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Cowon Plenue R - All Round Player

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by kel77, Jul 14, 2017.
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  1. Whaleshark12
    Awesome, thanks for the input Twister! Keep up your great work too! :D
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  2. Onironaught
    I've just received my PR to upgrade from my DX80 and an AK70. I'm not so hot on my adjectives yet but anyone who's interested in sound comparisons I'm happy to offer some perspective if it helps.

    I only have SE535s too but again this thread helped my decision process massively (thanks Twister6 I read your review around 10 times) so hopefully I can assist someone else in return.
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  3. someyoungguy
    Thanks Onironaught, yes I’d be curious how the Plenue R compares to both those players - I used to have a DX80 and really thought it punched above it’s price range in terms of clarity and retrieval of detail. Also I’d wondered about picking up an AK70 since there’s some going cheap now the mk II is out.

    What are your impressions for how these sound compared to the PR?
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  4. Whaleshark12
    Does the plenue r do native dsd? Or is it pcm?
  5. Onironaught

    Hi Someyoungguy. Yeah I totally agree with you on the DX80. For the price I thought it's soundstage and presentation was awesome. I felt the bass lacked a little, particularly when I was out and it was competing with outside noise which is what inspired the move. I actually then bought the AK70 but immediately sold it again. The treble was greatly improved from the DX80, less harsh but kept the separation and it was little warmer overall but for me didn't have that airy feel and felt too forward. Oddly enough I owned a Cowon Iaudio X5 years ago and have always been trying to recreate that sense of space that the surround effect gave and while the DX80 came close to that feel, the AK70 was just a different sound and so wasn't the player for me.

    So to make the comparison to the Plenue R; I have to say first off that there was a rattle in my unit so sent it back (advanced MP3 players customer service are incredible) but spent enough time fiddling with it yesterday to get a good idea of making a description until my replacement arrives.

    From the first listen I'll be honest and say I was a little disappointed, The flat untreated sound for me was nice and neutral but lacked the soundstage I was after and while everything sat neatly in the mix it felt unexciting like the DX80 with the EQ on (maybe you have tried this but once that EQ switch was on the DX80 lost all it's dynamics and clarity and no amount of EQ tweaking could bring it back). My main reason for getting the PR, however, were those BBE effects and my first try was with the headphone preset and that thing changed the game entirely.
    Immediately the soundstage became enormous, beautiful and warm with a bass that extended for miles, filled up my SE535s with a bass I didn't think they could produce while retaining the gorgeous refined treble of the AK70. It was as much night and day as I could have imagined. It was well layered with great separation too. Compared to the DX80 it has all the width and expansion but seemed to iron out the muddiness in the top end. I don't want to bash the top end of the DX80 as it was great but I sometimes felt at high volumes, even with an external amp (I tried a fiio e11k) the mix on the DX80 would feel a little muddy and crowded. Thankfully the PR didn't have this issue. It simply filled in all the gaps that the dx80 was missing and took it up a few healthy notches in the process. With all the presets it alters the sound massively but with an extra boost of quality that means you can tailor the sound to suit you without it feeling forced or too processed. Whether some purists disagree with that I am personally bowled over. I feel that somehwhere down the chain someone makes a decision on how it sounds through either tuning, selection of components or earphones etc so if it sounds great (which it does) this for me is ideal and how that is achieved I don't much care. I think to describe the basic, untreated sound for me would be unfair to the player, it shines thanks to those clever variables and for me (as twister6 said) is the crowning glory of Cowon players.

    I am happy once I get the unit back to do something more in depth and descriptive if that helps, I am doing this before work without the unit at hand but hopefully it helps a little
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
    someyoungguy and hqssui like this.
  6. someyoungguy
    Great, thanks for taking the time to write that up! I don’t think more is necessary, you’ve given me a good idea of the sound. Really interesting to hear your impression of the DX80 - you seem to have taken the words out of my mouth: I felt the bass was missing something that I could never quite pinpoint, and completely agree that the EQ only ever detracted from, rather than enhance, the sound. (I wrote some comparisons here: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/ibasso-audio-dx80-high-resolution-audio-player.21124/reviews).

    Also don’t worry I’m not an EQ purist either :wink: maybe I could understand if someone only had experience of EQ like on the DX80 where it made the sound worse, then they’d come away with a negative attitude to it. But you’re right it makes no sense to say ‘don’t use EQ’ but then purposely use headphones or an amp that boosts the bass. Or what if the audio engineers played with tweaks while prototyping a DAP then went with the one that lifted the low end - is that okay but EQ isn’t? The possibilities lead to a whole lot of logical inconsistencies. Not to mention, if someone enjoys a sound with EQ I’d never want to take that away from them!

    I too am looking for a new DAP to replace an earlier Cowon model - in my case the J3. I had it for years, good reliable player with good EQ, but just wanted something with the kind of greater detail and soundstage available now with newer DAPs and it sounds like the Plenue R could be the one.
    Onironaught likes this.
  7. Onironaught
    Glad it helped, it seems we have the same sound impressions of the dx80 so hopefully that remains true for the PR. I read your write up on the dx80 and you picked up on everything I would have said had I been more articulate :). The bit you mentioned about the drop off between highs and lows really struck me as it made listening to certain tracks so exciting and it was what I was keen to discover again. Thankfully that is captured in the PR too (using presets) but with what seems like a fuller and more complete sound. It gave me that feeling like I had to re-listen to my entire music collection which for me is a good sign :)
  8. cj3209
    Sorry for the late reply. I'm slow with comparisons between gear so forgive me as I just like to envelop myself with good music...but I digress...

    I feel the R is more resolving than the DP-X1a (ONK). I've been listening to the ONK a lot recently so let me go back to the R again. Stay tuned...

    My biggest quibble with the R is that I have to keep playing with the JET settings on different songs; some songs sound better with certain Jet settings. Actually not a real big deal; just annoying.

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  9. qsk78
    Thanks. I bought recently the P1 at a good price on Amazon. Anyway good to know.
    I don't touch any jet settings on the P1, tried but went back to Normal - they all sound artificial to me.
    This is like you listen to Etymotic and try another IEM and see that it is not natural anymore)
  10. Onironaught
    I totally agree, I have had mine just over a week now and kept adjusting the settings every time which left me feeling totally unsatisfied, thinking something was missing each time. You also can't (I didn't see it anyway) copy the settings from one user preset to another so if you alter one and it's worse you can't restore the previous or compare. The only way it is possible is redoing it each time which is a hassle.

    I'm not sure if it helps but I got a balanced cable (Fiio) for my iem's and the sound became so much more clear and well presented with a much more focused bass so my desire to tweak constantly is massively diminished as the sound is just much more tidy. You may be using balanced yourself already in which case it may not help at all but otherwise, if you can, it's worth the extra expenditure in my opinion. I read a few articles which claimed the balanced argument may be a bit of a snake oil ploy but I don't believe I'm that good a lying to myself. There is definitely a marked improvement, further drawing the positive aspects of the DX80 which I had before but with the extra resolution and soundstage that the PR offers.
  11. Raketen
    Both the articles & you can be right - personally I have found that a good SE is all I need, but I have experienced what you have as well. I think some of these gadgets with both SE and BAL simply have an inferior performing SE, which is included mostly as a matter of convenience.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017
  12. leo5111
    is sound same as the p1 or what?
  13. twister6 Contributor
    The latter one, "...or what" :wink: I reviewed it in details here. It sounds more like P2 which is different from P1.
  14. leo5111
    since i never heard the p2 would i like it? does it still have the warm smooth sound?
  15. twister6 Contributor
    Only you can decide if you like it or not :wink: My P2 review is here. And no, it's not warm/smooth, but rather more neutral/reference.
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