In our forums we had some heated discussions about Hifiman’s prior ‘flagship’ portable audio player, the HM-801. For around $800 you got a gigantic brick with less than 8 hours battery life, based on a Chinese Rockchip SOC and an ancient PCM1704 DAC that was implemented with improper filtering, resulting in rolled off treble response. Besides inverting the signal phase it had very high output impedance and couldn’t drive multi-armature IEMs properly.
Now that the HM-801 is discontinued, Hifiman announced its successor, the HM-901. This new one sports a new user interface and revamped controls, which can be tried here, in an online Flash demo: http://www.hifiman.com/uidemo/
The HM-801 was a case study of how not to design an interface, time will tell if the new one is easier to operate. In my opinion, Hifiman should just have done the smart thing and put Rockbox on their players – a port for the HM-801 is already available, so I’m a bit bewildered why they didn’t take advantage of that and still cooked their own UI/firmware from scratch. With Rockbox the player would even play gapless audio, among other things – ‘as the artist intended’.
Some questions remaining are:
- Will the HM-901 cost less than a kilobuck? [UPDATE: price appears to be closer to $1250, according to some rumors.]
- Will its battery life be measured in minutes, or hours?
- Will it have low enough output impedance to drive multi-armature IEMs properly?
- Will it sound ‘better’ than the next average quality player, or will it have rolled off treble, like the HM-801? Or rather, will anybody make out any audible difference at all, considering almost all digital sources available are transparent and linear to human ears?
[Thanks to 3602 for the tip]
The MiniDisc, which was launched in the mid 90′s as a middle ground between a tape, cd and an mp3 player, is getting the plug pulled this September. The format was barely accepted in the U.S. and most other countries, but was a pretty big success in Japan though. You were able to record audio directly on the disc on some players similar to a tape, as well as load it up from your computer.
Personally, I had a Sony MiniDisc player when they launched and had a grest time with it. It was a neon lime green player which was pretty sport focussed. It was a nice little player at first, but then gradually became more hassle than it was worth. Just like any worthwhile portable player, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Feel free to share your images in our show off thread if ya have one. This ones for the MiniDisc!
If you haven’t already heard of XKCD, head over to their website and spend the rest of 2010 laughing your ass off to old comic strips. This stick figure webcomic has been providing geeks with funny breaks from reality three times a weeks for years now, so chances are you have heard of them and even check the site when there’s a new strip out. Either way, today’s comic touches on the subject of audiophiles, a subject that is near to users of ABi in one way or another. I got a good laugh out of it, so hopefully you will too.
At least this one is a real looker with its amusing retro design, compared to the junk “high end” from Hifiman, HiSound, s-flo, and the other ripoff manufacturers that put zero effort into their players, just for a quick buck.
This one also uses a real modern quality DAC (a similar Cirrus DAC as used in Echo Indigo sound cards, for example), not some decade old “audiophile” nonsense as found in other players that are targeted at this certain demographic. Still, totally useless on the go, of course.
Colorful/Colorfly seems to be a Chinese joint as well, with a German distributor, but I’m not sure. Seems they usually sell PC graphic cards.
Some realistic news via GenerationMP3(Google translation). – With an 1.8″ HDD it might compete with the iPod Classic, and the other very, very few players still left that give 100+GB of data storage (most of which aren’t any good anyways). Not a bad move, for some people’s needs. Also rumored is that it will run on Android.
After all theses years of speculations, dating back to 2007 - here, here, andhere. And of course our very own Cowon X7 mockup from the “Photoshop A Fake” contest. (Pictured)
Make us proud, Cowon – your iAudio X5 HDD playerheritage is quite legendary, just like the iriver H100/300, or the Creative Zen Vision:M.
Consumers love choice, especially in terms of their formfactor and a poll in the forum shows that a touchscreen only device is not the end all be all formfactor for mobile phones. For a minute, set aside the OS debate and let us know what is your favorite smartphone factor and why?
Just wanted to give you a bit of an update on whats going on here at ABI. As you noticed that our comments are down and we are a bit behind on posting some reviews. Currently we are in CMS hell with Movable Type- well we have been there for years, but things finally cracked. We are fixing this with a migration to WordPress over the next few weeks with an improved commenting system along with some other surprises. In the mean time check join the lively discussions in the forums!
Since ABi was acquired by a larger company we have been working to expand the ABi brand and one of the avenues we’ve been down has now turned into something much more than just an initial idea: the ABi Player. Put short, the ABi Player is a MP3 player made by us here on ABi and a Chinese OEM manufacturer. Don’t worry, it won’t be another MP10 player, we’ve made sure to find a manufacturer that actually produce decent products.
While we have absolutely no hardware or software design experience, we know what SHOULD go into a player better than most people. That’s why we teamed up with a OEM manufacturer that would let us use existing hardware for our own software. We’re not doing the firmware coding ourself, but we have the final say in what goes into the player. We also made sure to pick a player with a Wolfson chip in it so the sound quality should be excellent.
The interface in the picture is just a mock up, but you can except ABi branding in the final product as well- it’s our player after all. The player has a 2.8″ OLED WQVGA (480×272) capacitive single touch touchscreen as well as a couple of tactile controls on the side and top. The player has only 8GB of internal memory but two MicroSDHC slots on the bottom which will integrate fully into the media library. It will support Xvid video up to 640×480 pixels and hopefully we’ll manage to get h.264 support on there too in a later firmware update, although it won’t be available at launch. Other noticeable features are Ogg Vorbis and FLAC support, gapless playback for all file types including MP3, a line out mode and a 10 band custom equalizer.
Price is yet to be determined, but our goal is less than $150. We’re still looking at additional ways to distribute it aside from the site itself, so price will depend on predicted sales when those details get in order. We’re still working on the interface and some of the features of the FW but we’re expecting to have a pre-production model in a few weeks with a release around the middle/end of May or beginning of June. Stay tuned for more details as we develop this further! After having reviewed more players than what is considering medically safe, it’s nice to be able to decide how a player should be from scratch. Hopefully our readers will like the final product once it’s out.
Sorry to disappoint those of you who believed in this, but it was unfortunately April Fool’s
One happy side effect of reviewing MP3 players is that you end up with boxes full of them that you never use. Normally I sell off the players I don’t want to keep to not let them get to waste. The Archos 1 Vision that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago however is frankly so cheap that selling it off used would be a waste of time. All my friends and family already have MP3 players (somehow they seem to get them at both birthdays and Christmas) so I thought I’d send it off to someone who could actually use it. I’m aware it’s not the most exciting giveaway ever for a cheap, used MP3 player but I’m equally aware that someone out there would make very good use of it- it’s a 4GB player after all. To enter the giveaway just leave a comment below stating why you should get it. Remember to put your real email in the email field (not visible to the public). I will ship it anywhere in the world that has normal postal email with the exception of Italy. The reason for excluding Italy is simply that it’s infamous for having a postal system that often “loses” packages. I’m sending the player uninsured so no reason to add to the chance of losing it by sending it to a country where the chance of that is extra high.
Also, please only enter if you really want the player and intend to use it. If you just want it because it’s free, or because you want to “see how it compares to your other 20 players”, don’t enter. I’m doing this to get a player I don’t use into the hands of someone who will, not another version of myself.
I’ll draw a winner at random on Wednesday March 31st.
Also remember to check out the other giveaways we’re currently holding. There’s one for a USB DVI adapter, one for a Zune HD case and one for a J. River Media Center 14 license code.
Update: The giveaway is now over and the winner has been contacted. On a sidenote, I’m extremnely disappointed though not really surprised about some of the people entering this contest. It was a random drawing, and the first person who was picked was blatantly lying in their comment. If you’re going to claim to only have a very old low capacity player, don’t brag about your Cowon S9 on Twitter. The second person also had a touching story, but linking to a porn site in the comment’s URL field is not acceptable. Giveaways like these are there to help people, not for some greedy bastards to lie and sneak to grab whatever they like for themselves. The future of such giveaways might be very grim is this is the result.
FireFox 3.6 was just released, and one of the new features now included in the default install was the ability to use Personas. Basically these are themes for your browser that gives it a new look. Making a persona is pretty simple, so I couldn’t resist throwing together one for ABi. To use it or preview it, go here with FireFox 3.6.