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Acoustic Research AR-M200

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by audionewbi, Aug 12, 2017.
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  1. Pcppps
    Anyone compared it with sony zx300?
  2. Evshrug
    I got to hold one of these AR-M200 at CanJam NYC, but unfortunately didn't get any head-time listening to it. What struck me, it is definitely pocket-friendly sized, and the "chamfer angles" or whatever you call them felt nice in the hand and pocket. I didn't believe it had a 4.4mm Pentaconn jack at first, but I'd really like to try it out with a cable I've got coming in soon. While I wish it could do Tidal/Spotify offline, I've learned that basically offline support from those services sucks unless you're using a smartphone anyway... so the two way bluetooth is actually a better solution anyway. I'd dump a playlist I haven't heard yet onto my iPad (256GB storage) before traveling, and then actually buy the songs I like.

    The Sony ZX300 is also right-sized for portable use, and has longer battery life, but it doesn't offer the two-way bluetooth feature and thus has no option for temporary music storage or access to streaming platforms. I got to borrow the Sony with me to my hotel room... but the battery drained before I could listen! Such is life.

    @AR-Voice, is there any form of digital out besides bluetooth? Can this be used as a USB-DAC for a computer when the computer has a low-fi motherboard sound quality? Is there a link of US/North American dealers?
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  3. crabdog
    I've been using the AR-M20 for a few weeks now. The sound is fantastic, as is the aptX HD. But the UI is pretty awful, to say the least, and there are some basic functions missing, such as gapless playback and breakpoint resume.

    It feels like a missed opportunity the way it has been implemented.
    Light - Man and trellus like this.
  4. crabdog
    Light - Man, 7keys, trellus and 2 others like this.
  5. maira
    I Really like the looks. Is anybody able to compare to other DAPs (old an new like Pono and Cayin N5ii) in SQ?

    (sidenote: " 1700 mAh battery" come on folks at AR, its too obvious that bad battery life is done by intention...)
  6. crabdog
    I tested the N5ii briefly at CanJam but not long enough to be able to compare with the M20.
  7. maira
    Thanks, is the M-200 more ´analogue´ sounding or more on the analytical side?
  8. crabdog
    I'd say it's very transparent i.e. it doesn't have any inherent warmth. It's a neutral sounding DAP and would lean more toward analytical than analogue. Having said that though - the sound of a truly transparent source depends a lot on the recordings you feed into it.
    hqssui likes this.
  9. AR-Voice
    >>>>>>>>>> ANNOUNCEMENT <<<<<<<<<<<<

    The new M200 firmware 1.0.747 is now available on AR official website:

    Change log


    •  Fixed an unexpected system reboot when the artist field of a song is longer than 128 characters

    •  Improve system responsiveness when playing some WAV files

    •  Addition of AIFF format

    •  Improved exception handling of some WAV files containing erratic tags

    •  The loud pop noise at switching local music playback mode to Bluetooth Receiver mode is now removed. Due

      to the characteristics of the anti-pop circuit, a small click sound will still occur.

    •  Improved playback stability of some WAV files when browsing through the UI and adjusting the volume

    •  Improved compatibility to some mono WAV files

    •  UpdatestoJapaneseUI

       RTMRelease

      Requirements for firmware update
    •  1GB free space or more is available on the internal storage of M200

    •  Windows 7/8/10 or newer

    •  Mac OS X 10.6.9 or above

    •  Upgrade should only be executed when the battery level is 75% or higher
    Reminder for content back up
    Updating from 1.0.675 or prior to 1.0.744 will erase the internal storage.
    Please back up the contents beforeupdating the firmware.

    Procedures to update firmware

    1. Download the firmware file ARM200FW.IMG to the computer.

    2. Connect AR-M200 to the computer with USB-A to USB-C cable.

    3. Copy the file into the root level of Internal Storage of AR-M200.

    4. Ensure that the file has been fully copied into the player.

    5. Without disconnecting M200, press HOME/MENU button twice to execute the update. Do not interrupt the firmware update process until completion.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
    Light - Man, trellus and Evshrug like this.
  10. trellus
    This is on Massdrop right now for $149.99 and while I read your review and definitely am convinced that it would make for a frustrating experience as a DAP due to the UI (and lack of gapless and resume support), I'm thinking, it is a great deal at that price using it as a AptX Bluetooth DAC/amp with a balanced output -- a sort of beefier version of the Sound Blaster E5, perhaps?
  11. crabdog
    The only thing that makes it interesting IMO is the balanced output. As far as UI, usability and battery life go the Shanling M0 does it better (except no balanced). I would actually even prefer to use my phone and the Earstudio ES100 over the M200. Having said that, at $149.99 it would be a decent purchase.
  12. hqssui
    @crabdog. Can you please advise if you have experienced any of these issues with M200.
    1. From the folder view , when a song is selected, there is noticeable pop sound. (But not when skipping tracks)
    2. Intermittent UI freeze - like for 2-5 seconds. ( happened only twice in a 3 hour listening session)
    3. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is extra ordinarily tight on the M200 I received.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  13. crabdog
    1. Yes.
    2. No, but I was using a much earlier firmware version (had to return my unit after review).
    3. Yes.

    Hope you enjoy it more than I did...
    hqssui likes this.
  14. hqssui
    Thanks @crabdog. Issue- 1 is mainly bothering me. Your review is spot on, thanks. I have only used the 3.5 mm output and kind of liked the SQ. I have not tried the balanced output yet.
  15. udesign48
    Where can I buy this unit?

    Does this unit work with Sony's 4.4mm balanced cable?

    I'm interested in.. AR-M2 was too expensive to buy.
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