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Colorfly C3 vs Colorfly CK4+ [Comparison] True Portable Hifi Sound

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Colorfly are well known company mostly known for their flagship audiophile player Colorfly C4 Pro which offers high end portable Hifi experience. They aren't widely known on the consumer market or mainstream though have set solid impression within audiophile community's around the world with their DAP's. Today I'll be looking at two of Colorflys lower models. C3 and CK4+. One being an entry level audiophile focused DAP (C3) and the other mid focused, (CK4+) I'll be discussing the good / bad points of each player, sound quality and giving my opinion which I think is the better value for money. Both players are very good in their own right but not without a few issues. Lets start off with some of the most asked questions.





Run time.

C3 using 16/44 FLAC files is achieving roughly 15 - 18 hours from one charge, which is a satisfactory amount in my view. Using the player around 3 hours a day I'm only having to charge every 5th day which I think is a respectable amount of time. I usually have volume around 20/40, but do rock out at 35/40 on some occasions still, regardless of volume levels I achieve the same amount. It takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge and I'm sure taking advantage of the small but easily usable oled screen helps this area. It's a very basic player and really only needs to focus on the battery for audio playback.

Colorfly CK4 is almost saddening in this part of the comparison only reaching a slim 8 hours from one charge running 16/44 FLAC, takes about 3.5 hours to fully charge. We must remember CK4+ has a dedicated internal amp section to support, an big screen that mainly has no purpose unless you want to watch videosthat also must light up a minimum of 5 seconds every-time you adjust the volume or change albums / tracks. I'm having to charge CK4+ every night or second night depending how much I use it. I can see this becoming a choir very quickly, though it does have more power than C3 so you pay in run time for the extra power.

Winner

C3.


Power Output.

C3 is not the most powerful DAP around just measuring a little under a Clip+ output though manages it's power very well with most low impedance IEM's, I don't have a problem running a pair of 60ohm Sony MDR V6 , it's actually an impressive combination. I think anything over 80ohms you would be pushing it's limits, yet I haven't tested just how much it will handle. Still, I think the way this player manages the power output is quite fantasti feeling almost as solid in foundation compared. I must note with some IEM's pairin feels like there's some resistance, for example GR07 needs a decent 30/40 to bring it up to speed, yet other IEM's perform overly well.

CK4+ clearly has support in this area from it's own separate internal amp, I'm not exactly sure on power output though you can easily feel the extra boost giving your IEM / headphone a back bone, you can feel that extra power backing up the presentation, rather puts music across quite effortlessly at any volume. Doesn't so much go louder then it's little brother but feels reinforced. I do feel inclined though that for a player that supports an internal amp chewing 8 hours run time I think C3 manages power so much more respectably that it truly deserves a point here, to be honest there's not much in it. But because CK4+ does take that extra noticeable leap with an advantage gets the trophie.

Winner

CK4+






Sound Quality

Bass


Although CK4+ supports more power this does not mean you're going to have more bass. For some reason CK4+ bass response is slightly less quantity to C3, feels around 0.5 db less. it has great detail which surpasses C3 however I often find it takes a back seat in the presentation, so much in fact this effects the listening experience at lower volume, which brings us to the biggest problem CK4+ has. Bass roll off... if anything let's CK4+ down naming it unpopular it's the steep roll off starting at 200Hz that kills the presentation, compared to C3 which measures almost completely flat across the board you lose a lot of sub-bass at lower volumes with low impedance IEM.

Basically, CK4+ is pushing most of it's bass from mid-bass regions, under half volume there is a sure lack of sub-bass, once you head over half volume the problem is much less obvious, though for those who want a flat measuring player I cannot recommend CK4+ in this area. C3's bass is completely supported by the entire low frequency range, punch and rumble is much more obvious. C3's bass is what I would call a 'safe amount', smooth reaches low and has good detailing levels, true to the IEM paired. CK4+ is possibly dependant on an IEM that has bass heavy signature. There will be enough there for most.... but bass-heads beware. CK4+ does however have a custom 5 band EQ and using that to boost bass a touch cures most of this problem.

Winner

C3


Mids


Here is where the tables turn dramatically on C3's previous little victory run. CK4's mid range is divine, sits neither forward or back surely the best mid range I have ever heard from any source, vocals sound absolutely beautiful, detailing is so revealing, what I would call very potent around this area, very rich. Where C3 has a kind of high strung snappy mid range CK4+ loosens up a little taking advantage of the stage. The way CK4+ expresses stereo and imaging is just precise clean and high resolution, dynamics are great and you actually feel depth on both left and right channels. there's times with CK4+ I can actually 'see' the vocals inside my head, I can picture the stage in front of me and at higher volumes running FLAC it does feel like I'm at a live performance. Where C3 falls short here is detailing, imaging and stereo, not by a huge amount, they do sound somewhat similar but clearly you can feel CK4+ pull away. You can hear much deeper into the mid samples, instruments sound so natural, it's a sure thing CK4+ has C3 running for cover.


Winner

CK4+



Treble

C3 follows a similar trend to it's own slightly mid-centric mid range in treble, the response is very snappy, can often come up from back stage slapping you lightly on the back of your forehead. C3 treble has this wonderful detail that makes it stand up and say 'hello' through most genre's. I think CK4+ actually uses the stage so widely treble feels softer, although both sound just as detailed I do prefer the tighter treble of C3. A lot of this comes down to the timbre and mid centric feel C3 displays too. I do feel CK4 falls short in this area, because the treble although precise in imaging does feel a little laid back, there's so much going on in that mid range you kind of lose treble a touch. I haven't had anything jump out and grab me constantly yet.

Winner

C3




Soundstage


Easily CK4+. the stage is HUGE, massive, decent depth and width it displays is pretty insane, everything with CK4+ feels completely blown up into a bigger picture, there's so much air and as I've said gives this impression you're at a concert, just pure room to breath, that's exactly how it reacts, every instrument is correctly placed, every sample has it's own area, congestion is not a word that can be used with CK4 completely opposite. It's like leaving a lounge room and entering a stadium, C3 just can't keep up, although has decent width imaging lets it down, air is not a favourite word of C3. You really need an IEM that fills out that section for you. With my H-100 Hybrid which has great air already then paired up with CK4+ it's just wow, a real wow, everytime I listen to some recordings.


Winner

CK4+


Presentation.

As we've spoken about, C3 takes on a mid centric feel, rather snappy in reaction time, very tight with good speed, like someone tightened a guitar string a touch or stretched a rubber band out that bit further, this is what gives C3 it's signature, along with it's superior separation, part of what I love about the player. CK4+ has good speed but there's so much air in the stage everything has a lot of room, depth gives perception of feeling slower paced, The timbre on C3 as I say all the time on our boards has this real audiophile feel, a real sense of HiFi sound. I don't get that same aura from CK4+, it still sounds fantastic and natural but there's something about C3 that just calls me back time and time again. I'm hoping with more time I can learn what CK4+ is trying to tell me and so far that is "live performance simulation" but until we bond a little further I'm still a little vague in this section.

Winner

C3


Conclusion.

I think with 15 - 18 hours run time C3 has... plus classy design is the pick of the litter here. although slightly lower detailing, imaging, soundstage properties cannot exactly keep up with CK4+ I am willing to sacrifice those areas for the fields C3 won in this comparison. . CK4+ and I just don't bond like the other, mid range is very potent and with something revealing as H-100 Hybrid it can become little fatiguing over long periods of time. C3 has this wonderful timbre and I keep saying "audiophile' appeal to it's sig. I feel the extra money, short run times and bass roll off doesn't add up in reality. Unless you want to sacrifice short run times for that extra mid range / power boost I don't see why CK4+ should win final prizes. I mean for me it's great having a quick session but If I want to lay down and relax I reach for C3. There's just something about Colorfly C3 done really right, for that reason my vote goes to it for this comparison.



Edited by H20Fidelity - 3/29/13 at 6:18pm
post #2 of 26
Thanks for taking the time to post this comparison, think it's really going to help some folks.
Nice layout with the sections compared. That sure makes for a concise easy read. I thought it would conclusively show one over the other, but it seems down to what a person likes in their music presentation. Bravo !

Now I can't dismiss the CK4 like i wanted to hahah
[insert double extended Fonzie thumbsup here]
post #3 of 26

Thank you, H2O:)

post #4 of 26

One minor nitpick, if I may....both players have an internal amp, not just the CK4+,  or else you wouldn't hear any sound at all.wink.gif

 

I would like to hear some more about the features offered by each player....for example, file/folder browsing, or tag browsing, or both? Is there a shuffle function, or repeat, etc.

You described the sound of the players quite well, I thought.... but I am curious about the UI as well.

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achmedisdead View Post

One minor nitpick, if I may....both players have an internal amp, not just the CK4+,  or else you wouldn't hear any sound at all.wink.gif

I would like to hear some more about the features offered by each player....for example, file/folder browsing, or tag browsing, or both? Is there a shuffle function, or repeat, etc.
You described the sound of the players quite well, I thought.... but I am curious about the UI as well.

To clear up the amp sections. CK4+ has it's own 'dedicated amp' similar to how Studio V does. Separate from the normal internal amp chips found on mainstream players or Cowon for example, CK4+ has a build in amplifier that's completely running separately powering the headphone out. It doesn't rely on an amp chip, doing so achieves better sound quality, that's one of the main features that sucks so much power from CK4+ it's feeding not only a DAC chip but an entirely individual amp section. C3 runs on an amp chip.

Like sticking an E11 in there permanently. Think along those lines. smile.gif

I only wanted to cover SQ in this comparison because I felt keeping it sweet was enough for this section. I'll be writing a full review of CK4+ in coming weeks but I must learn the player more, we need to understand each other better for a full review. There's a huge lack of CK4 reviews online especially for the Enlgish internet, so it's in the pipe line.

So quickly, with CK4+ you can browse by album, artist, genre, my favourite playlist? or direct folder browsing. but.. it seems these selections are limited only to the internal memory, (8GB) if you search through microsd you only can use folder view. (I know pretty lame) It has shuffle, all repeat , intro, repeat, once.

8 presets: normal, rock, pop, classic, bass, jazz, custom EQ (5 bands), 3D effect, balance volume. (they seem to work well over the apple presets). But remember this player is all about the normal setting it clearly excels on normal and my comparison was 100% done with both players flat.

CK4+ runs around easily, completely by buttons, there's not much that can go wrong, it's fast, responsive, there's no noticeable lag, I have a grunt with the back and menu button being particularly close, something I will learn to place my fingers properly. and I do believe with some practice you could use this with one hand placing your fingers in the right area's, I can switch volume and change tracks (forward/ back) one handed already.



Edited by H20Fidelity - 11/28/12 at 12:29am
post #6 of 26

Thanks uncle H20! Going to grab me a C3!

post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Berkovajazz View Post

Thank you, H2O:)

Quote:
Originally Posted by nick n View Post

Thanks for taking the time to post this comparison, ]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlooienuker View Post

Thanks uncle H20! Going to grab me a C3!

beerchug.gif
post #8 of 26

Nice review! Told ya to stick to the C3 lol :P.
 

post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lee730 View Post

Nice review! Told ya to stick to the C3 lol :P.

 

I think as Nick said, it's really a matter of preference for example, I enjoy CK4 mid range a lot, it's clearly steps ahead of C3 the way it expresses micro detailing, stereo, placement, layering, all areas that make up a mid range, dynamics, depth, precision, clarity, it does this so gracefully without effort, there's so much stage it's simply doesn't need to struggle to do any of this, you can easily hear which one is the better SQ player, but most of this boils down to the presentation too. And that's something C3 has nailed.

If I could place only CK4 mid range into the C3, I would have almost the perfect player for me. But for now I enjoy both at different times, CK4 being in smaller doses.
post #10 of 26

Hey thanks for the comprehensive and detailed review.

I'm new to the HiFi world but I've always tried to get the best out of my budget. I've been thinking about upgrading my source recently, I've had iPods since they're around but now I feel that iPod is not quite the best source for my CIEM. So in my search for affordable sources out there I've come across C3 and CK4. My question is that how do these two compare to the mainstream players (Cowon, Sony, Apple) in terms of SQ?

post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by liquidsword View Post

Hey thanks for the comprehensive and detailed review.
I'm new to the HiFi world but I've always tried to get the best out of my budget. I've been thinking about upgrading my source recently, I've had iPods since they're around but now I feel that iPod is not quite the best source for my CIEM. So in my search for affordable sources out there I've come across C3 and CK4. My question is that how do these two compare to the mainstream players (Cowon, Sony, Apple) in terms of SQ?

Hi there,

I consider these two players a clear step up in sound quality to the brands you mentioned, which I class as mainstream.

If you're using CIEM I think it's wise to step away from iPod and give them a try. There's a whole world of improved detail, soundstage and instrument separation waiting for you. Most members in our C3 appreciation thread agree the little Colorfly leaves touches and iPods behind, the only problem is they're purely music players, if you're used to playlists, sorting by album, genre, artist, C3 will not do that for you (CK4 does have some of those options). basically, they will not have the features of an Apple device. C3 is $100 on eBay, and will give you a good taste of an audiophile DAP. If you enjoy it enough, later down the track maybe CK4 using a small amp from it's line out would be suited.
post #12 of 26

Thanks a lot!

Just ordered C3 on ebay! Quite excited about it and can't wait to listen to it! I did read about the practicality issues that C3 has, but I'm only looking to improve the SQ and I can totally do without playlists. Actually I've never created a playlist ever. I listen to music how it should be done, in albums! 

Have you tried the C4PRO or DX100 by any chance? The thing is I'm really trying to improve my source but I'm not really keen on carrying amps around since I listen to my music on the go all the time (this is not happening any time soon, I have to save up first but it's not a bad idea to plan ahead :D ).

post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by liquidsword View Post

Thanks a lot!
Just ordered C3 on ebay! Quite excited about it and can't wait to listen to it! I did read about the practicality issues that C3 has, but I'm only looking to improve the SQ and I can totally do without playlists. Actually I've never created a playlist ever. I listen to music how it should be done, in albums! 
Have you tried the C4PRO or DX100 by any chance? The thing is I'm really trying to improve my source but I'm not really keen on carrying amps around since I listen to my music on the go all the time (this is not happening any time soon, I have to save up first but it's not a bad idea to plan ahead biggrin.gif ).

I haven't heard C4 or DX100 sorry, smile.gif
post #14 of 26

how about the UI h20? are they the same?

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
No, they're completey different, they dont share any resemblance with each other. CK4 is probably a touch easier to use with the huge screen and wider variety of menu options however,, they both leave a little to be desired. But really, if you're just playing music which is these players main purpose you won't run into to many problems.

Enough to get the job done without to much complaining.
Edited by H20Fidelity - 3/31/13 at 7:25am
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