Lol Vietnam!! This time it's SG?
- 2,685 Posts. Joined 5/2013
- Location: MI,USA / Hong Kong / China
- Select All Posts By This User
Lol Vietnam!! This time it's SG?
Not only both from Vietnam, but a supposed dealer of the product
I also took it that Calyx were referring to build or UI, no sane company would pass out a sub-standard model SQ-wise..... would they!
Logically, what you say appears to be 'obvious', but... 'stranger things have happened' and 'truth is stranger than fiction' !
Some (I'm not saying who ) might also suggest that 'no sane company' would create a high-end DAP with a sliding magnetic volume control. ...and yet...
First Impressions of Calyx M vs. AK240 pt.1
Calyx M @ Jaben Singapore, pre-production model running Firmware version 0.5
Size Comparison : Calyx M (L) vs. AK240 (R)
Width Comparison : Calyx M (bottom) vs. AK240 (Top)
Calyx M - Oh Look! There's an option for a software volume slider ;)
If price is no object and you have a stable of different IEMs and headphones to pair with a DAP, then get the AK240. If you’re looking for a premium DAP for use with IEMs and are prepared to compromise a bit for portability, get the Calyx M.
I like the AK240 and I like the Calyx M. Both are definitely ‘audiophile-grade’ DAPs. And IMO, they are close enough in sonic quality that any differences are a matter of small degrees rather than any major contrasts.
Currently I would say that the AK240 provides a better experience in terms of ease of use, overall sound quality, more detail, more accurate soundstaging, compatibility with IEMS and headphones as well as balanced output.
BUT, considering the price difference, the Calyx has enough strengths that I would probably purchase it over the AK240. The screen is very nice and the UI more attractive than the AK system. The navigation is currently a bit fiddly, requiring a bit too much swiping and menu surfing for true one-handed use, but has quite a lot of depth and could be improved in future firmware upgrades.
Sonically, the biggest con of the Calyx is that the amp section has trouble driving headphones. It can do it, but simply does better with IEMs.
In terms of the previously mentioned ‘warmth’, I would say that the Calyx is not completely neutral, but neither is it a real ‘warm’ colouration. It does not have as quiet a noise floor as the AK240 (its comparable to the AK100) and has a slight emphasis on the low mids with a slight treble roll off at the highest frequencies, which could be interpreted as ‘warm’, but when paired with IEMs known for detail (e.g. JH13s), the effect is more of a ‘sweetness’ to female vocals instead of the cool ‘crystal clear’ presentation of the AK240. Speaking as someone who went from Etymotic ER4 (which paired quite well with the Calyx) to Sensaphonics to JH13s, and had previously owned an AK 100; I was surprised that my preference between the two DAPs was for the Calyx.
Soundstage was the biggest difference between the two DAPs – the AK240 has a very detailed, accurate soundstage but can feel overly ‘focused’ at times. Even listening to symphony hall orchestral recordings, I am always conscious of the ‘walls’ surrounding the music. The Calyx on the other hand, has a slightly more expansive presentation, at the cost of sometimes placing transients just ‘left of center’.
First Impressions of Calyx M vs. AK240 pt.2
Caveat 1 : I am not, nor have I ever been, an employee of Jaben Singapore or Calyx (or any audio company). I did not, nor will I, receive any material or financial compensation for this review. Well. Apart from my ‘regular customer’ discount if/when I buy a Calyx. ;)
Caveat 2 : I had a pretty crappy March, destroying a pair of JH13s and losing an RWAK100 - so I didn’t have a pair of CIEMs to fully test the Calyx and had to use the demos available in-store. Choice of music was also an issue (see below).
Caveat 3 : I will not be commenting much on the physical aspects of the player because, as mentioned in a previous post, these demo units are not final production models. The owner of Jaben confirmed that the while the audio components have been finalized, there is still some tweaking been done with the casing and software.
Caveat 4 : I don’t do write-ups often, but since there isn’t a lot of info on this player right now and it’s on my list as replacement for my lost RWAK100, I figured I would post these first impressions. YMMV.
Jaben Singapore is generally crowded on the weekends, and with new gear in-store, today was no exception. Thankfully, I’ve known the owner for several years and he knew what I was here to audition ;) Even so, I had to wait about 45 minutes before a demo set of the Calyx M became available to test, but I was lucky enough to ‘monopolize’ both the new DAP and an AK240 for about 2 hours to put do some A/Bing.
Unfortunately, right at the beginning, we had an issue with SD Card compatibility – I had tried searching the internet and these forums for the file system that the Calyx supported, but couldn’t find any info.
I prepped microSD and SD cards in exFAT and NTFS formats, respectively, but neither could be recognized in the Calyx (the AK240 had no problems with the microSD). One of the staff members at Jaben kindly transferred a few songs onto a spare 2GB microSD but that greatly limited the music I had to audition the Calyx and I was forced to use some of the unfamiliar (but very good) tracks pre-loaded on that DAP. This might be a case of incompatible format or the Calyx being finicky with card brands, or even an issue with the pre-production models; but if Calyx expect us to load in 128gb SD cards formatted in FAT32, they may need to think again ;)
Equipment used : Ortofon EQ-7, Sensaphonics 2X-S, ER-4S (demo), JH13 (demo), Beyerdynamic DT1350, Fostex TH600, AKG 812 (demo)
Music used (some unavailable on Calyx M) :
Holly Cole ‘Girl Talk’ [DSF 2.8 Mhz]
Neon Genesis Evangelion HR OST [24/192 khz]
Bon Jovi ‘Slippery When Wet’ [24/96 khz]
Salvatore Accardo/Vivaldi ‘Four Seasons’ [24/88.1 khz]
Nickel Creek ‘A Dotted Line’ [24/96 khz]
Gwyneth Herbert ‘All the Ghosts’ [24/48 khz]
Max Richter/Vivaldi ‘Four Seasons Recomposed’ [24/44.1]
Charlie Parker ‘Plays the Strings, The Master Takes’ [16/44.1]
Eric Clapton ’24 Nights’ [16/44.1]
Mark Knopfler ‘The Ragpickers Dream’ [16/44.1]
Rodrigo y Gabriela ‘Area 52’ [16/44.1]
Edie Carey ‘Call Me Home’ [16/44.1]
Daft Punk ‘Tron Legacy’ [16/44.1]
Overclocked Remix ‘Balance and Ruin’ [MP3]
First Impressions of Calyx M vs. AK240 pt.3
As mentioned above, I won’t comment too much on the Calyx’ s physical design as I did not see a ‘final’ model. Even though it’s significantly taller than the AK240, I prefer the slimmer ‘pocketable’ Calyx although the large exposed touchscreen is a concern and the AK240 is definitely built better. Mind you, most small-mid range cars aren’t built as well as the AK ;)
The Calyx M is not a terribly intuitive player. As someone who spends hours setting up the interface every time I get a new Android phone, I am aware that not every electronic device has Apple’s shiny seamless UI, but the Calyx menu system/playback windows, while fairly comprehensive, need to be streamlined.
‘Swiping’ back and forth between the library/playback/playlist modes was not immediately apparent, and its hard to queue new music while keeping an eye on the current track which I found a bit annoying.
Current track info is also a bit sparse on the Calyx, although the album art is big and beautiful. Additional info can be displayed, but requires some awkward sub-menu navigation.
The playlist mode does work as advertised though, letting you browse through artists/albums to check off tracks/albums to add.
Essentially, if you have both hands free to fiddle with the Calyx, its manageable (but not easy). One handed use … would be a challenge for anything greater than basic playback/browsing.
I didn’t have a lot of DSD available thanks to the SD card snafu, but the Calyx detected and played a DSF track with no issues. Similarly switching between 24/192 to 24/96 through 16/44.1 FLAC and MP3s had no problems, although the Calyx cannot sort by different file types/bitrates like the AK240 can.
There is an option for Gapless Playback, but I did not have time to test how effective it may be. I do not believe that either the AK240 or Calyx M support ReplayGain, but volume differentials seemed to be greater on the M.
The Calyx was low on power when I began testing it, but had no problems with playback while charging from a portable battery pack via USB. Upon connecting, a prompt appeared, showing selections of USB Charging Only/USB DAC/MTP.
No worries - more incoming but this has taken longer than I thought and pt.4, the all-important Sound Quality section will have to wait until tomorrow, sorry! (That's why i posted the summary first)
Yea, I've seen that quoted but a lot of times these DAPs are overly generous when they quote battery life. I'm interested in what the battery life is with a real life usage (i.e mixture of hi-res and redbook, even DSD playback).