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👍DAP-off: Astell&Kern AK240, AK380, HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony ZX-1, ZX-2, FiiO X5, X5II, Chord Hugo, Mojo, Calyx M, Aurender Flow, Lotoo PAW Gold, PAW 5000, Soundaware M1, L&P L3, Shozy Alien, Cozoy Rei - Page 17

post #241 of 1968

I posted some DAPs impression/comparison which I did in the local stores where I lived on the Calyx M thread, so I thought it would be a good to link it here too.

 

Quote:
 

Anyway here's my personal opinion of Calyx M: 

 

DAPs used: AK120, AK240, Calyx M

microSDHC used: Samsung 64GB Pro microSDXC Extreme Speed (UHS-1) Class 10 Memory Card (I have 2 identical 64GB cards one loaded in AK120, the other in Calyx M and AK240 was using the internal 256GB storage)

IEMs used: Tralucent 1plus2, Sony EX-1000, Aurisonics ASG-2

Music genres used: Classical, Anime, Pop, Rock, Trance

 

 

I shall skip sonic comparison between AK120 and AK240 since that is not why we are on this thread and discuss directly about Calyx M vs AK120 and AK240.

 

My SD card has about 48GB of music on it. The initial scanning of my SD card by Calyx M took about 2-3 mins. I then initiate a poweroff shutdown and rebooted. The icon showing it is scanning my SD card also stays for around 2 mins after the reboot. However, I seem to be able to browse the album page with my SD card songs on it already while it is still scanning. It could just be scanning for changes. The UI seems laggy although it is still bearable much like the slightly laggy UI speed/fluidity of the AK120 compared to AK240. Definitely not as smooth as the AK240 or the Sony ZX1. Pressing commands and buttons on the UI may observe a 1 sec delay before M responds. I would say the AK120 responds faster than Calyx M when it comes to giving it commands. Hopefully the launch model will be much better than the demo unit. The thumbnails of the album arts load similarly to that of the AK240, i.e. thumbnail pictures loading about a split (half) second later after scrolling the page down. It is akin to browsing your Facebook app page with photos on LTE/4G.

 

The other serious issue I discovered I had when navigating my music collection on the Calyx M is that there is no folder view. Everything is classified and tagged into albums, so all the music on my SD card is completely mixed up with the bundled music on the internal storage of M. There is also a Jukebox page which has lots of album arts interspersed among the playlists and it looks more confusing than helpful to find the correct playlist. I am very much a folder guy coming from Cowon DAP series. Although I also have an iPod Nano which uses the iTunes style UI, I find the pure album navigation UI design on the M without any folder support very difficult to use, especially when I am not those who likes to spend time tagging my music files properly. My day-to-day usage DAP pattern is basically to put my favourite songs in the same folder and make folders for each CD album so I can just find all my music by folders. If I need to customize my listening tracks, I will just edit a playlist on-the-go to listen for a short while. I find that the AK240's UI which supports album, playlist as well as folder views much better (versatile) and utilitarian in this sense.

 

The first thing I tried immediately with the Calyx M is the magnetic volume slider since that seems to be such a hot topic. :wink_face: Suffice to say that I find the magnetic slider pretty robust in its build. The sliding is tight so it is not easy to move it with little strength accidentally. The slider does not seem to be easy to dislodge. I tried to see if I can pry it out of the sliding recess, it didn't come off but I don't want to try too hard in case the shop attenders think I am trying to break and spoil it. Next I try to look if there is a software volume control and after much messing around with the UI (the UI is not really intuitive to me :angry_face:), I finally find it 2-3 tabs into the menu to change to On-Screen slider. When it is in software volume control mode, the magnetic volume slider is disabled so the volume will not change even if you slide it accidentally. However, the bad thing is that the On-Screen slider bar is embedded 2 tabs into the settings menu. If I want to adjust the volume, I will have to keep going into menu > settings > On-Screen slider. Not exactly very user-friendly. Quick changing of volume is impossible, especially when the physical magnetic volume slider is disabled. You will have to turn on the screen, click on the menu icon at the top left corner, click on settings and then you see the software volume control bar. I tried to find if there is another way to control the volume but saw none. Calyx should have just put the volume control bar on the current playing song screen instead of embedding it few levels down the menu (What is the use of the huge touch screen :confused_face(1):) Maybe someone else who is more familiar with M knows of a better way to adjust the volume with the touch screen.

 

 

If you look at the above picture, the battery life left is at 74%. I started at 100% at around 13:10. So after 44 mins of messing around (at 13:54), battery life has already dropped by 26%... :confused_face: Also the battery life % indicator is slightly bugged. Before it hit 74% (at 13:54) when it was around 84% left (at about 13:30), I did a reboot and the indicator went back up to 91% after it rebooted but quickly drop back to 8x% after that.

 

I also tested the Gapless feature and it is not working. Hopefully this will get fixed in the launch units.

 

Next thing is sonic comparison. I went straight to load the highest quality music tracks that I have prepared on my SD card and played some DSD64, DSD128 and DXD (352.8 kHz) from 2L. Midway playing one of my DSD128 file, I tried fast-forwarding by dragging the music track position pointer on the bar and Calyx M crashed when I let go of my finger. :confused:

 

 

Nothing I pressed on the UI was responding and the error message came up after a while, so I had to reboot. Subsequent playing of DSD/DXD files seem fine except for that hiccup. At least M is capable of playing DXD at the full 352.8 kHz which the AK240 cannot (AK240 can play it natively but downscales it to 176.4 kHz).

 

 

 

The 1st thing I noticed about the Calyx M is that its HO is rather loud. The equivalent volume of 45 out of max 75 on AK240 is only about 1/3 on the volume bar of the Calyx M. Going anywhere above 1/3 of the volume bar on M gets really deafening. Next thing I noticed is that M's SQ sounded very thick, heavy and aggressive. The bass is much stronger and heavier than both my AK120 and AK240 and the mids are also much more forward. Even my X3 which I did not bring along does not sound so forward and warm. The highs are clear but the overall clarity lacks behind the AK240. I would say the clarity is roughly about the same level as AK120, but because of the thick SQ it makes M sound less expansive/clear, some would say it is more natural depending on individual's preference. However, the 3D soundstage seems much smaller than the AK120 and definitely does not come close to the expansive soundstage of the AK240. The Calyx M's SQ is definitely far from neutral at all. It is even less flat than FiiO X3 which most people would already consider X3 as having a warm signature. I would reckon it has a pretty big boost around the 200-400 Hz, making the M's SQ sounds thick. For a quick analogy, I would say M to AK120/240 is like Roxanne to JH13 pro. I tried swapping my 1plus2 IEM to my Sony EX-1000 on Calyx M. I get the same thick sound but less detailed because of the Sony IEM. In fact M > EX-1000 = AK240 > ASG-2. Calyx M's SQ kind of "EQ" the normally bright treble of EX-1000 down to the level of ASG-2 and the neutral mid/low of EX-1000 to the more forward/bassy mid/low of ASG-2. Then I plug my ASG-2 (bass notch at halfway between 0 and 1st marking) to Calyx M and I was totally shocked. It makes ASG-2 sound horribly thick and unclear. I wished I could reach for the EQ feature to EQ on the Calyx M but suddenly remembered Calyx being purist said that they do not believe in EQ and did not implement the feature on M. Tracks which are too bassy sounded too thick to be comfortable. I think light classical tracks sounded much better.

 

If you read between the lines, you can tell I am obviously disliking the Calyx M's SQ after the auditioning. I am not saying it is a bad DAP in terms of features, but its overly-warm SQ does not suit my taste. Those who have demo-ed M earlier with warm IEMs e.g. FitEars said that the SQ is warm and others have questioned their conclusions because the FitEars IEMs used are already warm themselves. But I brought my EX-1000 and 1plus2 which are definitely very analytical and not warm at all and I still find the sound too warm for my taste. Even X3's SQ is much less aggressive than M. Yes, aggressive is the one word I would give to M's SQ. If you share the same SQ taste as me, I think AK120 would suit you better at that price point. Maybe it is just me for being too used to the fairly analytical and neutral SQ from AK240 pairing with 1plus2/EX-1000 (I sometimes even find AK240 -> ASG-2 a little too warm but still manageable).

 

I have yet to audition the DX90 and will be checking it out soon once another local store brings a demo unit in this weekend. I can then give another quick comparison between M and DX90 when I get the chance. I may also go down to Jaben again to audition M again with cans in mind just to have a full picture of its SQ and HO power with cans. Maybe headwhacker will go down again before me with a properly formatted SD card to give us an A-B comparison with his DX90.

 

Quote:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/687944/999-calyx-m-with-dxd-dsd-64gb-sd-sd-storage/2580#post_10528030

 

So to complete my DAP comparisons with the Calyx M, I went down to one of the local store that has a demo DX90 unit available for auditioning to get a feel of how DX90 "would" compare against Calyx M.

 

 

The 1st track I loaded to test is redbook CD quality 44/16 FLAC quality music - "Unite" by Misawa Sachika, 2nd ending song from the Accel World anime (may take a while to load the buffer for streaming). It has a very good mix of modern pop song style with strong female vocal as well as a multitude of instrument sounds in the background including a lot of cymbals to test out the entire audio frequency range.

 

 

DX90 vs AK240 (on 1plus2): 

 

Obviously DX90 is not going to stand up to the AK240 toe-to-toe on SQ, so I would just give a brief comparison how DX90 fares. The soundstage is smaller than AK240, and the DX90's sound quality has a high level of digitized feel to it relative to AK240. Everything seems more closed up on the DX90 and flatter (less depth) than the AK240. This makes the vocal seem to be on the same plane/dimension as the other background instruments. Separation is there but just not that big of a 3D soundstage. The frequent cymbal sounds are also less natural and felt like it is forced out of the DX90 as compared to the AK240 which is buttery smooth/natural. On parts of the track which has more complex mix of instruments kicking in at the same time, the DX90 sounded less coherent (probably partly due to the weaker soundstage; everything sounded mashed up together and come at you all at once). I tested other high quality tracks and get the same feeling. I detected only one issue with the DX90 on one of my DXD 352.8 kHz track - Vivaldi: Recitative and Aria from Cantata RV 679, "Che giova il sospirar, povero core" Tone Wik & Barokkanerne (period instruments) from 2L. There is a very loud constant hissing background sound during playback which is not heard on my PC or on the AK240. It could be a bug. The good thing about the DX90 is that it is quite transparent and neutral and felt much more balanced to me than the SQ I heard from Calyx M. I cannot expect it to perform on par with a $2,400 AK240 at its price point but it really performs surprisingly well for a sub-$500 DAP. So just to satisfy my curiousity, I A-B the DX90 against my AK120 which I also brought along.

 

 

DX90 vs AK120 (on 1plus2): 

 

This is going to be an interesting comparison. My short conclusion is that DX90 performs near to 80-90% of AK120. IMO it is still slightly behind the AK120 in terms of sound quality, but the gap is not huge. Considering the DX90 costs less than half of the AK120, I think it is a job well-done by iBasso (they just need to fix the software bugs, improve the UI and enable USB DAC feature). On most tracks DX90 sounds just as good and enjoyable as the AK120. The AK120 sounded slightly more forward/warm than the DX90, but not substantial enough to make too big a difference in their signatures. AK120 tends to have a more smooth feel to its SQ compared to the DX90 which is a little more analytical/cold (or digital to me). For e.g. 36-42 secs into Hotel California where the cymbals clash with the electric guitar sound reverberating around behind you, the DX90 reproduction sounded less musical and smooth compared to AK120/240. Both have roughly about the same level of black background and the UI on the DX90 feels more smooth and responsive than my AK120.

 

 

 

DX90 vs Calyx M (on 1plus2) "Extrapolated": 

 

Since both demo units are from different local stores, I have to audition them separately against my AK DAPs and extrapolate to make a comparison. So take my feedback here lightly, but one thing I am very certain about the Calyx M is that its sound signature is much thicker than the DX90, AK120 and AK240. I do not get the same shock feeling when transiting from AK120/240 to DX90 as when transiting from AK120/240 to Calyx M. My conclusion here is that Calyx M sounds quite different from DX90 in terms of signature, but both are equally good on clarity using AK120 as a midway benchmark. DX90 is definitely more of a forward/closer soundstage and flatter/more neutral frequency response across the entire spectrum. Calyx M is more of a heavy bottom and unevenly aggressive frequency response. Soundstage for both is similar. Another side note which I forgot to mention previously is that both seem to cut off the front 1-2 sec of the first audio track I tried to play. Subsequent tracks did not have this issue. Seems like X5 also has a similar problem. No idea what is up with all these cut offs.

 

 

So here is my take on the Calyx M thus far. I will try to go back to listen to the Calyx M for a 2nd round to re-confirm what I have heard.


Edited by Bluebear - 5/8/14 at 3:43am
post #242 of 1968
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eke2k6 View Post
 

Cross posted from the discovery thread:

 

 

Quote:
 

LOL, I just got my Geek Out 450 today.

 

This <$150 device is better than the HM901 and ZX1 by FAR. When I first turned it on, I thought I had the crossfeed on, but it wasn't. Ha! 

 

Because of the awesome soundstage, I'm hearing details fleshed out in ways I haven't before. Textures are popping out and smacking me in the face in ways I didn't think possible.

 

I used to LOL at people who spent megabucks on DACs, but if this is just a trickle down of their DaVinci...holy crap. No, holy s*** (excuse my french).

 

I've been pissed off at the length of the wait, and I've been planning to sell the Geek once I got it...but I had a change of mind within the first few minutes. 

 

I think I've permanently found my desktop setup, all in the housing the size of a matchbox.

 

LOL!

 

 

I have the GO 1000. It is pretty good. Not quite as glorious as my Audio-gd DACs, even with good external power, but it drives headphones remarkably well considering. 

 

Anyhow...the DAPs are now packed up, ready for my trip to Tokyo tomorrow. 

post #243 of 1968

Thank you very much for this thread and instructive comparison. There is a lot to learn from the way you report you impressions. Safe travels, K.

post #244 of 1968
Thread Starter 

It was very interesting for me, especially as I had a few pairs of headphones and IEMs here at the same time. It was great to have everyone's feedback, questions and suggestions too. :beerchug:

post #245 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saraguie View Post

AK240 = I listened for 4 hours last week and on the plane home in a few hours will do again. I am using a balanced cable from Ted's Headfood Lounge.
One word. Nirvana!

The Miracles do such a good job with isolation paired with the 240 and the SQ is close to if not as good as the Mentors, I'll probably sell the Mentors.

The silver Litz balanced from Ted's Headfood Lounge is the absolute match for the 240- with any IEM!
post #246 of 1968

I was actually dreaming about the AK240 last night. Obviously, I need therapy. . . .

post #247 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcarr112281 View Post

I was actually dreaming about the AK240 last night. Obviously, I need therapy. . . .

Hahha i dream about it too... Then woke up when the thought of my wife strangling me when she knew i blew 2.5k on a gadget haha
post #248 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by nazrin313 View Post

Hahha i dream about it too... Then woke up when the thought of my wife strangling me when she knew i blew 2.5k on a gadget haha
I dream about the 240 too-and I own one!
post #249 of 1968

Does anyone know where the factory that makes the AK240 is? (obviously in China, but need details) Or where iRivers HQ is? I'm contemplating breaking in and stealing the design plans so I can start manufacturing them myself and selling them at a reasonable price so that everyone can enjoy audio nirvana! Muahaha.

post #250 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by y2jdmbfan View Post
 

I'll start off by saying I don't consider myself to have tuned ears of a true audiophile, as I haven't been able to demo alot of high quality headphone or IEM's, but I am trying to learn more as I go. 

 

I have had the HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony NW-ZX1, and FiiO X5 paired with my Shure SE846 IEM's. I currently still have the NW-ZX1 and X5. I couldn't live with the size and UI on the HM-901, even though the sound was great with the IEM card. I've got the NW-ZX1 and X5 now and have the same HiRes tracks and ALAC CD rips and MP3 rips on both units. I must say, I do think the X5 does sound better after the first few comparison listens. I like clarity on my highs, and X5 seems to deliver that better than the ZX1. There also seems to be a bit more punch on the low end. The ZX1 sounds very good, but the clarity on the high end doesn't seem to be as crisp as on the X5. However, I will say the UI on the ZX1 blows away the X5, although I could probably live with the X5's UI. The screen on the ZX1 is very nice compared to the previous HiRes players I have owned. I need to pick one of them, as I can't really justify having them both, I also picked up a 5th gen iPod Touch, but as I already have a 7th gen nano and iPad Mini, it is probably going back, as I haven't even opened it yet. 

 

If I didn't have the 2 units side by side, I could definitely live with either of them and be happy. Now the question becomes, is the UI alone worth the $400 premium over the X5...The hard part for me is most of my music is high quality MP3 files ripped by me with EAC, now I rip new CD's I buy into ALAC, but 95% are MP3. I also like the fact that the X5 has a dedicated line output and microusb connection. 

 

Y2J

A question, do you have Clear Audio setting enabled comparing to X5? I read somewhere that Clear Audio will bring more clarity out of SQ. 

post #251 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by sovereignty68 View Post
 

A question, do you have Clear Audio setting enabled comparing to X5? I read somewhere that Clear Audio will bring more clarity out of SQ. 

I ended up buying an AK240 and sold the others, but I did try Clear Audio, and it didn't seem to make much difference with my SE846's.

 

Y2J

post #252 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by T.R.A.N.C.E. View Post
 

Does anyone know where the factory that makes the AK240 is? (obviously in China, but need details) Or where iRivers HQ is? I'm contemplating breaking in and stealing the design plans so I can start manufacturing them myself and selling them at a reasonable price so that everyone can enjoy audio nirvana! Muahaha.

A&K(or formerly known as iriver) is a South Korean company.  I believe they are made there.  Make sure you get all the circuit diagrams, and etc.. :D 


Edited by SilverEars - 5/11/14 at 7:09pm
post #253 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverEars View Post

A&K(or formerly known as iriver) is a South Korean company.  I believe they are made there.  Make sure you get all the circuit diagrams, and etc.. biggrin.gif  
At the back of the AK120 Titan that I own at least. They list the AK as made in Korea. South Korea. Lol.
post #254 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuachew View Post

At the back of the AK120 Titan that I own at least. They list the AK as made in Korea. South Korea. Lol.

My ak100/ak120/ak240 are all made in Korea. Thought I did recall hearing some batches of ak120 was made in China and were sold in the China market.
post #255 of 1968
Quote:
Originally Posted by T.R.A.N.C.E. View Post

Sony recently released a firmware upgrade which changed the ZX1 sound from the original firmware sound. I first tried the disabling sound enhancements trick on the original firmware which resulted in the exact same sound improvement as doing the trick on the later released firmware which started with a different sound. Meaning that Sony by default is applying some sort of internal EQ to the sound via the sound enhancements app in each firmware (even if you have EQ off) and you can only turn off the internal EQ by disabling the sound enhancements app.

This leaves you with the pure sound of Sony's dap, and it is much much better to my ears than the sound Sony is forcing the ZX1 to produce by their own EQ! The dynamic range increases big time, natural timbre and decay is much better through entire frequency range, high extension and air is much better, soundstage much more open, bass has better extension and texture is incredible, mids become closer in a good way while voices are more real. Its just better in every conceivable way to my ears. It sounds way less digital and much more natural.

It honestly amazes me that Sony are crippling their own dap by default with unnecessary sound processing.

I agree completely. What you say mirrors my experience and I did begin to suspect internal Eq. They may have done it because the treble can get a bit harsh on some iem's. I wasn't enjoying my AK3003's which I've always used with the reference filters-I'd even forgotten about the other filters which I tried and rejected after a short try out. I've just put on the bass boosters not to boost the bass which is more than adequate, but to tame the highs which I think they do very well with the ZX1.
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Source Gear › 👍DAP-off: Astell&Kern AK240, AK380, HiFiMAN HM-901, Sony ZX-1, ZX-2, FiiO X5, X5II, Chord Hugo, Mojo, Calyx M, Aurender Flow, Lotoo PAW Gold, PAW 5000, Soundaware M1, L&P L3, Shozy Alien, Cozoy Rei