Aune M1s 32/384 DSD128 Balanced Portable Music Player


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Very transparent, dynamic and detailed sound. Balanced output, simple & fast user interface. Native DSD support. Sturdy build.
Cons: No sound tweaks / equalizer, no extensive features (like Wi-Fi, USB-DAC), wonky D-pad design
Hi to all fellow Head-Fi'ers!
I am here to write my impressions about Aune's (still) popular high resolution audio player M1S. I should state that the player was provided to me with confidence by Aune free of charge in exchange of my honest opinion.
So I'll try to do my best on that.
It's been quite a while since M1S was released, and I will try to add some comparisons with some recent strong competitors of M1S (like Sony A35 Walkman and Fiio X3 3rd Gen.) as of December 2017.
This is a frequently reviewed player on Head-Fi, so I'll try not to repeat the highly accessible info about M1S (that other reviewers already mentioned); rather I'll focus more on its most highlighted feature :
Sound quality.
But first things first. My setup :

I used M1S with as many headphones and IEM's to reach an overall evaluation of its sound performance. In the listening tests I used Grado HF-1, PS500e, Sony Mdr-1abt, Sony Z1R, Audio Technica MSR-7, Hifiman Edition S, Hifiman RE400 and RE600, 1More Triple Driver, Custom Art Fibae 1 & 2 and Mee Audio Pinnacle P1.
(Due to their bright nature, I first thought that M1S would not sound good with Grado's, yet the only cans in the group that did not match well with M1S had been the Audio Technica MSR-7 and MeeAudio Pinnacle P1 duo. Both presented an overly prevalent treble with M1S. )

Design, Build and Use

Let me go over the design, build, ergonomics and usability briefly.
Aune M1S has an aluminium chassis and it feels quite sturdy. My sample came with two screen protectors. Besides, silicon cases of three colours were added.


The screen is glass (not plastic) and the side buttons are accessible / usable in pocket.
The 2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended ports are placed on the bottom (as I prefer), and they seem to be made of high quality.


I especially liked their grip which prevents easy rotation of headphone jacks and in turn contributing to the durability of them.
The build quality is decent for the price of $249.

One point of criticism I have is about the design of the center buttons. The one in the middle is for play / pause and it has a circular, scroll-like one around it. However, as well as being wonky and making strange sounds during use, this circular button has no scrolling function and is actually a D-pad with four buttons for up-down and left-right.
As well as being an unnecessary complication (and a deceiving one) it degrades the usability of the player in pocket on the go.
I think it would have been simpler and better if Aune design team placed four independent buttons for D-pad.
Concerning use, this is probably the fastest booting DAP I've ever seen. After pressing the on / off button at the right side, it takes like 3 to 4 seconds for you to get to the main menu screen.
Initially after boot, there is a slight lag after pressing the play button until the playback starts, but other than that operation is instant.
The user interface is highly simple (that is also one of the reasons why it is so fast), but it does the job, and it goes well with a minimalist DAP like M1S.
I am also quite happy to say that I've experienced like zero crashes in user interface during three months of use.
Sometimes simplicity is bliss.
Here are the options in the simple the menu of M1S :



One thing I didn't like about in M1S' menu is the gain switch(ing) of the player.
Aune M1S has 3 levels of gain as low / mid / high, selectable through software from the main menu. That's alright.
However, in case you have sensitive ears and also use sensitive cans (especially low impendance / high sensitivity IEM's), one should be careful when switching gain, since the jump between those gain steps is instant and you can go from "low" to "high" with one press of a button, and that jump in output may be problematic for some.

The output of M1S is not that powerful even in balanced mode (2 x 180mW @ 32 ohm), however it might have been better if Aune implemented a volume limit system when switching gain. (A good example is on Sony WM series Walkmans in which volume is lowered to half when you switch gain.)
I believe Aune can add something like that in the next firmware or in the successor models of M1S.
During use M1S gets quite warm, even in low gain. However, it does not become "hot" and I didn't find that warmth as disturbing even in a hot Turkish summer.
As many have noted, M1S has no equalizer & sound enhancements whatsoever. For modifying the sound of the player (in case of need), there are the three built-in filters of the ES9018K2M DAC.
The filter "FAST" has the most dynamic, airy and extended presentation. However, for the likes of people who may find it a little bit aggressive, there are "SLOW" and "MP" filters which smoothen up the upper frequencies a bit.
I should state that these filters do not alter the base sound of M1S dramatically.
So you should use M1S with a headphone / IEM that would match the sonic characteristic of the player, as it offers virtually no options of altering its sound. I'll talk more about this in the sound section below.
This is one of the primary limitations of this player.

Sound Signature

(Note : I don't have a headphone with balanced 2.5mm plug at the moment, so I made my listening over the standard 3.5 mm jack. I'll update my impressions after I get one. Balanced performance of M1S is highly praised by listeners, so I'm curious.)

- Generally (and very superficially) speaking, two mainstream approaches to the tuning of digital audio players are being followed in the market.
One that is warmer and more fun-oriented (hi Sony and Fiio!) tuning and the other being less colored / more sterile or analytical sounding.
Ibasso DX90 or Hifiman's HM901U can be considered two nice examples of the latter approach.
In terms of sound signature, I might say Aune M1S can be considered closer to the second camp.

The sound M1S produces can be said to be neutral with very little coloration or warmth. Due to that, it is possible that some might find the player as a bit cold sounding.
It has a quite even balance across the spectrum with a little elevation in the treble region.
So it is possible that some may find M1S a tad bit bright due to that peak.
Besides, there is no mid-bass emphasis on the sound of M1s (which is more or less present on many of the DAPs to a degree). Because of that and the slight treble elevation, some may find M1S slightly bass-light (Though I am not one of them).
Other than that, I didn't notice any particular emphasis on any part of base / mid or high frequencies.
M1S has a relatively flat and balanced sound presentation.

Deep with decent impact, clean and very fast.
Without any exaggeration, I can say that Aune M1S has one of the tightest bass I've ever seen in a portable player.
It hits quite hard and decays in a short time.
I've even been able to get some decent "kick" from my relatively bass-light Grado's.
However, as I've said above, because of the flat-like bass presentation of M1S (that does not show any mid-bass emphasis), it may feel slightly bass-light with some headphones.
I am not very fond of using equalizer, but it would be nice if the player has some bass boost option for ones that seek more prominent bass.
I believe even a rudimentary one (like the very lovely hardware bass equalizer in Fiio X3 1st Gen.) would have added some more value to the player.


Very clean and transparent, textured, well separated.
I can easily say that in the transparency department, M1S can rival even some flagship daps that cost more than a grand.
The instruments are placed nicely in the horizontal X-axis creating an enfolding image. I didn't feel any recession or harshness in mids.
Thanks to the decent layering, it was especially enjoyable for me to listen to the keyboards in the back of the vocals and main instruments in pop / rock music records.
Well done, nice job again in here.

Slightly elevated, airy, extended, dynamic, precise with some sharpness and decent attack (typical for an ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC) and interestingly at the same time having some smoothness to it.
Despite having some prevalent treble, I didn't hear any harshness or hotness in the treble presentation of M1S.
In terms of signature, it resembles the one of Ibasso DX90 (which I rate highly in technical capability). They share the same Sabre DAC chip (though DX90 has two of those), yet these two have some differences in presentation.

DX90 has a slight V-shape signature with laid-back mids whereas the mids of M1S are more forward, clearer and more transparent. Apart from that, soundstage of M1S is also wider than that of DX90, producing a more intense and roomy presentation with a more enfolding stereo image.
And strangely (in a beautiful way), M1S has less of the "Sabre glare" in its sound, making it an easier DAP to listen compared to DX90.
Both have very similar treble character, yet DX90 virtually show no smoothness in the upper frequencies, producing a sound more open to cause fatigue due to it's sharp treble.
M1S on the other hand, while retaining the detailed, airy, highly dynamic and precise treble performance of DX90, also has some smoothness to it's sound preventing it from sounding "too aggressive".
Aune engineers must have done some nice tuning here.
Well done.

Soundstage and Imaging
One more strong point for the player.
I should state again that these impressions are from the 3.5 mm single-ended output of the player, but even at that condition, the stage of M1S is excellent for it's price point.
It is wide from left to right, and also it has some depth together with a very decent performance on layering.
Imaging has good accuracy and it is positively affected by the amount of air between the instruments.
The staging of the player is widely said to improve through balanced, and I will update my findings after I get a 2.5 mm balanced cable for my phones.

Shortly : M1S has a moderately powerful amplifier section.
It produces 110 mW @ 32 ohm single-ended, and 180 mW @ 32 ohm through balanced.
M1S would probably drive your phones to a highly satisfactory level provided that they have low impedance & high sensitivity.
But within these numbers, do not expect M1S to feed enough juice for, say a Sennheiser HD6XX.


M1S has a beautiful black background. I wish that I had the chance to try it with some sensitive IEMs, but among the ones I used, M1S presented a pitch-black background. So you can trust its really high SNR ratio in that.
In fact in some cans, I felt that it even introduced less hiss to the recording than the already quite silent, Top-Of-The-Line Sony WM1A which costs $1100.

I usually reached around 10 hours of use on mixed 16 & 24 bit flac files on mid and high gain. So it lives up to the specs stated by Aune.

Some Comparisons
At the moment, I have Sony A35 and Fiio X3 3rd Gen. in my hands besides Aune M1s. So I gave some A / B listening to these daps.
In terms of sound, the biggest difference between the trio is the sound signature.
M1S is, as I've said before, the less-coloured sounding of the three whereas A35 has slight warmth in its sound, and X3 Mark III is the warmest sounding of the group.
Compared to A35, M1S has more airy and crisp treble, better dynamics, clearer overall sound and a blacker background.
It also offers slightly faster operation, balanced output and thus a more powerful amplifier.
The sound quality of M1S has some edge over that of A35 via single-ended connection, and I assume that the difference would grow bigger in favor of M1S through balanced.
On the other side, A35 has its own strenghts.
It has a very small footprint with a good and a more sophisticated user interface compared to M1S and more than double the battery life on one charge.
And despite being inferior in sound in terms of technical capabilities, A35 presents a slightly more organic timbre than that of M1S, which can also be tailored to one's needs via a nice equalizer and sound enhancements.
A35 can also send wireless signal to Bluetooth devices like headphones, speakers etc.
It is rumoured by some listeners for the newer A45 to be better sounding than A35, and I will post here my findings after I got a Sony A45 Walkman.

Fiio X3 3rd Generation is the latest product coming from Fiio's first digital audio player line of X3 released four years ago. The product was lent to me with confidence by Fiio. So I would like to thank them also from here.
I'll be posting a full review of Fiio X3 Mark III in a short while here on Head-Fi.
X3 3rd Gen. has a pretty more coloured and warmer sound compared to the more neutral and analytical sound of M1S.
In comparison of the two daps both from their 3.5 mm single-ended out, M1S again has the slight edge in terms of technical capabilities, resolution and extension in both ends.
However, X3 III also presents nice staging, detail, separation over a balanced sound signature. Yet, its top end is more smoothened up compared to M1S, which makes X3 an ideal player for long listening sessions.
X3 1st Generation of 2013 was way too polite in the upper registers when it was released, thus it was definitely a non-ideal player for music with high dynamic content (like rock and metal). And I thought that was a flaw.
X3 3rd Gen. that I'm holding in my hands right now still continues that Fiio "politeness" in sound, but I can say that it can also rock when it needs to rock.
What it doesn't have is the aggressive bite and sparkle of M1S in the treble section.
So I think that's a matter of choice.

In terms of user interface, X3 III definitely has many more options (including a working equalizer) to offer than the rudimentary menu of system of M1S. However, accessing these options in X3 III can be a pain sometimes due to the slightly slower operation and button arrangement system of the player.
So the usability of M1S is better than X3 III probably thanks to its simple menu system.


It has been nearly a year after M1S' release in the beginning of 2017.
However, I believe M1S is still a strong competitor for the price of $249, in terms of its sound, balanced out option and fluid usability.
And I think a listener who prefers the less coloured, more neutral and "studio-like" sound signature compared to the warmer and more coloured one would still be delighted by the performance M1S offers.
It has its limitations (and it may not be the most "handsome" player indeed :)), yet as a "music player" it is definitely a credit to the Aune brand.

Good job Aune!
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent sound quality - detail, stage and resolution
Build quality
Easy UI
Impressive 2.5mm balanced output
Cons: Battery
Very simple UI
Lacks EQ and extra features
Aune M1s – Balance, Detail & Value

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Note: The actual rating should be 4.5/5.

Website: Aune

Full details and specifications can be found here

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Price (MSRP): U$D 250.
Available from Auneaudio store and Venture Electronics (Veclan)

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The Aune M1s unit arrives in a simple hassle free box which includes the basic accessories, a USB to micro-USB cable and a pair of screen protectors. The latest package might include a silicone case too; it can also be purchased separately at the price of ~$10.

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Build quality & Design:

Build quality on the Aune M1s is very solid and feels very durable. The whole chassis is made of a very sturdy and thick aluminum material, 100% CNC type (supposedly). The strong material also makes the M1s a heavy unit that might push the limits of truly portable players. The size is actually comfortable to carry around, being a larger than wider than the similar large DAPs. The finish is plain, discreet and smooth; though still has some edges towards the back panel.

On the front panel there’s the 2.4” screen, which is sharp enough but nothing fancy, just simply a 2 color one (grey/white). Just below are placed the main playback and navigation controls, ‘Home’ on left, ‘Back’ on right and the 4-pad control for ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘left’, ‘right’ and the circle ‘Ok/Enter’ button just in the middle.

On the right side, there are the power button which is also used as screen on/off, and the volume up and down just below. A small reset button in the middle and then the Micro SD slot towards the lower part. Finally, at the bottom part there’re the micro-USB slot for both charging and transferring, and the two output options, 3.5mm for both headphones and lineout and the 2.5mm balanced one. Nothing on the left and upper sides.

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UI, Navigation and Firmware:

Using the M1s player is very simple. Unlike the many portable players from Chinese companies with their complex and sometimes annoying, non-friendly interface, the M1s is so comfortable and easy to use. It actually reminds a lot of the famous little Sandisk Clip Plus for is simplicity and easy going interface. With the Home button it is possible to get back to the main screen with a single click and then back to the playing screen with just pressing it again. The Back button helps to go back to the just previous screen and also to the playing screen if located at the main screen as well. Navigation through menus can be done with the up/down buttons or with the left/right to get to the previous/next page on the whole list which just makes things even faster.

The last firmware 1.06 version is very stable, never frozen or crashed so far. Not the fastest response, but cannot be called slow. On this current 1.06 release it’s possible to setup the playback controls even when the screen is off, which should help in saving the battery usage. It is also possible to select various playback options, including continuous playback to the next folders.

Supposedly, the M1s presents an extra special “sound filter” feature with 3 different tuning options. Unfortunately, it seems to work only with DSD type of files. Moreover, the ‘gapless playback’ doesn’t seem to work with every file type either. And one extra complain would be that the M1s turns off after a few minutes of pausing the music, and it cannot be setup otherwise, and it won’t resume playback when turn on again, but start from the beginning of the last played track.

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PC connectivity and file transferring:

There is no internal memory on the M1s and the whole file handling is made via the micro SD card. When off and connected to the PC the player is immediately recognized as an extra memory unit (the micro SD card). Even the system upgrade is made by simply adding the firmware file to the card and then selecting the upgrade option on the player settings.

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Battery, Hiss:

Battery life is rated around the 10 hours, which seems fairly accurate, but mainly when used on lower volume with easier to drive earphones. The M1s is a quiet DAP No hiss was noticed even with most sensitive in-ear sets (including Custom IEM), and even from the balanced output, which is slightly louder.

Volume & Power:

The volume steps go from 0 to 100. The player also features 3 gain levels, low, mid and high, that would give even a higher scale when needed for more demanding sets. There is also an interesting fact with the current 1.06 firmware version that wasn’t in the previous two; it’s possible to choose between two upgrade files, “less aggressive” and “more aggressive” volume curve, which basically mean a slower or faster volume gain between each step. Might be a useful feature depending on the headphone in use.

As for the driving power of this Aune DAP, it can handle higher impedance stuff pretty well; the VE Zen 2.0 was no challenge here, and even both Sennheiser HD600 and HD650 could be driven to a fairly effortless level, though I’d personally still recommend a decent extra amplifier for these open-back cans. The HD25 II, on the other hand, sound fantastically nice out of the M1s, a pair that usually asks for some portable amplification at least.

Sound impressions

Technically, the sound quality out of the M1s is superb for its price. From lows to mids and up to the upper treble the M1s doesn’t stop to amaze with its fantastic level of detail, speed, accuracy and excellent dynamics. Be it a low budget earphone or a more expensive model, the M1s manages to surprise with its high gain in pure overall sound quality. Starting from the low-end it offers great depth and effortless extension down to sub-bass with a high control and accuracy that goes up to mid and upper bass notes, sounding very clean and noticeable taking down the extra mid-bass bloat out of warmer or bassier sets. It is faster and maybe a bit softer in impact, but the more aggressive nature of the DAP doesn’t sound missing in fullness and note weight. Yet, the most noticed improvements are in the speed and dynamics; listening to hybrid type IEMs is much easier out of the Aune as it tends to improve the typical (if any) drivers type incoherence issues bringing better harmony.

The midrange gets even more interesting. The clarity and detail are simply outstanding, and resolution is boosted up by a high margin. Nonetheless, the M1s still manages to maintain a delicate and more refined presentation. The instruments’ separation is excellent with better dynamics and positioning. The midrange still remains neutral, uncolored and flatter all the way up to the lower treble, while sounding simply more liquid and transparent. Voices also gain more detail, however the tonality of the DAP is slightly to the colder side of things, and thus the sweet and warmness can be missing with more mid-centered sets.

The highs gain a stronger emphasis which starts from upper mids to the whole treble itself. As such, the M1s does rate under the “bright” sounding DAPs. There is definitely extra energy and more sparkle with most of the earphones or headphones tried through the M1s, however the treble control and definition is very good, and rarely sounded harsh or more sibilant. There were some exceptions, mostly with more V-shaped sets, such as the Fiio EX1 or RHA MA750 where the sound got even more fatiguing than usual, but not annoying with other bright IEMs like the VE Duke or Sennheiser HD600 over-ear. Treble extension is superb and even more noticed than the bass extension which is already good.

The presentation is ample and the M1s is very resolving but also revealing like trying to present a more analytical sound with a very wide stage with more than average depth. The stage dimensions are not overly vast but very impressive for the price, and definitely surpass even more expensive portable players. Clarity is top notch and even the smallest the micro details are so easy to perceive. As mentioned, the tonality is more towards the cooler side, and while very liquid and dynamic, the M1s is less organic sounding than the PAW5000 or the X5 2nd Gen.. The PAW5000 wins in midrange richness and mainly in the vocals presentation with a smooth and sweeter texture. The X5, on the other hand, gives some extra weight to instruments and sound has a bit more 3D surrounding effect. They both sound ‘more musical’ than the M1s (at least in Single output), but even though, none of these pricier DAPs can match the micro detail and stage out of the Aune.

The Balanced Output

Switching to the balanced 2.5mm output on the Aune M1s brings out a very strong improvement on the whole sound quality and presentation. Basically, it starts from just getting technically better in every single aspect from extension on both ends to pure quality in each frequency with a higher refinement on the overall sound. Nonetheless, they were very good examples of what the balanced mode is capable of. While the level of detail on the single output was already impressive for this M1s player price, it simply gets even more amazing as it goes “balanced”. It may be considered even more analytical in its ability of showing every single micro detail in a much effortless way with better control, and despite being even brighter in tonality it’s still more forgiving, more delicate and resolving. The gain in dynamics is impressive as well and the higher speed and layering makes it sound even more musical in a certain way. The bass is noticeable softer in impact but tighter and better textured. The midrange feels slightly more forward but it’s more about the more open and airy sound. As expected, the right and left separation is better defined giving a wider stage effect with a more accurate image. It is also worth mentioning that the volume is higher on the balanced mode, but yet with a darker and cleaner background even from the more sensitive CIEMs. Compared to the PAW5000 2.5mm balanced output the differences are strong. The Lotoo didn’t showed much improvement on the balanced form. On a brief audition of the newest Fiio X5 3rd gen, while the balanced gain is better than with the PAW5000, it still doesn’t reach the same level of the M1s. It could be considered a pretty much flawless sound if you can get the right setup for it.

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The Aune M1s is a very impressive addition to the portable audio market. While the main contenders keep adding new features like touch colorful screens, wireless Bluetooth playback, DAC option and more, the M1s has skipped all of that and simply focus on giving the best sound quality for the money. The build quality is very strong and the interface, while too simple, is very easy to handle. The firmware is very stable as well, though there’re certain features that should be fixed like the power-off timing and the gapless playback. The battery too, could still be better when compared to other players that can last around 15 hours and more on a single charge, and like the rest of the Aune players there’re no EQ options. Yet, the best part of the Aune M1s is the balanced output which rises its sound quality even much higher and gives a much better value as a simple portable player.


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Sound quality
Cons: missing some frills like album art and EQ.



· AUNE provided me with a test unit to review and provide feedback on firmware updates. I want to start off by thanking them for their kindness and for this wonderful DAP that has increased my music listening enjoyment dramatically. I feel like a proud dad showing pictures of my M1s, haha.


(from Penon’s site)


· Headphone impedance range: 8-600R

· Headphone output THD + n: 0.00027%

· Headphone output power: 110mW @ 32Ω BAL output -180W @ 32Ω

· DNR: 120 dB

· CCIF: 19KHz + 20KHz 0.00012% @ 32R

· Noise: 2.52μVrms

· MAX Level: 1.92Vrms

Supported formats:

· WAV: 16bit︳24bit︳32bit-44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192K/352.8K/384K WAV + CUE

· FLAC: 16bit︳24bit-44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192K


· APE: 16bit/44.1K normal level



· Continuous playback of more than 10 hours (16bit / 44.1K file / continuous playback)

· The maximum charge current of the battery is 1.3A, 1.5A or more recommended adapter to achieve the fastest charging effect

· Interface: 3.5mm headphone jack, 2.5mm balanced headphone jack

· Screen: 2.4 inch IPS display

· Media: TF card (up to 128GB, FAT32 format)

· Font: Simplified Chinese / Traditional Chinese / English / Japanese / 한국 의

· Size: 55 × 126 × 14.8 (mm)

· Weight: 147g



·The design of the M1S is beautiful. Looking through pictures it's hard not to fall in love with the look but the hand feel is even better. I switched to this from xduoo x3 so it was similar. Hahahaha, ok it's kind of wrong to compare the two. The M1S is much more thoughtful and really gives the user an easy to hold and navigate experience. It fits really well in pockets and is very lightweight. It is a little slippery without the silicon case. I use the grey case as it matches it perfectly but there is also blue and red if that matches your stuff better. It has two outputs one balanced 2.5mm and a 3.5mm. Both can be used as a true line out at 2v. The one area I will say that AUNE missed a wonderful chance to allow for USB DAC function. Sadly this is not even possible with the way the hardware is set up. It is not what they were going for though; they wanted to make the purest high quality experience that everyone can afford. At the end of the day steaming music is not important because if you truly love a song you own it and it’s in your collection.

A video over look:


·The UI is extremely simple. No pictures just the basics, not even an EQ. The reality is that this DAP is for purists. The settings are basic which is a good thing. There are 3 filters Slow, Medium and Fast. I find that Medium is perfect for me, just the right amount. There is also the option for 3 gain settings. The unit is very powerful on high gain and can play my notorious Havi B3’s well on its own. For those not familiar, the Havi is ridiculously picky about sources. When you want dial in some nice IEM’s I find the low setting to be awesome.


· The sound of the M1S is clear and coherent. It is very neutral it can play everything up to DSD128. The 2.5mm output is new to me and I had to buy earphones just to use it. I tried balanced Monk Plus, Asura 2 and Zen 2. Let me say this now if anyone is thinking it, I am a Venture Electronics fan. Lol. Ok back to what I was saying, the balanced output is slightly more powerful than the internal amps on the 3.5mm port. Dynamics and separation were increased as well using the balanced port. I even felt the Zen was useable without an amp. With that being said the Line out to amp is ridiculously good. I have a special edition RA plus from VE. That truly lets the Zen shine. The sound is excellent but it comes down to sound signature when one is looking for a DAP and this wallet friendly unit is as close to neutral as I have ever experienced. You can take my word for but there are many users sharing their positive thoughts.



· It comes with 3 silicon cases, a screen protector and a USB cable. There is also a screen protector included. It feels very safe with the combo. Also, while the unit is off you can transfer to the SD card inside.


· If you looking for a straight up high quality DAP that is focused on music It's a no brainer to pick this up. I carry it with my daily with my 2.5mm balanced monk plus. Everything has been collecting dust in my collection because the M1s is so easy to carry.



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Pros: Simple build and design is easy to learn and use, File playback up to DSD, Balanced output, Drives in-ear monitors fabulously, Transparent and clean sound, Battery Life
Cons: Primitive design doesn't offer much in terms of cutting edge technology, No Wifi or wireless capability, Bland display, No equalizer or bass boost (for those who prefer it)
At the time this review was written, the Aune M1S was listed for sale on their website. Here is a link for more information and purchase.


If you’re looking for high tech, bluetooth, streaming capability you should stop reading this now and look somewhere else. If you find all that stuff to be a distraction that takes away from remarkable fidelity, carry on…

Today’s market is absolutely flooded with digital audio player options. Several companies are currently offering portable sources that come in at every price point. Options vary, sometimes significantly between models.

Technology is advancing at a tremendous pace. Even still, portable music players that mimic the basic DAPs of yesteryears can still offer tremendous value to audiophiles and music lovers all over the world. In a day and age where I’m still finding features in my phone a year after getting it, sometimes it’s nice to have a dedicated music player that is straightforward and easy to figure out relatively quickly. The Aune M1S is just that.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t make it all day on a single cell phone battery without needing to recharge it. That’s without using my phone for music playback! Because of this it comes in handy to have a separate music source like a digital audio player. I save battery and can still get phenomenal sound at the same time.

When Aune asked me if I would be interested in beta testing and reviewing the M1S, I was quick to take them up on their offer. Looking at the specs, it seemed pretty cool that Aune was offering something with a 2.5mm balanced line out and still comes in under the three hundred dollar mark. Let’s take a look at the unit, and go over it with a comprehensive review.


I was given a free review sample of the M1S in exchange for my input during beta testing, and review of the unit. I am in no way affiliated with Aune Audio aside from offering input on the device and sharing my honest opinion with all of you.

The M1S comes in a black box with a foil stamped Aune logo on the front. There’s not too much more to say about the box beyond this. Removing the top, I’m greeted with an initial glimpse of the device and a charging cable. Removing the player from the foam inlay reveals an owner’s manual and a couple of screen protectors.


Also included in my package from Aune were three different colored silicone skins (sold separately) for the player to slide into. Kudos to Aune for offering the screen protectors and skins (Gray not pictured). It’s nice to see that owners will be able to protect their investment from the start.

Specifications and Accessories
Screen: 2.4inch IPS Screen
Medium: TF Card ( Max support 128GB,FAT32 format)
Language: Chinese/English/ Japanese/Korean
Playback time: can continue play above 10 hours( 16bit/44.1 file)
Size: 55*126*14.8mm
Weight: 147g

Audio formats:
APE :44.1k/1 bit
WAV:16bit/24bit/32bit-44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192K/352.8K/384K WAV+CUE

Headphone Output:
THD+N: 0.00027%
DNR:120 dB
CCIF: 19KHz+20KHz 0.00012%/32R
Headphones maximum output:110mW/32 ohm BAL output--180mW/32 ohm
Noise: 2.52uVrms
The headset impedance: 8-600Ω
MAX Level: 1.92Vrms

3.5mm headphone socket
2.5mm Balance headphone socket

1 x Aune M1S
1 x USB Cable (no wall socket)
1 x Manual

Design and Build

Holding the device in my hand, the device has a somewhat sturdy build and a bit of heft to it. The all aluminum chassis seems durable. The device does have some somewhat sharp edges to it, but is a non-issue with a silicone cover applied.

Looking at the front of the unit I couldn’t help it think of an old Ipod upon first glimpse. However, functionality is not the same. What looks like a scroll wheel is actually a D-pad (more on this in a bit). Also located on the front of the device are a home button on the middle left, and a back button on the middle right of the player. The screen is pretty small and made of plastic, making the screen protectors a necessity to prevent scratches.

The right side of the unit has a power button, + and - volume buttons, a small reset pinhole and a micro SD TF card slot which supports up to 128GB of music files in FAT32 format.


The bottom of the device has 3.5mm and 2.5mm balanced outputs, as well as a MicroSD port for file transfers and charging the device.

The top, left, and back sides of the unit have nothing to note. To be honest the layout is very elementary. The device looks like a sleek and sophisticated version of MP3 players in their early years of development. If you find joy in simplicity, Aune has got your back with the M1S.


The M1S has a very simple user interface that mirrors players of years past. There is no album artwork, no fancy themes and no colors beyond a black and gray background with white lettering and thumbnail images that represent areas of navigation. The M1S has no Wifi, wireless or bluetooth capability. It stores your files and plays them out of the headphone jacks. There’s nothing high tech about the player beyond balanced output and DSD playback.

Battery life is one of the M1S’s strength. In low gain the M1S has up to eleven hours of continuous playback time. I was able to easily get two days (and sometimes three days) of moderate use (two to four hours each day) from the unit. When the battery is running low I was able to recharge it completely in less than two hours (depending on what charger I used). Thanks to the fact that there is no wireless functionality and music could be controlled without turning the screen on, battery life is concentrated on music playback.

The player has four folders which are scrolled through by pressing left or right on the D-pad then selecting it with the center (enter/play/pause) button. Here are the folder options explained:

Playlists: Select this folder and you can access either your most played or tracks you’ve identified as a favorite during music playback.

Settings: Lots of options here… From this menu you can adjust various playback functions, adjust screen and lock settings, change gains and filter modes, switch from variable to line-out, and upgrade firmware.

Folders: From here you can access your music. Folders are arranged by artist, then by album, then by tracks


Songs: This is a line list of every song you have on your TF card organized numerically then alphabetically.

Music playback

Despite being incredibly simple, the music playback screen layout is very smartly designed and gives owners all of the information they’d need (with the only exception being album artwork). Volume, Filter option and battery status are located on the top of the display. Artist, track number, album name and file bitrate are located in the middle of the screen. Favorite song status, playback status, repeat status, track number status, and playback time status are located on the bottom.

Filter Mode

Long pressing downward on the D-Pad during playback changes between three filter modes:

FAST= Balanced sound presentation
SLOW= Soft music presentation
MP= Analog sound presentation

These filters are subtle, but do work as advertised. It is more noticeable to my ears with sensitive in-ear monitors. I consider the sound filters to be a fine tweak that works well to try and squeeze every last ounce of synergy out of whatever pair of earphones you use with the M1S. To my ears the FAST setting worked best with warmer and bassier earphones, the SLOW setting seemed to work best with leaner and brighter sounding earphones, and the MP was kind of a crapshoot depending on what earphone I used with the M1S.

Long pressing the up button during music playback made the track a liked song and added it to your “liked” songs playlist (accessed via the playlist folder). A quick press of the up button changes the repeat setting.


Music can be loaded onto a SD TF card in FAT32 format. Aune is specific about the FAT32 setting. It can be loaded onto a SD card via your computer, then loaded into the M1s to be scanned. If you want to leave the card in your player and load music via the micro USB cable, you can do so by powering down the unit, plugging it into a computer and utilizing the drag and drop feature once your device’s storage card is recognized.

Firmware updates are relatively simple to do and reminiscent of other players on the market today. Since obtaining the player I have done two firmware upgrades (I’m now on version 1.03) and there are talks of future firmware updates as well. With the 1.03 firmware the storage card has been expanded from 128GB to 256GB. I wasn’t able to test and confirm (I used my 32GB card and had no issues with storage or scanning).

The M1S is a versatile player in the sense that it plays just about every file of music you can get your hands on, from MP3 to DSD. There are two outputs on the bottom of the player, a 3.5mm single ended output and 2.5mm balanced output. The two outputs can be used simultaneously but are at the mercy of one volume setting, meaning you can use both outputs at the same time but volume cannot be adjusted separately. To add to this, the 2.5mm balanced output is slightly more powerful than the 3.5mm single ended port.

Switching to line out mode in the settings menu, the M1S output is fixed at max volumes, making the player a source that can be stacked with an external amplifier. Be aware that switching to line out with earphones on and plugged in IS NOT a pleasant experience, as you are essentially maximizing the volume output instantly. I made this mistake once with sensitive in-ear monitors and nearly blasted my eardrums out. Take caution and make sure line out setting is accessed with no earphones plugged into the device.

Sound Quality

I would consider the sound of the M1S to be transparent and neutral, offering a nice balance between all frequencies. Firmware update 1.03 did seem to give the sound a bit more bite than the original firmware (going off of memory).

The 2.5mm balanced output of the M1S is superior to the 3.5mm single ended option. From what I heard, separation, texture and detail got a slight bump at matched volumes. Still, the 3.5mm output is no slouch. I didn’t hear any difference in sound signature or tuning when switching between the two.

The M1S has no equalizer, bass boost, or any other DSP adjustment beyond the gain and filter settings. To be completely honest, I didn’t miss having any of these luxuries. Aside from using a junky pair of earphones, the M1S didn’t leave me wishing for more sound adjustments. The sound quality from the M1S is excellent in my opinion.


From what I experienced, the best aspect of this player was its ability to sound magnificent with in-ear monitors (in low gain). Of all the players I currently have at home, the M1S delivered the goods in terms of synergy with sensitive high end in-ear monitors. This is in thanks to the combination of a dead silent background, balanced output, balanced signature, various filter settings and low power output. The noise floor of the M1S is dead silent and I didn’t get any audible hissing from it. If I see you soon at the next Chicago area Head-Fi meet and want to show you a cool new in-ear monitor, I’m probably going to have you try them with a DSD file out of this DAP.

Low impedance headphones sound good with the M1S (in medium gain). Some notable headphones that seemed to benefit from the player were the Meze classic series (99 classics and 99 Neo), the Xiaomi headphones and Koss porta Pros. Between the three gain settings and filter options, I had no qualms about the player’s ability to drive these with excellent fidelity.

Although adequate (in high gain), the M1S didn’t maximize sound quality with high impedance cans like the HD600/6XX, ZMF Eikon/Atticus, or AKG K7XX. Between the power output and sound signature, to my ears the M1S doesn’t maximize the ability of headphones that fall in this criteria. Long story short, the M1S couldn’t hang with the likes of the slightly warmer and more powerful Cayin I5, iBasso DX80 and Luxury and Precision LP5. One thing to note, the fact that I can go from variable to a fixed line out, the M1S can be stacked or paired with an external amplifier and give you the oomph needed to rock a pair of high impedance cans.

Summarized, if you want something for your collection of in-ears, GO FOR IT! If you want to rock your hard to drive orthos on the go (and don’t have a amplifier to pair it with) you might want to look somewhere else.

(TLDR?) Conclusion

The Aune M1S is a drag and drop single SD slot music player that disregards much of the cutting edge technology of today, and focuses on file playback, balanced and single ended outputs, Hi-Res file playback and most importantly, a transparent and balanced sound signature that audiophiles and music enthusiast will enjoy thoroughly.

Aune has cut out a lot of the modern bells and whistles to get to the heart of what makes a great portable music source. The M1S is a simple and easy to use music player that is geared to make the best of any earphone under 150 Ohms (IMHO) sound fabulous. If you have some high quality music recordings and a few good pairs of high end in-ear monitors and low impedance headphones the M1S will bring all of it together into one awesome combination. If you have a good amplifier laying around, you can flip the M1S into line out mode and rock your music files with your high impedance stuff as well.

Aune hasn’t reinvented the wheel here. They’ve broken away from the tech push, considered what maximizes sound quality and ditched most of the stuff that degrades it. For around two hundred fifty dollars Aune is offering a DSD capable portable player with a dead silent background and balanced output. Pretty darn cool if you ask me!

Thanks for reading and happy listening!


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Clarity, soundstage, separation, detail, responsiveness
Cons: No external DAC function, no EQ, no touchscreen, no kitchen sink and will not do your washing up for you
Ok, so it's my very first review (everybody say "aww!" and pat me on the head), so please go easy on me. All (constructive) criticism will be taken on board and considered for future reviews.
All details, comments and the firmware updates etc can be found in abundance upon the following thread:
I'd like to begin by thanking Aune and @glassmonkey, firstly for arranging the tour, and secondly for being brave/reckless enough to include me on it

I shall endeavour not to abuse the trust placed in me.
Ok, so first some shamelessly copied and pasted specs and details (because why re-invent the wheel?):
By: Aune
The M1s is the second generation product of the popular Aune M1 , it adopts an asynchronous clock technology and the latest Cortex-M7 pure hardware solution framework, supporting multiple music formats and DSD hard-ware solution. It is high-end mini high fidelity player with balanced output and continuous playback. Specification Output: Headphone impedance range: 8-600R Headphone output THD + n: 0.00027% Headphone output power: 110mW @ 32Ω BAL output -180W @ 32Ω DNR: 120 dB CCIF: 19KHz + 20KHz 0.00012% @ 32R Noise: 2.52μVrms MAX Level: 1.92Vrms Supported formats: WAV: 16bit︳24bit︳32bit-44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192K/352.8K/384K WAV + CUE FLAC: 16bit︳24bit-44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192K DSD: DSF/DFF/ISO/DSD128 APE: 16bit/44.1K normal level MP3/ALAC/AAC Battery: Continuous playback of more than 10 hours (16bit / 44.1K file / continuous playback) The maximum charge current of the battery is 1.3A, 1.5A or more recommended adapter to achieve the fastest charging effect Interface: 3.5mm headphone jack, 2.5mm balanced headphone jack Screen: 2.4 inch IPS display Media: TF card (up to 128GB, FAT32 format) Font: Simplified Chinese / Traditional Chinese / English / Japanese / 한국 의 Size: 55 × 126 × 14.8 (mm) Weight: 147g Package Includes: 1 x AUNE M1S 1 x USB cable
These may be later placed below (or not; as I wish. Tee hee.), in order to serve the twofold function of enabling you to clearly visualise the player whilst simultaneously marvelling at my mad skills in photography


Stock images above: beautiful, handcrafted ones* to follow shortly
*i.e. inferior, but my own

Build and appearance
The player is solidly built, hefty and could easily double as a suspect implement in a game of Cluedo should the need arise.
It could be (pretentiously) described as a retrospectively reimagined deconstruction of a modern DAP, in that it exhibits what I can only describe as 'brick-esque' visual qualities whilst offering a somewhat stripped-down experience.
Bluntly, it's form factor and 'old skool' UI is not going to win any beauty contests or have the faithful masses drooling into their flat whites, but it's rather appropriate given that this player is all about the music, rather than the bells and whistles. Pun intended.
The demo unit I received came encased in in the kind of rubbery silicone that is usually the province of the, ahem, adult toy domain (so I've heard), but does a very good job without inhibiting useability.
The player feels like it could be dropped repeatedly and still laugh in your face, even more so when in its protective sleeve/case.
Since it's my first review and I don't wish it to be my last, I did not however test out this hypothesis.
The physical interface was generally fine, but occasionally frustrating; the buttons on the wheel-that-is-not-a-wheel have to be pressed just right in order to elicit the desired response, and the on/off switch was annoyingly similar and close to the volume buttons.
This may of course simply be a result of my having become used to the button layout on the xDuoo X3, so take this with a pinch of salt.

The UI was fast and responsive, and having updated to the latest firmware (1.058 at the time of writing)

Ok hep cats, the moment you've all been waiting with bated breath for...
I tested the DAP with a plethora (3) of the finest quality IEM's and a pair of Apple earbuds because, as my review so amply demonstrates, sometimes the underdog should have his moment in the limelight too

Trinity Audio Phantom Master 4, Trinity Audio Hunter (demo version) and the Noble Katana (wizard version) were the IEM's used.
At this point, a healthy dose of reality. I have heard setups at Canjam costing thousands of pounds/dollars.
£4k worth of DAP, hooked up to a Chord Hugo etc. I've heard levels of clarity, detail and musicality that made my heart and so forth swell and my jaw drop.
A $249 DAP is simply not (at present) going to provide that level of experience.
Conversely, I've heard the Colorfly C3 and my current DAP, the xDuoo X3 (Rockboxed FTW), which fall into a lower price bracket than that of the Aune M1S.
So whilst I cannot provide a specific 'like for like' comparison, at least I hope to convey what it is and what it isn't.

I've read many saying that a good DAP should be one that is transparent and neutral, merely conveying the music 'as is', without colouration, in order to allow the natural character of one's IEM's/headphones to shine.
Mind you, I've heard similar comments about IEM's and headphones too, so who knows?

What I can say is that the Aune M1S does everything that my xDuoo X3 can do, only better. And the X3 provides a good level of sound quality with a reference style sound signature, so it's no slouch in that department.
It's like the X3 +1. It is indeed quite transparent and neutral, and it does indeed enable the characteristics of the different IEM's I gainfully employed in this review to shine through.
With the Hunter and PM4, I could perceive eye-opening levels of detail and clarity.
Clarity and detail were similarly abundant on the Katana, with a generous sound stage, clear separation and imaging and just an overall beautiful balance to the sound.
I couldn't identify clear differences between the DAP's single ended and balanced outputs, but this could be a result of using the player with the latest update, which apparently improved the SE output to the level of the balanced one.
I experimented with the 3 sound-altering settings (MP, Fast and Slow).
The differences were perceptible if I listened closely, albeit subtle.
On Anberlin's staggering song 'The Art of War', the bass enters around 6 seconds into the song. I'm no bassist, but I think it's being played with a pick and I feel I can perceive more individual plucks and vibrations of the string with the Fast setting than with the MP setting.
Generally, I feel the Fast setting increases the soundstage (height, mainly) and clarity slightly and just makes subtle details stand out slightly more.
I couldn't really notice much difference with the Slow setting, but the MP setting seems to provide a slightly softer, more analogue/organic sound.
Being the detail lover that I am, I left the player mostly on Fast.
As others have observed, the differences between these filters can be slight to the point of imperceptibility.
However, I would comment that one of the reasons the Mojo has developed such a following is because it's makers understood the way in which tiny, barely perceptible details are processed by the brain and how this can, especially with time, result in a significant elevation in the experience of enjoying the music you play through it.
With this in mind, although the filter differences were slight and subtle, I thought carefully about which one I enjoyed the most, and stuck with it.
True to the reference sound alluded to at the beginning of this section, I feel the DAP doesn't much colour the sound signature.
Where there is little bass, the tracks play through my IEM's with little bass.
Occasionally, I found this a bit frustrating, and wished I had some electronic means to change it (EQ, amp or whatever).
At least the fabulous interchangeable filter system of the Trinity IEM's allowed me the ability to customise the sound signature of the IEM's to suit different genres/moods, but still, I would have liked an EQ on the DAP or perhaps a more demonstrative electronic filter selection on the DAP.
Conversely, where there was bass, it was delivered beautifully (due in no small part to the IEM's too, I would assume).
Jamiroquai's 'Deeper Underground' has underpant-soiling levels of bass and sub-bass, and the player delivered with aplomb, conveying rumble and depth without ever becoming muddy or incoherent.
U2's 'Love is Blindness (from the 24 bit HDTracks version of the album) made an already spine-tingling song even more so; the bass shivered through me, the separation and soundstage increased the song's mood of loneliness and isolation and the whole thing just sounding beautifully clear and clean.
Jewel's 'Amen' showed that this player is, well, a serious player in the female vocal department.
From 2:40 into the song, her voice ranges from low, to husky, to powerful and emotional, finally soaring angelically to ever-higher registers, all of which are presented flawlessly by the Aune M1S
On Paul Simon's 25th Anniversary edition of Graceland, Ladysmith Black Mambazo sound remarkable at the opening section of the track 'Homeless'.
Every voice, every harmony is represented exquisitely. All IEM's tested here produced excellent results, a testament to the Aune M1S (and of course the album and the mastering thereof).
The PM4 and Hunter brought out slightly more detail, but the Katana was more smooth, balanced and musical.
'Ghost' by the excellent band confusingly called 'Live' highlighted another aspect of music that this player revealed, namely that of 'atmospherics'.
Something I've particularly enjoyed whilst doing my critical listening has been songs with what I could describe as 'atmospheric' backgrounds.
U2's 'The Unforgettable Fire' (MFSL version), The Cranberries 'I still Do', Joan Osborne 'St. Theresa', Chris Isaak 'Wicked Games', Doves 'Firesuite'; all of these are prime examples of what I mean about the mood and often the little details in the background that inform it.
Since I was until recently lamentably devoid of audiophile equipment, this review has by necessity been a voyage of discovery into the new IEM's as much as of the DAP, and a delightful journey back into my own music collection; a biblical reference springs to mind: Matthew 13:52 - "every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."  I've been listening to songs I've heard countless times before, even on quality equipment, and I've still been noticing previously unnoticed details over the last week or so - new treasures coming out along with the old!
Indeed, since any DAP review necessitates an audio speaker of some kind, I imagine this is an unavoidable factor when reviewing a DAP, and without multiple DAPs of a similar price/performance level to compare against, it has been difficult to do otherwise.

On a positive note, the more products I review and/or purchase, the less of an issue this will become; how very motivational

I suspect I'll once again be shamelessly copying and pasting from my own review of this DAP in order to accurately review the IEM's mentioned here later.
In conclusion, I'd say that this DAP offers a transparent and reference sound signature, and the better the stuff you feed it or listen to it through, the better the results you'll get.
It scales accordingly to some extent, although in fairness you won't expect a player in this bracket to reach TOTL levels.
However, I feel this is an excellent player at its price point, and would recommend it wholeheartedly as long as you are not looking for the 'smartphone experience' in your DAP and all the bells and whistles available these days.
This DAP is all about the music, and in that regard, I cannot fault it.
Honestly, I don't want to send it back.
For those of you that have made it all the way to the end, I salute you and hope to see you again
About 80cm? Just kidding. It's hard to quantify, and anything I say is of course only my subjective opinion.
Also, the answer obviously depends on what you are looking for in terms of functionality and sound signature? And the budget you have available?
There's kind of a $90 - $150 price bracket that the xDuoo X3 fits into. I believe it's one of the best players in that category, offering something close to the kind of transparent, reference style sound signature that many audiophiles are looking for.
However, then there's the $350 price bracket (how you define the end point of this price bracket is open to interpretation).
In it you've got players such as the new Fiio X5iii, Pioneer XDR-300P, Opus#1, Cayin DAP's etc.
At this stage, you're getting into audio performance that is in a similar league to that of TOTL players, going into the realms of diminishing returns for price paid etc. Many of these DAP's have dual DACs and amp sections, balanced outputs, optical outputs (so could use Mojo with it for example), dual micro-SD card slots, full touchscreens and android/custom UI's..
I'd say the Aune fits somewhat strangely in between these two price brackets, and as I said in my review, offers a stripped down feature set in exchange for competitive sound quality. Some reviewers think it's as good as the 'Mid-Fi' level DAP's I've given examples of above.
I would say, if your budget can stretch to one of the Mid-Fi DAP's above and you can find one that has the sound signature you're lookihg for, then maybe go for that. However, if you are unwilling or unable to spend so much, the Aune will probably offer an upgraded experience to that of the xDuoo X3, but how 'upgraded' will depend on your own tastes, hearing and perception.
I've tried to be as balanced and objective as possible in answering your question, hope it's been of some help :)
First review?! Are you serious?! This is one of the most fun reviews I've come across so far. It naturally flows and you're quite a word smith. And the humor too! :) 
I don't have any constructive criticisms. Tips maybe that you already know:
*If you want to see a review with all the works (technical impressions, etc.), check out reviews by Brooko.
*If you want to see a review that is concise and sweet, check out reviews by Zelda.
*Reviews by twister6 are also very good in my opinion.
*Also, check out write-ups from jude or Currawong (Admins).
Then you may pick up some techniques on how they do reviews and maybe incorporate those in your future reviews or write ups. :)
Again, awesome review! PLUS the fact that your first review hit the front page, you should be very proud. :)
Enjoy your day sir and...
Happy listening!
  • Like
Reactions: Zelda
Wow, thanks for the huge compliments, much appreciated.
I do indeed feel honoured and humbled! I felt the review was a bit rambling and unstructured, but I'll try to improve on that in future!
They say you should let your personality shine through, which is depressing, because I am probably too rambling and unstrucured in real life, haha.

And as for the advice, thanks again. I have to say, I already read many of the reviews by all of those people :D
They're some of my Head-Fi heroes and fine (but daunting!) examples to follow, and I certainly hope to 'learn at their feet' and improve as I go along :)


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: 2.5mm Balanced, SQ different and refreshing and very good for the price. Simplistic old school player without all bells and whistles.
Cons: Sharp edge design, finicky jog dial buttons, drab screen (although clear and legible) may not pair well with brighter IEMs or headphones. No EQ
April 2017
I have owned a few daps down the years now and love daps and prefer been a bit old school with keeping my cd rips on what today is SD storage or flash storage on the device and even of late have had players ranging from both ends of the ladder including the pocket friendly Shangling M1 to HIFIMAN Mega and Super Mini players to most recently the Sony WM1A which has replaced my beloved ZX1 Walkman I had. 
One thing that was a realization in 2016 for me was how many products out there didn’t have to cost flagship prices to be very good and some were actually classed in the affordable price to many but were capable of punching above their weight by quite a bit which I think is only a good thing in this industry which is running away with itself last few years with prices touching new heights beyond the average Joe and keep pushing through that glass roof.
So it is refreshing when they do come along that there is a product that can offer good sound quality and features for the money and Aune certainly did that with the S6 amp/ dac I reviewed recently which I have to say did surprise me as I was not expecting it to be that good when looking at features and price it came in at.
So it left me thinking was this a one off or is Aune able to have this continuity through their range of products in the new M1S dap which Is not pretending to be an android app galore friendly portable streamer that can play lazy birds on or make popcorn with its processor but actually just concentrate on providing a good sound without compromise so gone is a snazzy colour screen with album art and is more like the HIFIMAN Mega/Super Mini’s where they just show text info on screen and no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth here to help you out or drain your battery.
This does not even have an EQ included which for many will be a bit of an odd omission for any player but I personally like this idea as again always felt the player should be tuned good enough from the start and with players I have had usually leave the EQ alone anyway for exception of early days with HDD Walkmans or Cowon D2+. 
Aune would rather spend the money on features that you would associate with improving the sound side of things like a balanced 2.5 output alongside the usual 3.5 SE mode and a Aune tweak on the Sabre ES9018 DAC and low jitter clocks to give you a darker background plus choice of three dac filters to cater for preference in different sound presentation is  what makes this player primary target all about the music.   
Design & Build…
On first sight of this player is a polished looking player to look at but the design is kept to minimalistic with no touchscreen here, just all traditional hard buttons to press and all though the front jog dial buttons are big they need still quite a precise press in just the right place to make right contact to engage the desired operation. 
The size of the M1S is a fairly big player with a bit of depth to it which makes it feel chunky but holding it in one hand was okay for me although I found the edges not been bevelled a touch to sharp to hold for a while making it uncomfortable on the hands but this is where again the silicone case solves this as not also does it protect it makes it feel nice to hold the player with the case on. 
The Micro USB charge and both headphones jacks are located at bottom of the player whilst the micro sd card slot is located on the same side as the volume and power/wake button.
The screen is simple and effective at just showing the relevant info via text only with no album art.
Neat and clear as this looks I just felt it could have been a little less drab in presentation every time it the screen is turned on to look at.
The battery seemed to be accurate from what I could tell to manufacturers quoted 11 hour run time using mainly 16 bit FLAC files and a mixture of high res files in FLAC plus some DSD only tracks played to take into account higher drain on battery with those DSD or higher bit rate FLAC files so no nasty surprises with run time or even battery draining quickly over few days when left in standby mode.
  1. Headphone impedance range: 8-600R
  2. Headphone output THD + n: 0.00027%
  3. Headphone output power: 110mW @ 32Ω BAL output -180W @ 32Ω
  4. DNR: 120 dB
  5. CCIF: 19KHz + 20KHz 0.00012% @ 32R
  6. Noise: 2.52μVrms
  7. MAX Level: 1.92Vrms
Supported formats:
  1. WAV: 16bit24bit32bit-44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192K/352.8K/384K WAV + CUE
  2. FLAC: 16bit24bit-44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192K
  4. APE: 16bit/44.1K normal level
  1. Continuous playback of more than 10 hours (16bit / 44.1K file / continuous playback)
  2. The maximum charge current of the battery is 1.3A, 1.5A or more recommended adapter to achieve the fastest charging effect
  3. Interface: 3.5mm headphone jack, 2.5mm balanced headphone jack
  4. Screen: 2.4 inch IPS display
  5. Media: TF card (up to 128GB, FAT32 format)
  6. Font: Simplified Chinese / Traditional Chinese / English / Japanese / 한국 
  7. Size: 55 × 126 × 14.8 (mm)
  8. Weight: 147g
Package Content :
The M1s comes in a smartly finish presentation hard box case which is understated in appearance with just the company logo on the box lid. 
The M1S comes with the usual array of manual, USB data transfer charge cable and screen protector.
There is also a silicone case which is optional which comes in various colours and the one for this purpose was black which naturally suited the overall tone and theme of the player. 
The case actually made it easier to locate those buttons to press and feel more comfortable in the hand not to mention obvious if dropped will be that only bumper cushion between your player and a hard glazed tiled kitchen floor or concrete. 
Sound Impressions…
After hearing the Aune S6 Amp Dac I knew this would be an intriguing proposition listening to this as the S6 had great specs and performance for the price tag it had and then points towards was the M1s able to deliver in the same regards.
Upon first listening this sounds a little different to a lot of daps I have listened to of late and straight away got my attention.  It to me was not a carbon copy sound of the S6 but sharesmany attributes with the same philosophy of Aune keeping a house sound that has continuity with its line of products.
First thing that strikes me was the clarity and neutrality of the music, it flows with ease and is never trying to push hard unless you want it to sound like this you can use the DACS filter setting to make it have faster transients which will give a more attacking faster sound but found it depended on which IEM or headphone it was paired with gave varying results also was a factor for what setting might be best.
In all honesty this is no slouch even when it is on a slower roll off setting which I must admit to is what I had it set to if it was not set to analogue setting although the exception was the Meze 99 classic’s seemed to benefit from the fast balance setting as it made it more responsive without over stepping the mark in being overly sharp with decay of notes due to the Meze more laid back nature in sound.
One of the big factors to this player working well as it does is the black background this player has which is truly exceptional and is the foundations of what this player is built on as it helps serve to give such depth with the clarity of this clean sounding player. 
The good thing about this M1S signature with been neutral is it is not flat to listen to and has some interesting dynamics that help keep you engrossed for those long listening sessions on this player.
This coupled with that nice black backdrop of space helps any type of music genre but with subtle music like classical or symphonic pieces the music can come as if from nowhere in height with the ample headroom the M1S combined with a good amount of depth gives great scale to the Aune player with music like this.
First thing I listen for or want is the vocals to be good in body, tonality and actually be forward enough they are not lost in the mix and melee of what is going on in the mids and for most part the Aune delivers on that with vocals maybe not been full bodied, instead they are handled delicately with an emphasis on clarity and neutrality as vocals are nether too thick or too thin sounding.
There is a nice amount of headroom with vocals that have a higher pitch in the upper mids region and holds strong when this happens without losing pitch or harshness to vocals like Tori Amos live can be quite testing with her scaling the frequency ladder but the Aune is solid in handling the upper registry of her vocals matching Tori going for it.
I am a fan of female vocalist especially which came through as crystalline and clean with a sense of space between the music and the vocalist singing, even when vocals are in the mix more it is audible to pick out and track fairly easy.  
Even something gravelly sounding as male vocals like ZZ top is very clear and precise in tonality without sounding harsh or accentuated in their delivery amongst those heavy riffs from their Fender, Les Paul & Gibson guitars filling the soundstage. 
So once I’m happy with vocals it makes it easier to enjoy the rest of the music and from there the player is actually a well-balanced sounding DAP with no curves or dips to the range so no sucked out mids or over bright treble to distract from the rest of the music or over bloated bass taking away from the midrange information here.
The Aune just interweaves harmonics and timing with great sense of delicate handling with details that are transparent which make listening to the M1S a pleasant and easy listen is respect that I refer to it is easy to hear details and enjoy what is been delivered to you rather than relaxed laid back performance that will make you doze off on the settee within five minutes.
The mids remind me of how I heard the In Ear Prophile 8’s earlier on this year where it is tonally balanced that there is not much colouration or saturation to hearing instruments or harmonics lending to just a lovely natural clarity to notes that is easy to follow with transitions between the mids to treble and bass emphasis engaging seamlessly.
Listening to Lukas Graham “7 years” is another where the focus is shoe upon the vocals projected with a clean precision yet capture his rasping voice with the instruments been separated with good timing and depth to dynamics upon delivery which makes hearing the mids involving with clarity.
Another song showing the mids off well yet challenging it was Elle King - “Ex’s & Oh’s” is quite a quick paced song in this area and has fast transients between upper mids to treble region always sparkles with good clarity and space and can clearly hear the attack and reverb of the snare drum which leads the march of this song. 
Treble is handled like the vocals in a more measured and delicate manner which is resolute in accuracy but never quite gets to been over sharp or bright in the upper register yet still has clarity like crystal glass with the tone of instruments and is reminiscent how the S6 handles the treble section also with good detail in note decay in the upper frequency. 
Bass is certainly not shy on the M1s with capable extension never found the bass getting in the way of the mids at any time. The mid bass has good transition to lower bass notes with a natural flow & progression in transition to the lower bass notes making it not short on depth either with sub bass with a low bass response.
This is probably the area the M1S has most body and texture with plenty of weight in the punch when bass notes impact fast and in control yet gives the most warmth this player will ever have you will hear from this end of the spectrum in the bass section.  
The bass can be quite powerful especially when paired with headphones that are already quite bass orientated like my Meze 99 classics or Sony 7520’s (with beyer velour pads) I have.
There is still plenty of detail in the bass which keeps the continuity in clarity in this player been able to hear the changes in timbre.
Soundstage is very generous and sounds big with a good sense of width as well as depth thanks to that black backdrop again it just feels like everything is suspended in space when you are listening to it which is pretty impressive for a dap costing this amount, some daps do not even manage this feat on a higher price scale so is nice Aune have paid serious focus in managing this low floor level.
With IEM’s….
RHA T20’s,
Been a portable DAP I thought I would start with my IEM’s and first up was the RHA T20’s which is the cheapest set I have in my range for exception of Meze 12 classics which I had loaned to a friend during this period although very similar to 99 classics anyway just in an IEM.
 So the T20 is one of the more Marmite IEM’s I have had the pleasure of owning as they can be fussy with what they pair with but when they do they can sound just right and be a very intriguing listen for what they cost.
The trouble they seem to have is if not matched right they have a tendency to sound to sharp and harsh on the treble end for a lot of users including myself as have been susceptible to headphones or IEMS in the past that have been over treble sensitive.
This issue is not bad with the Aune M1S which helps with its neutrally balanced treble gives a more equilibrium treble with this pairing but is still there sometimes even with this player so for some who find the T20 overbearing will not find total solace here totally but other than this it is a fairly solid as the T20’s neutral tonality matches the M1S like for like here.
Bass is lacking some definition and refinement on the T20 overall but has a solid impact with bass delivery and when there is heavy rock or metal which is clashy when there is a lot of info to cope with seems to bottle neck also making that treble come through on T20’s a little hot it can be a little congested unless it is well organised pieces of rock music like Springsteen, Pink Floyd or Yello.
The T20’s to me seem to suit classical, acoustic music really well and faired well over all with the Aune although not entirely a perfect match which again can be more the T20’s tendency to be demanding in its partner so not bad all things considered and would give it a B if I was giving this marks.
With JH16Pro…
I next tried my CIEM JH16Pro with the M1S which had an immediate impact together with a vocalist been forward and localized to the centre coming across with great dimension and clarity yet with the warmer JH16 they still had a sense of been airy and able to breath. 
The soundstage depth and width was very good on the 16’s which added to the natural headroom the 16’s are already capable of with a good sense of vibrancy and liveliness to recordings and had plenty of definition in detail on the mid and low bass notes and the sub bass has great ability to immerse the floor across the soundstage to great effect.   
The JH16’s love the Aune and really perform together and the combination of JH16’s bass and Aune bass is surprisingly not overdone and hits the right notes. I would summarise an A+ which I didn’t see coming with this combo. 
With Vibro Lab Maya…
Excellent A rated , Just impressive, dynamic, immersive, great soundstaging, cavernous-spacious, good micro detail pick-ups in the mids. Treble clear, mid bass tight and textured, low end only there when needed. Defined depth of sub bass, not too much, not underdone.
These are my favourite IEM’s currently and fell in love with them from the word go, one of those moments when you just hear the first thirty seconds and you know you just going to fall for them.
The Maya’s are one of those IEM’s that have not been fussy with what I have tried it with so far and is a friendly IEM just like a Labrador dog. 
The neutrality of the Aune really is ideal for the Mayas mids to shine how they are without changing the signature of them with the great sound staging the M1S offers makes the Mayas very spacious  listen with the details of the mids the Mayas are so good at delivering making it a very immersive listen. 
Treble has a gentle and tactile approach but is always still tonally candid with clarity which matches the natural tone the Mayas have with high notes. 
Mid bass is tight and textured with good definition and although the sub bass is not overwhelming on the Mayas it seems to be there when the music requires and the M1S response is there for the Mayas when needed.
To me it is a more balanced realistic approach on the Mayas with lower bass frequency’s so it is never too much yet at same time is not exactly underwhelming as the Maya’s have the ability to have a good low sweep sub bass when called upon. 
Again like the JH16’s the M1S is a good pairing with the Mayas and showcases what the Mayas are all about and even though I think for synergy I think the JH16 actually does still pipp it I would still give the Maya an A+ with the M1S. 
With Headphones…
Grado GS1000e,
With headphones I started with my Grado GS1000e open backs which the Aune had no problems driving although they are easy to drive cans anyway. 
Vocals again are very clearand detailed, the mids on these with vocals is where the Grados excel anyway but the M1S brings that to the fore in a very focused manner.
 The speed and dynamics match well together with this pairing showing fast and fluid transients and the Grados GS1K’s are not known for been bass monsters and the M1S does not try and falsify any added bass onto the Grados even though it has an excellent bass extension here but actually represents low mid bass really well with sub bass albeit been more one you hear sonically  but do not feel. 
Good as this was on the M1S I find the Grado will sound okay on many systems but to hit that sweet spot of the GS1000e’s full potential despite been easy to drive I’ve always felt they needed a very good amplification to make them sound just right and not even the Chord Hugo done that so for this player at this price to still sound above average with it is doing well but in all honesty I have only heard these GS1K’s sing to full potential on three or four set ups with two been desktop rigs so bearing in mind this is a portable DAP it would be a B for the GS1K on the Aune player.
Meze 99 Classics 2.5 balanced and 3.5 SE modes…
(both with modded Kimber cable)
With now knowing the M1S player well enough by now I was confident my Meze classics would match up but you never know and trying this in SE mode first with the M1S with the Meze sounding confident  in everything the 99 Classics is capable of doing with its more than highly detailed mids it renders at this price point with vocals forward and very close and clear and plenty of low end bass presence a smoother treble presentation makes it pleasant to listen to and the M1S provides that neutral balance that keeps the Classics warm signature not over warm.
In Se 3.5 mode I would say these are a straight A score. 
Moving to the 2.5 balanced option this Aune has with the 99 Classics does change it up a bit with the vocals shift a bit in the soundstage and are more in the head than in front of you on the soundstage and sound more equally left/right panned which is a slightly different experience to usual, almost felt like a pair of HD800’s can place sounds in strange places, albeit I did like it like this and felt even more intimate with listening to the vocals.
It just seemed the soundstage had more room to breathe with more clarity in general and felt less cluttered to SE mode and noticed with treble notes the triangles on one track came through more cleaner but just there suspended in its own space and time where in SE mode was more hidden away in the mix and was more subtle to hear.
Even the bass was different with this in balanced and resonance of bass notes more clearer and defined sounding less muddier to it in SE mode.  In all the soundstage had opened up more across the board and was a more clearer and precise listen in balanced to the SE mode. After sounding pretty good in SE mode (which would be a B+) with the benefits I heard in balanced I would be an A with this pairing.
With Mr. Speakers Ethers...
Got to say these were just dandy with the Aune, a $1400 pair of headphones sounding enjoyable on a $250 dap probably sums the Aune up from all the ones tested with it so far.
There was a perfect balance to the range throughout and the Aune was able to live up to providing an immersive soundstage the Ethers are capable of with perfect timing with trailing notes sounding natural in the way they roll off. The Ethers although the Aune has a neutral tonality with the Ethers it shared the rich vinyl like sound of the Ethers coming through with good depth to drums with plenty of body and resonance to bass line’s.  Vocals are smooth with full body but have a clean presence and closeness that feels intimate listening to the Ethers on the M1S
Treble is not overly prominent or lively even with the M1S calling the shots but the Ethers have that easy relaxing approach to things and the treble still extended well with good timing and tonal ques are there so treble notes sound authentic still. 
The warmer Ethers signature really play well with the neutral Aune in the mids that just sound warm and detailed with good rhythm combined with really good soundstage made a very satisfying listen with this pairing.  A+ all day long with this $250 & $1400 combo!
With Sony 7520…
The Aune really suits the closed back nature of the Sony 7520’s which compliments each other with their neutral approach suits the tonal qualities of each other which is similar and the sound is lively with good dynamics and imaging  with very impactful bass on the 7520’s due to the M1s been able to attack fast on the lows of the 7520’s 50mm drivers.
Although the soundstage width is still narrow on the 7520’s even the M1S cannot change too much in this department on the Sony’s compared to other cans but the imaging and placement in the stereo mix is very involving to listen to.
This is never going to be a player for those looking for the ability of streaming your content, adding album art to your display or using as a line out with another dac or using various apps using Android. There is not even EQ settings for those who like to tinker with the frequency response.
The M1S has everything just aimed at delivering a player that can play music with everything of the asking price going towards the sound only and this has resulted in a very capable sounding player that on first listen takes you aback with how good it sounds from the word go and what’s even more surprising is how much it cost.
To manage to achieve a player with the black background it does which is key to how you hear the delicate details that the M1S presents itself with quite a neutral sound yet stay musical with enough dynamics going on without ever trying to over exert/ emphasis with what you hear is all the culmination in making this a enjoyable balanced sounding player to listen too.
It’s not perfect by any means even though it is hard to fault the sound especially at this price although there are certain aspects to getting pairing just right for best experience of this player yet felt it just needs some tweaking on small details with the design and operation of the player even though a lot of common sense has been applied throughout and would make this as solely an old school music player without the gimmicks a very tough one to beat.
From the experience I have had now with both their S6 amp/dac and the this M1S DAP is Aune just want to make simple to use equipment with the emphasis on quality of the music at a sensible and affordable price and on both occasions now they have achieved this with aplomb and certainly look forward to hearing Aune in the future as I think this is a company we will hear more of as time goes on for sure. 
Hi linux4ever,

Thanks for kind words on review. :wink:
On subject of paragraphs ... I am aware how to do paragraphs cheers, but when i post recently when it transfers to head-fi it has either been bunching everything up so no spaces or putting in a load of extra spaces for some unknown reason and then have to edit once posted on head-fi but it was silly o'clock when i posted last night and missed a few i had to sort out as it is never like that when in word doc until it transfers to head -fi as you will be able to see if you take a peak at one of my other reviews they are not like that.

Whether it is an issue with chrome or not, I'm not sure even though it coincides with having a new laptop recently also?...
I will edit when i get home from work as on mobile phone replying on the quick as starting a fresh new day for glorious work!
Hi skullophile,

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. :wink:
What a great and easy read,thoroughly enjoyed it,one of the best


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Sounds better than my HTC M7
Cons: SQ might cause headache, migraine
Headphones/Earphones used - HD650, VE Duke, some random earbuds.
Music - Lossless tracks with sane gain levels and actual dynamics

Build - Heavy, boxy, all metal, buttons have decent travel and feel
UI - Decent speed, Easy menu arrangement
SQ - Fake one note bass tone/timbre, fake treble tone/timbre, treble glare galore, poor dynamics, decent resolution, listenable midrange.

I thought the AKM4490 in A&K300 was the worst sounding DAC chip/implementation but that crown now goes to the M1S.
Not fond of DAPs in general due to the compromises but I think Hidiz AP60 is VFM and acceptable SQ if you can look past the thin lower treble.
A mimby/modi2 stack would sound more potent than most portable solutions.
Sony DAPs have good tonality but lack power for anything but the most sensitive load and hence end up sounding warm mess with difficult load.
Isn't the M1S neutral? So of course it won't be for everyone. My OPUS #1 has better tonality because it sounds slightly more musical. BTW, besides a smartphone. What do you use for music portability?
Touch boosted treble but otherwise fairly neutral. Despite a bit high treble energy levels its not bright at all. However, the treble tone is completely wrong so is the bass. Quality wise its quite clean and textured (hence resolving).
My phone is the only portable source I use. Occasionally I get to listen to the portable gear my friends get for themselves.


Pros: Details Galore, Plug and Play. Packs a Punch for the price. Balance output, Crystal Clear sound. DSD playback infinite storage. Above its asking price
Cons: I cant find any Cons audibly. Feature wise It lacks BT, OTG but to me these things arent needed!
So I got the chance to try out the Aune M1S, and to my Surprise it was way more than I had anticipated or expected. My first impressions was an absolute shock! This thing punches way above it price bracket. It was an instant "WOW" factor for me. Not only that but it kills some of the other equipment that I have in the mobile department. (LG V20) Also crapping on the schiit fulla 2 and anything remotely portable that I own. For the first 20 minutes of some DSD Beck's Sea Change. I was amazed at the clarity. The M1S was an instant gratifying sensation. A sigh of relief. Finally, a device that can give me Quality without hassle. just plug and play. I can honestly say that I got goosebumps for the first time in some time from music I had overlooked.



First, this thing packs some Juice! it can hang with the big boys!

This is Details Galore. It is very neutral. I like that about it. Crystal clear. It is very spacious. Everything is decipherable in every song. In the audio department, I can't say that I can point to any cons. To me, this DAP is an absolute marvel. want quality. M1S is quality. Want details? M1S is details. Want power? M1S is power.



In terms of Build Quality, this thing is built VERY but I mean Very solid. The buttons are pretty smooth to the touch. It feels as if it was made from a solid block of aluminum.

All of the buttons feel as if they are made from Metal.

It also sports Balanced 2.5mm jack and un-balanced 3.5mm jack for output.


UI Is very Easy and user-Friendly. it is really just a plug and play device it doesn't get any more simple than this. It is by far the most practical device I have ever had the pleasure of using.


I want to point out some things that the M1S is Not before I go any further. It is not a Bluetooth device, it does not support OTG. It is not android. forget all anything other than Quality music!


Now I will tell you what it really is! It is a mobile powerhouse. I don't need all the other things. I just need simple and the m1s delivers that in every aspect and delivers hard!


The Aune M1S made me realize the detail that some of my cans/earbuds/IEMs are capable of. This thing also made me Realize what a value the VE Monk Plus are. I mean talk about scaling with hardware these things scale! It also does an good job at powering my HD600's at a very pleasing sound level. A level some would probably consider uncomfortable FWIW it packs a punch. Vmoda M100's sound amazing. I would say another perfect combo for traveling. More than enough power for M100's. The M100's also have that amazing bass extension the M1S doesn't hold back in this department.


I honestly think that the Price to performance Ration on this thing is ridiculous. As I do believe it can compete with way higher priced DAPs. I can go as far as saying that it performs better than most DAC's in its price range.


From now on this will be replacing my setup on the weekends, as well as my On the go set up. I haven't been able to put this thing down since I got it


Here are some Specs


Price $249


Output power 3.5mm: 110mW @ 32Ω; 2.5mm (balanced) 180mW @ 32Ω

Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise 0.00027%

Dynamic Range (DNR) 120dB

Noise 2.52 uVrms

Max Output Level 1.92 Vrms

Outputs 3.5mm headphone out, 2.5mm (balanced) headphone out

Headphone impedance recommendation 8Ω - 600Ω

Display 2.4” IPS

Battery ~11hr life

Format support PCM 44.1-384kHz (16, 24, 32 bit); DSD64-DSD128 (single to double DSD); APE 16/44.1; MP3; ALAC; AAC

Dimensions 126 x 55 x 14.8mm

Weight 147g

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I would disagree on this doing an excellent job powering the HD600. It will go loud enough, but it sounds thin. The HD600 needs more power than this can give, even out of the balanced out.

I totally agree that this is a spectacular value that really lets most headphones shine. It is substantially better than similar priced DAPs I have tried in the sound department.
Glass monkey. I actually agree. It isn't an amazing job at powering the HdD600's BUT to me, it does get the HD600 so a comfortable listening level. In my Experience, it hasn't been thin. Have you tried to set the gain on high?


Member of the Trade: Wabi Sabi Headphones
Pros: Simple, Solid, Balanced Output, Good Battery Life, No BT, Wifi, Android, etc...yes, this is a Pro in my book
Cons: Early Build Issues

I have on my desk an engineering sample of an Aune DAP. The M1s.
I spent time with the Aune M2 about a year or so ago, and I liked it, but it  had some rough edges on it. The sound it put out was like nothing I had heard. The UI was delightfully simple and functional. No bells and whistles, no unnecessary gee-taws, no bull$h1t. It bested a lot of other DAPs I had heard. In fact, it still mentally ranks remarkably high in my memory. It had horrendous battery life though. A deal killer for me. 
Fast forward to today. A friend recommended I hear the M1s, and said he’d get an engineering sample to me. I get no compensation for this review, just the experience of listening to another Aune product and sharing my impressions.
Visually, its pretty easy to tell the M1s’ lineage. You can tell its by the same folks who designed and released the M2. Aside from that, it has balanced output (2.5mm), a line out/3.5mm single-ended output and….not much else. The body is neither large nor small. Its the length of my iPhone 5S, but not as wide, and about a third thicker. There were some who complained it was a little long and top-heavy. Not for me. I don’t have "Trump Hands” though, and am a taller, bigger guy (6 foot three). The edges on the top face (the face with the screen) are bevelled on the left and right sides, and there are some physical buttons on the right side of the unit: power, volume up, volume down. On the same side is a micro-SD slot. I am currently using a 128GB FAT32 formatted SanDisk card. I haven’t had any issues with the unit reading the card at all.
The main controls are a return button, home button and something that looks like a wheel (but isn’t). I believe this is what’s called a “D-Pad”. The build is solid, its all metal and looks like it could take a beating. The D-Pad’s center button does rattle a little, but from what I have read, this is an issue with the engineering samples, and was fixed for production units…for my unit, I slipped on a silicon case ordered from Penon and the problem was fixed.
With the M2 it was a mild annoyance that it had no USB functionality. To populate your micro-SD card you had to take it out of the player (at this time it would be smart to leave the player plugged into a wall socket to charge) and use an adaptor to plug it into your computer and add files. With the M1s this isn’t the case. Simply power it down, and plug it into your computer, and the micro-SD shows up as a drive. The unit charges at the same time. This is most handy in my opinion. 
The M1s also has a delightfully simple UI. Fire it up, let it take a few seconds to update the library (if any changes have been made) and you’re ready to go. Fast boot up, no buggering around, just a UI. No album art, true, but you forget about that soon enough. The output is clean and smooth. Perhaps not as euphonic as the M2 was, but I am calling on some old and unreliable memories here. Balanced output is a delight. I tested it with a pair of Monk Plus, terminated for balanced, and found nothing wanting. The Monk Plus scales well with a good source, and this time was no different. 
And thats about it.
Aune makes a simple DAP. Aune makes a beautiful sounding DAP. Aune crams nothing else into the same unit. No Android operating system, no streaming apps, no bluetooth, no breakfast in bed, no coffee on a tray. The M1s is a DAP, and no more, no less. This is appealing in a number of ways for some people. A large group of folks seem to appreciate being able to disconnect these days, and do the unthinkable: listen to music with no distractions, for the simple, sheer enjoyment of the act. They don’t want to check emails, they don’t want to text, and they sure as hell don’t want to read work emails at the same time. This is the thinking that, I think, is least partly responsible for the recent resurgence of interest in analogue media like cassettes and vinyl records. 
If that’s what you’re looking for, the M1s is definitely worth looking at. Its a stripped down, functional, solid DAP that has great sound and balanced output. That’s it. I sincerely appreciate it for what it does, and value having it at my desk, in my messenger bag and just generally “around”. The folks who bought it early and got the bundle that included a pair of golden, recabled, balanced Monk Plus and three cases got a great deal. 


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Dark background, great clarity, instrument separation, energetic sound (with appropriate headphones)
Cons: With a neutral and slightly lean signature, I feel it is a great pairing with mellower sounding headphones. Clear delta/sigma note to treble.
Thanks go to @glassmonkey and Aune for the loan tour. One of the reasons I decided to join this tour and write some impressions is that I am in the market for a new portable player at reasonable cost. The other is I am very pleased with my Aune B1 amplifier - love the  class A/discrete approach, looks and of course sound. Then there's the price which makes this an affordable DAP.
Since we have a few impressions with pics and specs I will skip this bit and move straight to the sound. 
In terms of build quality nothing to complain about. It's solidly built with a minimalistic approach that works. I am getting slightly too used to touchscreens these days, but for the price I won't hold this against the M1S in any way. 
Gear used:
Aune M1s (single ended only - no balanced IEM cables). Latest firmware.
Astell Kern 100 (RWAK100 - original)
Cayin I5
My baseline reference system: MSB DAC V + dual mono Benchmark AHB2 + modded HD650 (to keep transducers a constant)
- my reference sounding Etymotic ER4-SR
- Focal Spirit Pro (another neutral/close to reference sounding efficient headphones)
- modded HD650 (used with Aune B1). I don't think any of these DAPs can do enough justice to the HD650s, but I would not expect them to either. These headphones reach amazing levels of performance with high-end desktop gear. So this is no surprise to me and why I used the Aune B1.
Sound impressions:
In terms of tonality it sounds more similar to the AK100 rather than Cayin I5, so I'd say it has a neutral tonality (touching very slightly the bright side of neutrality). I am hearing the I5 a bit smoother/warmer tonally. The AK100 doesn't come close to matching the resolution I am hearing with the Aune M1S, but it's close in regards to background darkness and clarity. Both the Cayin I5 and Aune M1S have a very nice stage size, but I give the M1S the edge in instrument separation and resolution. The M1S also sounds more clear and open than the I5.
The I5 sounds more "relaxed", with a better sense of liquidity and flow, all of which are both good things imo, but it makes some compromises (to be expected at this level of the game) to achieve this. It's not as clear, resolving and transparent sounding as the Aune M1S. 
- Bass is nimble and articulated (for what it can adequately drive). Very good quality.
- Midrange - neutral, with good depth. Engaging and nothing I did not like here.
- Treble - Very detailed and clear. I wish it could be a bit better integrated with the midrange and I feel it lacks a bit of body and texture. I am not sure the latter is a result of resolution as at 120dB DNR it should be able to resolve treble micro-details better. Perhaps some further firmware tuning would help?
- Soundstage. GREAT. Open sounding with very nice width and depth. The separation is the best out of these DAPs.
- Transients. Very energetic and fast. I like strong transient attacks, hence why I own the HE-6s, but I think this is borderline too strong for me. I preferred the SLOW filter with this DAP, with the Etys and Focals. On the plus side it can bring mellower transducers to sound more alive.
I did think whether the Ety are a bit hard to drive for the M1s, but I can still hear the treble points I mentioned through the Aune B1 which does power these IEMs really well.
To summarize the Aune M1S is impressive in its overall sound performance and not only for the price. If not in features, with regards to sound quality it punches weeell above the asking price. That's not to say it is without weakness, as I have commented above. I would ideally choose to pair it with mellower / warmer sounding IEMs/efficient headphones. The Aune B1 makes a great pairing to drive heavier loads.
Very good impressions that echo my own quite a bit. I found that the there is about 15-20% more power out of the balanced output. I've got loads of adaptors, so have tried lots on the balanced output, including the HD600, which was too much to handle. The extra overhead gives a bit more soundstage at volume matched levels and a smidgeon more clarity. I agree that the treble borders on bright, but doesn't quite get there. For the money, I don't know of any technically superior DAPs. There are certainly more featured DAPs. Also worth noting is that there are two versions of the firmware, wherein the primary difference is the volume control. One volume control is more linear and the other more logarithmic. I used the linear, but Takeanidea may have switched to the logarithmic. Like you I preferred the SLOW filter.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Mellow sound Reads a card really quickly
Cons: Basic - no UK availability


With thanks to @glassmonkey , and Aune, here is my first review for 2017 - the M1S DAP. IMG_20170228_114505041.jpg
I shall not be labouring the point. There is a 55 page discussions and impressions thread If they haven't spotted something in that thread that represents a deal breaker for you, believe me , it isn't worth worrying about.
What I'm here to talk to you about is what the player sounds like, how it fares against the competition and where I think it stands in the marketplace. To that end , I have used it as thoroughly as a working man can over the course of the last 2 weeks and have concentrated on one thing only - what it sounds like.
What the player sounds like has to be the most important aspect for me when I'm looking at something on headfi. The other consideration that next applies is what value I put on that sound against the competition in the marketplace. The features a DAP has can transform it from  something that lives in the pocket to an item that can be equally at home in the living room. Such versatility cannot be ignored. The availability of a product can enhance it's appeal. On the other hand it is more than likely to struggle in a fiercely competitive field where many equally spec'd players can be had on a next day delivery basis.


The M1S has been built to last. They have been careful enough to provide spare screen protectors . No need to worry about which pocket you put your keys in now. IMG_20170228_114806241.jpg
Supplied with the M1S comes a swish looking micro USB charging cable. It's rare to see a gold plated affair supplied with a DAP at this price level. The unit isn't a fast charging model but I only charged it a couple of times overnight which saw me through some extensive use. IMG_20170228_115023213.jpg

The presentation box is an understated affair but fairly standard and has almost everything you need to get going. IMG_20170228_114702027.jpg

The only noteable exception was a micro SD card. The unit itself does not have an internal storage capability. Without an SD Card the unit will switch on and say no card inserted. Most of us have lots of Micro SD Cards. My 128 Gb and 256 Gb worked flawlessly and updated the database astonishingly quickly. There are no eq facilities available on the M1S. The screen is not a touch screen. All is accessed from a series of buttons on the unit. The buttons are below the screen and on the right hand side.IMG_20170228_114403840.jpg

Navigating through the various screens is a simple enough affair. It's at least fairly precise if somewhat basic looking through the black and white album artist and track pages. There is an option for fast slow or normal filtering of the ESS9018 chip. The whole ethos of this player is to be bare bones. None of the Android extra features we have come to see in this type of mid tier player. This is a player which has it's own Operating Code. The player is geared towards people who just want to listen to their own music on the move through an SD Card plain and simple. In terms of the speed , the player is a complete success. Naturally we now need to have a look at how the sound shapes up against the competition.
Features on this DAP are as follows ; line out and 3.5 mm in. That's your lot.

Sound Quality

I was impressed with the speed of the player, the responsiveness worked well too. The basic design clearly helps these aspects. The other element is of course whether the players no frills assists the sound quality. The sound is a smooth mellow rounded out signature. Nothing too amiss. Nothing to annoy any potential owners that I could detect. I tried the M1S through the line out. The pure line out into an integrated amp will be fine. Into a power amp such as the First Watt F6 I have, as expected there's too much output for running headphones but speakers would be ok. I tried the Westone W60 mainly with the Aune. I had an enjoyable week or so. I tried this side by side against the Cayin i5 and the Ibasso DX100. The i5 was a close run thing, slightly less bass response but slightly more excitement in the higher frequency range was how I would describe this against the M1S. The DX100 was a clear winner to my ears. Of course , I am used to the sound signature of the Ibasso. I've had it for 4 years. I am so used to it it's like it's a part of me. No one must come between me and my DX100! You get the picture. So it was a no contest thing and the comparison was doomed from the start. The DX100 had a clearer more detailed more accurate sound signature across the board. That was what I was expecting of course.....IMG_20170228_120848866.jpg


The barebones no frills nature of the Aune M1S has created it's own little niche in this hotly contested marketplace. I think it's a rip roaring success in what it's tried to achieve. We have a fast, responsive great sounding music player It plays all the formats and handles a 256 Gb Card.  
The reservations I have are but a few; the DAP is not currently on sale in the UK. That brings to me a few reservations. I've not always had the best of luck with my new purchases. If there is something wrong and it has to go back to another Continent, how long will that take? How much will it cost? Not necessarily a deal breaker but something to bear in mind.
The DAP has no digital out so can't connect to a Mojo for instance. It can't improve your laptop's sound as a DAC. The GUI is very flat as you would expect from an in house design done from the bottom up. The case supplied hides everything and looks bland.
But all these things add up to a DAP that just works. And works very well. IMG_20170228_114322219.jpg


Pros: Black background, excellent dynamics, accurate and spacious stage, brilliant tonal accuracy; good line-out function; 2.5mm balanced
Cons: No tag based browsing even though it reads tags, CUE based gapless (annoying), no EQ, no standalone DAC, no USB OTG, buttons can be finicky
This review unit was provided to me in exchange for my honest opinion by Penon Audio. This review was originally published here.


I’m a regular watcher and poster on HeadFi’s Facebook page and when I saw Penon Audio announce that they had the M1S available for presale, and when I saw the stats for $249 in what I thought would be a small player, I was more than intrigued. I had to hear it. Penon Audio graciously made this happen. Penon Audio is a store based out of Hong Kong that sells gear worldwide. They’ve been around for just a few years (established in 2013) but get quite a bit of mentions on HeadFi. This is probably due to their reasonable prices, good inventory and worldwide shipping. Aune Audio is the HiFi brand of As Ao Lai Er Technology, below is what Aune’s website has to say about their brand:
As Ao Lai Er Technology’s high quality HiFi brand, Aune has been devoted to developing and producing desktop, portable and car audio products. Founded in the year of 2004, Ao Lai Er owns the largest Chinese audio technology website - HIFIDIY.NET and high end audio brand TITANS. HIFIDIY.NET has 700 thousand members. It’s always been a platform for the most advanced HiFi technology communications and practice. We gained lots of experience from the long-term accumulation, and have released hundreds of kits and parts from independent R&D, which are well received around the world! Aune team is a group of audiophiles who only pursue the best. We use our products in daily life and we love each and every one of them! Superb sound is Aune’s goal; great user experience and satisfaction is what Aune pursues. We are striving to make Aune one of the world’s famous audio brands in the future!


Useability: Form & Function

The Aune M1S comes in a simple box with two screen protectors and a USB cable as accessories. The packaging is non-descript and not memorable in any way. Neither screen protector is applied to the device. In my opinion, all manufacturers should apply a screen protector if they are going to include one. Most electronic manufacturing facilities are dust free, which is something that most homes cannot claim. Anyone who’s applied a screen protector knows how much of an advantage that is. I feel sorry for anyone who lives in a completely dust free home, as it probably means a neurotic lives in the house.
It still may be better than my house. At least it would be sparkly clean.

Physical characteristics

The M1S is a pretty solid brick with six edges. I personally don’t mind the edges, but other folks will be scrambling for one of their not included silicone cases. Penon Audio has them for ten bucks a pop—in three colours even.
The player is a bit long for my tastes. It is longer than the Cayin i5, and probably just about every other DAP out there. The width and thickness give it a big candy bar form factor, but I’ve never had a candy bar with this kind of girth. If they can reduce the length on future players, that would be awesome, but I have a feeling the form has something to do with the insanely low distortion on this thing. The distortion and dynamic range specifications on the M1S are better than those on the M2Pro, their much more expensive offering. That player is a bit chunky too.
Overall the profile is utilitarian in aesthetic with little to make it look particularly appealing. This player just gets down to business. The ‘wheel’ in the middle is not a wheel at all. It has five buttons. The centre button is the standard OK button, whilst the other buttons have multiple functions, including the standard playback controls and adding tracks to favourites (the M1S version of playlist) and changing the digital filter. I didn’t play much with digital filter as I’ve found that I generally prefer slow roll-off filters on previous DAPs I’ve listened to. The centre button plays or pauses tracks during playback and selects menu items when not controlling playback. The left and right buttons are for skipping and reversing tracks. They also allow fast-forward and rewind by holding down. I found that my unit has very specific engagement points for the buttons. I need to press dead centre to get them to work right, so make sure you are doing that before you think you have malfunctions. I only had problems with the left and right buttons, top and bottom were fine. Short presses on the top button change the repeat/shuffle modes. Shuffle and repeat are tied to folders. Options include shuffle folder, repeat one (has disk in left part of icon), repeat folder, and no repeat (has x in bottom left of icon). Tapping the bottom button stops playback. Just like an old CD player, it loses your place in the track when you press stop. Holding down the top button will add a track to favourites, whilst holding down the bottom will change digital filters. Above the ‘wheel’ there are two buttons, with obvious use and universal symbols. The left one takes you to the main menu and the right takes you back one screen. Volume and power buttons on the right side are straight forward. I found myself wishing I had some controls on the left side, but I imagine the circuit design didn’t allow it.
I tested the line-out in comparison to my LH Labs Geek Pulse X-Infinity DAC. I could not tell the difference when switching in between the two with volume matching done by ear. That is damn impressive. It should be noted that the LH Labs gear and the Aune M1S share the same DAC chip, but I didn't expect the Aune to go toe-to-toe with the X-Infinity and do as well as it did. With regards to some measurables, I get about 10-11 hours battery life and charge times are around 3 hours. Time to scan my music library on my 200GB microSD card is under 1 minute.

Operating System

As shown above, the controls are fairly intuitive—they also include instructions with the player. The menu system is pretty straightforward. Left and right will scroll options, as will up and down. When in the settings menu pressing the centre button changes the option you are currently on. The OS is minimal, but functional. The screen lays out everything in black and white with a touch of brown-grey tones. The screen is capable of colour, as indicated by the bright green battery charging emblem, but they haven’t deployed much of it in the interface. I’m perfectly fine with this, as the Spartan image of the OS fits the player well. The OS is really quick to navigate. When going through folders or settings options you can go down or up one entry at a time with the down button or up button, or advance to the next page or previous page with right and left. Volume and remaining battery power are clearly displayed at the top of the screen while track information and track progress follow as you read down the screen. The file name is displayed as whatever you've left it. My Positive Feedback DSD Sampler has Pos~1 for every track.
I have most of my files in folders but I do have one lonely file sitting by itself in the root folder with no album name in the file name. When I went to play this file it knew artist and album, so the player is reading tags, but it is using them only minimally. I suggest that Aune should add tag-based browsing if possible, as it is something I really love and I don’t think I’m alone in this.
I think that Aune could take some lead from the HiFiMan SuperMini on having a simple interface but with full tag browsing for artist, album, and genre. Folder based browsing is fast and foolproof (nothing goes wrong with folder names), but tag browsing is usually a nicer organisation. There is no EQ on the M1S, so those who like to tweak will not be happy. I like a player that is dead to rights neutral, and the Aune M1S gives me that. I tweak with headphones. Other things you won’t find, a digital line-out port, USB-DAC functionality, USB-OTG, WiFi, Bluetooth, or any other fancy bits. The M1S is all about its core function, playing music as honestly as possible and thinks that all other things a DAC might do are unimportant. Now let Paula Abdul out of that music box looking thing.
Anyone looking for this to be their only DAP/DAC should move along, this player won’t fill your needs. I’m lucky to have a variety of DAPs and DACs, so the lack of USB DAC function isn’t a conversation ender for me.

Audio quality

In a word: stellar. The Aune M1S has a spacious, crystal clear sound with no particular emphasis to any part of the frequency spectrum. It is detailed, with impeccable timing. It has excellent extension in bass and treble and makes every reasonable headphone I’ve thrown at it sound wonderful. If you want your portable gear to sound it’s best, the M1S is a good choice. The M1S didn’t do terribly well when I hooked up an HD600 to it, but it wasn’t an utter failure. The HD600 is kind of my stress test on DAPs. I’ve only had two DAPs do what I would consider adequate on the HD600, the HiFiMAN SuperMini and the Echobox Explorer. Many portable DACs fail to do adequately with the HD600, including the Chord Mojo. I hope to try the Shanling M5 in the future with the HD600, but that hasn’t happened yet. I did try the Aune M1S with the new 150Ω, 89 sensitivity RHA CL1, and the M1S powers it beautifully. The M1S really shined with my neutral headphones, the UERR and the Noble K10E. When I start listening, it is truly difficult to stop. I’ve tried a lot of DAPs and DAC/Amps. The Aune M1S is one of the best sounding and only costs $249. The price to performance ratio is just crazy talk.
As usual, I did volume matched comparisons between players. For my methodology, you can read pretty much any of my reviews in the last six months. Briefly, I match using an SPL meter and white noise. I use a coupler for IEMs that I’ve made out of toilet roll cores and packing tape—cheap but functional. For full size headphones I press the foam ball that came with it into the cup and try to be steady. My methods are imperfect, but fairly consistent.


Cayin i5

The M1S has a similar tonality to the i5. On Pink Floyd – On the Run, the two players are very similar in presentation of stage, but the i5 has a bit better definition on the train announcement near the beginning of the track and in general. Stage height is a little better on the M1S. On Pink Floyd – Time, the clocks are more in your face and instrument separation is greater, the stage is also wider and deeper. The drums are bigger and bolder through the i5, there may be a little lift in this frequency range as the drums are further back in the stage on the M1S compared to the i5. Both have good full sounds to the drums, but the i5 is fuller in single-ended. When switched to balanced mode, the M1S pulls ahead with bigger stage and better definition.
The Aune M1S, like the i5 doesn’t hiss with the Noble K10E. With the Noble K10E and some good old Surfer Rosa highlights, Where is My Mind, the Aune M1S has a touch more subtlety with the restrained almost hiding male almost echo muttering backing vocals, but it doesn’t have quite the same amplitude on the ethereal female vocals. It climbs, but not quite to the height of the i5. The stage is significantly wider and a bit deeper on the M1S. Both sound amazing. The Aune M1S has a similar library scan speed, but doesn’t have any frills in the OS. Both players have excellent volume controls, but the feel of the i5 control is much more premium. Both have distortionless volume adjustment. I narrowly prefer the sound of the M1S and like that it has a 2.5mm balanced jack, but every other comparison goes to the i5. The i5 has USB DAC functionality, tag based browsing, Bluetooth, WiFi, the Google Play store, and many more features. The M1S is a top notch audio player, that is all.

HiFiMAN SuperMini

The soundstage on the SuperMini isn’t the match of the M1S or the i5 in size, but it is just as well defined as either. The OS on the SuperMini doesn’t compete with the i5, but easily bests the M1S. The SuperMini doesn’t have adjustable gain and has one of the worst volume controls I’ve ever seen on a DAP, 32 steps is bad—it’s iPhone volume levels bad. It does drive the HD600 well, which, to my surprise, the i5 does pretty well too. The Aune M1S doesn’t drive the HD600 as good as the SuperMini. It sounds a bit thin and sharp as the bass on the HD600 recesses a bit without the power to push it forward, but the sound is clean and clear. The SuperMini drives the HD600 more fully and with a bigger sound stage. With the Noble K10E, the SuperMini hisses, like many DAPs. It also has a more muted sound and a smaller stage than its two primary competitors in the i5 and the M1S. Because of a little bit of veiling the dude-quiet vocals don’t pop out from hiding as much. The amplitude of the female vocal doesn’t reach the aeries of the i5 or the M1S. Again, you can’t make the Noble K10E sound bad in my experience, but the SuperMini wasn’t competitive versus the i5 or M1S here.


Output power3.5mm: 110mW @ 32Ω; 2.5mm (balanced) 180mW @ 32Ω
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise0.00027%
Dynamic Range (DNR)120dB
Noise2.52 uVrms
Max Output Level1.92 Vrms
Outputs3.5mm headphone out, 2.5mm (balanced) headphone out
Headphone impedance recommendation8Ω - 600Ω
Display2.4” IPS
Battery~11hr life
Format supportPCM 44.1-384kHz (16, 24, 32 bit); DSD64-DSD128 (single to double DSD); APE 16/44.1; MP3; ALAC; AAC
Dimensions126 x 55 x 14.8mm



I’ve had the privilege of listening to and reviewing a lot of DAPs and DACs, none has impressed me quite as much as the Aune M1S. The Aune M1S is my new reference DAP. It is a sonic marvel at $249, with sound that is better than most DAPs on the market, including the current toast of the town, the Cayin i5. The Aune M1S has truly special clarity with a background as black as the inside of a singularity. The soundstage is wide and deep with above average height. The price of the M1S makes it a no-brainer for anyone who doesn’t care about anything but audio quality--it delivers audio quality in spades. Aune M1S will be joining me for my upcoming reviews of the UERR, Noble K10E and the Empire Ears/Effect Audio Arthur.


Great review, thanks (for setting the bar intimidatingly high lol) :wink:
Love the Paula Abdul pic. It really looks like someone pranked her with some superglue though... :p
Quote "Where is My Mind, the Aune M1S has a touch more subtlety with the restrained almost hiding male almost echo muttering backing vocals, but it doesn’t have quite the same amplitude on the ethereal female vocals".
Are you saying that it doesn't handle female vocals as well as male vocals generally? Or just in this fairly unique case? (I love this song! Also loved the cover of it by a band called City Wolf, as featured in the - for me - surprisingly excellent film Observe and Report).
Answers on a postcard... Or just on here lol.
The M1S handles female vocals well. The female vocals in 'Where is my mind' have more height and a touch more volume on the i5 than on the M1S. It's a subtle difference, but it's there.
Don't read too much of me. :) You'll be in line for this later.
Very well done review. I'm McLovin mine just as much.