Hisound have been around for a few years now claiming to have a high quality audiophile sound and offer a range of players to the market. The flagship of the Hisound range is the Studio V line and here we have the 3rd anniversary edition which promises to fix some of the shot comings of it the standard V edition. A player that Hisound themselves claim to be the best in the world. Lets take a look......... its going to get interesting.
Firstly after discussing with Jack of Hisound he offered to exchange the original V for the 3rd Anniversary Edition due to my complaints of how bad the hiss was on my unit and that I was generally unimpressed at a number of issues with the player. At this point it is where things started to get ugly.
I had just completed the review of the Colorfly C3 which was soon exploded into what is now well over a 100 page discussion on head-fi with numerous glowing reviews and causing many sellers to run dry. Early on in this review (and at the same time my Studio had been sent back to china) I made mention that the Colorfly C3 was without a doubt streaks ahead of the Rocoo BA. Jack of Hisound chimed in with claims of testing and fact that his player was better and did so in such a manner that he was reprimanded and had his posts removed. Never before had anyone quite seen a company rep act in such a manner.
Not thinking much of it time passed and I received my Studio V 3rd Anniversary. However there was one glaring flaw. The backplate on it was that of another model and not that of a Studio V. Upon Contacting Jack i was met with abuse and accusations that I had switched the backplate, i said no and offered pictures as proof, serial numbers from both my studio V and Rocoo which had been sold a long long time before (proof offered) (of which this was a completely different one) but got nowhere. At first I had believed it a simple mistake but then as it unfolded I now genuinely believe it was a deliberate act in some way to either spite or discredit myself due to the Rocoo BA criticism I had made.
Then I dug deeper into everything I could find on Hisound, I contacted companies in Shenzen who had dealings and other people who have been mistreated in the past. What I was to later find was simply shocking and I believe one of the biggest cons in the Audiophile world today. I wont go any further on this as some people are prone to burying their heads in the sand on the subject but between the Chinese and Russian forums you can get a rough idea of what is going on.
That said here is my review of the Studio V 3rd Anniversary Edition take it for what you will but I have tried to take all other factors out and just simply review the player.
THE MEAT OF THE REVIEW
The Studio 3rd comes in what can be said as one of the nicest packaging i think I have ever received. It comes in a faux leather box that is very sturdy and classy looking. Upon opening the player is nicely presented and the accessories are neatly tucked away below.
As reasonable as you would expect. Included in the package is a usb connection/charger cable. and a set of Paa1 earphones from Hisound which as earbuds go are quite good and are reviewed separately. You also get a warranty card and a Chinese manual.
Build quality is hit and miss, it is a very sturdy player that is a solid metal box buttons have a good click to them. However as I have mentioned the wrong backplate was on my unit. That asidethe only other real problem was the screen was not centered and sloped up left to right slightly. After the argument this player was opened up and the cause of the screen mis-alignment was due to a loose screw rattling about inside which has also been reported by other owners. That aside the thing is a tank.
USABILITY AND FIRMWARE
The firmware on the 3rd is very very basic. It is almost the same as the cube c30 except it doesnt work quite as well and has less features. Almost all formats that you would wish to have included are here MP3, WMA, WAV, APE, and FLAC. Music is best sorted by ones own folder arrangement and is very simple to use and is my preferred method of browsing files.
There was some issues in testing with the occasional crash however the biggest annoyance of all was every single time you turn the player on it performs a scan and this can range anywhere between 1-9 minutes before you get to hear your music. To me that is unaceptable, what if I want to check something or just take a 10 min break and listen to some music?
Memory can be expanded with up to 32 gb micro sd.
Now we have to get this straight, people seem to assume I claimed the Studio has bad sound which it does not. However what it does not have is the stupendous ridiculously good sound that would make you shell out the £300 for a relativley featureless player.
The sound in all areas is fine and I compare it to that of The cube c series product, and that probably comes down to be what i have been told is that the are basically the same internals. It is no secret the firmware is virtually identical and that the cube OEM'd the Roccco A player is evident on just looking at them.
The sound is slightly bright but not sibilant with and emphasis on the high end sparkling, mids were fine with good accuracy and and bass also perfectly inoffensive. Its all fine. However it is also rather a let down.
One issue is that there is still hiss present on most of my phones it is faint yes and it is definitely a step up from the standard V wich was unbearable. In my opinion no audiophile player should hiss at audible levels when playing.
Battery life is epic in this device, 80 or so hours worth of playback, again the usual crowd on the forums had mentioned that this was Hisound magic and brilliance. In reality all is revealed when it is opened up you find that it is not a Class A amp as claim (may be a Max amp but Hisound deface it and claim it as their own design) a Sigmatel chip and a whopping big battery.
In my opinion no one should touch the Hisound range of players with a very long stick. The firmware is buggy, the sound is ok but then you realise that they want to charge you near on 300 for what essentially is a £20-£30 player dressed up in nice clothes. Other options out there such as the Colorfly c3 and ipod/lod/amp stacks are far more cost efficient and provide better functionality and sound.
*UPDATE - Its seems Hisound are at it again this time cube are manufacturing the NOVA line which is essentially just tweaked cube c60 players. Reviews have not been great so far and i wont be getting one in for review.