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SHOZY Alien DAP

Rating:
4.3/5,
  1. ExpatinJapan
    Shozy Alien Gold DAP is unusual looking but makes up for it with excellent resolving and detailed sound
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Sep 15, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great sound, good battery life, drag and drop, good size and weight
    Cons - UI can take a bit to get used to, no screen.

    Shozy Gold Alien DAP Review - Expatinjapan

     
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    The Shozy Alien Gold DAP review 
    - expatinjapan​

    Build
    As with past Shozy products the Alien build is solid.
    Is it gold?, is it champagne gold? Whatever it is: it looks superb.
    An approx 80 grams of machined aluminum, very light within ones hand or in a pocket.
    The shape which looks unusual and quite weird when considering the modern penchant for black square digital music players makes absolute sense when one actually holds it in the palm of their hand, it fits there well, it nestles there like a little baby bird, perfectly constructed for comfort despite the incongruous hard edges.

     
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    Sound
    It was recommended to me that I get 200 hours on to unleash its full potential. And so I did whilst listening along the way. Certainly from blocks of playing overnight to the next day different levels of enjoyment were definitely unlocked, once I was around the 100 hour mark the detail was refined and the lower end definitely tightened up.

    By 200 hours it had a coherency and was nicely balanced across my audible sound spectrum.

    IEMs. I used the ATH-CK10, Paiaudio MR3, Campfire Jupiter, and Advanced AcousticWerkes W300AR IEMs to test it, with the usual variety of tips.
    Headphones. ATH-ESW11 Ltd.Ed.

    Early impressions:
    I described it as organic and accurate.

    Rudi0504 - (The Shozy Alien Gold out of the box) as being warmer and more analog than the Shozy black.

    The Shozy Alien Gold
    I have no experience of listening to the original Alien black version to compare any differences.

    The Shozy Alien Gold is easy on the ears, fairly neutral, a light touch to the ears, it reproduces vocals and instruments accurately, it is smooth but not at the expense of losing any detail.

    The bass is full and fast, it has a good depth and fullness to it. It seems to reach down into the sub bass region. There is no apparent flabbiness or looseness to it.

    Vocals are accurate and very enjoyable.

    Guitars are very detailed, and individual strings plucked can be easily discerned.

    The separation of instruments when connected with beautifully rendered vocals is one of the appeal points of the Shozy Alien Gold.

    It certainly has a vertical sense to the sound, a nice background of bass and drums, the mids in the middle keeping everything warm and highs that stretch out to a point of lusciousness without getting sibilant or peaky.
    It has a width, or sound stage that when connected to the detailed accuracy is very pleasurable to listen to in an analytical way, yet it manages to do this without distracion or inciting fatigue as such.

    Therein lies the mystery of the Shozy Alien Gold, it is clear, yet warm, detailed but without fatigue and sweet extended highs that don`t peak past the point of enjoyment.

    I could not pick up on any hiss with the IEMs I was using, it appears to have a black background.

    Listening at levels past my usual volume (which is fairly loud) I could not discern any distortion.

     
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    Shozy Alien Gold and Advanced AcousticWerkes W300U​
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    I find it to be a strange beast in that it plays back music how I would expect to hear it, of course my ears are those of a mildly aged non technical nor trained hobbyist.

    - For a first example the depth, detail, speed, crispness and warmth of the vocals and the width of the music of say The Chemical Brothers featuring Mazzy Star on the track `Asleep from the day` leaves me quite surprised and breathless.
    -Bauhaus - `Bela Lugosi`s dead` does not disappoint, all those subtle details, quite a cacophony of sound is tight, deep and coherent.
    -The Smiths -  `Bigmouth` - is light, fast and the magnificence of Johnny Marrs guitar is easily appreciated, and of course Morrissey`s vocals are clean and realistic.
    -Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi -  `Black` - is rounded and smooth, vocals silky and creamy.
    -Lana Del Rey - `Brooklyn Baby` - Vocals are luscious, and cover the range of her ability well.
    -Cowboy Junkies - `Sweet Jane` - Great drums, perfect vocals, nice and soaring melody.
    -Mazzy Star -  `cry, cry` - Soft and easy guitars, vocals well balanced to the background music, great clarity.
    -The Pixies - `digging for fire` -The instrument separation is fantastic, vocals are tight, wide and detailed soundstage. fast response.
    -Nirvana - (MTV unplugged) - `Dumb` Lovely presented underlying melody, bass guitar is lush and warm, guitars clear and concise, the vocals retain the gruffness yet have a clarity.
    -Norah Jones - `Come as you are` - A general popular test track does not disappoint.
    -The Cardigans - `Erase and rewind` - A good track to test for bass response and here it does not disappoint me. Clean, tight and clear.
    -Mazzy Star - `Fade into you` - Perfect, perfect.
    -Gnarls Barkley - `Crazy` - Fun, fast and crazy.
    -Nick cave and PJ Harvey - `Henry Lee` - Low, warm and beautifully reproduced vocals in the best duet ever.
    -Dire Straits - `Sultans of swing` - Nice, clear, defined and accurate.
    -Hole - `Violet` - Nice and nasty, but quite listenable as on some devices Hole sinks into a wall of sound or distortion by the Shozy Alien seems to handle it well.
    -Hole - `Celebrity skin` - Once again, noisy distorted and fuzzy guitars reproduced wonderfully as nature intended, not a mess.
    -Wind and the Wave - `Chandelier` - Lovely vocals, sweet, smooth and emotional. Great clear accurate guitars. Wonderful clear and wide sound stage.
    -Leonard Cohen - `The Future` - Nice gruff vocals, nice wide sound with a coherent melody underneath faithfully reproduced.
    -DJ Champion - `No heaven` - The Shozy Alien handles this track like a champ with all its variables.
    -Radiohead - `Paranoid android` - Clarity, clear and detailed. Soaring.
    -Rammstein - `Du hast` - Powerful without distortion, deep and fast, great width and separation.
    Iggy and the stooges - `Search and destroy` - fantastic fast fun, its a dirty track, but the Shozy Alien rehabilitates its recording shortfalls, somehow.
    -The Verve - `Sonnet` - A great track for checking for clean sound, faithfully reproduced here.

     
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    Shozy Alien Gold and ATH-CK10​
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    Features
    The Alien comes tightly and securely packaged within a plastic casing which opens to reveal the Alien nestling safely within a die cut foam bed, the underneath of which lies a cable for charging.
    No manual was including which sent me scurrying to the internet for more information.
    The Alien itself has an on/off center button and volume and play/fast forward/back buttons.
    These buttons when pressed for a longer length of time double up for such functions as shuffle etc.
    To load files one needs an external reader and a micro SD card as there is no internal memory on the Shozy Alien Gold.

     
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    Shozy Alien Gold Specs:
    - Headphone impedance range: 8-32Ohms
    - Supports WAV & FLAC File ONLY
    - Supports up to 24bit/44.1kHz Audio Playback
    - No Screen & No internal Storage
    - Signal to Noise Ratio > 98dB
    - Output Power: 2*55mW (16Ohms)
    - Battery capacity: 1220mA
    - Battery lasting: about 8 hours
    - Battery charging time: about 2 hours
    - External power supply: 5V DC
     
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    Handy UI hints
    The Shozy Alien Gold does not come with a users manual so I went in search of reviews of the earlier original Shozy Alien in search of answers.
    There are many more reviews within Head-fi that talk about how to organize files etc that I recommend our readers to also look into.

    The ones I have added below were useful to me initially as they concern the basic UI.

    -I have read that each Folder can hold 99 songs, as to the layout of multi folders please see the reviews/guides on Head-fi.

    *As I am lazy and think simple is best I opted for one folder of my favorite 99 songs. Easy peasy.

    *via member BruceBanner on head-fi (with permission).
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/shozy-alien-dap/reviews/12415

    EDIT: A member on headfi (Jaker782) discovered that the Shozy can indeed Shuffle! Long pressing the volume down mode puts the player into a different playback mode.

    First long press: Album repeat mode (folder repeat)
    Second long press: Default mode
    Third long press: Song shuffle mode
    Fourth long press: Default mode

    The Shuffle mode plays everything on the SD Card and not just within a folder, so it is a true 'Shuffle All'.

    *via member Avitron142 on head-fi (with permission).
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/shozy-alien-dap/reviews/12349

      Middle: On/Off. Done.
     
    Up: Raises volume, when held pauses the song.
     
    Right: skips to next song, when held skips to the next folder.
     
    Left: Same as the Right, just backwards.
     
    Down: Now this is a big one, because for a while, everyone thought it just decreases volume. But it has a few more uses too; here we go:
     
    First long press: Album repeat mode (folder repeat)
    Second long press: Default mode
    Third long press: Shuffle mode
    Fourth long press: Default mode
     
    The general playback is straight, not shuffle, so this was a pretty big breakthrough. 

    Here’s my understanding of the light on the Alien and what it means (per color):
    Playing: blue/green
    Pause: blue
    Battery empty: green
    Charging while off: red
    Finished charging while off: no light

    *Thank you both for letting Head Pie quote from your reviews.
     
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    Value
    At around US$200 it certainly is at the lower price range when it comes to todays market of DAPs that seem to getting more and more expensive every year.  Some of this is due to the basic user interface where most modern DAPs have a touch screen etc. 
    The SHOZY Alien Gold as we have seen is minimalistic in its design, it evokes the first generation ipods and also the mythical Tera Player.
    In this day and age is there any room for a player like the Shozy Alien Gold with its sharp edges, original look and basic interface?
    I would say most certainly that the Shozy Alien Gold is not made for the casual consumer, these units will be well sold out before word even reaches the streets. No, for the user of the Shozy Alien Gold what matters most is the sound, not is it good, nor is great, but is it fantastic?
    My opinion after many, 
    many hours is yes. It is brilliant at what it does.​

     
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    Overall
    I love it, the sound is wonderful.  As I am using it as a shuffle player with only my most favorite tracks loaded on it makes it a joy to use.
    For those who wish to use it for full albums and the like, the learning curve of how to operate the Shozy Alien Gold might be a bit longer, but not overly so I expect and would become quite automatic within a short space of time.
    Build: It is a well crafted, solid piece of machined aluminum, certainly it lacks features such as a touchscreen etc which meant it couldn`t get a full five pies.
    Sound: Whilst certainly not in the price range of many of todays DAPs, the lack of many features and simplified UI have pushed down the price to make this an affordable alternative, one with great sound.
    Features: As noted on the features side it is quite barren, no visible menu, nor touchscreen etc but the features it does have perform well within the confines of the concept and design of this minimalistic player.
    Value: It is a cheap alternative within this brave new world of pricey DAPs, and the bottom line is that is sounds wonderful.
    Overall: See my above opening statements, count me as a fan. Admittedly I use it as a simple shuffle machine of my favorite songs. If one was to use it as a transport for albums your experience may differ to my own. Its light, does not require extra amplification to sound at its best, works well with most IEMs and headphones and looks smexy and mysterious.




    Thank you to Shozy for an Alien Gold for this review - expatinjapan.


  2. Kaisendon
    Shozy Alien (Gold) Review
    Written by Kaisendon
    Published Jun 23, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Good value for price, portable, simple, light, small
    Cons - Limited user interface
    Shozy Alien review -

    The Shozy Alien, contrary to how the name sounds is pretty simple to use. The user interface is primitive - on/off, volume up/down and next/back buttons. The design is slick and can easily slip into your jeans pocket along with a phone/wallet.

    Now for the price of 200 USD, this DAP may sound costly but it also packs a punch when it comes to sound quality. As a source, the Alien is extremely sterile and energetic. It captures and presents the songs to be both detailed and exciting and resolution is comparable or possibly better than most of the DAPs from the 300-500 USD price range. I recommend this player for users that prefer a more reference sound and an extremely portable setup.

    Sound
    Bass is tight, controlled and fast. I like how it pairs with EDM and pop music but it might not make the best of the rock/metal genre.

    Mids are crystal clean and presentation is mids/vocal forward. It's performance truly shines on ballads and acoustic genre music, where both the vocals and instruments are reproduced accurately and intimately.

    Highs on the Alien might not be it's strongest suit, it has occasional sibilance (song dependent) but the details are presented with both precision and energy that brings abit of that sparkle to each song.

    Overall, I think it's musical performance surprises it's price point and what I would like to see is a leap in its UI towards touchscreen, playlist and folder functions. With a more complex UI, the Alien could possibly be a killer choice for its price.

    Some drawbacks for this player mostly stem from its UI. It only accepts microSD cards formatted in fat32, and it is unable to randomize your playlist. To some this might be a deal breaker, but its sound quality and portability definitely makes it a good buy.

    Usage
    Mainly I use this player casually for jogging and burn in. This lightweight is an ideal no hassle player to carry around when exercising and is almost no extra weight to bring along. It's sterile sound signature is great for burning in details and makes the end product more resolving.

    Conclusion
    Is the Shozy Alien a must buy? I'd say not, but if you need a simple DAP for exercise or travel it is definitely an ideal partner.
  3. fleasbaby
    An Exercise in Minimalism
    Written by fleasbaby
    Published May 9, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Superb sound quality
    Cons - No screen, spotty FLAC support, no gapless playback, short battery life.
    A screenless DAP. It makes you question just what is necessary on a media player, and what you want from it. I am currently listening to Derek Gripper’s “One Night on Earth”. I think that’s the album’s name. I don’t know for sure, and I can’t recall the year it was released. I also have an image in my head of the cover art…I am a little clueless, not because my tagging on my library is lacking, but because I am listening on the Shozy Alien DAP.
     
    I have the gold edition, and like its successors, it has no screen. It’s a remarkably simple affair. An oddly shaped, block of aluminium in what looks like a rose-gold finish in my office’s lighting. It has odd little angular protrusions, and a simple navigation wheel of sorts that allows volume up, volume down, power on and off and next or previous track.
     
    What’s more, I am listening to my albums as 16/44.1 WAV single files. The Alien supports FLAC, but it’s a little hit and miss at times, and despite not usually noticing these things, WAV appears to sound better on the Alien to me than FLAC. That’s right...I am converting all of my FLAC albums from multi-track affairs to single tracks, in 16/44.1 WAV as I load them onto the SD card. Why single track? Because the Alien doesn’t support gapless playback, and makes a teeny, tiny noise (like the drop of a needle on a vinyl record) between each track. I developed my own special way of filing them on my SD card in alphabetical folders (one for each letter of the alphabet) so I could manage a larger collection on the player. I could use .cue files I suppose, but I am a “full album” kind of guy, so I don’t bother. I discovered the Alien recognizes .cue files by accident.
     
    I charge the Alien every night while I remove the micro-SD card, plug it into an adapter, and plug that into my PC to update/add/remove files. Yes, the Alien is not USB enabled, and so the micro-SD will not be seen if I plug he alien into the PC with the card in it. Yes, the Alien only gets 8 hours of battery life on a single charge.
     
    Why am I still listening despite the lack of information and the extra steps I have to take to use this device? I have never quite heard this album like this. The detail is exquisite. Soundstage is wide and in no way disjointed or unnaturally flat. The tone is inviting, pleasing, neither sterile and painful to endure, or dark and stuffy. Its rich and organic. Yes, I am using organic. Its been thrown around a few times, but what the hell, I am out of synonyms. All of the albums I have been listening to on the Alien are getting a new lease on life.
     
    I have spent several weeks with the Alien, off and on, and keep coming back to it. Despite its quirkiness, I love the sound of it. It’s a compact, powerful relatively simple device that makes listening to my music at my office a pleasure. I bought it with a pair of Shozy’s new earbud, the Cygnus, and the two work together exceptionally well. The Cygnus will get a separate review. I have also been using the new Shozy Zero IEM with the player. Those were thrown in as a special gift when I ordered the Alien. They too pair exceptionally well with the player.
     
    The only player I have tried that exceeds the Shozy is the Aune M2 (which runs Class A amplification). I’ve been reading a little Zen literature lately, so I am going to leave this review right here. The Alien is simple, yet complex. It is extremely focused in its task, to the point of excluding any and all extra niceties such as a screen, USB recognition and an operating system beyond the amoebically simple one in place. It achieves its focused goal (beautiful playback, an exceptional listening experience) with great success, and I will likely keep using it for a long time because of this. 
      hqssui, BruceBanner, mgunin and 3 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. fleasbaby
      @mgunin The Tenore definitely comes out on top. The Altone is too sensitive. It sounds good, but the hiss reported by others shows up in them. Not on the Tenore.
      fleasbaby, May 10, 2016
    3. mgunin
      Great, thanks a lot! A good and really budget pairing.
      mgunin, May 11, 2016
    4. BruceBanner
      "Organic", lmao true enough tho I hate to admit it but it does kinda fit the Shozy signature.
      BruceBanner, May 12, 2016
  4. musicday
    The affordable audiophile music player
    Written by musicday
    Published Apr 18, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Neutral beautiful sound, great built quality, FLAC and WAV playback.
    Cons - Slow start up, only 8 hours playback.
    Introduction: I have never heard about the Shozy company before until I stumble across  it on Headfi.org . They were very successful  among the audiophiles with the basic Black Alien player , a small player without a screen that focuses on the sound quality and simplicity rather then focusing on the features.
     
    The new Gold Alien version is the latest revised edition from Shozy with improved circuit board and new striking colour, gold in this case. The sound it supposed to be  even better  then before while maintaining same neutrality as before.
     
    Packaging  This is a rather minimalistic packaging, so nothing fancy here, but considering the price you pay for this player you would not expect anything else, to be honest. So the player it is nice wrapped in a clear plastic box, with all the instruction and features in the box. It is a sealed box that could have no problems if left in the rain, not that I will recommend you to do so. 
     
    DSCN1874.jpg
     
    Because of the simple box presentation this could make a very nice gift. So never judge a book by it's cover, what's inside matters most, especially the sound a quality in this case.
    DSCN1875.jpg
     
     
    Build and Quality :   There is nothing to complain about here, the build quality is very high especially for something at this price, full aluminium construction including the buttons , so no compromise have been made by Shozy when they build and designed this DAP ( Digital Audio Player ).
    The back is nice and flush with the top of the player with four tiny screws , making this looking nearly as one  solid piece , proud to be named Alien.
    I really like the shape of this player, original and innovative if it it to ask me. If you were to find this player laying in the middle of the middle of a field nowhere , and if it didn't had the name written on it, and no marks for the volume and next and back buttons , it will be hard to know what exactly this is.
    Maybe an Alien, from a different planet, or maybe a part of an UFO. Again, the build and finish of this player is very high end , smooth and ergonomic when you hold it in hand.
     
    DSCN1876.jpg Beautiful design DSCN1877.jpg
     
     
     
     
    On the top of the player we find a  5-way navigation circle that you will have to get used to it, as this being a player without a screen , the volume and all the functions of the player are a mix of combined press to get you to the desired play mode.
    The non spinning wheel is rather small, and not all the time you can do the right clicks, but it won't take long to learn all the combinations possible, and also is not hard to operate the player, while in the gym for example having the player in your pocket. So the best feature of this player, apart the sound quality and the affordable price is the simplicity in operation and no need to stare at a screen, while playing your music.
     
    The player configurations buttons are as fallow, which you will have to write down until you learn how to get into different playing modes:
    - middle: on/off
    -up : volume up , and when help pauses the song
    -right : skips to next song, and when held skips to next folder
    -left : same as the right button but opposite direction
    -down: decreases the volume, first long press: ( album/folder repeat ) , second long press: random mode , fourth long press: default mode/normal.
     
     
    Size: Does it matter? Not really , as the average person who consider himself as an audiophile and is always in the pursuit for that player with the natural sound, and always ready to pay a premium price for a device that can deliver, the size or weight doesn't matter. As some of the players out there can weight up to 350 gr or more, and sometimes are combined with portable amplifiers, to create a thick and big stack. Fear no more The Shozy Alien Gold is small and light - 80 gr and very comfortable to carry around, with great ergonomics for one single hand operation.
     
    DSCN1879.jpg

    In this photo you can see the Gold Alien photographed together with a normal size, matchsticks box.
    Is very thin, small, light weight and has a slick design that will take everyone by surprise.
     
    DSCN1880.jpg

    Here is another photo with another top sounding player without a screen: The Altmann Tera Player Stealth Edition. The Tera Player has same weight, but is smaller and also thicker, and takes SDXC while the Gold Alien takes micro sd card.
     
    The UI: is rather simple where you switch the player on and your first song from the first folder in the alphabetical order will start to play. The start up is rather slow taking in some cases up to 5 seconds for the music to play. I have noticed that using a class 10 micro sd card makes things a bit faster, but is not a major difference ..Due to the nature of the player, and the way it has been designed this was expected and is not so much of a problem.But have patience, and you will be rewarded with a beautiful  natural sound.
    As the navigation inside the folders could be rather slowly I would recommend that you carry around few cards with few albums on them , so you know exactly where is what music at any time. Cards have to be FAT32 formatted in order to be played by the player.
    Playback : The player supports only WAV and FLAC files both 16 and 24 Bit@ 44.1 KHz. The playback is done in the alphabetical order with the first artist/folder starting first every time the player is turned on. It was rather quick learning how to navigate to the right folder , even to the particular song, obviously if you are a patience guy.
    Keep in mind that you music in  both formats  WAV and FLAC has to be clean, no metadata, no album art or anything like that, add your music only and the player will always work as it should.
     
    DSCN1878.jpg
    You can see the headphone jack, micro sd port and the micro usb port . The port can be only be used to charge the player only, any mobile phone charger will work, but to transfer your music to the memory card you will have to take it out of the player, and I will recommend using a reliable card reader for best results.
     
    Battery life : the battery life is to be honest the only downside of this player. But I supposed many sacrifices were down by the Shozy team to get the best sound of this player, that battery life was reduced only to 8-9 hours depending on your listening levels and file format.
    For example the Gold Alien lasts only 8-9 hours with a 1220 Mha battery when the Tera Player last 15+ hours with a 700 Mha battery , but that's a different story and I am not going to debate it here due to the huge price gaps between the two players. Also the Alien goes quite loud with 55 mW@16 Ohm output.
    Considering that the player could be easily charged in  2 hours to fully charge from 0%, the playback time combined with the sound quality is not that bad. Haven't tried a powerful faster charger, but I think that will shorten the battery life span, so I will not recommend trying to get to charge the player faster then in the time described above.
     
    The sound :
    Yes the sound along with the battery life is the most or should be the most important thing for any audiophile. And YES this player can deliver. It is recommended for the best sound to let the player burn in for 150-200 hours before starting your serious listening sessions.
    The sound is smooth, natural and organic, and to my ear this player sounds better with more authority then many players I have tried at 3-4 times the RRP of Shozy Gold Alien.
    Especially for classical music, jazz and female singers, this gets quit emotional and get's you transported inside the music where you can hear the beautifully  instrument separations, and where each is placed, with great mids and clear highs. The low end ( bass ) is not as punchy as other more expensive players I have tried, but the listening experience is something rather sweet and special.. The player does indeed what's meant to, and delivers music at high standards, with a wide soundstage and great imaging. The player been used in this test with the Korta Pro modified headphones that I know very well and it was a great pairing.
    But when you pair the Shozy Gold Alien with the Shozy Zero IEM ( In Ear Monitors ) the experience gets much better especially for classical music, jazz and vocal females singers.
    Pair it with your high end earphones and I am sure the sound will be better, stellar.
     
    Price and Value:
    The price of this particular improved version of the original Alien at the time of writing the review is USD 200, or £140 at today's conversion bank rate. As you can see this is already a very well built player that will last ages, no need to update the firmware, with a great sound quality reproduction.
    Apart from the slow start up and rather low battery life, this player is nearly perfect and YES I would recommend it to anyone that is after a neutral smooth organic sound.
    Not only that but the price of this player makes it a truly bargain. Well done Shozy for this remarkable product.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. glassmonkey
      Koss Portapros out of a $10000 DAP.... Do you have comparisons with any DAPs that are more in the Alien's price range? I'm looking forward to reading your Shozy Zero review.
      glassmonkey, Apr 22, 2016
    3. musicday
      Nothing wrong with the Koss Porta Pro modified out of the Tera Player, actually I find the sound being very natural, I will put it- the best.
      musicday, Apr 23, 2016
    4. barondla
      This is a beautiful looking player. I don't understand what the goal is. It is aimed at top of the line sound quality, but only plays 16/44.1 files? There are far better sounding files hi res files. No screen to help select the music is weird. Seems like technology has left this behind. It sure is beautiful to look at.
      barondla, Jul 8, 2016
  5. kingdixon
    Magical !
    Written by kingdixon
    Published Apr 22, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sounds Amazing, Something Magical about it, Looks different
    Cons - Took a while to discover what is it all about, No manual, Lacks Some Functionality, Some time buttons are annoying, Price
    Hello everybody,
     
    After owning this amazing device for more than 3 month now, i will try to output my first review at all.
     
    Everything under this review is my humble opinion, Some might agree and some might not, NO BIG DEAL..
     
    First lets start with :
     
    GUI (DESIGN) :
     
    Since this is a screen-less DAP, So i will just comment on the looks,
     
    Well it looks different, if any of your friends saw it, it will be either "Whats that stupid looking thing ?" or "Damn that looks very frikin cool" but they will never react as if its normal because it is not !!
    ( I honestly think it looks amazingly out of this world )
     
    As for the buttons on the device it is not the best thing, As all buttons are on the same level, so a press from a bit fat finger could do other unexpected stuff :D
     
    when i try to switch songs, sometimes i accidentally lower or raise the volume as they all share the same circle.
     
    Also, the power button sometimes is not responsive and some other times it does the action twice ex: if i want to turn it off, i press the button, it switches off and turns back on with one click.
     
    Some guys solve it by gluing smaller size rubber buttons above the device buttons, that way you can click a certain point.
     
     
    SOUND :
     
    There is something magical about it, Well i think it got the whole pack, very spacious sound, the bass is tight and punchy, those are the things i feel directly when i listen to it,
     
    As for the mids or highs, i can praise the awesome separation and clarity.
     
    While A/Bing with my X5, i didn't see that huge improvement, but when i put my X5 aside and listened to the alien for 1 week, by the time i am back to X5 i felt a slightly more clarity in favor of the alien and whats much more important i started feeling the x5 to be flat and kinda emotionless, and that's whats magical about the ALIEN is the musicality.
     
    USAGE :
     
    Well, this part seems to be the most annoying about the alien, as it came with no manual and left everything to be discovered by users.
     
    Actually it took too much time to discover how this thing works, There were cool discoveries but what was the problem knowing how it works the first day i received it !
     
    I will not go into much stories, instead i will point out helpful hints for any one who thinks of owning this player :
     
    1- Some times songs that work normally on other daps will just stutter and hang the player, it just had to be reconverted by dbpoweramp or any other encoding app. ( I just reconverted all my flac collection to flac again, and it works fine)
     
    2- Holding Volume Down for 3 Seconds switches playback mode (repeat album, repeat song, shuffle, back to normal)  Kudos to @jaker782
     
    3- Max Songs on root or in folder must be less than 99 songs (more than that for ex. 104 , there are 5 songs you will never hear , they are lost) but otherwise you can just create however many folders containing less than 99 songs. (You can use the Shozy Shuffler tool made available by @BruceBanner to shuffle your collection into a desired number of folders with max 95 songs per folder)
     
    Features i think it lacks or could have been better :
     
    1- Play everything (It only plays FLAC or WAV)
    2- Starting on the last position it shuts on. (I am literally hating the song TLC- NO SCRUBS, i have to hear first part of it each time i power on)
    3- No fast forward or rewind.
    4- Cant connect directly to pc as storage.
     
    BATTERY :
     
    From 100% to 0%, 10 hours just playing at start volume or 2 clicks up, continuous play, no moving around or using the buttons.
     
    I think that is a nice rate compared to other DAPS on market.
     
     
    PRICING :
     
    Well, Since i joined this community, i really didn't see anything cheaper than the sansa clip+ LOL.
     
    Given it is a screen-less dap with almost no presentation at all (but the looks of the device itself), with very basic functionality, i think 200$ is a bit high for it.
     
    but if you are going to measure price against sound quality only, i think you can accept the price.
     
     
    PAIRINGS :
     
    JH16 and SE846 : No Comment, they just sound amazing ! and i get no hiss to very little hiss which is not noticeable at all.
     
    M100 : Very musical and the bass is just hitting hard, the best i have heard out of the m100 yet.
     
    Mad Dogs : I tried the mad dogs, at start volume it sounded good but with low volume, i personally find the instrument separation on the mad dogs amazing + the alien its even more awesome but needed more volume, so i raised the volume, then there was a strange distortion and the volume was not high enough to distort.
     
    So i think with harder to drive headphones, it just doesn't give that much power.
     
    And pairing it with an amp was not a good choice, as double amping don't sound good, but it can solve the problem of distortion with harder to drive headphones.
     
     
    LED LIGHT GUIDE :
     
    Playing : blue/green
    Pause : blue
    battery empty : green with no sound until led light is off
    Charging while off : red
    finish charging while off : no light
    charging while on : some 3 light combination don't remember.
     
     
     
    CONCLUSION :
     
    This is my most used DAP now, and its amazing.
     
    And that's all from the top of my head, if i remember anything else, i will update the review.
     
    I am ready for any questions or criticism.
     
    Have a nice day.
    1. whoever
      and don't forget it's magic shuffle function from outer space too! Press 3x3secondes the down volume and voilà! 
      whoever, Apr 23, 2015
    2. kingdixon
      yeeeee, i already mentioned it
       
      thanks to @jaker782, i think that was one of the happiest days of my alien life :D
       
      now i can't imagine how could i have used it without the shuffle function :/
      kingdixon, Apr 23, 2015
  6. BruceBanner
    The Alien Shozy DAP Review
    Written by BruceBanner
    Published Jan 19, 2015
    4.0/5,
    "Greetings Earthlings, all of your ears belong to us! Resistance is futile!" etc etc.


    [​IMG]




    Yes... quite.

    So what is this oddly shaped DAP all about?

    Specs (lifted from rear packaging because i have no idea how to do Chinese or whatever those letter thingies are...):

    [​IMG]


    From the company Shozy comes 'Alien' their first attempt in the DAP market. Shozy is a company already established in providing audio equipment and oem soloutions for various audio and tech companies, they also produce portable amps and the like.

    Taken from their website the Alien is "sleek Wav/Flac player with a solid CNC aluminium housing with hairline surface treatment and navigation of great simplicity."

    Yep you heard right, no MP3 support <shock! gasp!>.

    I guess they feel lossless is the way to go, something I am (still) not entirely convinced of.

    If you're wondering where the screen is... yeh... there is none. This is a screenless DAP, and depending upon your point of view that is either a good or bad thing. With no screen comes certain advantages, no firmware, no disappointing UI, no bugs (well... less bugs) and according to some a cleaner signal (the idea that the addition of OS and screen gives way to interference and noise and a less than optimum sound quality).
    It may very well be true, I have been following a few Headfi threads for awhile now, threads that discuss some of the other 'boutique' DAPs. Examples Fiio's X3, X5 and iBasso's DX50 to name a few, and a common theme creeps in on all these threads - namely software bugs, but also how different firmware release versions seems to alter the sound, and a lot of complaining and moaning centered around these issues.


    I don't own any of these other DAPs, I'm sure they are all very good at what they do, for sure everyone has different needs and for some a DAP without a screen is a deal breaker, but before you dismiss this player I encourage you to read on.


    My Background

    You can skip this section if you like, but I feel it important to give the reader some idea of the reviewer, my competency in reviewing this DAP amongst other things.

    For about a decade I have been collecting and listening to mp3 players. For awhile now I have been an avid lover of Cowon players, my personal favorite the i9+, 32gb memory, BBE and Jet Effect, 40grams in weight and a decent 20+hr battery life.
    It's an understatement to say I enjoy an EQ/DSP tweak, it's more honest to say I am an abuser of these settings. Those that like their sounds clean and neutral would be horrified to see what settings I use, and I'm too embarrassed to post them here. But alas, the ears like what the ears like and I stand by my love for BBE/Jet Effect.


    But that's not to say I don't enjoy flat neutral sound either. I think it's really important to highlight that at home, in front of the computer, I will listen to music unaided by any EQ/DSP tweaks via Foobar2000>Fiio E9+E7 USB DAC combo>Superlux HD668B cans. I don't know why but I never felt the need to reach for a tweak, everything sounded just fine as it was, the signal was also very clean with minimal hiss and I started to wonder if I could repeat such a similar thing 'on the go'.

    Now i'm no audiophile, I may go that extra bit in considering alternatives for portable music solutions than the average consumer i.e. getting past a smartphone and stock ear buds), but I’m not comfortable using well known terminology surrounding sound quality. For example, when some people have described a sound as analytical or cold, that to me has often meant boring or dull. When someone speaks of something being 'warm' that often means to me that it's more enjoyable. I don’t know, for me it just seems such words are open to misinterpretation so I will try and keep these to a minimal (for sake of being misunderstood).
    Instead I will be giving a more practical review of the Alien Shozy, something I feel more qualified to appraise giving my extensive mp3 player collection that I have amassed over the years.


    Unboxing


    [​IMG]

    Well this was an interesting experience, by far the worst boxing of a product I have ever come across (and that coming from a Cowon user is quite an achievement!).
    For starters their is a piece of decorative card that doesn't even fit in the box properly, it's bent and contorted, clearly a few mm too large to fit properly, and it's thin and flimsy, a thicker piece of decorative cardboard cut to the right size would make the thing look better in it's box, as is, it looks like a cheap Chinese knock off.
    The rear of the box is in fact the manual and specs, as there is no booklet/manual to be found. I cannot remember if there was a usb cable provided as it was awhile ago since I unboxed the thing, and there is nothing to read that says what's included in the box, but it doesn't really matter... the usb cable is just for charging the device (standard micro usb cable affair, the kind most modern android phones have), in reality I think most of us will have about 15 of these usb cables lying around the house. I have been using any I find lying around to charge the shozy, no issues.
    The packaging suggests cheap and nasty, luckily from here on it’s onwards and upwards!


    MP3, FLAC, WAV & Sound

    My first task was to actually find some way of putting music onto this device, as up to this point I have been an MP3 man all the way.
    I gave up on buying physical CDs a long time ago (I live in pretty small dwelling and just don't have the space, same for DVDs, everything is digital for me).
    I had only one recent CD purchase which was a limited 500 copy 4 disc box set by the Electronic Welsh DJ outfit band called Hybrid, so I started a rip from there. WAV was first up.
    Connecting my PFE 232's to the Alien I switched it on and waited…
    At first I thought something was wrong, as I wasn't hearing any hiss whatsoever. Usually my experience with DAPs is, upon switching on, u hear some kind of hissing/background noise as the player starts, a click or beep here or there, something to alert you to the fact that the thing was on. I got nothing, dead silence. I pulled the headphones out and put them back in; it was like I never removed them from the jack at all. And then the song started playing...

    Every time you switch the device on it will default back to stock volume level, it cannot remember where you last had the volume, so naturally on my first go it was too quiet for my ears, so i increased the volume. At first I did a long hold press on the volume + button... silly me... this is how you play/pause the device (in my mind a short press of the on/off button for play/pause made more sense, and long presses of the on/off for turning the device on and off, but there u go.
    So it had to be multiple presses of the volume + button to get it the volume I wanted.

    What’s this?! At first i thought perhaps it was a little broken, as it appeared some presses weren't being recognised, then i listened more closely, actually every press was being recorded, it’s just they were tiny increments! This was very good news (for me), I can't stand large increment volume adjustments <cough *android* cough>! Coming from Cowon (which gives 2.5% increment adjustments, the smallest I had experienced to date) I wasn't expecting this. To hazard a guess I reckon the increments sound around 1-2% steps, very small, but I like it this way, it allows me to get very close to the absolute loudest sound I can derive before distortion kicks in [​IMG]


    And a small note about volume and distortion here. This Alien goes crazy loud, I haven't managed to discover maximum volume for fear of ruining any equipment connected to (those that know me that's quite a claim)!
    Although it has plenty volume it does start distorting at a point earlier than you might expect, a bit earlier than I would have liked, but not by much. I am still able to be satisfied in a ‘max volume + no distortion’ department. I'm just saying if there is a Alien Shozy 2.1, if they could hold off on distortion at the louder volumes a tad bit longer then that would be a welcome addition.


    [​IMG]
    Anyway... where was I? Ah yes... how did it sound? Well... I was very very pleased with what I was hearing. To my ears it sounded like I was getting something very similar to the PC desktop rig I use (of which is formerly mentioned above). I was getting zero hiss and everything felt balanced and right. Not too little bass, not too much, crisp treble but not harsh, separation, detail, and comfortable soundstage, I had no complaints.

    Normally when listening to a new mp3 player I find the default Flat/Normal/Neutral settings to be dull and lifeless, almost muffled. I tend to head straight to the DSP settings and try and tweak to finding something I like, usually that's a loose V shaped signature of some description.
    With the Shozy I wouldn't describe its sound to being flat, perhaps because my ears enjoyed it so much on first hearing that suggests to me it may be more V shaped, I don’t know, I’m no expert in this regard, but I liked whatever it was I was hearing.

    And of course on the Alien there is no way to change any sound settings, WYSIWYG, and with that comes pros and cons. With no ability to tinker the sound you can only sit back and enjoy. No getting caught up with buggy UI, or being frustrated with not getting the sound signature you're trying to seek. Perhaps now being forced to listening to the song as is, maybe closely resembling what the artist intended (tho no one really knows the answer to that other than the artists themselves). But from someone who has come from a BBE/Jet Effect (ab)user this was actually a remarkable breath of fresh air! Oddly enough, when trying some songs I felt at times this was actually hitting a sound signature that sounded very similar to my own Cowon tweaked BBE sound signature… can’t be… must be all my imagination...

    But here is where the Shozy really shines. With the Alien, when shuffling a mix of various songs from various genres (more on how to do this later) I wasn't feeling as tho I needed to increase bass for this track here, or lower for this track there, everything sounded good, with no hand looking to go reaching for something to tweak.
    On my Cowon, I found when shuffling music like this, I needed to have the 4 user custom presets set in such a way to slightly change depending upon genre. Bass heavy music such as rap or hiphop needed a bit less bass emphasis, but on older heavy metal tracks benefited with more bass, so with Cowon I was constantly reaching down, tweaking the player to jump to a different preset depending upon which track came on next. I managed to get very fluid and quick in doing this, but still it was a slight pain in the ass.
    I can confidently say that this hasn't been the case with the Alien. Going from one genre to the next doesn't make me reach down for a tweak, everything is as it should be and I was really surprised by this revelation.

    So... I'm getting ahead of myself a little here, back to MP3's FLAC and WAV.
    I also tried ripping a CD to FLAC and found no audible difference (to the WAV). I wish the Shozy could take MP3's because when I played the FLAC and WAV rips of my CD against a 320kbps MP3 file, I couldn’t hear any audible difference (using Foobar with the Fiio E9+E7 USB DAC combo running through Superlux HD668B cans). I would hazard a bet that MP3's would sound just as good on the Shozy, but hey... FLAC and WAV only attracts a certain crowd right?

    I wasn't about to go and rebuy all my music collection in FLAC or WAV so I had to do a Mp3 conversion to WAV or FLAC, less than ideal. Nonetheless I used foobar to do this task and for me I can't notice any difference between a CD rip to FLAC/WAV vs a MP3 320kbps>FLAC/WAVconversion. Perhaps my ears are too stuffed to tell the difference, I dunno.. YMMV.

    In my opinion the success of this player isn't because it only plays WAV (44.1k/24B) or FLAC (44.1k/24B) but rather what's happening on the inside in combination of removing as many software/screen components that get in the way of reproducing good sound quality.

    I support this statement because when i connect my PFE 232's (which hiss very little) to my Cowon or Sansa players, even with EQ's turned off and volume low, I heara slight hiss, and more hiss when songs are actually being played. Only recently did I buy the Yamaha EPH-100's, intended for the Cowon i9+, I was disappointed, they were by far the hissiest IEM I have owned to date (to be fair they sounded pretty good if you could get past the hiss). It's a very different story however once you connect them to the Shozy, absolute zero hiss again. I threw every IEM I owned at the Shozy, I couldn't hear hiss on any of them. It just goes to show... sometimes different sources do matter.


    Functionality


    [​IMG]

    Well there's little to talk about here, having no UI means I have little to discredit. There are some gripes tho. The button placement for example, is too cramped really. The player has no resume feature, so if you have been listening for an hour and a half, accidentally hit the off button (middle one) then when you go to switch it back on you’re presented with what could be quite a few time consuming skipping of tracks to get back to where you left off. And you can't press the skip quickly either, you have to wait for each song to start playing before moving to next track. Again something that could hopefully be improved upon for the next model.
    There really is no need for such cramped button arrangement, for a player that is really going to reside in your pocket for 99% of the time, you’ll want to operate it blindly, slightly further apart button placement would help, and pronounced raised buttons so you can feel them easier.

    A bonus however is with no UI comes no library updates or refreshes. Once the card is inserted music starts playing within a few seconds.

    It's clear Shozy intended this player to have a 16 or 32gb card inserted and drag and drop albums onto the player and listen to each album sequentially, long pressing fwd button to skip entire albums.
    I had a different plan.
    I love shuffling my music. When I come across new albums and new material I will listen to the album as intended a few times, but ultimately I pick the songs I really like and add them to my 'best of' collection. And with that I often shuffle some of the songs in that best of collection depending upon what mood I'm in that day.
    With the Cowon i9+ I used their 'on the fly' solution to do this courtesy of their Favorites feature. But it was still a little fiddly and time consuming, for the Shozy I have moved to a better method, Winamp.

    I now have Winamp setup with a library consisting of only FLACs. Each morning I build a playlist of what I fancy listening to and by using Winamp to do this feels superior to any OTG fiddly player alternative. I get full album art display, no lag, less mistakes and basically finding the songs I really want i.e. a faster better playlist.
    Once I have the playlist I save it to desktop, then by using a handy little program called 'Amok Playlist Copy' it copies all the FLACs that exist in the playlist onto my micro sd card in my card reader (by the way i have a 64gb card working fine). I did a test the other day, 231 files (6gb) took 6.5 mins to copy across to the sd card (fyi).
    But now I am left with lots of song files starting with 01 xxxx.flac, 01 xxxxx.flac etc. If I were to listen as is then I would be hearing track 1 of everything in the playlist for a good long time before moving onto track 2 etc. I wanted things really shuffled, but how to do this?

    In steps my IT friend who simply says 'i can do that!' and makes a cool little script that randomises the files and allocates 0001 0002 0003 etc in front of the files to ensure they play in that randomised order. Nice.

    But I felt this wasn't enough, we can do better! A lack of resume feature made it a little painful to get to track 50 or 60 quickly after a power off, so my friend went one step further and created a GUI interface that allowed the files to be split into folders of how many files you like. This way I now had my 231 files randomised, allocated 0001 0002 0003 etc to their file names AND they were split up into folder lots of 10, 20, 30 tracks or how many you liked! Now when I resume and want to find where I left off I can long press the fwd button and skip 10, 20 or 30 songs with ease, and then single press the fwd button to find the last track heard (or rwd button if gone too far). Perfect! Thus with a little help from a friend I have circumnavigated some of Shozy's shortcomings, the lack of resume feature and no shuffle.

    The new improved ShozzyShuffler can be found here. (pw shozy)
     
    EDIT: A member on headfi (Jaker782) discovered that the Shozy can indeed Shuffle! Long pressing the volume down mode puts the player into a different playback mode.

    First long press: Album repeat mode (folder repeat)
    Second long press: Default mode
    Third long press: Song shuffle mode
    Fourth long press: Default mode

    The Shuffle mode plays everything on the SD Card and not just within a folder, so it is a true 'Shuffle All'.

    It is bizarre that the player does this and is no way advertising this fact. If you look at the specs picture above you will notice that they make an effort to point out that long pressing the volume + button acts as a play/pause but volume - button is still just volume down...
    There is actual evidence to support that one of the Shozy developers is unaware of this feature... truly a device 'out of this world' lol :S

    Ok, back to the review...

    The lack of UI for some is probably an automatic deal breaker, but if you’re brave enough and you think that you can make the Shozy work for you then I say go for it. No screen is actually quite refreshing; there is also nothing to scratch! Adding an amp might make a nice addition (tho technically double amping as the Alien has no line out), but seeing as the shozy has a very clean output I suspect it will work very well with a variety of amps.
    Something that also annoyed me about amping in the past, with previous DAPs, elastic bands or whatnot can overlap the DAPs screen etc, anchoring the two devices together can be problematic, here with the Alien we don't have that problem, no screen, no issue.

    Personally I have not used an amp with mine, no need, the Alien is powering all of my IEMs fine as is. But this is a device aimed for the IEM user specifically; if you plan to use different headphones such as cans you may very well need more power to drive them.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion

    Since owning the Shozy Alien I have not picked up another DAP. I like the sound and zero hiss too much to go back to a Cowon. I feel I have conquered the no screen limitation, it's not a big deal for me, and if you think it might be for you I encourage you to think outside the box.


    According to other users, for $200USD you're getting a player that is on par with some very expensive boutique DAPs, competing with and in some peoples opinions trumping (in sound quality only of course) even very expensive $1000 players like the AK240s.

    There is room for improvement, the 8hr battery life for one is indeed hard to swallow, but for me and my life circumstances I can make do, gone are my days of listening to music 10hrs non stop, yours may not be.


    Only you can decide whether you are ready to join the little green men...


    Summary

    Pros

    -Excellent sound quality, engaging and addictive, balanced and not lending to wanting to be tweaked in anyway. Suits a variety of genres.
    -No hiss, at least to my ears none, tested with a variety of IEMs that have pronounced hiss on other well known DAPs.
    -No screen to scratch, no distractions, no buggy firmware. (Yes i see this as a Pro!)

    -Small volume increment adjustments.
    -Plays music fairly quickly with no refresh databases to contend with.
    -Shuffle mode does exist.

    Cons

    -Lack of features and functionality that come with similar priced DAPs (namely screen/navigation assistance)
    -Buttons slightly cramped, tho in reality not a big issue, I personally have never accidentally switched off the device when meaning to pause for example.
    -No Bass or Treble control, but again perhaps that detracts from the point.
    -No Mp3 support (where in reality I would surmise it would sound as good as FLAC and WAV).
    -Short battery life.
    -Weigh's 80g. On the one hand this is a decent weight when considering the sound quality and what might actually exist inside components wise (vs competitors), but for a shuffle player this is still mighty heavy. Lighter is always better in my opinion and opens up the player to be used in a variety of different scenarios.
    -Only one folder depth possible, subfolders are not read.
    -No Shuffle or resume ability, but partially navigated around using above method.
    -No Search feature (as in skipping through a song)
    -There appears to be a max file limit for a single folder, 231 files was not read accurately with quite a few songs being omitted, splitting the 231 files into folders of 20 or 30 solved this issue (or leaving them in root).


    Unsure


    -Does the Shozy play and charge same time? I dunno.. will find out.
     
    EDIT: Yes it does, but is not advised as it may not be healthy towards the battery.

    I purchased my Shozy Alien from noisymotel, they offer excellent customer service and believe they post internationally.
      H20Fidelity and getclikinagas like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. BruceBanner
      Shozy have got back to me, you can charge the battery whilst playing but in their opinion would not be ideal towards the health of the battery.
      BruceBanner, Jan 20, 2015
    3. komomai
      Mahalo for the review BruceBanner, I just received mine from Massdrop and I'm really liking this DAP, I don't have my IEM's here at work so I'm using the Sennheiser HD600 and the AKG Massdrop K7XX and your correct about this DAP it can drive my headphones to some loud levels.  All though it doesn't need it will try it with my Fostex HPV1 portable tube amp.  I'm using the micro SD card that I have which is 128GB.  Works fine with it, once you get used to the controls it works great.  Will compare it with my A&K 240 DAP.  Mahalo again for the review.
      komomai, Jan 22, 2015
    4. BruceBanner
      :)
      BruceBanner, Jan 23, 2015
  7. Nec3
    A DAP that Tests How Much You're Willing To Sacrifice For Sound
    Written by Nec3
    Published Jan 16, 2015
    2.0/5,
    Pros - Natural Sounding, Thin Design, Light, Stylish, Details, Imaging
    Cons - Horrific durability experience
    Like all my reviews, I begin with sound and then more into personal experiences. I only write reviews when I'm totally satisfied with a product (2+ years of ownership) or if I've had my final moments with them.
     

     The sound of the Shozy Alien is very delicate and organic and has a soundstage similar to the JDS Labs ODAC/O2. Except the treble is smooth, mids are sweeter and overall clarity sounded better than the ODAC/O2. Each instrument had its' own weight and though the soundstage wasn't very expansive, the imaging on the Shozy Alien is definitely an improvement over all of my sources. It was honestly hard to convince myself that this DAP sounded better than my entire desktop setup.

    The UI wasn't complicated as I thought it would be, the only gripes is that the buttons were a bit too easy to press in my pocket. If I sat down with the Alien in my jean pant front pocket, there's a chance that a button would be depressed and pause my song.

    Unfortunately that's all I really have to say about the Shozy. Let me begin by saying that despite the 2 stars, the Shozy is an amazing DAP. I thoroughly enjoyed it for the 4 hours of the pre-charged battery that it provided me. I wanted to praise this device as much as I wanted to, but instead the Shozy left a bad taste in my wallet.

    The first issue that came up is that it didn't recognize my 8gb micro sd card that all my other devices were able to use. I tried formatting, but then after every first 5 songs a loud buzzing noise would come up and the device would freeze. I tried changing the song order but that didn't work either.
    Next I tried charging the Shozy through my USB 3.0 ports. Next thing I know there's a Windows error pop up saying that the USB port had a short circuit; that USB port is actually now fried.
    Turns out that something in the Shozy came loose and I was suggested to try re-soldering the Micro-USB port in the device. I used a T1 Pentalobe screwdriver under a microscope to unscrew the Shozy... All the screws are stripped and I'm now left with a dead alien.

    I will edit this review when I get the funds to replace the Shozy Alien, because I'm still in love with the sound this thing provided while it lasted.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Nec3
      I was using a class 6, 8gb micro sd card. I contacted the guy I bought it from. He was really friendly but stated that repairs will cost money. Unfortunately I don't have the budget for that yet.
      Nec3, Jan 16, 2015
    3. avitron142
      Class 4 8gb works fine for me, seems like you got a bad one. Try keeping in mind that most Aliens are not like this.
       
      P.S.- You said somewhere in your review "3 stars" while you only gave it two. :)
      avitron142, Jan 25, 2015
    4. Nec3
      I agree, most Aliens (if not all) Aliens are not like this, and I envy the people who got to experience the Alien for more than the 4 hours I got to use it for. I just happen to be that unlucky 1% that had everything go downhill by a lemon unit. However that won't change I had a bad experience with these =<

      Also yeah I did accidentally put in two stars. (〃 ̄ω ̄〃)ゞ
      Nec3, Jan 26, 2015
  8. avitron142
    The Prince for the Pauper
    Written by avitron142
    Published Jan 11, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Near-Endgame sound, Extremely affordable price, Design, Build Quality, VALUE.
    Cons - No screen, UI, No onboard storage, lack of MP3 Support.
    Pre-Introduction:

     

    I am in no way affiliated or work for Shozy, and for this review, I did not receive this item as a review sample. I’m a 19 year old college student who likes his music and his ears (in particular), and would hope that in the future, teens could appreciate the audiophile community the same way I do. Enjoy! 

     

    Keep in mind that all the pictures, while looking small on the page, were taken by a high-resolution camera. I just didn't want to clutter up the page with large pictures. So feel free to click on them to see them in full resolution throughout the review!

     

    Introduction:

     

    Portable players have been around for quite a while, but they have generally followed the rule of thumb – you pay for the sound you get. What that means is that if one goes cheap, he’s usually stuck with something inferior than the more expensive item. For example, the Fiio X1 lacks things the X3 has, and the X3 is not as great as the X5. But for people who can’t afford expensive gadgets and do-dads all the time – college students like me, for example – you just gotta do your research and hope that you have the best item for its price range. But the rule of thumb stays.

     

    Not today.

     

    Today, we have up for review the Shozy Alien. Frankly, before I got one, I never heard of the company, although, to be fair, I’m not knee-deep into head-fi all the time either. But I stumbled across @H20 and @shizeo ’s thread about the Alien, and started seeing post after post praising this “thing”, whatever it was. Not one post saying it sounds “meh”, or a single post not surprised about how good it sounds. I only read until page 80 (out of 125[?]), but I have delved into the thread trying to look for one person who could “see through the hype,” and came back empty handed. You can see for yourself - http://www.head-fi.org/t/733349/a-little-about-the-shozy-alien/15 Happy reading!

     

    I’ve been lucky enough to be able to receive one secondhand at a deeply discounted price, and haven’t been happier. There’s a few things you should know as background though, so let’s start with the basics.

     

    Notice: I’m going to be listing some things for a while that may make you unsure of whether the Alien has what it takes. So if you feel like giving up or having a bad impression of its capabilities in middle, please do yourself a monumental favor and scroll to the “Sound” section to really see what the Alien is all about. That’s the main point in all of this.

     

    Packaging:

     

    Forget the packaging. It’s never done anything for you, and to be honest, it’s only there in case it breaks. But for those who care, it was a pretty standard case, nothing special, as it should be. Save it for the sound, right? Here’s a photo from google since I can’t find mine at the moment:

    _1.jpg

     
    Build and Quality:

     

    As you can see in the pictures, all metal, and quite sturdy at that. In fact, mine was dropped by the first owner onto some kitchen tiles, and besides for a small dent or two (you may see it in the pictures; don’t freak out, yours doesn't come like that) no signs of wear or tear, and functionality stayed to a T for all the time I had it as well (~6 months?). So for all of you that want to run this over with a truck, look for something with a brick housing, but for all daily users and even the occasional drop, this stays fine. Plastic wears out, metal stays metal. Kudos to Shozy for making the housing of the Alien of this material. Where the parts connect, it’s very smooth, so much so it’s easy to forget that they are indeed two separate pieces (3rd picture) and be like “how in the world did they carve this?” The four screws are very small and unobtrusive.

     

    P1000730.jpg P1000733.jpg P1000734.jpg P1000738.jpg

                                                             Velcro ^^^^ on the back.
     

     
    As you’ll see from the pictures, the Alien has a unique shape, which make it really easy to hold in your hand. Unfortunately, I don’t have a great picture of me actually holding it optimally, but take my word that it’s pretty ergonomic.
    P1000735.jpg

     
    The only thing I was worried about in the beginning was that when I would tap it in different places, I would get a slightly hollow sound once in a while. However, this is probably due to the shape of the circuitry inside. Do NOT think it is loose in any way, though. I've shaken this thing more than any alcoholic mix and nothing moved around inside, so it’s safe to assume that the circuitry and mechanics are pretty well secure. Note: all dents in the picture came from the fact mine was dropped. This does not in any way reflect on Shozy.

     

    Buttons:

     

    Since this player has no screen (I’ll get to that), all functionality relies on the buttons. The 4 buttons surrounding the center are very solid and durable (metal as well), but I do feel that more attention could have been paid to the middle one. Maybe it’s only just mine, but the center button feels a bit cheap, and the click isn’t all that satisfying. However, it works, which is really why it’s there. I’m nitpicking too, because for the price, there’s nothing I know of that comes close to the general build of the buttons. Most others are plastic, these are metal. I feel like I’m taking that for granted already. The buttons look a bit small when you first get the Alien, but for a normal sized hand like mine, it’s spaced finely and I never mix up the buttons. As for what the buttons do:

     

    Middle: On/Off. Done.

     

    Up: Raises volume, when held pauses the song.

     

    Right: skips to next song, when held skips to the next folder.

     

    Left: Same as the Right, just backwards.

     

    Down: Now this is a big one, because for a while, everyone thought it just decreases volume. But it has a few more uses too; here we go:

     

    First long press: Album repeat mode (folder repeat)

    Second long press: Default mode

    Third long press: Shuffle mode

    Fourth long press: Default mode

     

    The general playback is straight, not shuffle, so this was a pretty big breakthrough. But more on that in the next section.

     

    DSCN4599.jpg

     
    Size and Portability:

     

    Much smaller than my hand. Not Ipod nano 6th gen. small by any means, but still pretty convenient. It looks a lot bigger in the pictures, so here's some comparison pictures for you to get a general idea:

    P1000756.jpg P1000727.jpg P1000736.jpg P1000737.jpg

    DSCN4601.jpg DSCN4607.jpg DSCN4608.jpg DSCN4684.jpg

    First picture, from left to right: Heir Audio Rendition 1 Amp, Shozy Alien, Fiio E12, Cowon J3. The screen player in the other pictures is the Cowon J3.
     
    Compared to the much more expensive players (more on that later) that people end up saying are better technically (more on that later too), the Alien really is portable. Keep in mind the size as well when we get to the sound comparisons later.
     

    UI and Playback:

     

    So here’s how it is. It has no screen. No screen, but it's more of a pro than a con. Hear me out, please. You’ll see why.

     

    Count me in the camp who bashed at the Shozy Alien time and time again for not having a screen and *still* only getting 8 hours of battery, and one of those who scoffed at head-fi when people said it’s actually a *plus* not to have a screen, but I do find I'm enjoying my music more without having to look at the screen and be like "which song is this?". Honestly, it’s something to get used to, but a lot of delight once you do get used to it.

     

    You’re an audiophile? Then use your ear. It’s definitely better than being prejudiced against a song because of its name or artist.

     

    For that reason, I should say that the Alien should only be used for your top 10-20 albums, at most, since navigation can only be one folder at a time. The way you have to deposit your folders into the SD card of the Alien can only be one folder deep. Meaning you can’t have a folder within a folder, or else it won’t read it. You can have songs on the surface, and folders (with songs in them) on the surface. But a folder with a folder in it on the surface won’t work. Basically, only have one folder deep at most.

     

    Startup takes 2-5 seconds, which can be annoying at first but becomes fine after a while. Clicking does what it’s supposed to do, without any problems in my experience. Unfortunately, the Alien starts from the beginning every time it turns on, so if you accidentally turn it off in middle of a song, you have to navigate back to it. I’ve never so far turned it off by accident, and I’m not that meticulous when reaching for the buttons either. But if you plan on putting 2 hour orchestras or compilations on the Alien, look elsewhere. To my knowledge, there’s no way to navigate to the middle of a song, so you skip by accident, game over. Adding a fast-forward button is perhaps something I would greatly appreciate if Shozy did in the future; most of the other DAP’s I’ve handled has that feature by default.

     

    Here’s my understanding of the light on the Alien and what it means (per color):

    Playing: blue/green

    Pause: blue

    Battery empty: green

    Charging while off: red

    Finished charging while off: no light

     

    P1000739.jpg P1000740.jpg

     
    SD Card and Storage:

     

    This seems also like a bummer when you first hear about it. No onboard storage. Everything comes from the MicroSD Card. You can’t even access the MicroSD from the Alien, you have to put it into the computer. The world has ended.

     

    Fear not, there’s hope for the Illuminati.

     

    All jokes aside, let’s remember what the primary purpose of the Alien is. For your 10-20 very best albums. Even if they’re all Flac (stay tuned, this will be important later), it’s not going to be more than ~16-32 gb. Honestly, I never used any of the onboard storage of any of my other players. Why would I use the 4gb in the Sansa Clip Sport or the 8gb in the Cowon J3 if I could just load everything onto a 64gb MicroSD for $20? In my opinion, it’s a lot easier not having to keep track of two separate storages, one of them being small. I think some other DAP’s also eliminated onboard storage, but I haven’t checked to see which ones. To me, a minor detail considering the rest of the things you might want to focus on. Why did Shozy do this? I personally think it’s to keep the circuitry as clean as possible so that the sound can stay as mind-blowing as it is.

     

    DSCN4596.jpg DSCN4597.jpg

     
     

    File Types:

     

    The one bummer, to me, is that the Alien only plays Flac and WAV, not MP3. For most of you on head-fi, however, I doubt your 10 best albums are in any format other than SACD and Flac, but then again, maybe some of yours are. Conversion seems like a pain, but consider that foobar converted 80 of my quality mp3’s to high quality WAV’s in 40 seconds; .5 seconds per song (and no, I do not have a supercomputer). So although a folder of 80 songs may be really frustrating to navigate through, you can convert your 10 best MP3’s to WAV or FLAC in seconds. It’s more of an initial inconvenience than anything; you do it once and then you’re done. Now if the player had a screen, then MP3 support would be so much more crucial, as you would be loading a ton more songs onto it. But where it stands, it’s more than fine, and all worth it for the sound. Almost there.

     

    Battery Life:

     

    Battery life is pretty short compared to my J3; only 8 hours per charge, although I’m pretty confident Shozy is being cautious in their specs because I get around 9-10 hours. I actually contacted somebody from the Shozy team to ask why is it only this much when there’s no screen, and he actually showed me that the battery is quite a capable one. So it’s actually the power the Alien needs to eat (ugh) to keep the sound as spacious and as grand as it does, rather than Shozy skimping out. Remember that the Fiio X5 only gets 10 hours and the DX90 only 8.5 hours, and that the Alien sounds better than both of the- whoops -not yet, not yet. No spoilers until the sound section.

     

    Headphones to drive/Not to Drive? – Power Output and Impedance:

     

    Specifications:

    File support : 16 & 24bit wav and flac files at 44.1khz

    Headphone impedance range: 8-32 Ohms

    Signal to Noise Ratio: > 98dB

    Output Power:2 * 55mW(16 Ohms)

    Battery runtime:~ 8 hours

    Charging Time:~ 2 hours

    External power supply:5V DC

     

    As you can see by the output power, it’s not meant for full size headphones above, about, 35-40 ohms I would say. It’s a portable player, and works best with IEM’s. Now, I’m not really much of an IEM guy, so although I do have a pair or two, I’m going to be using this with a full on home-based headphone a lot of the time. How? Use an amp, and a good one at that.

     

    Because I spent months moving up the chain (relatively, anyway) of amplifiers, from the Topping NX1 to the Fiio E18 to the Fiio E12, and just yesterday to the Heir Audio Rendition 1 amp (which I will hopefully review soon), and it still gets better each time. Once I reached the E12 I thought I was doing well with the DAP-Amp-Headphone match, but then a few people told me I’m limiting the Alien’s magic, and they were right, although I hate to admit it. The E12 with the Alien sounded *amazing*, and I mean that. But it scales up really well, so if you’re going to be using an amp with this, keep in mind that for a good while, the DAP will probably be better than the amp. For anyone on a budget though, the E12 still does really well with the Alien, don’t get me wrong on that.

     

    (Volume:)

     

    Another thing to note is that the Alien, although not enough to power powerful headphones, can get really loud. Like, really loud. Much louder than the Clip Sport, or the Cowon J3 could even get close to. But I have to warn you that if you tune the volume all the way up, which you won't if you want to keep your ears intact, it distorts quite a bit. How do I know? Because I was trying to amp this with the E12 and the K7XX's, and as a rule, if it's not a line out, I try maxing the volume on the player before I go to the amp knob. This you will need to set it a few levels before the max, which is fine since even on average volume my E12 was still only on the 10 o'clock mark (outta 5 p.m., so to speak). A few levels before the maximum volume on the Alien is still crazy loud, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

     

    Keep in mind that the Alien is a great source player if you want to enjoy your music, and you could pair it up with a top tier amp and, say, a HE-6 and be really happy. With an AKG K7XX (like me) or a HD600, paired with a good desktop amp, you can really do well. But we’ll talk about that in the next two sections.

     

    Drumroll, please:

     

    Sound:

     

    This is where it’s at. Page 7 so far in Microsoft Word and my eyes are basically bleeding, for this. First, let’s put this up against a few other players sound wise to give you a general idea:

     

    Sansa Clip +/Zip/Sport: Wut? U mad?

    Ipod: Okay, next.

    Cowon J3: My beloved, favorite player until I got the Alien; Alien wins night and day.

    DX50: Alien wins.

    DX90: consensus has it that Alien wins again. A bit of a tricky one though.

    Fiio X3: Alien (duh).

    Fiio X5: Still the Alien.

     

    Okay, let’s get serious. Time for the big boys, shall we?

     

    Astell & Kern AK120: getting closer, some rather the Alien over this, some aren’t so sure. Definitely not a one-sided win here. http://www.head-fi.org/t/733349/a-little-about-the-shozy-alien/1620#post_11446627 Other reviews say that it actually paces the AK120 in the sound department.

    Astell & Kern AK120 Titan: Only have one legitimate reviewer’s opinion on it, but according to his friends, the AK has more microdetails but the Alien wins “in the sound quality department.”

    Astell & Kern AK100ii: I haven’t listened myself, this person has http://www.head-fi.org/t/733349/a-little-about-the-shozy-alien/600#post_11170299 he picks the Alien over the AK “nine times out of ten”, because although the AK may be better in most regards, the Alien has an addictive sound to it that's hard to let go of. Another person says that they prefer the AK100 Mk2. Yet another says he A/B’ed the 2 and enjoyed the Alien more unamped. http://www.head-fi.org/t/733349/a-little-about-the-shozy-alien/510#post_11155219

    Astell & Kern AK240: I would think we’re abusing our right to compare here, but they say that although the AK240 is more detailed and refined than the Alien, the Alien’s not lagging too far behind. Others say they’re roughly in the same area SQ wise. Either way, the takeaway from this is that the Alien's sound is nothing to laugh about.

     

    Essentially, even if you want to say most of these are from Alien fans, keep in mind most of them have sold off/traded at least the earlier players mentioned once they got their Alien. And I remember most of them being highly skeptical in getting a Shozy Alien because they had the AK player. When it comes to the AK players the comparisons get a little more intangible, and the A&K players are from 5-10 times the price, but it’s good to know that the Alien isn't a complete letdown even compared to those. Remember the form factor of this little thing as well. Comparing this to the A&K players isn't much of a fair fight to begin with, considering this is thinner than a Fiio E12. The A&K, on the other hand, is built to satisfy all music listeners, even the ones looking for the microdetails that the Alien may or may not provide.

     

    The sound of the Alien has been described as organic and natural to its best. No more “okay” sounding music, unless it’s your music, that is. The Alien took everything I’ve personally thrown at it to another level; the first day I got it, I listened to the OCRemix album “Deus Ex: Sonic Augmentation” on a loop for 4 hours straight. For 4 hours straight! And I was grinning the entire time.

     

    Because, to quote from Shozy, there’s “no OS, no fancy UI, no memory in-built & no card reading circuit; All we can give you is the best replay quality we can squeeze out for the price.” And that they have. Well. Really, really, well. Do you want an end game DAP for less than $1000? Then this is it. Hundreds of posts on the Alien thread could confirm everything I’ve said until now, and more. The highs are natural, mids natural, bass natural, and it all flows. It’s all organic. It sounds like it was meant to be. Soundstage is spot on, imaging is perfect. Details are vivid. Microdetails aren’t Summit-fi quality, but still great nonetheless. To me, though, the immersion factor is its crowning glory. Because it’s so organic and natural, you get sucked into it in the first 5 seconds, again and again. To me, it never gets old. And when I go back to my Cowon J3 (for some reason [?]), I get annoyed with the sound until I realize it’s the player, not my headphones being plugged in wrong. Who needs every microdetail, when you get melted into the music as the Alien does? That’s why I think, imho, people will be picking this up 9 times out of 10. It has an immersion factor that actually makes you comfortable with the music, which is something no one wants to give up on.

     

    I have not tried hard/soft rock, rap, or pop, as I'm not a fan of any of those genres. But for acoustics/instrumental, classical, electronic, vocals, piano and violin, and edm I can affirm them all, so there's no reason the Alien wouldn't take the cake with the few genres I haven't listened to on it. I would like to say that the Alien sounds best with real instruments, so I don't look like I'm glossing over the sound part, but honestly it's just not true. It takes all my well made electronic music and makes it sing as well. 

     

    Frankly, I have no idea how Shozy pulled this off. I don’t know how anyone could have pulled this off. I thought everyone was pulling my leg when they said it sounds more amazing than almost anything else. But here I am, addicted to the Alien, writing a review on it that’s longer than my Comp. 2 research paper.

     

    They’ve gone miles ahead than anything within its price range – oh, what? You want to know how this is priced? Must be super expensive, considering all that I have said, right? …he probably meant $500 when he said on a budget…

     

    Price and Value:

     

    $170. A. hundred. and. seventy. dollars. Really? Could this be any more of a smack to the other audiophile players? You get what you pay for, so a sub-$200 DAP beats the daylights out of the $500 range ones and still is competitive up to over $1000 sound wise speaking. I will never go into business again. This time, the rules have failed. By eliminating the extra luxuries, Shozy created a circuit that is top notch at what it does, and is very cheap for its performance as well.

     

    Price? Ipods cost more than this. Value? You all know by now my position on that. I’m sitting here at 1 in the morning, writing for 5 hours straight because although I have not found the cure for cancer, here may be something that can relieve the stress until then. For all you hardworking fathers that enjoy your music, for all the teenage college students that are on a serious budget, this should be on the top of your list. Does it have a screen? No. UI? Meh. Built in memory? Not a chance. Mp3 support? Nope. But it excels at what you buy it for in the first place, which is to play music. You can’t afford an AK? Here’s the next best thing. Be a minimalist. Enjoy your music like you should. Shozy has broken the system for DAP’s, and we can all enjoy that now.

     

    Conclusion:

     

    I would recommend this 100% to people on the go that want their audiophile tastes intact. However, for people who use their players a lot (4+ hours a day) on the road, or have all their music in Mp3 form, you might want a backup player for ALL your music. Case in point: I picked up a Cowon J3 (with a 60 hour battery life) for $120, and the Alien for about the same price. Although I will choose the Alien sound wise any day, it’s good that I have the J3 just in case I do want a screen. The Sansa Clip Sport for sub-$40 serves this purpose great as well. And you know what, I’m never actually using my J3 these days. I’d rather listen to basically the same albums over again on the Alien; goes against what I stand for, but nothing I can do about it. But for someone who does want a player both for their home setup and for their portable rig when they do go out an hour or so to work every day, you really cannot go wrong with this DAP.

    Is it the best player out there? I'm sure there's better.

     

    But why fret over the Abyss when you have the HD800's? [​IMG]

     

    I am happy with my music. Goal achieved.

     

    Fin.

     

    -Avishai

     

    More picture(s):

    P1000729.jpg

      H20Fidelity, mgunin and jatergb like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. avitron142
      Aye, if it has to come in fourth to a 600,900, and 1900 dollar DAP I'm quite satisfied. Really, there will always be something better (near-endgame sound :D) but the trick is finding something that is close enough to make you happy. 
      I don't know about the cayin, but the other's, like you said, don't seem very "portable" except in the sense that their battery operated, lol. 
       
      Also, as somebody with an extremely limited budget, the fact that the Alien is so affordable is just amazing to me. To me, It's not just "good for it's price", like many products, but truly quite "good". That's why I'm such a fan.
      avitron142, May 16, 2015
    3. BruceBanner
      Good review.
      BruceBanner, May 19, 2015
    4. avitron142
      avitron142, May 19, 2015
  9. AudioGG
    Amazing Sound from space??
    Written by AudioGG
    Published Dec 27, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound, so natural, portable and it's looks are out of this world
    Cons - Takes some time getting use to having no UI
    Well I only had it for a week now and being listening to it about 3-5 hours a day even before I go to bed yes this is how good it is to me. My only other DAP's I have it to compare to are the DX50 and Fiio X1 my current HP list are Havi B3 Pro, DN 2000, A83 ( only had them for a week) HD650, Q701 and ATH M50 which I took a bit of time test it with them all. The HD650 and Q701 were amped with the Cayin C5 which sound good and clean even while double amped. The Alien sound is very clean and spacious it made my DX50 and X1 sound thin and somewhat artificial if you can call it that. I was surprise by the power it provided to my both iem and my m50's even could power my HD650 to a listening level but without dynamic and once over a certain level it would just distort. Definitely on another level compared to both of my other DAP's, really brought out more from my HP. Would recommend this DAP to anyone who is looking for a WAV and FLAC files player only, which didnt bother me at all if the sound is this good. MP3 can be converted with unnoticeable sound difference and the only bad thing was for me is learning to have no UI again is quite annoying at 1st. 


    Edit: So a update on the sound with over 100+hours of listening the bass is very clean mids and highs are very balanced they all come across neutral nothing jumps out at you like my dx50 where the highs are much apparent and brighter sounding. I've being getting over 8-9 hours out of the battery life which is good the alien charges pretty quick so that's a plus. The unit is very solid and for the price and sound you get, its right on the money but a price drop wouldn't be bad either as some might be hesitant.
  10. Loquah
    Shozy Alien - A Brilliant Screenless DAP
    Written by Loquah
    Published Dec 22, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Beautiful design, compact size, rich organic sound, very well priced
    Cons - Slight hiss with sensitive IEMs

    Overview

     
    [​IMG]The Alien is a well-priced (~$250 AUD), compact, screenless player that plays only WAV and FLAC files – no MP3, no AAC, just the two major lossless options. For some people that will be an instant turn-off, but others may realise that this dedication to limited formats means a possible emphasis on playing those formats flawlessly – that’s what I was hoping for.
     

    Specifications

     
    1. Recommended headphone impedance:  8 – 32 ohms
    2. Signal to noise:  >98dB
    3. Power:  2 x 55mW (into 16 ohms)
    4. Battery life:  8 hours
    5. Charge time:  2 hours
     
    The specifications I’ve seen published all say the Alien is designed for up to 32Gb microSD cards, but testing with a 64Gb card (formatted in FAT32 mode) proved that it works with larger sizes, however, the navigation system means that I would never want to use it with anything more than about 10-12 albums at a time and therefore a 32Gb card is plenty large enough.
     

    Design & Functionality

     

    Build Quality

     
    [​IMG]The Alien, like everything else I’ve seen from Shozy, is beautifully built. The main body of the device is machined from aluminium into a futuristic shape somewhat similar to the embellished hilt of a sword. It may be surprising to hear / read that the Alien is very comfortable to hold despite its slightly angular shape. The angles and points on the device are all gently rounded – just enough to make them smooth to hold while maintaining the striking aesthetics that set the Alien apart from anything else in the market (except perhaps the uniquely shaped AK240).
     
    The Alien is screwed together with some tiny iPhone style screws on the back where another perfectly machined sheet of aluminium nestles impeccably into the main casing. The Alien is a flawless example of metal work and precision design – you couldn’t fit a piece of paper into the seams on this device, the tolerances are that tight. (The rubber feet shown in the image to the right are not included with the Alien.)
     

    Interface

     
    [​IMG]A large part of your enjoyment (or fury) with a screenless device is its interface because there are no visual cues to tell you what’s going on. The Alien employs a simple 4 way, ring shaped rocker button with a central toggle button. The central button is a simple on / off button which is slightly recessed inside the ring button to prevent accidental power-downs. This is particularly helpful because the Alien always starts from the beginning when powering up, so accidentally switching it off could be an infuriating error if you’re halfway through an album. On a couple of occasions the recessed power button has made switching the device on / off in my pocket a little tricky, but I’d prefer that to mid-session restarts.
     
    The 4-way rocker switch is an intuitive +/- volume (up and down) and skip forward / back (right and left) setup. The + button also acts as pause with a long press and the forward / back buttons can skip tracks (short press) or folders (long press). It’s a simple setup that’s relatively effective except for one tiny issue. I’ve found that almost every time I try to pause the player (and sometimes when I just want to alter the volume) the close proximity of the buttons, and possibly the shape of the rocker button, results in me skipping tracks or folders instead of pausing or changing the volume. I expect this is something I’ll become better at over time, but in the short term it’s mildly frustrating and calls for significant care when activating either function, especially during in-pocket use.
     
     

    Loading Files

     
    [​IMG]The Alien doesn’t interact with your PC (or Mac) in any way shape or form so you can’t access the microSD card via USB and will need to use a card reader to load the files for your Alien. I imagine this was done for one (or both) of two reasons: either to keep the costs of production down or to keep avoid the use of potentially noise-inducing components inside the Alien. I’ve found that it hasn’t really prevented my enjoyment of the device in any way, but it has resulted in me leaving the house with a fully-charge Alien, a pair of my favourite earphones, and no memory card on a couple of occasions. Needless to say, 2 such events was enough to teach me to always double-check that my Alien is loaded with a card before walking out the door.
     

    Folder Layout

     
    Because of the screenless interface as described above, the way you arrange your music files is pretty key on the Alien. You need to have your files in separate folders (unless you want them all together) and these folders need to sit in the root directory of your memory card. If you have folders within folders, the Alien won’t read anything below the top most level so be aware of how you structure your files and folders.
    An example of the folder structure I’ve found best with the Alien would be:
     
    microSD\Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms1 – So Far Away.wav
    microSD\Muddy Waters – Folk Singer1 – My Home Is In The Delta.wav
     
    In my setup, each folder is named by the artist and then album name with the individual tracks numbered and named inside each folder. Technically you could just have track numbers and nothing else if you wanted to, but I find having all the info makes browsing the card on my computer easier.
     

    Audio Formats

     
    The Alien works perfectly with both WAV and FLAC files, but is tuned for WAV files. I have tested identical copies of both WAV and FLAC and while it’s possible that there may be a tiny sound difference, it’s not sufficient that I could say one is better than the other and may just be placebo so feel free to use whichever format you prefer as I don’t think you’ll really know the difference.
    The Alien can also handle 24-bit audio, but with limited sample rates so it’s not a player for those who want DSD, DXD or even 192kHz compatibility. That said, it sounds so good with standard 44/24 audio that I haven’t really bothered with 24-bit audio other than to test that it works.
     
    A friend and I have encountered some minor glitches with random FLAC files being ‘invisible’ to the Alien. We’re not sure why this happens yet, but I can only assume that any minor glitches or corruption in the encoding process may be enough to make the Alien ignore the file and skip to the next track on the card.
     

    Lack of MP3 Support

     
    If you have a lot of MP3 files in your collection you might want to consider your conversion and card-loading methods before jumping on the Alien bandwagon. Software like MediaMonkey and Foobar (and probably JRiver) offer easy on-the-fly conversion as you load a memory card so in these cases it’s easy to convert MP3s to WAV for the sake of Alien playback. That doesn’t mean you’re getting lossless audio quality because the WAV file created from an MP3 can never be better than the MP3, but this approach will allow flawless playback on your Alien.
     

    Different Impedance Headphones

     
    I’ve tried the Alien now with a wide range of headphones. It is specifically designed for lower impedance IEMs and small headphones so it’s not going to drive full-sized cans with the authority of a proper amplifier, but that’s not what it’s for – it’s a maximum portability audio device so it’s optimised for highly portable ‘phones like in-ears and compact portable headphones. So far, the Alien performs beautifully with any in-ears I’ve tried it with and also with the moderate impedance Alessandro MS-1s. With higher loads like the 50 ohm Thinksound On1 and 80 ohm Beyerdynamic DT1350 I could hear that the Alien wasn’t squeezing every last bit of performance from the headphones, but they remained highly enjoyable even if not maxed out performance-wise.
     

    A Little Hiss

     
    With lower impedance in-ears the Alien produces a faintly audible hiss during very quiet moments. Friends of mine have been unable to hear this though so it might be something that’s only of concern to those who are particularly sensitive to treble and hiss. For 98% of my listening the hiss is completely inaudible so it’s nowhere near a deal breaker and it’s completely inaudible with headphones so don’t let the hiss put you off.
     

    Amping

     
    [​IMG]I received a recommendation to try the Alien with an amplifier and have to say that it is an incredibly good piece of advice! Despite not having a dedicated line out, the Alien makes for a brilliant source when paired with a quality amplifier. Normally, double-amping (feeding an external amp via an already-amplified headphone out) detracts from the sound, but the Alien’s headphone out is of such excellent quality that things just get better when amping. Because of the high impedance of an amplifier (normally 1000s of ohms versus the <100 ohm of most ‘phones), the hiss I mentioned above is completely gone when using an external amplifier so that’s another bonus in addition to the external amp’s ability to drive a much wider range of loads including full-size, power-hungry cans.
     
    Beware if you’re using an external amp with the Alien that it needs to be an excellent amp with outstanding transparency and imaging or you are liable to lose some of the Alien’s magic. I wanted to save this revelation until the next section, but it’s important to mention here. This player offers exceptional sound in terms of space, transparency and resolution so if your amp isn’t top notch you’ll be losing out on what the Alien can offer – choose your amp wisely!
     

    Sound

     
    [​IMG]I’ve already let the cat out of the bag, but the Alien sounds amazing! Shozy’s decision to design a player with no screen, no internal card reader (to access the card with your PC / Mac), no onboard memory, and only FLAC / WAV support has resulted in a beautiful, organic sounding device that presents the music as a perfect, coherent whole with no distractions to remind you you’re listening to a recording. The Alien presents a sound that is realistic, spacious and rich – a sound that contains oodles of detail, but without flaunting anything.
     
    From top to bottom, the Alien’s sound is as close to flawless as you are likely to find for less than $1000. Top notch gear in the upper price echelons may offer slightly more micro details, but you’d only notice it with direct comparisons. In isolation, the Alien just sings like a perfect, extra-terrestrial angel and any shortcomings are completely invisible without direct comparison.
     
    The bass extends deep with excellent control. Mids are clean and liquid without any sense of emphasis or added lushness, and the treble is smooth and extended. If I had to pick one area where the Alien might colour the sound slightly it would be the treble, but I’m not sure about this – you see the treble is extended, but super smooth so I can’t tell if the player tilts towards a hint of warmth or if it is neutral, but smooth. Smoothness versus roll-off is often hard to judge, but to my mind, the Alien offers a sound that is very similar to the Matrix X-Sabre DAC which is generally considered a little warm so perhaps the Alien is warmer than neutral or perhaps it’s just not dry. Either way, it’s highly enjoyable and completely realistic sounding.
     
    One of the biggest strengths of the Alien in my opinion is its staging. The Alien throws a stage that is at once huge and coherent. Auditory cues are perfectly placed in a large, open space that seems to extend equally in all directions and each sound is clearly defined and focussed within that space. If you have ‘phones that have good imaging abilities, the Alien will reward you with a marvelous experience.
     

    Comparisons

     
    I really only had one comparison to the Alien that’s even close to fair (disregarding my iPods and Walkman because they’re not in the same league) and that’s the FiiO X5. At the time of writing this I no longer have my X5 because the Alien made it completely obsolete for my purposes – that’s how far ahead of the X5 the Alien’s sound is. Of course the X5 offers features that are miles ahead of the Alien in some regards: two microSD slots for up to 256Gb of storage, a simple visual interface, more output power, digital out, line-out, DAC functionality and OTG capabilities, but all of that meant nothing to me once I heard the difference in sound.
     
    As I stated in my review, the X5 is an outstanding portable player for all of the reasons above, especially at its price, but the sound, while good, never quite wowed me in the way the Alien managed to even within the first few seconds. When comparing the headphone outs of both players, the X5 has more power, but the sound always seemed flat (spatially). The staging from the X5 is very accurate, but the sound all occurs in quite a tight space stretched from left to right. With the Alien I heard a sense of depth that made the music seem instantly real whereas the X5 remained an excellent, but artificial reproduction of the music.
     
    The quality of the Alien’s treble is another element that set it apart from the X5. The X5’s treble carried a slight edge that I could never fully enjoy – it’s a subtlety, but there’s just something about it that falls short of perfect to my ears. The Alien’s smoothness made me think that the X5 may convey slightly more detail in the music, but I consistently enjoyed the Alien more than the X5 so any potential loss of these miniscule details is irrelevant. In fact, I think the amazing presentation offered by the Alien makes it easier to listen into the music in a way that the flat “wall” of sound from the X5 can’t so there’s a trade-off: the X5 might offer 1-2% more micro-details, but with the Alien I can actually enjoy more details so it was a simple choice for me.
     

    Conclusion

     
    For around $250 AUD here in Australia, the Shozy Alien offers astounding sound quality and impeccable build quality for portable audio with small headphones and earphones. It is a study in simplicity and focus that results in a near-perfect device. You need to be comfortable using a device with no shuffle function and no screen, but adapting to this approach will reward you with one of the most enjoyable truly pocket-sized sources you are ever likely to hear. I am personally loving the fact that the Alien makes me think consciously about which files to load and which albums I want to listen to. Gone for me are the days of shuffling 4000+ tracks and I’m loving the focussed enjoyment of rediscovering my music collection on whole album at a time. Of course, with the way the Alien is designed, you can create whichever folders you like so you can still create your own mixes if you want to (you don’t have to arrange your music by artists / albums).
     
    In the end, all that matters is that once you load a memory card, plug in your ‘phones and fire up the Alien all you be able to think about is the incredible realism and engagement offered by the music pouring out of the Alien and straight into your ears.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. dcfac73
      Just put in my order on ebay. Damn You All To Hell Headfi!!!
      dcfac73, Jan 7, 2015
    3. EmpJ
      Awesome review @Loquah! I'm really loving this DAP as well other than there being no screen, and having to sift through all the folders and songs to get to the one I want. 
       
      But being that we live in a world of constant screens and gadgets and the fact that my attention span is like 7 seconds...lol...it's nice to have a device that forces you to be patient. Not sure if anyone relates to this. But I see this product as being a great toy to bring around to the park, or to sit on your deck chair and just listen to the music. 
       
      No screens, no UI to be pissed about, just albums and sound. 
       
      Very cool indeed.
      EmpJ, Jan 7, 2015
    4. JWizzlez
      Can anyone give further feedback on how the UI navigation works? Do you just have to hear the first second of the song in each album ot know where you are? I feel like this is only really useful if you put a lot of effort into tracking the file management or if you just want to let go and let the music pick you. But from what I'm seeing, the sound quality is closer to the level of an Astell & Kern DAP or Sony NX DAP, but significantly cheaper.
      JWizzlez, Mar 30, 2016