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iPod Classic 160Gb+Fostex HP-P1 or HiFiman HM-801+GAME amp modular for HM-801 or Colorfly C4 Pro

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hi

 

I'm tired of the ultracrappy sound quality of my Samsung Galaxy S2 and the lacking of a USB LOD like the iPhone 4, so I'm currently in the search of a good portable rig and my three options are:

 

- iPod classic 160Gb plus a Fostex HP-P1 to be used as DAC and headphone amp.

- HiFiman HM-801 + GAME amp modular card for HM-801

- ColorFly C4 Pro player

 

More or less both options will cost the same.

 

I will use them with my Fostex T50RP, Koss Pro DJ100 and Grado HF-2. I listen to a wide variety of music: Hip Hop, Metal, Electronic, Soul, Funky.... etc etc and almost all my music library is in FLAC files.

 

What would be the best bet of the three options regarding pure sound quality?


Edited by SLaRe - 10/5/11 at 10:23pm
post #2 of 25
Thread Starter 

I've added a new contender: the Colorfly C4 Pro.

 

I'm very disappointed, because I thought that a thread like this would have had a little more success, even if it was a marketing reply from a sponsor or something like that. This is one of those opportunities when I would like a sponsor to expose the advantages of his product over the others.

 

From what I know and I've read, each one has some advantages and disavantages. I'm going to write all the information here as personal notes to help me making my decision.

 

1, iPod Classic 160Gb + Fostex HP-P1

 

Pros:

 

- Compatible with a huge number of docks and accesories.

- High quality DAC and amp in the Fostex unit, that can drive almost all headphones.

- 160Gb of storage, biggest of the three.

- Possibility of Rockbox port.

- Great UI and user experience.

- Both Fostex and Apple are very consolidated brands in their respective business areas.

 

Cons:

 

- Huge size of the combo.

- Not compatible with FLAC if the stock firmware is used.

- Old model range.

- No memory card slot.

- No replaceable battery.

 

2, HifiMan HM-801 + GAME amp modular card

 

Pros:

 

- Powerful amplifier.

- Compatibility with 24bit/96KHz.

- Replaceable battery.

- Modular design with upgradeable parts.

- Memory card slot.

 

Cons:

 

- Mixed reviews.

- Exceptionally poor measurements with lots of distortion that some report as musical, but others hate the way it sounds.

- Short battery life.

- Somewhat hard to get in Europe, except in one british online shop.

- Ugly as the backside of a fridge.

- Poor UI and user experience.

- Black and gold, not quite my style.

- The most expensive of the three, despite having the poorest build quality and selling package.

 

3, ColorFly C4 32Gb

 

Pros:

 

- Utterly beatiful with real wood and metal front case in brass.

- Really eye-catching desing of the front panel.

- Analog ALPS potentiometer with no imbalance even at dead silent listening levels.

- Very good reviews.

- Very impressive measurements. The jitter is unmeasureable.

- Very nice package, with real leather case.

- Two headphone outputs: 1/4" and 1/8".

- Powerful amplifier.

- Compatibility with 24bit/192 files.

- Seems to have regular firmware updates.

- Direct button for upsampling.

- The cheapest of the three.

- The smallest of the three, though it's quite big indeed.

 

Cons:

 

- Very little information in the web about it. Don't know if it's possible to add a memory card.

- Hard to get in Europe, except in the british distributor.

- Poor battery life.

- Poor UI and user experience.

- No custom EQ.

post #3 of 25

Id go with the iPod Classic, and FYI the ColorFly had plastic wood.

post #4 of 25

Consider this a free bump. I think your question is a superlative one and I have been wondering about this myself. Why hasn't anyone done a head-to-head comparison of the Fostex HP-P1 vs. the HiFiMan 801? I suppose not many people have these portables and even fewer people have both. 

post #5 of 25

Another complimentary bump on me!  BTW, I think you did a good job in listing pros and cons.  The way I look at it, for each of the iPod's cons there is a solution or at least a 'counter':

 

- Huge size of the combo.  From your choice in headphones, I'm guessing this will be more of a transportable/ desktop/ bedside system rather than something you'll go jogging with.  Therefore although it might be the largest of the three setups, in the end the overall difference is negligible.  Plus, if you want to go truly portable you can always separate the iPod from the amp temporarily.  This might be the hardest obstacle to address.

- Not compatible with FLAC if the stock firmware is used.  As you said, "with stock firmware".  So there is a workaround here if you want it that badly.

- Old model range.  Rumor has it that this was to be discontinued, but after the last announcement it seems to have survived at least a while longer.  Plus, those other two units look like they were made in the 70's anyway.  tongue.gif

- No memory card slot.  Not necessary?  I have to think that although 'limited' to 160gb, swapping memory cards on the other units will be more annoying than you could imagine.

- No replaceable battery.  I am a worrier when it comes to things like this too.  I want to keep these things the rest of my life even though I know I will replace them in 2-3 years.  Current battery technology is so good that chances are you will be onto the next thing before this dies on you.  I have a 2nd gen Shuffle that is still going strong after 4 years of hard use.  I have a 7 year old iPod Mini that I haven't used in several years and just dug up the other day, and it still charges.  And if you do manage to exhaust the battery (or hard drive for that matter), I don't know about where you live but in the U.S. there are quite a few places that will replace these items for you.  Or you could look it up on the web and DIY.

 

I guess you could say that I am leaning towards the iPod setup.  And if SQ is really your main concern, I'd stay away from the HM-801 since its colored sound seems to be polarizing- unless you can listen to it for yourself and then maybe you might find that you like the way it sounds.  Otherwise, it's a bit of a risk.  Hope this helps!

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidhunternyc View Post

Consider this a free bump. I think your question is a superlative one and I have been wondering about this myself. Why hasn't anyone done a head-to-head comparison of the Fostex HP-P1 vs. the HiFiMan 801?
 

 

Email Mike at Headfonia - he's done reviews on all of the above and many more (CLAS being the obvious challenger).

 

 

http://www.headfonia.com/hifi-dap-comparison-hm-801-hm-602-qa350-boomslang/

 

http://www.headfonia.com/hm-801-t51-rwa-imod-ipod-classic-and-x1060/

 

http://www.headfonia.com/the-fostex-hp-p1/

 

Personally, I thought his conclusion on the HP-P1 sounded like the proverbial 'backhanded compliment', but its remarkably close to Jude's verdict on Head-Fi TV. If you want warmth and 'musicality', HM-801 appears to be your player. If you want to drive big cans from one of the above rigs, the CLAS might be a better option. Just be aware that some of Mike's opinions differ from many here - only natural, IMO - and he wears his heart on his sleeve re his preference for the darker, warmer end of the gear universe. Caveat emptor.

 

Lately I’ve been a big fan of the older, analog sounding DAC like the PCM1704, the TDA1541 and TDA1543, which is why I heavily favor the HM-602 and HM-801 for their very analog sound reproduction. In phase with the vinyl revolution, these old DAC chips have been the ones heavily favored by the audio crowd as they give a very analog sounding reproduction with great sound ambiance, tonality and emotion superior from most of the newer DAC chips. The sound of the Fostex HP-P1 is quite the opposite, as it clearly takes on the stance of the more colorless, often dubbed “digital sounding” DACs. And yet, this may be one of the best version of the “digital sound” group I’ve encountered so far. The colorless sound and precise instrument separation and layering is very impressive, and while most other digital sounding DACs fail, the HP-P1 shines with a truly smooth and musical without the slightest hint of coldness to be heard. This is very impressive, even by desktop DAC standards.

 

 

post #7 of 25

meh, hifiman 601 or fostex hp_p1 is giving me a headache. (which to buy).

 

*If you get an iPod touch, you can use Flacplayer app to play FLAC.

 

*And use the Equalizer app to possibly create a hifiman 601/2-801 sound.


Edited by ExpatinJapan - 10/7/11 at 5:27am
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ExpatinJapan View Post

 

 

*And use the Equalizer app to possibly create a hifiman 601/2-801 sound.



Keep dreaming. With the possible exception of a sophisticated DSP solution like the ZO, I just dont see that happening. Even then, will you have the bass weight and soundstage of a player with more grunt in the amp section ? I seriously doubt it - if that were possible with software, why would folk still be spending 1000+ on tube amps ? You can only bend the laws of physics so far. 

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SLaRe View Post

 



Im on this journey as well.. Have looked at the gear you have listed however I keep getting stuck on the cons of the Colorfly etc.

 

I have this combo:

 

iPod 5.5 Rockboxed>RSA SR71a>playing hi end FLAC>IE8's and it sounds good. I actually listen to my K701s on this rig and the SR71a really is a great little amp. Headphonia rates this amp bar the battery setup which is 2 x 9volt batterys. But the sound of this rig just makes me keep coming back to it over my desktop setup.

 

My next purchase will be the CLAS and standard iPod classic so will be able to compare.

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thank you guys for the tips and the answers. At this point I'm leaning towards the iPod Classic+Fostex HP-P1 rig, since I love the balanced and uncoloured sound and because I can't demo the HifiMan HM-801.

 

First I will get the iPod classic and then try the HP-P1 in a local store that has stock of it.

post #11 of 25

I hope my post does not make you go even crazier! biggrin.gif I have the HM801 and I love it, having said so I acknowledge its "issues" but to me a big plus is the ability to carry several 32 Gb cards for additional music. I wish there was a case supplied with it.

 

Having said so there is another option that IMO is superb ... the iRiver H120 or H140. I have both and have upgraded the H120 20 Gb HD to an 80 Gb HD and larger battery. I am still waiting for a cheap 128 Gb CF card or a cheap 128 Gb SSD to install on the H140, both are running Rockbox. Either of these are connected to an iBasso Boomslang/Toucan combo and the sound is SPECTACULAR! Yes, it is a big rig but ...

 

Good luck.

 

DSCN1073 copy.JPG

 

I listen at low volumes so the AKG K1000 is fine for me. The newer version of the iBasso amp has 32 volts instead of the 25 volts on my unit so it would drive the K1000 even louder.

 

DSCN1089.JPG


Edited by mrarroyo - 10/8/11 at 8:40am
post #12 of 25

Nice stuff.  Jealous of your K1000.  How does the PB1/2 drive the K1000?  

post #13 of 25

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/lounge/196054-electronics-reality-part-company-below-20khz.html

 

I dont have the electronics background to argue with our learned friend. Over to the forum for further discussion. 

post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/lounge/196054-electronics-reality-part-company-below-20khz.html   I dont have the electronics background to argue with our learned friend. Over to the forum for further discussion. 

Thanks for the link, it's interesting.

Nevertheless, I'm going to try the HP-P1 before buying it, because I'm not a believer of the 99.99% of the audiophilia-related statements.

The main reason for considering these rigs is my need of a quality portable source that can drive my orthodynamic headphones with total ease.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post

I hope my post does not make you go even crazier! biggrin.gif I have the HM801 and I love it, having said so I acknowledge its "issues" but to me a big plus is the ability to carry several 32 Gb cards for additional music. I wish there was a case supplied with it.

 

Having said so there is another option that IMO is superb ... the iRiver H120 or H140. I have both and have upgraded the H120 20 Gb HD to an 80 Gb HD and larger battery. I am still waiting for a cheap 128 Gb CF card or a cheap 128 Gb SSD to install on the H140, both are running Rockbox. Either of these are connected to an iBasso Boomslang/Toucan combo and the sound is SPECTACULAR! Yes, it is a big rig but ...

 

Good luck.

 

DSCN1073 copy.JPG

 

I listen at low volumes so the AKG K1000 is fine for me. The newer version of the iBasso amp has 32 volts instead of the 25 volts on my unit so it would drive the K1000 even louder.

 

DSCN1089.JPG


I love the K1000 smily_headphones1.gif

Thank you for your comment, but at this point I think I'll get the iPod classic and the HP-P1, after a demo. The impossibility of trying the HM-801 or buying it with a returning option is what had driven me to this decision, although it's not 100% final.

The iRiver is quite obsolete and difficult to get, but looks good.

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