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New model Cowon - Plenue D2

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by tiddlywinks, Jan 1, 2019.
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  1. someyoungguy
    Okay, I caved. Ordered a D2 and one of those sexy cases too :)

    Pity I no longer have the V, would have been nice to do a side-by-side analysis of one CS43131 chip vs two, particularly as it’s not just dual DAC vs single but that they’re combined DAC/amp chips. But ah well.

    It should be here in a week or so. I’ll post some thoughts once I have some time with it. At the moment the other sources I have to compare the D2 with are the Plenue M2, xDSD and xCAN, and Fiio K3.
    kalibur likes this.
  2. technobear
    The only purpose of the second CS43131 here is to enable balanced output.
  3. someyoungguy
    Yeah I was wondering whether it would be active on the single-ended output. With a dual DAC set-up that’s possible but I’m struggling to see how a dual DAC amp at 2 Vrms could output into a single ended out without the output being 4 Vrms. So I’m guessing the single-ended output uses one chip and the balanced both.
  4. someyoungguy
    Okay, D2 arrived yesterday and I've been listening to it quite a lot over the last two days.

    Initial thoughts:
    * Detail retrieval is outstanding, and even higher on the balanced than single-ended. I expected as much based on my previous experience with the V, and not disappointed. This is impressive.
    * Lovely tone and timbre to the sound; not too harsh, not too polite. It's punchy when it needs to be and sweet and touching when called for.
    * Bass is nicely done. I remember seeing the What Hi-fi review specifically mention the impressive bass, and again I don't want to go on about the V too much, but that had great bass and I expected the same with the D2 - not sure if it's equal in measure or even better.
    * It's so small and light!

    Interestingly I usually listen to Plenues with one of the BBE presets - it makes it feel a bit more alive, gives the soundstage and PRaT a bit of a boost. It also scoops the EQ into a more V-shaped signature. But with the D2 over the last few days I've just been listening on Normal (no JetEffect) almost exclusively. Maybe it's because the bass is already on the money and I feel like BBE adds too much. One thing I wish Cowon would implement is the ability to stagger up the preset effects - just like you have a half or quarter tone of a paint color, I would love a half-tone BBE setting, for example. Try as I might, I can never get the same sense of balance with the custom settings as I feel the presets deliver.

    Also there was some discussion earlier about start-up times and the database update - I agree now that the D2 is slower than other models I've owned. It's been a while since I owned the original D, but I'd previously measured the start-up time on the V - without any changes to the music loaded - at about 11-12 seconds. I just measured the D2 at 25 seconds without changing the card contents. Still, I had an A&K SR15 which took around 40 seconds to boot up, and other players I've owned like the DX200 were about the same. It's always been one of the reasons I've loved Plenues - fast start up makes for great on-the-go gear. It's still better than many other players but slower than I was used to based on experience with previous Plenues.

    One more thing which was a surprise is that the gapless isn't perfect. Cowon have typically been kings at this - my old J3 and S9 nailed gapless with FLAC files, and I've had a number of the larger screen Plenues (1, M, M2, P2 mk II, R) and smaller screen Plenues D and V which all did gapless fine. There's just a little micro-break of a fraction of a second with the D2. Strange, I wonder if they'll fix it in a firmware update (I loaded the latest as soon as I got it).

    I saw Nathan from Headphonia describe this as a reference-level player on his fauxtaku youtube channel. I'd agree. As crazy as it sounds, this thing has fantastic detail, and the detail doesn't distract either - there's a sense of coherency to the presentation and a nice feel of dynamics and emotion. It pretty much sounds just like I'd expect a good player to.
    JazzVinyl, taffy2207 and dsrk like this.
  5. Mhog55
    Nice write up
  6. dsrk
    Nice Chris, your sounds preferences almost match mine.
    You really got me interested in D2. Can you compare D2 with M2? especially bass and tonality.
  7. someyoungguy
    I’ll try! I find with the different Plenues I’ve tried there is a sibling similarity between them all. Actually before getting the M2 I bought a P2 mk II, and ended up returning it. I know, it’s supposed to be one the highest in the line up, but just didn’t do it for me, it seemed quite colored with a soft bass impact. The M2, D2 and V have probably been my favorites so far, and R is very good too.

    I’ve just been doing some AB comparisons between the M2 and single ended of the D2, without JetEffects and with fast filter settings on both. They’re both rated as 2 Vrms so I set them both to headphone mode and the same volume of 72, with B&W P7s to test. I didn’t measure the volume output but they sounded the same volume to my ears.

    The M2 has a slightly analogue/warm tilt to the sound. Not much, but the D2 is maybe more straight and neutral with a little touch of color in the M2 tone. I think both have the same bass range and reach as deep, but the weight or emphasis of the bass sound isn’t as low on the M2. As if the M2 has more weight around 200 Hz say (purely pulling that number out of my head) compared to a more linear or 100 Hz emphasis on the D2 (again using the number just for an example, I haven’t tried to locate the actual frequency). The D2 does seem to have more distinct presentation of bass notes, where it’s easier to make out multiple lower notes played simultaneously (bass layering). The M2 does have good strong bass though - better than the P2 mk II to my ears!

    The D2 is a bit brighter in the treble and upper mids. Actually I had noticed on the V it could be prone to sibilance, so pulled out a few tracks with prominent “s”s to test the D2 since it’s got the same DAC, and they do jump out of the mix more with the D2 than the M2. But it seems improved on the D2 compared to what I remember on the V.

    The D2 soundstage has good left/right presentation, but interestingly I hear the M2 as feeling like there’s more depth in the sound, with the D2 a bit flatter.

    Start up is much faster on M2, and the screen is better of course, here’s them both set to 4 brightness, better color, depth and resolution on the M2, probably not that visible on the pics but is in person:

    More UI pics:

    The M2 has a menu item for gapless (remove silence) which the D2 doesn’t, wonder if that relates to gapless stutter on the D2:

    All in all they’re both good, not sure which I like better! I need more time to compare the balanced on the D2 though - the only headphones I’ve got with balanced wiring/cables at the moment are Shure SRH1540s, which I’d boxed up for sale. I tried the balanced out briefly yesterday with them before boxing them up.
    JazzVinyl, dsrk and Ryokan like this.
  8. mlavende

    I've just got one of these and I love it. My first DAP.

    Can someone tell me the difference between the headphone and earphone setting? I've tried both on my cabled sennheiser pxc 550s and my rha t20s. Not sure I can tell a difference. Is it my ears


  9. someyoungguy
    The earphone setting is lower gain than the headphone. If you switch between them, you should notice you’ll need to increase/decease the volume on the player to get the same volume coming out of your headphones/IEMs?

    I tend to find the headphone mode gives better bass due to the higher output power, even though I’m usually using easy to drive headphones. But in honesty there’s no rule of having to use headphone mode with headphones and earphone mode with earphones - it’s pretty much just a case of playing around and seeing which suits you best.
    mlavende likes this.
  10. mlavende
    Oh that's great then thanks - I wondered if I was 'doing something wrong' but apparently not :)

    Thanks for the quick response

  11. dsrk
    I think I will be getting M2, I am looking for warm and smooth sound.
    Thanks alot Chris.
    someyoungguy likes this.
  12. cdsa35000
    I think because the built-in memory of the D2 is a SD card/interface which cause extra access time hence not real gapless and can't be fixed with FW, otherwise they'd already fix that.
  13. Nayparm
    NotKunvinced likes this.
  14. Mhog55
    You guys are making me want to grab one of these. My current dap is the Opus#1s. I wish someone could make some comparisons.
  15. silverfishla
    I just did the internal memory upgrade to 128GB. Everything went fine and operates great. The process was not very difficult.
    NotKunvinced likes this.
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