Colorfly Pocket Hi-fi C4

  1. Sefelt103
    Colorfly C4 compared to Nationite S:Flo 2 (Tekmod)
    Written by Sefelt103
    Published Aug 15, 2014
    Pros - 3D sound, durable, original ideas in device
    Cons - user interface, expensive, not completely neutral
    This is a review of the Colorfly’s (C4) occasionally compared to Nationite’s (S:Flo2) Tekmod. This is my impression of the two players (without using switching/volume matching equipment) through Sennheiser HD595 headphones. I have never used either of these players as portables with IEMs and this comparison relates to only home use. I won’t compare the build quality, as the C4 is a far more expensive player than the S:Flo2 ever was. In their user interfaces both have several issues, the cheaper S:Flo2 suffers more in this respect than the C4. The C4 presents files in memory as a simple folder structure but forgets to select anything (either a folder or a song) by default. So you need to press up/down/left/right arrow to select something. If an artist only has one album any key will select it, for multiple albums right/down arrow select the first album and left/up select the last album. Not very intuitive. However when you go back from the play screen the song/album are highlighted (selected). Once you exit the play screen the only way back is the long way round to the root menu. At least it has the `up one level’ button that would transform the S:Flo2’s interface. I found the buttons on the C4 often unresponsive and the volume slider lacking in precision. The C4 does load up quickly from cold and both devices are quite quick once you get used to their quirks. The C4 is an unusual player using engraved wood, having allen key heads to enable dismantling and 3.5mm and 6.25mm headphone sockets. Then theirs the rocker switch to set the EQ or bit rate/sample rate on the front panel. Perhaps the most unusual decision was not to include a line out but rather have digital in/out instead. One thing that surprised me about the C4 is that for such a big player it only has a 2000mah battery, smaller than the S:flo2’s 2500mah item. The S:flo2’s size is dwarfed by the C4, which is not very portable; their weights are 259g and 133g respectively. The S:flo2 has been modified by burnwayGTA4 a former member of Headfi from Russia. The mod is quite extensive and relates to the HO (headphone out). He modifies the internal amplifier to use TI’s LM4562 and THS4222 Opamps in place of the Philips TDA1308 as well as replacing many other components, capacitors, etc. Two media players virtually never sound identical usually because the hardware is often different and its implementation is always different. The C4 uses the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC and the S:flo2 uses dual Wolfson WM8740 DACs. The music files were flac 16/44 and EQ set to normal on C4 and User (flat) on S:flo2. Both players are fairly neutral the S:flo2 being more so. The C4 produces a thicker more full sound than the S:flo2 and is also a bit brighter. The C4 has more colouration than the S:flo2 making it the warmer of the two. The C4 sounds much like a CD player plugged into a headphone amplifier. The main difference between the players is in their presentation. The C4 sounds similar to listening to speakers whereas the S:flo2 and all other players I have heard sound like headphones. How the C4 produces this `3D’ sound I don’t know. The C4 tends to separate instruments more than the S:flo2 (not R/L separation: which makes it sound more physical or live than the S:flo2. The listener is further back in the audience with the C4 than on the stage with the S:flo2. The downside to this however is in order to achieve this `3D’ effect some of the detail and texture that the S:flo2 produces is absent. On the C4 there is no way to turn off this effect, which is more noticeable on some tracks than others. The S:flo2 is more intimate and gives a more accurate rendition of the recording. Many however will prefer the earthy speaker-like sound of the C4. Both players make poorly recorded material sound unpleasant; naturally the S:flo2 is more ruthless than the C4. Bass frequency extension is lower on the S:flo2 but the difference is slight. The level of bass is a little higher on the C4, the player gives a little more of everything but in a refined likeable way. The C4 is a bit like the unmodified S:flo2 but with an enhanced soundstage. My ideal player would have the construction/durability aspects of the C4, an upgraded C4 user interface and the electronics of the modified S:flo2. The price of the C4 at £540 makes it a considerable expense compared to the S:flo2’s price of about £120 plus the mod at £100 plus £50 postage to and from Russia, so approx. £270, half the cost of a C4. Most non-audiophiles (and even some) would much prefer the C4 in this comparison. Which you prefer will have a lot to do with whether you think soundstage should be a function of the recording/headphones or whether you include the media player also. Also whether you are a more is more person (C4) or a less is more person (S:flo2 Tekmod). I find the C4 likeable in a similar way I suspect people like Grado headphones more than accurate and natural ones. There is also something alluring about burwayGTA4’s modification also.
    Solid construction
    Sound quality
    `3D’ soundstage
    Power to drive 300ohm headphones
    Both 3.5/6.25mm headphone sockets
    Unique design approach
    User interface needs subtle tweaks
    Slight colouration to sound

  2. bowei006
    Great sound, but poor design
    Written by bowei006
    Published Feb 22, 2014
    Pros - Amazing Sonic Quality, very traspnarent. Retro look, plethora of features, and crafting
    Cons - User Interface, general usability, some build issues, price, I/O crowding
    The Colorfly C4 Pro is a solid device for people that want a desktop replacement they can move around or take with them. It boasts up to 96GB’s of storage at the moment and comes with all the bells and whistles you would want from a desktop unit. The unit sounds fantastic, and comes equipped with a simple UI for file navigation. The C4 does fall a bit flat in the areas of build quality, and has a few physical and software usability issues. While these don’t play much into the device considering its desktop niche target, I would still like a $799 DAP to be perfected more.
    Overall, while the Colorfly C4 Pro costs a pretty penny, it allows you to bring top quality audio playback and output features with you on the go. Its retro handcrafted design looks and feels amazing, and the unit stuns everyone that sees it. I would recommend the unit to people who are looking for a DAP at home to use as an auxiliary or as a ‘portable’ desktop unit.
    Read more at:
    1. watchmania
      At first I thought they were drunk while designing this C4. However, after further inspection, I'm curious whether it was Scott Forstall in action.
      watchmania, Jun 22, 2015
  3. yxmees
    I don't understand whats the fuss all about
    Written by yxmees
    Published May 22, 2013
    Pros - can't even list anything except cool appearance
    Cons - size, build quality, sound quality, UI
    Bought it some time ago, based on user reviews. Straight out of the box it seemed huge, especially compared to my old Cowon D2. Also, sound was awful. Granted, I don't have large hi-fi cans, only IEM's, AL iM716 and now I bought UE pro-s. So, I let the player burn in. For 3 weeks straight. I also let my new burn in. After that, my Colorfly sounded a bit better, but it still didn't sound much better than my old D2. I tried to manage sound settings, but there's no possibility for custom setting, so I had to settle with pre-settings. Which is a huge minus. Also build quality, I had it on the shelf for 3 weeks and I carried it with me once and it already has several scratches on the screen. For that money I expect it to have gorilla glass, not some cheap soft plastic as a screen cover. Also body already has some scratches and signs of wear and I have been keeping it carefully like a baby. I admit that I got swept away by all the praise and didn't do enough homework, but unless you have more money for expensive large hi-fi earphones, this is a useless waste of money.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. brams
      Actually I find the SQ on this unit to be quite good with any cans I have tried including iems from etymotic and sony and there appears to be a special synergy with the Fostex th900. Maybe I have just not been exposed to the really good stuff and just don't know any better, but it is difficult to imagine a significant improvement. My main comparison is my big rig stereo system which is fairly high end.

      As far as the screen is concerned, are you sure you removed the protective plastic film? Another user had the same screen scratching issue until they realized the film was still on. I haven't really had any scratches on the body, but have got a crack in the wood case due to the really dry air in my living space last winter.

      My only real issues with the unit are the poor UI and lack of support by the manufacturer. This great sounding unit would be even better with a UI upgrade, but updates have been very infrequent and inconsequential. What is really frustrating is that this upgrade seemingly could be done with little effort by the manufacturer.
      brams, Sep 3, 2013
    3. Takeanidea
      Sorry you've had problems with the sound quality not being to your liking, I got mine 2nd hand and am very pleased with it . I knew the UI would be pain and I knew it would be powerful and neutral, which it is.
      I use IEMs and HD800s with it, it doesn't seem to complain with any of it.
      Takeanidea, Jan 5, 2014
    4. watchmania
      I am pretty sure you picked the wrong IEM.
      watchmania, Jun 22, 2015
  4. Berno
    One of the best portable players out there
    Written by Berno
    Published May 2, 2013
    Pros - Cool looks, no stupid interface for transferring files, amazing SQ for the price
    Cons - Only accepts WAV as hi-res, long transfer time, too much power for my IEMs, long burn in process, the digital connections doesn't accept HQ cable.
    I got my player in January, but it has taken me a long long time to enjoy it. The burn in process is very long so you better let it play for at least one week prior to listening.
    My player was extremely siblant, but has settled over time. I even had to go back to the original cable. It was too painful to listen to.
    Still need more time to get rid of the last siblance. It probably has something to do with my IEMs which has a 119dB sensitivity. I can move the slider about 5mm, then the volume is where it's supposed to be.
    I use the 1/4 jack with an adapter since it sounds better and more powerful.
    Might have to put a resistor or something in between to get more dynamics. The player is still a work in progress so I'll get satisfied.
    I've used it as an external DAC and it outperforms my Musical Fidelity M1DAC by far.
    More info will come later when I've made some improvements or finished burn in.
    1. H20Fidelity
      I was wondering what IEM's you're using and if you hear any bass-roll off from the player using them? I have the C3 and CK4.
      H20Fidelity, May 2, 2013
    2. AmberOzL
      What is the real battery life mate? 16 bit FLAC playback for example?
      AmberOzL, May 3, 2013
    3. DJ The Rocket
      "Burning in" electronic hardware? Sorry but ths doesn't make sense. Sure caps can behave very slightly out of spec brand new, but to suggest this effect resulted in sibilance, which subsequently disappeared? Utter nonsense. I dont doubt your observations, that your impression of the sound chaged over time. But no change in the hardware can be responsible.
      DJ The Rocket, Dec 6, 2016
  5. itsmejulieeye
    It's that good = I'd even pay double the price IMHO
    Written by itsmejulieeye
    Published Apr 7, 2013
    Pros - It just sounds so so so good it'll keep amazing you !
    Cons - Baterry Life Not Great, But hey theres a downside 2 nearly everything IMHO

    BTW I'm from Scotland so I paid £555.00 for mine, not $555.00 THXU :)


    1st off lets get this out the way then eh ;

    Baterry life isn't great & TBH with you it was never ever going to be great unless they made it bigger by giving it a higher capacity battery making it bigger, so you kind of know this from day 1 that loud amazing sound comes at the cost of battery drain :wink:


    Now where to begin hmmzzz...

    FLAC/ WAV Playback is just outstanding with your chosen cans, I'm not going into sound descriptions as each to their own as each have their fav cans, lets just say this then =

    This thing has sounded amazing with any Cans I've tried it with & I have tried several to try & find a weakness, but there is none soundwise it's faultless indeed via headphone usage.


    Add in the fact it's a DAC in it's own right via an in & out spdif or use the spdif in & headphone out to phono even = the thing still sounds amazing.



    I bought mine from Superfi about 6months maybe more ago now & TBH I just still cannot stop listening to it.

    I'm so so so glad I bought it & ignored the heavy price tag, because once you listen to it I'm sure like me you'll agree that the quality it kicks out makes that price tag seem low IMHO.


    Whoever that obsessed chinese guy who demanded it to be built to such a high standard as it was = I salute you sir as by god it still brings a smile to my face getting on to maybe nearly a yr l8rs hehehe :)



    In closing = Don't let the high price tag put you off people, hell we all pay high prices for hi-fi stuff anyway, think of it as an extension of your expensive Hi-Fi & you'll understand then why it's worth every penny :)



    P.S. Make a 64gb MicroSD card bootable formatted in fat32 = it'll work in it too, so mine has 96gb (after the usual loss 89gb or so of space hehehe) EXCELLENT :) & what's up with some 1 who just joined a Forum posting a review on a Product they think others would like 2 hear about ?
    A Nice welcome friendly reply... Sorry I meant a 12yr old school playground sarcastic reply... That's the thing with all Forums U have good guys & gals & then U have well this user with their comments here under my review post made for god only knows why... I feel sorry for your negative outlook on life there but I think the C4 Pro's too good a product to let your wee comment dent it eh ?
  6. cachex
    Definitely recommendable, but with some build quality issues
    Written by cachex
    Published Mar 17, 2013
    Pros - Excellent sound and design
    Cons - Some build quality issues
    My player has basically 2 build quality flaws: 1- there seems to be something loose inside of it; I can only notice it if I shake it; and 2- the "up" arrow doesn't always work correctly; it is tricky to press it correctly. But the sound quality is phenomenal. I agree with all the good reviews.
    I can't seem to be able to add to the comments section. Answering AmberOzL: just yesterday I used it from having a full battery until it depleted and it lasted about 4 hours; but my files were a mix of FLAC, WAV and MP3.
    1. AmberOzL
      what is the battery life with usual flac files?
      AmberOzL, Mar 27, 2013
  7. Vespertine
    Written by Vespertine
    Published Feb 23, 2013
    Pros - Sound Quality, Build Quality, Micro SD slot for as much expansion as you could ever want, 6.7mm Jack, Output Options.
    Cons - There are no Cons if you can afford it and are an Audiophile
    First of all I just want to put a caveat on the User Interface notion. At the end of the day, we are striving for sound and we all do crazy things to get the best, gripes about it are meaningless and in reality just spoils any review and we have all been spoiled by the iPod's UI, but an iPod sounds like a lump of clay, so with that done.
    This is mind blowing, I have no idea why this product is not more widely known about and that sales are not massive.
    It could very well be the final word, and it has been kicking around for a while, it needs some more attention as I recently discovered. Like an ancient text, its truths can not be denied.
    I am tempted to start to describe sound quality, but I listen through many different headphones so I would only start describing what I am hearing now through a pair of Denon AH D7100's using the 6.7mm cables.
    This isn't a headphone review.
    Thinking about what this product is actually capable of for a minute one soon comes to the conclusion that the design and execution is just as clever as Apple have ever done. People say it Looks "Steam Punk" or some such nonsense. No, this is a player for life, that is why it has been designed like that, not for shiny aesthetics, but so that as it ages it just gets better and more personalised and so that it will last.
    The build quality is superb. It feels gorgeous to touch, aesthetically it sits in a class of its own in any environment.
    There has been more thought put into this device than I think colorfly is credited for to be honest.
    It will fit in your pocket in its case, it will fill it but it will fit there, as another review I have read alluded to, forget it if you are wearing skinny jeans.
    What does it output?
    Close to perfection. I can't see it being beaten at this size, ever. Something else that was very revealing was running it through my NAIM Headline. I am almost hesitant to say this, but with cans that need driving, I am not sure whether I could tell the difference between it going through my Headline and direct from the Colorfly. That is saying something.
    Whatever phones you go for or prefer, make sure they are comfortable, as I promise you one thing, you will once again listen to your entire music collection again, repeatedly, you will wake up in the morning and get out of bed and think about putting it on, you will walk round anywhere you want as if you are in a reference studio with the world playing a film going by. You will stop being able to hear people and you will not do much talking either.
    I do not think that it is overpriced at all, it is ten times the quality of an iPod and not ten times the price.
    And it has a soul.
    The EQ settings do work very well indeed, again more thought by clever people.
    For the peripatetic audiophile, there is no other unit.
    One very very happy customer, it isn't often you get more than you hoped for these days. Colorfly give you it.
    Happy to answer any questions, I have haunted this place for years and years, I have never signed up, just taken, not contributed. I simply had no choice but to speak up about this amazing piece of kit.
      VladGuardian likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. VGoghs earfrmsc
      hi vespertine, what r the digital filter settings and the output settings for, and what r yours set to? my c4 is second hand, so i'd like to be sure they on the right setting. thanks for your review as well
      VGoghs earfrmsc, May 24, 2013
    3. HUM24H
      Hi Vespertine, what do the Denon AH-D7100 sound like through the Colorfly C4? I am getting a C4 but I have been debating on getting the Denon AH-D7100.
      HUM24H, Jul 31, 2013
      Hi mate.  I have one of these and agree they are great - i was thinking of purchasing an OPPO HA2 AMP/DAC or the CEntrance Hifi M8 to go with it - no one can tell me how to plug these in to the C4 and what cables i would need! hoping to see if you can help me out and let me know if you have paired this with a portable amp/DAC?
      IAMBLEST, Jan 13, 2015
  8. piercer
    Can't Stop Listening To It!
    Written by piercer
    Published Aug 14, 2012
    Pros - Amazing Sound Quality
    Cons - UI
    (Price in $'s is approximate)
    I use this player with my Beyerdynamic T5p headphones. What an awesom portable rig :)
    The clarity and purity of thew sound is amazing. This player may lack in some areas, but so far the most important part, sound quality, is unbeatable by anything else that I have heard.
  9. ERambo
    Amazing portable HI-fi
    Written by ERambo
    Published Jul 13, 2012
    Pros - Sound quality
    Just amazing
    It sound very uncolored and very deitailed with my Sennheiser HD598.
    Interface is plain simple, if do you want a cool interface buy an iPod.
    This is really all about sound quality.
    It worth the price. Very satisfied!
    1. Night Crawler
      Thanks! Went with the cool interface and bought an iPod! :)
      Night Crawler, Jul 13, 2012
  10. Etelos
    Colorfly HiFi C4 vs. HM801
    Written by Etelos
    Published Apr 16, 2012
    Pros - Superior sound and build quality
    Cons - UI features
    Having had a chance to play around with the Colorfly C4 for a little over a week now, I have to say I am quite impressed.  I also own the Hifiman801 unit so I've been doing some comparing of these two as well.
    Let me just say, up front, my biases are towards sound quality over user interface and drag-and-drop file ease over being tethered to any software requirements.   Really, for me, if the sound quality is spectacular I can almost live with a command line prompt for a user interface and I've already spend about half of my adult life waiting for software interfaces to load songs (incorrectly, often), so I'll add them myself, thank you very much.
    Furthermore, am I an audiophile?  Can't say, I guess - but I do highly value well reproduced music and get tremendous satisfaction discovering previously 'hidden' musical nuances in songs.    In this quest I have tried the ipod (briefly), the Zune (even more briefly, after experiencing their user 'interface'), a Sansa,the Ibiza (I know, seriously?),  several Cowon products, as well as the more recent HiSound Studio and the HiFiman.
    I currently use Sennheiser HD800s for home listening and JA-16 IEMs for moving about.
    I have to say I am very impressed with the Colorfly unit; both in terms of sound quality and build quality.  Compared to the HifiMan801, I feel the low end is more pronounced on the Colorfly (but not unnaturally so, just better), and the output power is certainly greater - able to easily drive the HD800s to an enjoyable level.   I am not a huge fan of heavy bass (I don't have a trunk full of sub-woofers in my car, for example), but I do want it to be on equal par with the high and mid end of the spectrum and I think the Colorfly accomplishes this balance well.     I have also made some 'new' musical discoveries on some of my favorite 'test' songs that I had not noticed when playing them on the HM801.
    In addition, I've had some 'freezing' issues with the HM801 with songs that should play fine, requiring a hard restart to bring back to life; but I have yet to have one 'freeze' with the Colorfly unit.  The user interface, though not spectacular, is certainly usable and on par with that of the HM801.  I actually kind of like the unique interface design Colorfly has gone with; its fun to watch, and fits very well with the overall style of the unit.
    As others have said, there is no gapless play, it won't do FLAC at 24/192 (but does WAV at this level) and there are a few 'clicks and pops' sometimes switching from one song to the next and/or upon unit on/off; but during song play it is perfectly quiet except for the tunes themselves and the 'clicks and pops' are not loud by any means, it's just that there isn't always complete silence between songs.  Also the 'built in' EQ settings probably won't be used much, but the upscaling really does work well, particularly when I want to quickly load a batch of MP3 rather than going back and ripping them to FLAC or WAV.
    Anyway, for me, this has quickly become me 'go to' unit for portable, quality musical enjoyment without additional amplification, etc.  Its a great unit.
      VladGuardian likes this.