A good media player that can be improved...
Reviewed in the United States on 12 January 2020
It's rare for me to try new products from companies I have little information on. If fact, there are a lot of similar versions of this digital audio player or DAP, available with the same specs. This is my first ever review of this particular DAP. The model number listed is FW3C. Bluetooth is supported, but not for every function on this device.
By design, this is a 'jack of all trades' media player. It plays multiple types of music files (more on that in a minute), watch video (AVI files), view photos (JPG files), record in MP3 or WAV format with a built in mic, on-board speakers for playback. The FM radio function works surprisingly well. Corded headphones or speakers played through an AUX cable must be plugged in for this function to work unfortunately. You also have the option to record from your radio presets as well.
Now about the media types I've tried. Simple enough, I've encoded a sample CD with MP3, APE @ Normal compression (Monkey's Audio), FLAC, and WAV. I didn't do AAC-LC, I just wanted to do a more direct approach with my testing. These are the bit-rates I've tested with:
MP3 - 320KBPS, 44.1/48KHz -- Played without an issue. This player is definitely optimized for this media type. The file size alone makes it perfect for near CD quality sound to go! MP3s are a 'lossy' format: chunks of data removed from the music to conserve space. Depending on type of playback size you choose, the music can sound a little grainy, even muffled! Stick with 192KBPS or higher to improve your MP3 collection.
APE 16-bit, 48KHz Normal compression -- This is an absolute step up from the MP3 format. It's a night and day difference. Like FLAC, APE is a 'lossless' format: nothing is stripped away from the music regardless of size. Which brings me to...
FLAC 16-bit, 44.1/48KHz -- Fully Lossless Audio Codec or FLAC has been a mainstay since the late 2000s. Popular opinion suggests that the format completely changed the way we listen to high-quality digital music. It certainly has its strong points to back that claim. Nearly triple the bit-rate data of an high quality MP3 @ 320KBPS, FLAC is CD quality and then some.
WAV 16-bit, 44.1/48KHz -- WAV format is a PC based file. But it's a full size file that's 1:1, and you can run out of hard drive space real quick if you make enough CD albums with this type. With the right encoding software, you can have a great sounding file. Just remember to save your files on a decent size external hard drive.
The biggest surprise to me about this DAP, is that it can playback 24-bit FLAC and WAV files, but only up to 48KHz. Encoding FLAC/WAV files @ 24-bit 44.1KHz is about as high I would go on this particular DAP. It seemed to struggle just a little bit with loading each file @ 24-bit 44.1/48KHz, but it smoothed out afterwards. It's a minor annoyance, but maybe fixable with a firmware update? We'll have to wait and see...
Bluetooth headphone pairing works well, it just depends on what type of headphones you're currently using. I'm using the Anker Soundcore Vortex wireless headphones for testing with this DAP. They're great sounding cans, plus they can be used with an included balanced audio cable.
Overall, this is a good DAP. Yes it has its flaws, but there's plenty of room for improvement. The EQ settings should be easily accessible, and more functional. Having a custom 5 or 7-band setting would be most ideal for this player. And some of the features listed on this player felt...well, unnecessary.
For instance the E-Book function. Text form only? Not with this size screen.
The step counter is a cool add-on, but not completely accurate.
Also, the Photos function works separately from the BT audio. It will ask you to disable it. The pictures come out looking either stretched or squished. Orientation matters, fix that FDY! And please add the use of .mp4 video files. It should be able to play on this DAP easily.
One last thing: if you are still using wired headphones, PLEASE get a portable headphone amp. Adding one to this DAP would be ideal for volume enhancement. It's not really loud enough for me in my opinion, but it is loud enough for smaller users like for kids under 12.
Enjoy the music. FDY, make me a Hi-Res Audio DAP. I'm trying to see something. -KC
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