*Warning, some HQ pictures in this thread*
A while back, i bought a Telclast T51/S:flo2 looking for a higher quality player about the same time i got my Miracles. Unfortunately, i killed it attempting a mod (Don't ask how). Well, after searching around for an alternative player, i stumbled across the Studio V. With what seems to be a Class A amp and 85 hours of quoted battery life. I was hooked. Soon after, i managed to get hold of one of the units bought from the 2011 Christmas Sale. This was the start of a journey i have so far not regretted once.
This thing is really a SOLID brick. It really brings meaning to the term "Audiophile Brick" that is being thrown about when one describes a huge and bulky player. The Studio V does have the look of a bulky player, but then again, do not let the pictures fool you. This player is actually much more smaller than other players such as the IBasso DX100, small enough to fit into your pocket. Only thing is that this player weighs a ton for it's size but that is not surprising as the whole chassis is milled from a solid piece of aircraft grade Aluminium. With it's classy black brushed aluminium finish and copper buttons, one can indeed see that the build quality of this player is simply astounding and a lot of thought had went into designing the player. The player also comes with 4GBs of internal memory, on top of an MicroSD card slot.
Only gripe i have is the acrylic back . While somewhat resistant to scratches, it still scratches after a good session in your jeans. Being a meticulous neat freak, i have plastered a screen protector there. Also, not sure if i am the only one affected but my screen seems to be a bit misaligned. About 1 or 2 mm above in the bottom left side compared to the right. I will try to take a picture later to show what i mean. The above two problems is usually not a major problem for most users.
The battery life of this player is simply amazing. The specifications of the player say that it can run up to 85 hours at volume 3. My normal listening volume is 10 for Dynamic Firmware and 14/15 for BA Firmware. At my normal listening volumes, this player (Fully Charged) lasts 45 hours without stopping. That amount of battery life simply wipes out all competition, the IBasso Dx100 has around 7-8hours while the Colourfly C4 and Hifiman 801 probably share the same amount of battery life. One full charge on this player can last me about 2 weeks of normal listening. I don't even have to turn off the player when i go out for lunch! This is a really convenient feature.
The OLED screen is very very nice. However, it can only show you 3 lines of your files in the source manager. Thus, not too good for scrolling.
The user interface is very easy to navigate. I was able to figure out the UI in under a minute without the manual.
However, it does have some bugs. For example when turning on the player with a new memory card, it does take a while to build up the database, about 1-2minutes for a 16GB Class 10 MicroSD card filled with FLAC. And around 10 seconds for every start up afterwards. Note that most MicroSD cards will have to be format-ed to FAT32 to be compatible with the Studio V.
Also, on to of that, one is unable to go back into the current playing folder from the now playing menu but will have to navigate through source manager again. The Music Function is also obsolete.
HDMS is basically their version of a line out. It is not a 'True' line out but raises the volume to maximum so you can use it as a line out. Be careful when fiddling with the options in settings while listening. Accidentally turning on HDMS while listening to your IEMs is not fun at all.
Sometimes, while scrolling through source manager while listening to music, there are some annoying beeps/interruptions in your music. However, in spite of all these limitations, i do believe the user interface is much better than the T51.
Last but not least, the player sometimes hangs (about 1 in 40 times) when i switch it off. It goes the the bye-bye screen and does not shut down. Not a big problem though, as all you need to do is to press the reset button.
Hopefully, a new software update for the Studio V which Jack from HiSoundAudio says is coming soon can solve most of these UI problems so, there is hope.
Sound Quality: (:D)
Now to the most important part, SOUND. (Tested with UM Miracles and TWag V2.)
Songs(All Full Albums):
Fall Out Boy (Infinity On High)- FLAC
Foo Fighters Greatest Hits- FLAC
Foster The People (Torches)-FLAC
The Fray(Scars and Stories)-320kbps MP3
Kings Of Leon(Only By Night)-FLAC
Pirates Of the Caribbean OST-320kbps.
And many many more...
I like to break things up into parts to make it easier to read.
The highs on this player is slightly bright, yet lively. This can be great for treble heads but at the same time, i think some may find it a little too bright for their tastes. It eventually boils down to a matter of IEM/headphone pairing and synergy. The highs also exhibit the same amount of details noted throughout the range, making for a very analytical sound. However, as noted in BloodAddict's Review, i also find that the cymbals can get a bit messy. Originally i thought it was due to my miracles but after long periods of listening and switching sources, i realised it was the Studio V. To clarify, the high-hat hits very well, it's just the crash and ride cymbals sound somewhat messy.
I will aptly describe the mids in two words. "Uncoloured" and "Musical". This player has one of the most uncoloured yet detailed midranges i have ever heard. Clean and analytical, i absolutely love the mids. There is loads of musicality in the mids. Moreover, due to the amount of detail and clarity, i noticed that the Studio V is also very unforgiving to poorly recorded/mastered tracks. It's best to stick to lossless.
The lows are polite in terms of bass quantity. Bass quality wise, it is extremely detailed while not being too overwhelming. This player has 'punchy' bass, which is well controlled and not too overdone. Designed to be a neutral player, the amount of bass on this player is just right for me, but could be lacking for some. Also, the sub bass may be a bit lacking on Dynamic Firmware. Therefore, i would not recommend it to bassheads. Good for acoustic/indie and symphonic music though.
Some earlier reviews mentioned the outstanding center imaging on this player. Well, they were right on the money. This player has one of the best, if not the best center imaging in any player i have heard. Every song is portrayed in such a way that everything is extremely precise. Soundstage is very expansive, more to the horizontal side. It has a HUGE soundstage. I don't know how HiSoundAudio managed to pull off a huge soundstage while giving precise center imaging but the results are outstanding.
HISS. That is one word and sound that many here fear and despise, especially those that play Minecraft(Creeper joke). Well, to put it frankly, there is some hiss. I will give a quote from a friend and fellow forumer (Badb0y07), which i think describes the hiss very well.
"The hiss is not prominent but if you are looking for it, you will find it."
*Take note that this was said after listening to the player using his Whiplash Hybrid Cable and UM Miracles.
In my opinion, while the studio v does have hiss, it is only very slight and does not affect my listening experience at all. Though, it can be a little annoying in quiet passages.
Dynamic vs BA Firmware:
As many here know, the Studio V has the versatility of inter-changable firmwares that can influence the sound signature. I notice this comparison has been neglected in most other review so i will summarise it here.
The Dynamic Firmware has more forward mids, slightly more ephasised upper mids and sparkly highs, designed to have a more 'fun' sound. It also is slightly colder compared to the BA. The BA on the other hadn has more laid back mids and a overall more balanced sound signature. For Studio V owners, i recommend changing between the firmwares to find one that suits your tastes.
The Studio V is a great analytical sounding player. It has the versatility of a neutral sound signature or something slightly more fun. At the price i got it, it was a real steal.
I believe the portability factor of this player coupled with it's amazing battery life and outstanding sound can give bigger players such as HM801 or DX100 a run for their money. Needless to say, i consider this player a level above other sources such as the iPhone 4 or the HM601. Pair this player with a either a high end or low end IEM/headphone and there will be noticeable differences in your listening experience.
This player is suited for those who want great sound without having to carry bulky rigs such as the popular CLAS/HP-P1 and amp combo.
If HisoundAudio can solve the hiss and improve on the overall sound, such as in their future 3rd Anniversary Edition, this really has to potential to be an absolute killer player.
*Pictures and Comparisons to Colourfly C4 and IBasso Dx100 to be updated later.
Edited by Cryok95 - 8/6/12 at 8:44am