1. ExpatinJapan
    4.0/5,
    "Shozy Alien+"
    Pros - basically superb and high quality sound.
    A rich, full, musical, dynamic, natural and detailed sound, or an accurate, linear, neutral, deep and layered sound, physical buttons, basic UI, solid build
    Cons - (Or Pros depending in your outlook) No balanced out, no touchscreen, no wifi, no apps, no streaming, no internal memory, no case, sharpish corners, simple UI, buttons.
    Shozy Alien+ Review
    - Expatinjapan

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    Shozy Alien+ and Shozy Zero earphones


    Shozy Alien+ review
    -expatinjapan

    For a full list of features and information please visit:
    http://www.shozy-hk.com/alien/

    In this age of touch screens, streaming and a wealth of daps of all shapes, sizes and prices to choose from Shozy once again chooses the route less traveled of simplicity and a dedication to quality sound.

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    Specifications and information

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    Unboxing and build

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    USB cable for charging and data transfer.

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    Nice physical metal buttons.

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    "Ultra fine sand blasting and polishing.
    Extreme high precision CNC body and back lid.
    High strength aluminum body"

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    "Laser engraved"

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    "High strength screws"

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    Saurons eye!. Line out/Optical port.


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    3.5mm Headphone out

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    Smexy highlighted edges. Not as sharp as they appear to the eye.

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    Analog volume wheel

    Shozy website information
    http://www.shozy-hk.com/alien/

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    http://www.shozy-hk.com/downloads/ Firmware updates and also USB DAC function download.
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    Firmware releases and updates
    http://www.shozy-hk.com/downloads/

    ALIEN+ Firmware
    Download (Sep 2017 firmware release with DAC function added)
    *Enter the DAC mode by holding the middle enter button and turn on Alien+
    Download (July 2017 firmware release)

    Instruction:
    Place the file Alien+.1573 under root folder ( of a fat 32 format micro sd card ),
    hold the right button and turn on your Alien+ unit,
    automatically it will bring you to system update page and finish the update in a few secs.

    *DAC function at present works with Windows but not OS. (To be added later).
    Size comparison

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    Alien Gold, Alien+ and Apple ipod touch 5G.

    Alien+ Vs Alien Gold Notes, using the Campfire Audio series for coherency.
    Gain set at mid.
    Sharp roll-off filter
    All using stock ALO Audio Litz cable
    Volume matched using a SPL meter.

    Campfire Audio Nova
    Alien+ -
    More balanced overall
    More micro details
    depth and width
    Alien Gold
    A bit more roll off in the treble
    Natural
    Smooth

    Campfire Audio Jupiter
    Alien+
    Deeper
    Blacker background
    fuller sound
    larger sound stage
    Alien Gold
    Smooth
    still that treble roll off.

    Campfire Audio Andromeda
    Alien+
    Deep
    excellent sound stage
    good instrument separation
    more effortless
    Alien Gold
    Vocals too forward
    softer approach

    *I swapped around a bit with some of the Alien+ filters, but the results were largely the same.

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    Headphone switcher, Alien Gold and Alien+ daps, ALO Audio SXC 8 mini to mini cables and Campfire Audio IEMs. All volume matched.

    Price
    The Shozy Alien+ retails at US$435.00

    Sound
    As usual I got a decent amount of hours on the Alien+ before embarking upon the review to please all parties on either sides of the burn in divide.
    A variety of earphones (some pictured), places and situations were used during the testing and listening.
    I used mainly FLAC files.

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    Shozy Alien+ and Campfire Audio Dorado

    The Shozy Alien+ wasn't my first experience of a Shozy dap having reviewed the Shozy Alien Gold previously many moons ago https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/03/shozy-gold-alien-dap-review-expatinjapan.html

    Shozy has their own particular philosophy and ideas when it comes to the design of a dap, but their adherence to producing an item that excels in producing beautiful reproductions of music tracks is congruent with the belief system that its the sound that matters most.

    The Shozy Alien+ follows in that tradition and is an improvement over the organic and natural sounding Shozy Alien Gold. For one it has a screen! That in itself sets it above its predecessor.

    The Alien+ and the Alien Gold are altogether two different styles of machines when it comes to listening.
    The Alien+ packs the AK4495SEQ dac and a 24 volt PSU, plus 32 bit bit processing filters, a change from the recent popular AK4490 dac that many daps were using with its forgiving natural and smooth edges.
    The AK380 uses a dual AK4490 and the newer SP1000 uses a dual AK4497.

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    Shozy Alien+ and Kinera H3


    When one plugs their earphones into the Alien+ one is enveloped in a maze of complementary opposing forces.

    There are four filters which makes things a bit more confusing and increases work for a reviewer.

    Gain - Mid.
    All using stock ALO Audio Litz cable.
    Volume matched with a SPL meter.

    *Campfire Audio Andromeda

    Sharp roll-off filter
    Meant to be the purest setting- Well balanced, linear, neutral but not lifeless.

    Slow roll-off filter
    A bit softer on the top end, a little dark in the lower reaches. Similar to the Sharp filter

    Short delay sharp roll-off filter
    Very sparkly in the top end, treble stretched out to infinity. Clear, a sound that could be addictive but fatiguing over time.

    Short delay slow roll-off filter
    Similar to above, with a bit of low end warmth

    *Campfire Audio Jupiter

    Sharp roll-off filter
    Meant to be the purest setting- nicely balanced. Usual V style, but smooth. vocals center stage.
    Brings out the beauty and potential of the Jupiter.

    Slow roll-off filter
    increase in low end sub bass, similar to the above.

    Short delay sharp roll-off filter
    Lighter top end, cymbals and guitars/strings take center stage, more sub bass

    Short delay slow roll-off filter
    Top end extended, vocals forward, a bit darker/deeper overall in the low end.


    *Campfire Audio Nova

    Sharp roll-off filter
    Meant to be the purest setting - Bit dark in the top end with the (XXx sig) Nova

    Slow roll-off filter
    very similar to the above

    Short delay sharp roll-off filter
    Nice and balanced with the (XXx) Nova. Great match.

    Short delay slow roll-off filter
    Very similar to the above, with a slight more in the lower end

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    Shozy Alien and Kinera H3

    The Alien+ as seen above has several filters from the linear to dynamic. This provides a bit choice for one to craft the sound to match inconsistencies in earphones or to tailor the sound more to ones personal preference.

    It is hard to say which filter each person may settle on, or to say 'this is the best filter' but I would recommend starting on the Sharp roll-off filter first and working your way through. This being the more linear or stock filter, but as I found with the Nova and its XXx signature which is rolled off at the highs/treble it matched well with the Short delay roll-off filter, which for the Andromeda sounds energetic and fun, but could be fatiguing over time (I did find it more a possible match with the ALO Audio Reference 8 and iBasso CB13 cables though).
    As a pure player I think the Alien+ on the Sharp roll-off filter provides and accurate enough rendition of the original recoding to please most users.

    It has enough power on high gain to power most regular earphones, IEMs and portable headphones - although I did not test it with anything particularly power hungry - so I can't comment on that..

    The performance on the first filter is linear and neutral mix, decent depth, width and a good amount of height.
    The sound stage is from upper medium to large.

    Overall it has excellent clarity, instrument separation, layering and detail whilst doing it rather effortlessly.

    It has that AKM signature sound of deep, rich and detailed sound, without the sometimes accompanying darkness in the low end that sometimes accompanied the AK4490 DAC, the AK4495SEQ is definitely a step up in that regard.

    UI/Menu

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    The UI of the Shozy Alien+ is quite an easy scrolling affair with a few sub categories under the various headings. This isn't an exhaustive photographic series but covers the main features.
    All the main headings have been shown.

    As usual with most Daps there is a bit of a learning curve with the UI, this is more so with the Alien+ having physical button navigation rather than the simple system of a touch screen.

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    The main menu in two photos, As above, so below.

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    Now playing...

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    high Gain
    Artist and song title, folder, bit size/rate, track number.
    Track playing time - center, battery left - bottom right corner.

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    Shuffle is of song or file.

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    Four language choices at present.

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    Four Gain choices rather than the usual three.

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    The first two filters sounds similar to my aging ears.
    Linear, flat, fairly neutral, detailed and authentic to the original recording.

    The second two filters also sound similar to my faulty hearing.
    More lively, energetic, lots of top end and at times that dreaded word 'holographic'.

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    Brightness is very good, I found that setting at half way was more than enough.


    Overall
    I really liked the Shozy Alien Gold, I love the Shozy Alien+, it takes a step further into the zone of naturalness and gives it body and depth, a fullness that envelopes with speed, detail and excellent resolution and control.

    The Alien+ comes in at US$435.00 and has many competitors in this straight music playing daps and streaming world. the FiiO`s, the Opus's etc, The thing with the Alien+ is it is a stripped down player with a focus fully on excellent and authentic playback of your favorite tracks.

    The UI takes a bit to get the hang of and the 5-6 hours of battery life might not be enough for some.

    I could easily list reasons why modern dap aficionados might not find the Alien+ to their taste, and I will: No balanced out, no touchscreen, no wifi, no apps, no streaming, no internal memory, no case, sharpish corners, simple UI, buttons...
    Reasons enough for some not to buy it in this fancy pants dap saturated market.

    Reasons on why it might appeal are simple too: basically superb and high quality sound.
    A rich, full, musical, dynamic, natural and detailed sound, or an accurate, linear, neutral, deep and layered sound depending on which filter setting is chosen. Whilst some of those terms often don't belong together or even seem often at odds the Alien+ manages to contain them and create a sonic bridge so to speak.

    And of course separate consumers needs are different, nothing wrong with that, 'you must do what you feel is right, of course' -OWK.

    But If a stripped down dap with high quality performance and accurate reproduction of tracks is your cup of tea, then the Alien+ could be for you.

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    Alien+ and Campfire Audio Lyra ii

    Thank you to Shozy for sending the Alien+ to head pie for review.
    Mython, garcsa and JaeYoon like this.
  2. maciux
    4.0/5,
    "Sound focused"
    Pros - build quality
    compact size
    hi-end sound for a low price
    high resolution, crystal-clear, precise and highly-dynamic sound with wide soundstage and excellent holographics
    a lot of power, ability to drive demanding headphones (including planars)
    transparent signature (desired by amplifiers)
    Cons - unintuitive, bizarre handling
    no file transfer via USB
    short battery life, enigmatic charging process
    cracking sound when connecting earphones
    no tracks rewinding or fast-forwarding
    requires synergy
    Alien+ is Shozy’s newest DAP. The Asian brand focuses on sound quality, therefore the device in focus is powered by AKM AK4495SEQ DAC.

    Shozy is known for its ‘displayless’ DAPs. Alien+ is the first unit to break this trend – it has screen and operating system installed. Nowadays there are many multifunctional devices with touchscreens and advanced OSs, while Alien+ offers just a set of basic features. The manufacturer focuses on the sound – Alien+ is said to compete with other flagship DAPs, but it costs merely 439 USD.

    Accessories

    I received just the device, without any box or accessories.

    The looks
    Alien+ in a way resembles other Alien-series devices – the casing is angular and quite aggressive in shape. It’s made of matte black aluminum with sloping edges. The workmanship is fine – the device is massive. One can, however, notice that the looks and the built quality were not as important as the sound – the quality of FiiO’s and iBasso’s devices is higher.

    Front is occupied by an ordinary screen covered by a mirror. The fonts are displayed in blue and are usually sharp and legible, but not always, due to light reflections. Under the screen placed are 3 enigmatic buttons and the manufacturer’s logo.

    That’s not the end of mysteries, though. The left flank is filled with three buttons, two of which protrude, while the last one is flat. The right side is occupied by just a volume wheel and the bottom side by a microUSB socket only. The top side includes another flat button, microSD slot and two 3.5 mm jack outputs.

    Ergonomics and handling
    For a device with a screen which occupies less than half of the front, Alien+ is quite bulky. The dimensions are: 115 mm (height), 65 mm (width) and 13 mm (depth) whereas the weight equals 168 g. The DAP, nevertheless, still remains handy, especially when compared to other big and heavy flagship music players. It’s a shame, though, that the edges are sharp and prickly.

    I value minimalism, but not when it requires big compromises. Therefore I don’t understand why Alien’s buttons don’t have any labels, especially that the layout is not intuitive.

    The front is equipped with 3 buttons: previous/next track (and menu scrolling) and play/pause (which also works as ‘OK’ button). It’s a pity that holding the buttons doesn’t speed up scrolling. The middle button is also inactive with the screen off, while left and right buttons can still be used. You also can’t fast-forward or rewind tracks using the same buttons.

    Two buttons on the left side handle ‘back’ (lower one) and scrolling menus (one page up). The third button located at the very top would work well as a power button, but instead it’s used as ‘Reset’ or ‘Instant Power Off’.

    The microSD reader works fine, but I only tested 32 GB cards. Prospective buyer, however, needs to remember that Alien+ won’t start without a SD card installed. Additionally, connecting the device to a PC won’t let you transfer data to microSD storage.

    Two 3.5 mm outputs can be distinguished when the device is on – the left one that’s glowing red is the optical out. The use of analogue volume wheel needs to be appreciated – it moves smooth, without any steps. No hiss or cracks are audible, but channel imbalance can be noticed with low volume. One shouldn’t also power the device with earphones/headphones connected – a loud cracking sound can be observed.

    Operating System is primitive, based on simple vertical lists. There aren’t much options available: screen brightness, screen timeout, gain level (min/low/medium/high/0dB) and digital filters (short delay roll-off, short delay sharp roll-off ; slow roll-off filter, sharp roll-off). Music can be played via folders or playlists or shuffled. USB DAC functionality is about to be added soon.

    Despite limited features and a non-touch screen, Alien+’s battery lasts for just around 5.5 hours. Battery life is thus worse than in many touch-operated advanced DAPs with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules. Well, you can always carry a powerbank with you. Charging process is, however, not signalled by any diode - the only sign is the icon on the screen, but it... doesn’t indicate full battery!

    In general, operation is quite simple, but needs getting used to. The OS is maximally simple and the choice of options is limited.

    Specs
    ● DAC: AKM AK4495SEQ
    ● supported formats: 24-bit/192 kHz (WAV)
    ● SNR: 121 dB
    ● compatible with FLAC, WAV, APE, MP3 files
    ● Muses & Texas Instruments OPAMPs
    ● CNCed aluminum shell
    ● microSD reader, optical out
    ● battery life: 5-6 hours

    The sound
    Headphones and IEMs: MrSpeakers Ether 1.1 (Forza AudioWorks Noir HPC mk2, DUM), Audeze LCD-2 (Double Helix Fusion Complement4), Meze 99 Neo, Final Sonorus III, AKG K551, Focal Spirit Professional, AKG K612 Pro, Campfire Audio Andromeda, Etymotic ER-4PT, Noble Audio 4, Noble Audio Savant, Brainwavz B200, RHA CL750, FiiO F5
    DAC/AMPs and AMPs: Burson Conductor Virtuoso (Sabre), RHA DACAMP L1, AIM SC808, ODAC i O2, Leckerton UHA-760, Zorloo ZuperDAC
    DAPs: iBasso DX200, FiiO X5 III, iBasso DX90, Cayin N3
    Interconnects: Forza AudioWorks Copper Series, Klotz
    Music: various genres and formats including 24-bit and binaural tracks

    The device was tested with July 2017 firmware.

    The sound does not disappoint – the Shozy guys really worked on it. Nonetheless, Alien+ didn’t make my drop my jaw, at least not from the beginning. The ‘WOW’ effect is not present due to Alien’s manner of sound: analytical, technical, detailed and direct. Resolution is extremely high and so are dynamics and holographics. If one is seeking for such a tuning, they might have found their Saint Graal. The sound is not colored or very musical, but this also depends on one’s preferences and connected gear. The choice of digital filter is also important – in case of Alien+ the sound alters significantly. I prefer short-delay filters that sound clear and make the DAP in focus sound neutral, perhaps a tad bright. Slow roll-off and sharp roll-off filters soften high tones too much, make the sound warmer and darker – I don’t enjoy such tuning, so I tested Alien+ with short-delay filters.

    If somebody prefers fun sound signature, then Alien+ might be too bass-shy for them. If one enjoys analytical sound, low tones are hard to find fault with. Bass is linear and not pumped – its quantity depends on the used earphones/headphones. The tuning is more analytical than musical – details and coherence are of the utmost importance. Instruments’ texture is clearly diversified and bass is perfectly-controlled, but not limited.

    Midrange is neutral, balanced, very forward and of high resolution. It sounds fresh and clear, without any distance. The sound is very precise and not coloured. Upper midrange isn’t raw or grainy. Despite transparent tuning, the sound is non-aggressive and non-fatiguing. On the contrary – it makes you want to dig into music, divide it into smaller bits, listen intently to details. Alien+ is a great choice for those who enjoy analysing music, but people who seek more fun signature with exaggerated lows, warm and soft tuning might take Alien+ as too technical, too raw, cold and energyless.

    At first I found treble a bit disappointing. In some pairings high tones seem sharp and a bit artificial. I got used to it after a while, but I still rate this frequency range as a bit digital and a tad bright, which should not be considered as a vice. For me trebles are just unnatural. The sound is extremely analytical and the resolution is pushed up, which makes trebles sound crystal-clear. For my taste, the quantity of the highs might have been lowered, but their character fits the analytical tuning. Again, the sound won’t please those enjoying analogue, tube-like signature. The slow-roll of and sharp-roll off filters are better for that.

    Soundstage is also impressive, which applies to both its size and holographics. Depth is also fine, but stereophony is of more importance. The sound is also airy, separation is strong and instruments are distanced from one another. At the same time, everything stays close to the listener.

    Shozy Alien+ vs headphones/earphones
    First pairing and first blooper. Campfire Audio Andromeda are not a good partner – their bass has been reduced while trebles have become sharper. Hiss was audible, even with the minimum gain.

    Next, I connected Etymotic ER-4PT, first with the S version adapter and then without it. The results were totally different – the sound was stunning! The IEMs were at the peak of their capabilities – resolution was cosmic, the sound totally direct and precise.

    Then I moved to Noble Audio Savant and this combination also turned out fine. Savants are smooth and balanced, their bass is not very deep, but they are detailed and precise and so they were with the Alien+. Effects were worse in case of Noble Audio 4, whose trebles are harsh. When connected to Alien+, the highs have become too strong and the bass too weak.

    RHA CL750, also a bright pair of IEMs, appeared to work fine with foam tips – the sound was of top quality, clear, precise, spacious. Cheap FiiO’s in-ears - F5, gained clarity, resolution and space. Brainwavz B200 also became more transparent, with clearer midrange.

    Having connected over-ear MrSpeakers Ether 1.1 earphones, I needed to set high gain, but the DAP worked great with these planars. The headphones didn’t lack dynamics, holographics or bass and the resolution was high. Alien+ also pairs well with Audeze LCD-2, which received stronger treble response, but still offered great lows, mids and imaging. Analytical-sounding AKG K612, that require high power, also work fine. The same is true about AKG K551 and Meze 99 Neo, Final Sonorus III and Focal Spirit Professional.

    Shozy Alien+ vs other DAPs
    Despite the low price, Alien+ sounds similar to much more expensive DAPs. When it comes to technical, detailed and hi-res sounding, Shozy’s device really shines. If, however, someone prefers more musical tuning, the choice is not as obvious.

    iBasso DX200 costs a lot more and is much more feature-packed. The sound is also different, with emphasized lows, while Alien+ favours high tones. Thus, DX200 is darker, with deeper bass and softer trebles. Soundstage is wider in Shozy’s device and dynamics and speed are on par. Alien+ is analytical while DX200 is musical.

    FiiO X5 III is inferior in terms of soundstage, holographics, resolution, dynamics and speed. It sounds much softer and less spacious. iBasso DX90 seems to offer more bass and the soundstage is also of comparable width but lower depth. DX90 is also not as detailed. Astell&Kern AK70 and AK300 provide different signature. The first one exaggerates lows and sounds ‘fun’, but is not very spacious. AK300 offers lush mids, well-controlled bass, more analogue sound. Alien+ is brighter, flatter, with more emphasis on resolution and holographics.

    Verdict
    In terms of SQ/price ratio, Alien+ performs extremely well, provided that someone enjoys analytical, bright-neutral tuning or warm and laid back with other set of digital filters. Resolution is outstanding and the sound is clear, detailed, precise and spacious. For me, Alien+ sounds neutral with a pinch of brightness. If someone prefers deep bass, forward mids and tube-like highs it’s better to choose slow or sharp roll-off filters.

    Focusing on sound quality only, it’s easy to forgive other flaws. People looking for a DAP that is more balanced in every aspect can be, however, irritated. Handling is not complicated, but awkward. Battery life is poor and number of features is low.

    maciux – Maciej Sas

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    msiekkb likes this.
  3. vtkc
    4.0/5,
    "First Impression of SHOZY Alien+ (Will post more after burn in)"
    Pros - Analogue, neutral, musical, powerful, natural sounding
    Cons - Sharp edges, runs quite warm, primitive UI
    I just got my hands on a beta-testing unit Alien+. Here are some of my 1st impression of it after 24 hours of burning in:
     
    First Impression:
    Pros:
    1) The resolution is much better than the Alien Gold Edition.
    2) The background hiss is very low unlike the original Alien Gold.
    3) It has a very good sound stage width and breath, much better than Alien Gold.
    4) It is quite neutral and flat sounding.
    5) It is very analogue and natural sounding, especially so when paired with the Shozy Zero and Cozoy Hera.
    6) It is very powerful and uses manual volume pot for volume adjustment. 
     
    Cons:
    1) The edges are quite sharp like how it is with the Alien Gold.
    2) The UI is quite primitive, however, I believe it will be change with some firmware upgrade.
    3) It runs quite warm like a mild hand warmer.
    4) There is channel imbalance at low volume due to the pure analogue volume control design.
     
     
    I will post more after I have spend 200 hours of burning in of the Alien+.
     
     
     
     
    PS: I believe that the Amp section is Class A, but I may be wrong.