Colorfly Pocket Hi-fi C4

Sefelt103

500+ Head-Fier
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.
 
For:
Solid construction
Sound quality
`3D’ soundstage
Power to drive 300ohm headphones
Both 3.5/6.25mm headphone sockets
Unique design approach
 
Against:
Expensive
User interface needs subtle tweaks
Slight colouration to sound

bowei006

Panda Man
Reviewer at Headphone.Guru
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:
http://www.pandatechreview.com/colorfly-c4-pro-review/
watchmania
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.

yxmees

Head-Fier
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 triple.fi pro-s. So, I let the player burn in. For 3 weeks straight. I also let my new triple.fi-s 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.
brams
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.
Takeanidea
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.
watchmania
watchmania
I am pretty sure you picked the wrong IEM.

Berno

New Head-Fier
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.
H20Fidelity
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.
AmberOzL
AmberOzL
What is the real battery life mate? 16 bit FLAC playback for example?
DJ The Rocket
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.

itsmejulieeye

New Head-Fier
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 :)


A MUST HAVE PLAYER IMHO !!!


 


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 ?

cachex

New Head-Fier
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.
AmberOzL
AmberOzL
what is the battery life with usual flac files?

Vespertine

100+ Head-Fier
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.
 
 
 
 
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VGoghs earfrmsc
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
regards
peter
HUM24H
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.
IAMBLEST
IAMBLEST
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?

piercer

100+ Head-Fier
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.

ERambo

New Head-Fier
Pros: Sound quality
 
[size=small] [size=x-small]Just [/size]amazing[size=x-small][/size][/size]
[size=small] [size=x-small]It [/size]sound[size=x-small] very uncolored and very deitailed with my Sennheiser HD598.[/size][/size]
[size=small] [size=x-small]Interface is plain simple, if do you want a cool interface buy an iPod.[/size][/size]
[size=small] [size=x-small]This is really all about sound quality.[/size][/size]
It worth the price. Very satisfied!
Night Crawler
Night Crawler
Thanks! Went with the cool interface and bought an iPod! :)

Etelos

New Head-Fier
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.
 
So.....
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.
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lkCypress

New Head-Fier
Pros: Wide sound field
Cons: Really short battery life ToT
When I first got this huge wooden-copper box, I was shocked by its classical appearance, and more by its wide sound field and clear details (my headphone is AKG K514). As a hifi player designed purely for music, its sound surely worths the high price. Below are my experiences of listening to various music with it.
 
First is about my favourite album, Sam Lavine's Hifi Sax (WAV). When starting to play the " I Will Always Love You", the opening background can be told to be far away from the piano and sound crispy. Unlike IPC, C4 tears the last barrier between the music and my ears; the sound came out was not at all limited or sticky. Then the saxophone starts to play; it was not too amazing at first, I had to admit, but as the music goes on, the sound became a stream really smooth and poisonous and came very close and seperated with all other instruments. Moreover, when the music came to its high-frequency part, it's still nicely controlled and didn't felt too thin or light. Brightness was also expressed just-fine.
 
Then I tried C4 with Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of Heart. When the music started with piano, I could tell the places of each key, each note. Though C4 is accused for its shortage of expressing human voises (true that it's a bit far), but the details-the wind flow from the "over boost" singing and some like crying came very real. Then when in the middle the bass suddenly started, it was so close-like just in front of you. And the following mix sound of sea and wind was like from really far away, and was so not too strong till the end.
 
These are only my personal feeling about C4, and I'm just a student beginner in China, si don't take my words too much into consideration. But do note that C4's battery is really bad, and that it can't play 192kHz/24Bit Flac and Ape (will display "Play Error"). When first use it before it " burn in", there's some sudden current noise, just don't care too much-they just go away a few days after.
GL1TCH3D
GL1TCH3D
You mention the battery life as the only con but don't say how long it lasts...
About how long does the battery actually last? Considering it's for portable use that would be a pretty big con for me too...
irvin59
irvin59
Another C4 review by someone who's just joined and has hardly any posts. ???
lkCypress
lkCypress
approx 7hrs, 9hrs at most.

dkash

New Head-Fier
Pros: The sound is full, detailed and amazing!!
Cons: If price isn't an issue get it
I got both hifiman 801 and the colorfly c4 to try out. Sorry to say but I couldn't tell any difference between my iPod classic and that. The c4 on the other hand just blew my mind!! Sound is amazing!! I'm not audiophile but try both hifiman and c4 side by side and you'll see yourself how amazing this player is!! Dont listen to people who say it isn't good!! Try it out for yourself!
Etelos
Etelos
There are so many strange limitations to this forum that I can't say all I want to in this first comment, so hopefully the forum will permit me to comment in two parts....First of all, let me say, I'm not sure how one crosses over from being a 'normal listener' to being an 'audiophile' (is there a secret ritual in which you get a tattoo on your eardrums or does one need to spend a minimum percentage of one's net worth on audio products before one qualifies?) So, I don't know if I am one, but I am an avid listener of music and I would like to add my two cents regarding the Colorfly C4 player. A brief background about me to see if you feel it necessary to read the rest of this post... I have always appreciated hearing and seeking to hear as many musical nuances in a recorded piece as is possible. There is great joy to me in discovering a new vocal or previously unrecognized instrument in a piece, or even an artist taking a breath. I understand the concept of soundstage, etc. In the quest of this nuance discovery, I have tried and owned quite a number of devices. Yes, I've tried the ipod (in the dark, when no one was around) and the zune (in the dark, on a deserted island, when no one was around, when I had LOTS of time to allow the software to connect) as well as a number of Cowon products, a sansa, the ibiza (I know, don't ask why), a couple of generic Chinese products, etc.
I have more recently purchased the HiSound Studio, the HM-801 and the Colorfly C4 and have had a chance to listen to and compare these, but more on that in a moment.My bias is towards a player that sounds better vs. a player that looks better or comes with an armband or has a nicer user interface. I'd use a player that requires a command line prompt (or, if you're old enough, punch cards) over one that lets you swipe across album covers if the sound was that much better. I also very much appreciate a unit that is not tied to a certain software program to load and organize music. I have spent too much time watching software interfaces NOT load songs that now I prefer to drag and drop them onto the player myself, thank you very much.I currently use Sennheiser HD800s to listen while sitting at home and JH-16 IEMs whilst strolling about.Ok, having said all that - how does the Colorfly perform? See part two....
Etelos
Etelos
Part two....Well, I've had it about a week now, and I have to say, I am very impressed. I have discovered a couple of nuances on favorite 'test' songs that I had not heard before using any of the other players. There is better separation between individual notes and voices in may pieces. Furthermore, it has a decidedly more prominent and life-like bass re-production than the HM-801 or the HiSound Studio, but not to the point of distraction.
While it doesn't play FLAC at 24/192, it does so effortlessly with WAV files at that level and, quite honestly, the MP3 files, using the upscale feature, sound fantastic as is as long as the original MP3s were done at a decent rate.I am also very pleased with the relative ease with which the Colorfly drives the HD800s, which the other players require an external amplifier to do them justice. And, even though you can't swipe through album covers, I quite like the unique user interface design (even though functionally it is quite basic; although not any more so than is the UI of the Studio or the HM801.) I also have had some issues of the HM801 periodically freezing, requiring a hard restart, which has yet to occur with the Colorfly)So bottom line? The Colorfly has quickly and completely taken place as my number one go to player at this time. Highly recommended! And did I mention, it is gorgeous!
amitpuri
amitpuri
I want to buy colorfly c4. Currently I have ortofon E-Q7 but in future I will definitely upgrade to good quality headphones. Should I buy??budget is not a problem.

superxjc

New Head-Fier
Good!But too expensive.
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