Edition
UPC780563201228
Size80X50X20mm
PartNumberHSA -002
ProductGroupNetwork Media Player
ProductTypeNameMP3_PLAYER
UPCList - UPCListElement780563201228
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC

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