Shozy Alien+

General Information

Alien+ digital audio player by Shozy. Alien+ features ak4495SEQ, a flagship chipset introduced by Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation. To output the best quality with this chipset supposed to bemused on full size home gears, we build inside the Alien+ a desktop solution using a 24 Volt PSU also having the amping circuitry designed around the its IRD-based correction.

Specification:
  • DAC chipset: AK4495SEQ
  • SNR: 121 dB
  • File format: WAVE, FLAC, MP3
  • Output: headphones 3,5mm and combo (line out/optical)
  • CNC Precise Metal Build
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Latest reviews

Wyd4

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Detail, Resolution, Power, Clarity, Musical, Snappy UI, USB DAC
Cons: Sharp Corners
Hi there,

I must say that from first hearing of the impending Alien+ some time ago, I was very excited to see what Shozy could come up with.

Having owned the original Alien, a fantastically musical and minimalist player that I used on my daily commute, I was like a kid at Christmas.

Some time later we have the Alien+ and shortly thereafter I have one in my hand.

Firstly, I need to clarify, I gave this unit a 5/5 rating as I believe that the player does exactly as advertised and does it exceedingly well. This does not mean it is not without shortcomings.

The Bad:
The unit is oldschool.
Now while I actually like this, many people these days wan't almost smartphone versatility from a DAP. Heck it is the way we consume media these days.
The unit has no touch screen, no wifi, no bluetooth, no user EQ, no Album art.
This is a no nonsense MUSIC playing machine.

The good of the bad:
What this lack of extra features means is a system that boots in a second.
It means that you can quickly navigate without lag from one screen to another using hardware buttons.
It means all of the electronics in the device are dedicated to getting the best sound to you, and on that front it delivers.

User Interface:
The UI as I stated above is very basic from a user perspective. You are presented with a list of options not that dissimilar to something you would see in Rockbox for those familiar. It is very utilitarian.
Navigation is fast and media is managed or selected from a Folder structure view. This will bother some, however this is how I have used all of my daps, (Even Android ones) so this is of no concern to me.

Getting your dang music on the thing:
Ok so here is a little gotcha moment. The unit will not boot without a MIcro SD card inserted. However it does not host the SD card when plugged into a PC via USB. So you will need a card reader.
Additionally your card will need to be formatted in FAT32, which is easy enough with small cards, but will require 3rd party software for anything 32gb. I used EaseUS Partition Master 12.5 with good results on my 128gb card.

Ok, so I have music, how does it sound:
In a word. AMAZING.
To elaborate, this is a very dynamic, in your face DAP. I has a very immediate sound, but in a good way. I dont feel that it is harsh or glaring, but you are quite literally thrust face first into the details. It kind of reminds me of a Circa 1995 screen saver on my PC.

The HIghs:
The highs are crisp, clean and sharp but I didn't find them overly airy or sparkly. There is a sense of unapologetic realism to them. Crash cymbals CRASH. Leading edges of some guitar sections bite. I absolutely loved listening to metal with this dap as it really carried the aggression without sounding harsh (somehow). With the caveat of Black metal. Black metal sounds terrible on everything and possibly even worse on the Alien +.

The Mids:
The mids really surprised me. Well no, I expected them to be great, in fact it was one of my favourite things about the original Alien. That euphoric or emotional mids. The Alien+ delivers this same flavour but to a slightly lesser degree.
The mids are neither forward nor recessed and sit nicely in line with the higher registers. They are however textured, layered and detailed. Vocals have a real presence that impressed me. Lips smacking, breathing, the texture of string instruments bows vibrating on the strings. Just fantastic.
I was also impressed by the Aliens ability to maintain a real crunch of distorted guitars, yet by intimate and smooth when listening to something like Nora Jones. Switching between Ne Obliviscaris to Nora to Pantera to Diana Krall, it just nailed it. Usually I find I love some sources with one or the other.

Bass:
While the bass isn't elevated, golly it has some slam and control. I think this may be due to the overhead in output power on tap, but even using my Aeons, I was surprised. From my experience with my Ethers and Aeons, from a lot of portable sources they go one of 2 ways, they sound bassy due to lack of power to control the drivers and everything gets flabby, or they sound lifeless and thin. Neither the case with the Alien+ which powered the Aeons to deafening levels on High Gain (there is one level above High).

Comparisons (w/ Aeon):
IDSD BL vs Alien:
The iDSD is one of my favourites. It has a gentle wide spacious presentation that is laced with details and nuances. Add to that phenomenal cosmic power, bass boost, cross feed, pre-amp/line out, line in, etc etc and it is a hard unit to knock.
Objectively I cannot rank one above the other but I can say the following.
When powering my Aeons, the iDSD Black presents a wider more airy spacious presentation. It is less immediate in its delivery. Everything is gentle and easy does it.
I feel also that the mids, while I know are not recessed on the iDSD from using it with other headphones, due to the spaciousness I believe, made the mids on the Aeon take a back seat. This made everything sound a little spread out and non distinct.
Detail on both units is similar, however again more subtle on the iDSD.
Comparatively the Alien has faster bass, more feeling and involvement in the mids and perhaps a slightly harder/harsher high region.
For me with this pairing, the Alien bests the iDSD Black.

Mojo vs Alien (w/ Aeon):
I find the Mojo to do everything the Alien does, but with just a bit more restraint.
They both present a more intimate sound stage than the iDSD and I think that allows them both a bit more focus within the mid range.
I find the mojo just has a softer leading edge on pretty much everything.
For me I prefer the Mojo to the Alien+ with the Aeon. Again though this is entirely subjective.

I will return and add pictures and some more details shortly.

yacobx

1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: excellent sound quality and power.
Cons: slippery
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This is such a unique player. The developers stayed true to their hearts with this little DAP. The players only lasts about 4 to 5 hours on a single charge. Does that bother me? No - and it should not bother you either. Who listens to music for music for that long at once without a power source nearby? Anyways, back to the player - This little guy sounds like a full stack. The issue with most portable set ups is that you need to carry a DAP and an AMP to have a excellent set up on the go. This DAP that has 24v output is does not need any additional ampage to sound freaking excellent. On the other hand, 24v flowing through the internals makes it a good device to pair with your favorite amp if you into that type of thing. I have had this DAP for a few months now and I have used it on and off. Recently, Shozy just released their update that allowed for USB audio output and I am now using this as my daily carry. The USB output can only handle 44.1kHz at the moment but it soon will be able to do DSD. It is everything I need. Playing off of an SD card it can only output 24bit by 192kHz but it will be able to do 32bit by 768kHz (DSD) once it is completely developed. It does not bother me, I have a good amount of DSD but I also have everything in flac too so I am a happy camper. When I am on the go I keep it in a case while it is in my laptop bag because I am always cautious of random stuff happening. While I am using it in hand I am always surprised by how ergonomic the device and button layout actually is. When I first took it out of the box I was really confused by the button layout. I can now see that the developers took time to think about the experience and what was most important. The only thing to mention to people going to buy this is that the metal is really high quality and it feels a bit slick in my hand. I have heard of an aftermarket russian company making a leather case for it and now that I am carrying daily that will be my next purchase. To be fair, I typically listen to music while completing projects at work so the danger of dropping the DAP is low. The AK dac inside is the first AK I have had the chance to listen to and I am extremely impressed. Shozy has boasted about using a desktop quality dac in their DAP and it lives up to their claims. See, a lot of companies use high specs but the hardware implementation does not match up and it never lives up to its full potential. The nice thing about Shozy developing this firmware in house is that the internals are getting used perfectly. I can not wait to hear DSD on this beast of a DAP. The DAC inside has 4 DAC filters and I love slow delay slow roll off. It reminds me of my dad's old speaker system. I grew up listening to Pink Floyd on that system and I am pretty sure that is where my love of music started. That is the reason we all do this right? To feel emotions and get as close to the recording original state as possible. The Alien Plus has this wonderful organic sound with a high level of separation and extension on both ends. Put that with its high power and it's a winner in my book. I was not provided this as a sample to write a review. I paid for this and it is my personal DAP. I always wanted to try the Alien Gold and right when I was going to buy that I heard this was coming out and I am glad I waited. There are a lot of DAPs in the market now. Everyone can get a perfect device just for their needs. Some are fully touch screen and are one step away from being a cell phone and then their are DAPs in the market like this - a lean mean audio machine. I hope that other people and companies continue to focus on the real reason why this is our hobby and not flashy screens and album art. This DAP is for the Audiophile.
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Specs


SHOZY Alien+ 32BIT/768Khz AK4495SEQ Chip HIFI DAP Lossless Digital Music Player
Description

  • SHOZY Alien+ DAP lossless digital audio player utilizing the microcontroller as the master chip, AK4495EQ as a DAC (4495 is generally used for high-end desktop decoder)

  • SHOZY Alien+ using the latest 32BIT / 768Khz flagship decoder chip- AK4495SEQ

  • S16 DAC core using AKM's latest flagship AK4495S 32BT / 768K decoder chip

  • With 32BIT core and piezoelectric capacitor filter patent, the real hardware decoding 32BIT music files

  • AK4495S built-in 5 kinds of filters

  • Short Delay Sharp Roll-off. GD=6.25/fs

  • Short Delay Slow Roll-off. GD=5.3/fs

  • Sharp Roll-off

  • Slow Roll-off

  • Super Slow Roll-off

  • SHOZY Alien + support WAV (up to 24bit 192khz),FLAC(up to 16bit 44.1khz), APE (up to 16bit 44.1khz), mp3 format, easy to operate, all for the sound, only dedicated to the audiophiles.
Copied from Penon Audio :)
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msiekkb

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: - detailed, holographic and big soundstage
- layered
- natural weight and size instruments
Cons: - for some people maybe too technically sounds
First of all, I’d like to thank Shozy for providing the Alien+ review unit.


The news about new Shozy’s Alien-series pleased me much as both Alien Gold and Silver are among my favourite DAPs and I especially love the sound signature the Gold model.

Is Alien+ better than Alien Gold? Does it offer better quality, holographics and sound signature? Let me explain it in this very review.



Design
Alien+ is a CNC precise-built from metal with a plastic volume knob. Craftsmanship quality is great. It’s the first Shozy DAP with the screen installed, which improves navigation and allows one to easily choose a track they need. When there’s much light, the screen is impossible to read.

User Interface is based on plain text, which I like, because I don’t enjoy animations. There are 5 main categories in the main menu.

Below the screen placed are 3 buttons that function as previous, next and accept/play/pause. Left flank is equipped with a navigation button and soft reset. The top side is packed with a Power on/off button (it also turns the screen on and off) and two outputs: a headphone out and a combo out (line out with optical out). When the Alien+ is powered on, the optical output diode is also active - it’s the only diode informing about the device’s power.

On right side there’s a volume knob - it’s an analogue system, not a digital one. The bottom side is filled with a microUSB port, which is only used for charging (it doesn’t offer file transfer). In the future, Shozy promises adding a USB DAC function.






Previous and next buttons work when the screen is off, which is very convenient.

Alien+ is powered by AK4495SEQ DAC chip. This is a high-end DAC chipset found in full-size CD/SACD players and DACs. Alien+ also uses a 12V step-up power PSU, Panasonic film capacitors, Sanyo solid-state capacitors and the LTC®3559 charging chips.

Battery life is around 5.5 hours when using high gain and listening to WAV and FLAC files.



Sound
I used Alien+ mainly with my reference IEMs - Etymotic ER-SR, but I also paired it with others earphones and headphones. Before testing the DAP, as suggested by Shozy, I’ve done a burn-in of over 100 hours.

Sound signature is typical for Shozy: very deep, very musical, vivid sound with lush mids and non-fatiguing highs. In comparison, Alien Gold and Alien Silver offer more smooth and more velvet sound. Alien+ signature is hard, more detailed, with higher resolution, better soundstage and holographics. Comparing to previous models, there’s also no hiss. In general, Alien+ sound is organic and neutral.

Bass is very saturated, plastic, deep, clear, dynamic, hard, with fast attack and decay.

Mids are forward, multi-layer and well-balanced between being soft and sharp.

The main focus lies on vocals, which are forward. When needed, they can be either soft or sharp. There are no problems with high female soprano, low male voices or digital voice of Miku Hatsune, a lot of voices and/or instruments acting simultaneously will be hard to stop listening to, because they are all resolute, detailed, with very good changes in speed or depth changes, and finished.

Highs are clear, not sharp, without digital glare, detailed. You can hear all cymbals without any aggressive sounds.

Holography is excellent, among the best I've heard not only in portable players, but also among full-size ones. Each instrument or voice is embedded on the stage, either up, down, in the centre, left or right in front of us or behind us and separated by air.

The detail and resolution, as well as the holography, all resemble the quality seen in rather full-size than portable devices. All the sounds are clearly audible - one doesn’t have to focus in order to hear it.

Alien+ offers 5 gain settings, which is a very convenient solution for pairing various earphones and headphones. The higher the gain, the more bold-contoured and less smooth the sound becomes.

Alien+, similarly to iBasso DX100 and DX200, offers naturally weighted and sized instruments.



Selected pairings
Etymotic ER-4SR are known for very balanced sound and are a great mastering tool as they easily show flaws of poorly-mastered materials. ER-4SR offer great details and layering. The bass offers perfectly-balanced rumble and subbass and midbass have full punch and kicks. Mids can be described as natural-bodied, organic and detailed. Vocals are detailed, hi-res, full-bodied and fantastically layered. Treble show great definition, sparkle and airiness.

Etymotic ER-4XR, when compared with ER-4SR, have powerful punch and kick and more body in subbass, more extended bass. Mids and vocals are not as forward as in 4SR with smaller amount of details and worse layering.

Custom Art FIBAE 2 is a balanced IEM with a brighter treble, but treble are airy, detailed, but never metallic and harsh. Bass has a little less body, which is strange, because when pairing FIBAE 2 with others DAPs and smartphones, it has more bass than ER-4SR. FIBAE 2 sound is detailed and well-layered, but ER-4SR offer yet higher quality. Mids are sweet and detailed, while the soundstage is wider and deeper. FIBAE 2 and Alien+ is one of the best pairs for everybody - such a combo is very musical, with plenty of details, nice layering and a vast soundstage. What is more, the sound quality doesn’t depend on song’s mastering.

Custom Art FIBAE 1 performs well with vocal music, poetry set to music and songs with focus on mids and treble. Mids and highs are similar to those found in FIBAE 2, but FIBAE 1 offer less bass, which is not as full-bodied, but is faster and has stronger kick.

Meze 99 Classic are headphones for bass lovers and for easy-listening, but with a good amount of details. Bass is well articulated and controlled. Mids are smoothed and sweet. Treble are nice, but not very sparky.

Audeze LCD-X is a very nice pair of cans. It provides deep and full-body bass with fast kick and punch in addition to smoothed and forward mids and sparky treble. When paired with Alien+, LCD-X retain their original signature of bass and treble, but mids get more body and become more forward. The sound is very detailed, multi-layer and the resolution is high.

With Audeze LCD-XC bass and mids get too much body and sweetness. When connected to Alien+, LCD-XC lose their texturing and bass control. All in all, this is not a recommended pairing.



Comparions
Alien+ vs iBasso DX200 - in both cases instruments size and weight seems natural. DX200 has bass no hardness of Alien+, but is very smooth. Layering and details on bass are on par. Mids in DX200 are very smooth and relaxing with no crisping and no attack. When listening to iBasso’s DAP, I don't feel emotion from violin, piano and vocals - these instruments and vocals are very boring. In case of Alien+, treble are more sparky. Shozy’s DAP is analytical, offers lifelike sound with better holographics, while DX200 has smoother sound, which is not as vivid.

Alien+ vs iBasso DX100 - DX100 has lighter and transparent signature, not organic like Alien+. In case of both DAPs, instruments’ weight and size are natural. iBasso’s lows are softer. Quality-wise, both DAPs offer the same level, while regarding quantity, Alien+ has more bass, mids, treble and better holographics.

Alien+ vs Fiio X5-III - Alien+ is organical, more revealing, more resolving, more detailed. Its bass is harder and Alien+ also offers better layering, holographic, dynamics and separation. In case of X5-III, instruments don’t seem to have natural size and weight and treble are metallic.

Alien+ vs Cayin N5 - N5 is flat, less revealing, less detailed, with worse layering, holographics and dynamics. In Cayin’s DAP, instruments are of no big size and weight.

Alien+ vs Sony ZX2 - Sony ZX2 is the opposite of Alien+. Its sound signature is very soft, not only on the edges, but also in the fill - the sound is more dense. ZX2’s midrange is bewitching, while Alien+ brings out every nuance, every sound with a proper texture. In comparison to Alien+, the highs are dimmed.

Alien+ vs Opus #1 - Opus #1 is smoother and more warm, less detailed, offers lower resolution and not as good layering and holographics. The size and weight of instruments is also small.



Conclusion
Alien+ is a very good DAP for those who seek sound that is detailed, with great layering, full body and organic sound with amazing holographics and instruments of natural weight. Alien+ also doesn’t offer streaming, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections meta-tagging and other fancy features. It’s a great device for people who simply love music-listening.

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