Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Review: HiSound RoCoo D Power Edition
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Review: HiSound RoCoo D Power Edition

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

 

CSC_0067.jpg

 

 

HiSound is a company that has been around for a while, but I had never had first hand experience with any of their products. I had heard some good stories and some very bad stories about their equipment, which isn’t too different from most gear around here. The main focus of the company seemed to be low priced earphones and “audiophile” type portable players; neither of which is an area I usually focus on. So I figured I might never try a HiSound product. And I was fine with that.

 

One day I log on to HeadFi and get a message from Jack Fu of HiSound. He wanted to discuss the possibility of having a review done on a new product. We emailed back and forth, and after some delays (roughly 5 months by now), here I am reviewing the RoCoo D power edition DAP. I’ll do a separate post to cover the Popo IEMs.

 

By now there has already been much discussion of this product, and a very thorough review by another user. I don’t intend to duplicate efforts, so I’ll mostly be focusing on more subjective bits and giving my opinions. I’ve also got a special plan in mind, but you’ll have to read on to find out.

 

 

CSC_0066.jpg

 

DESIGN

First off let’s discuss the name. As far as I can tell, the official name of this product is the RoCoo D. This is in contrast to the earlier RoCoo A, B, and C models, which looked totally different from this new model. So we have the RoCoo D, and then it breaks down into two versions – standard and power edition. The two are identical except for the amp section, where the power edition is… more powerful (hence the name). The standard version delivers up to 50mW peak, and the power edition bumps that up to 80mW.

 

Downsides? The standard edition supposedly has less hiss, so is more appropriate for sensitive IEMs. Note that this info came from Jack at HiSound, from a few months back. Things may have changed since then, so if this is no longer relevant then I apologize for making it even more confusing. I already see people calling this the RoCoo P, and google gives better results when searching for RoCCo or RoCCoo… so I’m not alone in being confused about the naming.

 

On to the device itself: the RoCoo D is a fairly compact DAP. It’s nearly identical in size to a Sansa Fuze, but is roughly 3 times thicker. Construction is metal and plastic, and feels somewhat upscale if not completely high end. I really like the size of the device and it fits easily into my pocket. I do wish they had made the corners more rounded, as they have potential to really jab you if you aren’t careful. Buttons are well laid out, and the whole thing is simple to figure out.

 

I had heard some bad things about the prior HiSound models, with people going so far as to say they seemed like beta products due to buggy behavior and crashing. I was surprised to find that the RoCoo D avoids those issues. It feels fast while navigating menus and I didn’t encounter a single error. Maybe I just got lucky. The display is small and somewhat cramped but ultimately good enough to get the job done. Overall I find the device relatively intuitive and easy to use.

 

In terms of features, it isn’t anything special. The EQ is about as good as the Sansa Clip or Fuze – basically worthless for most applications. I like navigating by folder, but choosing the usual categories like artist or album is also possible. I don’t normally create playlists and I don’t know if that is even possible on this device. Overall I find the device adequate if a little basic. I do have to mention something important: there is an option in the "settings" menu called HDMS. It is off by default, but can be turned on. BE CAREFUL with this! What it does is disable the volume control and output a line level signal. Translation..... it could damage your headphones! Luckily when it happened I had my K701s plugged in and it didn't do any damage. But what if I had a $1,000+ custom IEM plugged in? If I blew out my JH13 or Heir 8.A, I would NOT be pleased. So be careful with this choice. 

 

I haven’t opened up the RoCoo D, because I fear that I will never get it re-assembled properly. So I have to go by what I’ve been told. Jack tells me it uses the Sigmatel 3770 as the main processing chip as well as the DAC. This is not a high end/high priced solution, having been used on many portable devices of average quality. That said, this is the same solution used in the earlier HiSound effort, the $345 Studio V. Just because it doesn't use top level hardware doesn't mean it can't potentially sound great.

 

HiSound has become somewhat controversial for claiming a class A amp section in their other models, yet providing a long battery life which is inconsistent with that claim. This has been discussed ad nauseam and I don’t know what else I can add. HiSound makes the same claims with the RoCoo D, so make of that what you will. One key aspect missing from the published specs is the output impedance. I suspect it is somewhat on the higher side based on my listening. Battery life is fairly decent, generally lining up with the claimed 10 hours of playback. This seems short compared to mainstream players which last for many dozens of hours, but it’s about double that of my QLS QA-350 player so I’m happy with it.

 

CSC_0077.jpg

 

 

DURABILITY

Based on the pictures, it looks like the RoCoo D might be fragile and prone to scratching. That isn’t really the case. I subjected it to some fairly rough use and it has held up well for the most part. All of the pictures in this post are “raw” – I deliberately took them after real world use, without stopping to clean off the player. Yes, there is some smudging and such, and dust/debris settles easily into the small area between the buttons. Yet overall I’m pleased with how well it holds up. All of the smudges and such will easily wipe clean. I did pick up a few light scratches, but no worse than the rear of an iPod.

 

 

CSC_0076.jpg

 

LISTENING

The sound? That's complicated. A its best, the Rocoo D sounds pretty good. It has a somewhat forward midrange, with good tonality overall. Bass is tight but somewhat rolled off in the lowest regions. Highs too have a bit of roll off in the upper regions, which ends up sounding pleasant in many instances. The extra power on tap here is welcome in some situations, driving most full sized headphones better than an iPod would. I still don’t think is capable of maxing out most of my full sized headphones. But it does an admirable job for such a tiny device.

 

Notice how I keep qualifying everything by saying things like “at its best”. The issue I have with the RoCoo D is inconsistency. My biggest gripe is something that seems to have plagued HiSound from the start – hiss. The last time I heard hiss this bad was with an old Sansa E130 from about 7 years ago. It doesn’t show up with every headphone, but I’d say 70% of the time (or more), it is present and obvious. It isn’t the type that goes away when the actual music starts either. I notice it gets worse when scrolling through albums or artists – every time the screen changes, there is a clear increase in noise. To be fair, once the music is playing at a reasonable level, it helps mask the hiss to some degree. And certain headphones bring it out more than others. If it was limited to strictly ultra-sensitive IEMs, I wouldn’t blame the player, but it shows up rather loudly with my full sized Denons and my V-Moda M80s too.

 

I mentioned earlier that I thought the output impedance was high. I came to that conclusion by listening to various custom IEMs, and hearing different results compared to my reference gear. In some cases it could be pleasing: my Earproof Atoms became punchier in the bass, and my Westone AC2 got a welcome buttery smoothness in the upper mids/highs. Unfortunately this also goes the other direction: my Heir Audio 8.A sounds great except for the added midbass, which is an area where it doesn’t need any boosting. And the Ultrasone Edition 8 sounds thin and lifeless, which is the opposite of its normal character. I felt like each headphone I plugged in to the RoCoo D was a new adventure, and I’d never know if the results would be pleasing or disappointing until I tried each one. Eventually I found that the variability was more prominent with low impedance headphones; my 300 ohm Sennheisers and 600 ohm AKGs didn’t necessarily sound perfect, but that didn’t seem caused by impedance interactions so much as general DAC and amp limitations.

 

 

CONCLUSION?

Unfortunately I have to move on. I was impressed with some of the sound produced by the RoCoo D, but it was very headphone specific. Factor in the hiss and I’d say the device sounds bad more often than good. It made an exceptional pairing with my Earproof and Westone custom IEMs, making those sound better than any portable I’ve tried… so the potential is there for this to be a good match. But can also be a very bad match - it really depends on your headphones.

 

If there is so much variability here, how is one to know if this device is a good match for them? That was the issue I wanted to solve. The solution I came up with is this: I’ll send the RoCoo D around to the community, to anyone with reasonable feedback/postcount, and let you folks try it yourselves. I’ve done this with my Matrix Quattro DAC and amp and that seems to be working well. Since this is such a small device, it should be even more simple in terms of shipping.

 

So anyone interested in trying out the device, please respond here. I want to be somewhat “hands off” on this one – I’ll pick a worthy first participant with good feedback, and they are then responsible for picking the next participant, etc. Each person is asked to simply post their thoughts, for better or worse. It doesn’t have to be a novel but I’d ask for specifics like which headphones worked well and which did not (and why). The goal here is to build something like a consensus as to what matches up well, and how bad this hissing/noise issue really is. Maybe I’m just extra sensitive to it and making it sound worse than it really is.

 

I do have to thank Jack at HiSound for providing the review sample. Despite all the controversy about prior HiSound products and design choices, I do think they mean well, and I really do see evidence of improvement. Things aren’t perfect but progress is always a good thing.

 

 

EDIT

 

I've updated my firmware, and the RoCoo D seems improved now. I have to spend more time with it, but right from the start I'm hearing less hiss. Not completely silent, but significantly better. I'll need more time before I start sending the device around for audition. 

 

 

 


Edited by project86 - 1/22/12 at 11:22am
post #2 of 13

Nice write up. Which of the Firmwares did you use, the RoCoo folder or the RoCoo P folder? 

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post

Nice write up. Which of the Firmwares did you use, the RoCoo folder or the RoCoo P folder? 



I haven't flashed any firmwares - just kept the original that was on there when I got it a while back. 

 

Back then, there was no thread about firmware updates. 

post #4 of 13

PM me you email and let me send you a few to try before you ship it around. Hard to know which it came with but the one listed as RoCoo-p sound more like what you described. The RoCoo is a bit more neutral and considered an acceptable FW. The Studio BA is neat sounding with more midcentric phones and works fine. Also drops the gain They take about 5 min to install and someone with your experience will have their sonics down in a hour or so of playing around. bigsmile_face.gif

post #5 of 13

HI, Project 86,Thanks for the great review. It is very detaied.

 

The player you reviewed is now  officially named ROCOO P, that is the power version. With the inadequacy paired with some high sensitive earphones, it will present the very slight hiss. But to most "normal" sensitive earphones, it is not an issue.

 

For the high sensitive or for the these who only want to pair with the portable earphones ( not the full size high impedance headphones), We have prepare the ROCOO model for them. It will have no hiss paired with the high sensitve earphones.

 

Of course, the difference between the two is not onlly the output power. but more difference are the sound signature, Rocoo P is suitable for the bassy genres while the ROCOO is suitable for the refined and detailed music genres. ROCOO  is one of the most high resolution sound player in the market.

 

So, we hope you can have the correct selection for your taste.

post #6 of 13

Any update with the new firmware?

 

I have read good things about it when paired with Denon D2k, which is strange since they are 25ohm cans, and I do struggle with them and the Asus Xonar STX (10 ohm output impedance), so i think high output impedance is relative, if its good with the Denons. Then I would guess at around a 5ohm or a little less output impedance? 

Which is really fine for 90% of cans and IEM's so only the 16 ohm and 8ohm sets will really get hammered.

 

I'm contemplating buying the RoCoo P for porting around to the office for use with my d2k and FA-003 (going to order soon) and possibly even the AKG 242HD's I have coming.

And because Jack was gracious enough to send me a pair of POP/POPO IEMs to review.

post #7 of 13

I'm considering a RoCoo purchase and was also wondering if anyone knew of a firmware update.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WiR3D View Post

Any update with the new firmware?

 

I have read good things about it when paired with Denon D2k, which is strange since they are 25ohm cans, and I do struggle with them and the Asus Xonar STX (10 ohm output impedance), so i think high output impedance is relative, if its good with the Denons. Then I would guess at around a 5ohm or a little less output impedance? 

Which is really fine for 90% of cans and IEM's so only the 16 ohm and 8ohm sets will really get hammered.

 

I'm contemplating buying the RoCoo P for porting around to the office for use with my d2k and FA-003 (going to order soon) and possibly even the AKG 242HD's I have coming.

And because Jack was gracious enough to send me a pair of POP/POPO IEMs to review.



Sorry, things are slow going for me lately. Illness, work, and lots of new gear to play with biggrin.gif

 

The RoCoo P does pair pretty well with the Denons. I like it better than the Clip+ in that case. Is it a case of coloration sounding pleasant? Maybe. That's the thing with higher output impedance - you never know how the interactions will go. They might be favorable, or they might be terrible. That's why a low output impedance is ideal, because it is consistent. 

 

If you were in the USA I'd send you my RoCoo P to play with. Sorry!

 

In terms of updates: the thread with the downloads is HERE. It gets confusing, but the process for flashing a new firmware is pretty basic. And supposedly you can't brick the unit easily. I do hear differences between the various firmware options. I think the one I'm using now is my favorite - it's the 4th one down on the list, labeled just as RoCoo firmware (not RoCoo P, not Studio). It pretty much keeps the same signature that I discussed in the review, but improved a bit. Bass extension is better, highs are a little more extended, and hiss is reduced but still not eliminated. 

 

So although I dislike the fact that it is confusing and disorganized, the end result is a pretty good product, if you match it with the right headphones. For sensitive IEMs, I still dislike the hiss factor, but it is less of an issue than it was before. 


 

 

 

 

post #9 of 13
@project86

Thanks for the update smily_headphones1.gif you just made decision next month allot harder. Its a shame but its fine, ill compare for myself, when i get one smily_headphones1.gif

Sent from Sansui Lifepad etab1000 [Coby Kyros MID1024N] using tapatalk
post #10 of 13

Thank you for the update, project86, and I hope that you're feeling better. I'm still deciding between the RoCoo D, RoCoo P, and the HiFiMAN 601 Slim. Have you any experience with the 601? From the pictures I've seen the RoCoo appears to have superior build quality. Also, I use either Westone 2's or external speakers; do you see any point in me paying extra for the RoCoo P instead of the RoCoo D; that is, do you think that I'll get hiss from the P with my Westone 2's and-or lower sound quality from the D?  I'm champing at the bit for a new player but really can't afford to burn any money on a major mistake.  Thanks for any input; I really appreciate it.


Edited by LouieChuckyMerr - 3/3/12 at 7:02pm
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LouieChuckyMerr View Post

Thank you for the update, project86, and I hope that you're feeling better. I'm still deciding between the RoCoo D, RoCoo P, and the HiFiMAN 601 Slim. Have you any experience with the 601? From the pictures I've seen the RoCoo appears to have superior build quality. Also, I use either Westone 2's or external speakers; do you see any point in me paying extra for the RoCoo P instead of the RoCoo D; that is, do you think that I'll get hiss from the P with my Westone 2's and-or lower sound quality from the D?  I'm champing at the bit for a new player but really can't afford to burn any money on a major mistake.  Thanks for any input; I really appreciate it.



I'm a fan of HiFiMAN in general but I haven't heard any of their players. So no comparisons to the 601, sorry. The RoCoo does have pretty nice build quality. It's a smudge magnet but it cleans up nicely. 

 

For your use, the Power Edition seems like a waste. Better to get the non-Power Edition for the supposedly lower hiss.

 

Where are you located? If it is anywhere in the USA, you can borrow mine to try it out. 

post #12 of 13

 

Quote:
Where are you located? If it is anywhere in the USA, you can borrow mine to try it out. 

 

Thanks for your reply, project86, and the offer.  I'd love to check out the player but I presently reside in Singapore.  Do you have any hands-on knowledge of the RoCoo D versus the RoCoo P?  I've read that in addition to the different amp the D sounds "leaner", whatever that means.  I worry about the hiss with my Westone 2's, but I'd hate to miss out on better sound quality due to ignorance.

post #13 of 13

 Where can the P version be purchased in the USA

 

 EDIT: nvm I found it :drools:


Edited by T/A.3xl - 3/24/12 at 9:34am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Portable Source Gear
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › Review: HiSound RoCoo D Power Edition