A Hi-Fi in your pocket

Some times, I’d like to listen to music when I’m out and about. But I have no desire for an iPod, and I don’t want to use my phone as a music player. And I work for a company that sells hifis, so I aspire to something better than an Apple product. So today I went looking for portable media players that could do justice to high quality files. I haven’t had a chance to test any of them, but I found a few with very impressive specifications, with prices to match.

At the top end of the price range, coming in at over a grand, is the Astell & Kern AK120. It’s very stylishly finished and can hold up to 192Gb of music, thanks to two micro SD card slots. It also has very potent digital to analogue conversion, capable of decoding “master tape quality” files (24bit/192kHZ, CD quality is 16bit/44.1kHZ) and outputting them at the quality they deserve. (You’ll need to get headphones worthy of the output, though, and that could easily be several hundred pounds more). The AK120 is for someone who travels first class and wants the sound to go with it, not we pleb s who catch the bus.

There is an AK100, which comes in at about half the price. It has less storage and lower grade (but still very good) components, but should still provide excellent audio.

Coming in at about the same price as the AK100, and looking gorgeous, is the Colorfly C4. I think it lacks some of the clever features of the AK100, but just look at that lovely walnut case.

Closer to the price of an iPod, and something I might be able to afford, is the C4’s little brother, the Colorfly C3. It only sports 8Gb, but it’s also not up to master quality audio, just CD quality, so the files you stick on it are going to be smaller. You’d need to get earphones or headphones worth £50 or so to match the quality of the output, of course, but it would be worth it.

It’s time to start saving.

Trimming the playlist

I did something drastic yesterday- I removed the music collection from my computer.

I didn’t just delete it- I may want to dip into it later to pull out online purchases etc.- but I did cut it and paste it to a backup disk. It had reached over 16,000 tracks and was just too cumbersome. I didn’t know what I had and couldn’t shake the feeling that some of my music still hadn’t made it onto the pc. The sheer scale of the playlist was putting me off sitting down and listening as well.

So now I’m ripping my CDs as FLAC files using Winamp. The files are significantly fatter than the MP3s they’re replacing and it takes around an hour per album, but it’s going to be a more honest reflection of my music buying habits. It’s also going to be far better sounding when I get round to buying myself a DAC. And, because the current selection is limited, it’s making me go back to that ancient tradition of listening to whole albums rather than just hitting shuffle and hoping for some interesting juxtaposition.