Yeah, I tried everything - the card is toast. Anyway, I'm ready with my first impressions on c3.
Build, Controls and Main Features:
It is pretty solid and sturdy and has nice weight. A you have seen from stozzer's pics it's slightly smaller than a Fiio e11 without the volume knob. While there are no hardware buttons aside from the power button and I kinda miss the hardware volume buttons, I do like the minimalist and clean look it has. I thought I had to update the software but it comes with the latest version. Controls are pretty responsive and the UI is very simple and easy to use - no bells and whistles just the basics and I like it that way. Aside from the normal eq preset I didn't like the other ones and I don't find them particularly good - I'm not a big fan of eq, so that's not a big issue for me but people who like it should look elsewhere. The screen is decent but I didn't find any difference in the brightness settings but that might be just me being tired. It's a little bit on the small side and likes to change the direction of displaying the titles ( right to left and the other way around - I still haven't picked the pattern ) - if you go back to the main screen where you choose which memory to access and continue from there the titles return to the normal way of scrolling to the left. Also, C3 handles cue sheets very well, so there are no issues with any flac albums and the separate tracks.
Power and SQ:
The C3 isn't particularly powerful at least with the iems I tested it with (almost all of them above 40 ohm though and not super efficient). I found myself listening to them at the max volume level of 40, so the player is a little bit less powerfull than a sansa clip and about on par with my Galaxy S. The good news is that the headphone signal is very clean of up to 35-36 volime level, so there shouldn't be any issues with amps although I'll give impressions on its synergy with external amps tomorrow.
The sound is VERY clean but definitely bass light. I would say it's mid-forward, airy and on the bright side - it's all about clarity and the vocals, which are forward and clean but the instruments do tend to sound thin. There is virtually no hiss with recordings that have a little bit. Actually, the DAC handles hiss in bad recordings in a very strange manner - the ones that have a little bit of hiss become completely clean and in the ones that are worse and are definitely hissy on any source and with any iem, the hiss is almost entirely removed and sounds like the hiss has been transformed or replaced with low-level static noise. This static can get annoying but aside from really hissy recordings when this static may get overwhelming, the DAC handles hissing really good - on good recordings the sound is as clean as it can get. H20 wanted my impression on the synergy with the vsonic gr07 - well, it is indeed slightly underpowered and thin-sounding and as I said the sufficient listening volume for me was 40 with it and the bass is definitely on the light side. When I plugged the gr07 I was like -"hmm, that bass is lacking" and after that the vocals just hit me and I forgot about the bass but more fullness and warmth to the instruments would have been better. Actually, the C3 makes the gr07 sound amost analytical, which I do like with most of my music but it loses some of its balance and I wouldn't be listening to rap and hip-hop without an amp. The brainwavz b2 fared better as its bass does tend to distort at higher levels with warmer sources but still lacked a little bit of power straight out of the c3. I don't have to mention the ety er4s - it still needs an amp to shine. On the other hand the vsonic gr02 bass edition with decored olives sounds awesome as it is pretty bassy and the mids are a little bit recessed and the c3's mid-forward signature and the reduced bass make it sound very balanced and airy. Overall, while the power of the c3 is nowhere near to blow my eardrums, the volume levels of 38-40 are what I would use most of the time even if the volume went above 40 at least in a quiet environment. I can deffinitely see how the C3 can shine with the digizoid Zo2.3 as the Zo2 likes to hiss and distort fast on most sources but the C3 needs more bass and only a little bit more power and the c3's sq and output are very clean, so that might be a really good synergy that keeps the Zo2's shortcomings at bay. I have to say that I don't have a Zo2 for quite some time now, so I'm just assuming solely on previous experience.
Overall, the c3 is a very good DAP and more efficient headphones, which are on the bass side will sound great with it. The other iems though will need a little bit more power and bass depending on the genre and the personal preferences. I have spent a very short time with the c3 though, so the next days or weeks I may change some of my impressions but as I mainly value clarity and good vocals, I can't say I'm disappointed by the C3. I like the build, the size, the looks, the responsiveness and simplicity of the controls and the UI, the clarity and the vocals are great. On another hand, people who like more bass, don't have efficient headphone and don't want to use or don't have amps, or really need eq should probably look into something else.
edit: oh, and a disclaimer: I'm still experimenting with tips for the gr07 and the seal I get isn't the greatest and my desktop rig and the Galaxy S, which I use with it are both fuller and warmer sounding, so the gr07 with some good fitting and sealing foam tips to add some bass depth and overall warmth can potentially make the gr07 really good sounding with the c3, so I still won't say with certainty that the gr07 and c3 don't have the best synergy.
Edited by kova4a - 9/17/12 at 5:17pm