MEET THE C4
Colorfly team didn't plan to compete with mobile phones at it's given price ($799), but more with the audiophile fellows like Hifiman, Astell & Kern and few others.
Lem me highlight few of the key Colorfly C4 features that stands out:
- sample-rate converter
- dedicated SPDIF DAC
- high-res player with support of 192khz/24 bits
- extremely low jitter
- 32gb of internal memory
- expandable with microSD cards
- ability to work even hard to drive headphones
- unique classic brass looks with walnut
- feeling of something substantial
- Set the SRC manually
- CIRRUS LOGIC CS4398 DAC chip
- CIRRUS LOGIC CS8422 SRC chip
- 3.7 V battery, SNR up to 108 Db, THD lowers than 0.003%
- The precision of 0805 resistance is up to 1% in the simulation
- Black 3U PCB
- 3U Gilt RCA interface for SPDIF IN/OUT (top grade)
- 3U Gilt interface for 6.3mm earphone (top grade)
- The rate of the Jitter is lower than 5ps
As stated in above, C4 implement quite some great solutions. From high-res replay, internal 32 gb storage and additional expenditure via mircoSD cards. With CIRRUS LOGIC CS4398 DAC chip
and CIRRUS LOGIC CS8422 SRC chip C4 wanted to pack the best sound possible into its elegant case. As seen from pictures they also use Black 3U PCB's and 3U Gilt interfaces. With the 5ps of Jitter, Colorfly C4 competes with quite many machine in the higher boxes and price range.
It's clear from the design sketched and specs a company determination to create something not only great looking, but performing about the average.
DESIGN AND STYLE
The whole appearance of C4 reminds me of everything I love about Art Deco movement. Feeling of substantial design, aged brass, real walnut wood, big pompous hand made logo, oversized volume slider etc. Jointly they form a produce or more and object to admire. You don't want to get tactile on first sight, but glance it for a while for what it represent.
Colorfly C4 doesn't try to compete with modern touch commands of portable players, but works with dedicated hardware commands. So no touch screen direct commands, but old school tactile commands. Combination of six hardware buttons and volume slider add additional retro feeling. Slider comes from ALPS pro line and this is something I really didn't expect to see on portable device. But, it works
In my listening notes I kept reminding myself with the same thoughts. A music machine! It felt like Colorfly C4 was made for taking time, appreciate the music, hardware hands on control and dive into you music with full attention. No fast consuming nature emotions, but a dedicated musical listening event. I think they succeed on a large scale when it comes to evoking those emotions. You might need few tries to get accustom to taking your navigation with slower pace. Like with the vinyl it's a routine. Scientists figured out, that repeating a certain things for 20 times in a role creates a mindset virtue and value. From there on we supposedly don't over think and just do it. This works for most of the things.
Colorfly decided to put all the connecting hub on the bottom of device. So a pair of headphone outputs, RCA SPDIF in and outs, microSD slot, they're all there. It makes operating much easier and hands on. This approach made you always reach for the same spot. Its practical. Only thing to watch out is the the spacing of the RCA outs. They are quite close and its harder to plug RCA connectors of larger diameter.
USB connector is meant for both transfer of files to microSD as well as for charging.
SUPPORTED FILES AND STORAGE
"The Colorfly has an internal 32 GB memory and supports SD cards of the type and SDHC2 SDHC4 to 32 GB. Some Class 6 SDHC cards are recognised and correctly read, but not all. Here we can not make any definitive statement. The customer needs to test out. SD cards with 64 GB of memory is not recognised because the address space of the C4 is limited up to 64 GB (internal memory + SD card)."
Which audio formats will be supported by Colorfly?
"FLAC 16 Bit up to 192 kHz, WAV 24 Bit up to 192 kHz, APE, MP3-320, Ogg Vorbis"
One feature that needs a dedicated highlight is ability of Colorfly C4 to upsample. Whatever you'll feed to the C4 SPDIF digital input it will upsample to a sampling rate from 88.2 to 192 khz. This makes C4 a unique machine for experimenting with digital audio streams.
With the ability of playing the high-res audio files, Colorfly C4 is an interesting device for the latest trends of download music offerings. Do note, that sadly only 16 bit FLAC files can be plaid, but at least up to the 192 khz. The comforting part is the compatibility of 24 bit 192 khz audio files in wav format. This will give you some additional work to decode/encode them, yet it doesn't close the doors of high-resoluton files completely.
With the Roxy Music, Nat King Cole, Dire Straits and few classical titles in 24/192, C4 sound was impressive and captivating. Connected to a 3.5 jack and driving few of my headphones the performance was not only involving, but moving.
The headroom, sense of the space, atmosphere and timbre were spot on and with enough dynamic impact to enjoy the music. Once you're passed the C4 functional controls and music start to reveals it's self the interaction between the aural receptors and bits getting transferred becomes flowing with torrents of energy.
DRIVING THE HEADPHONES
The C4 ability to drive both low sensitive and high sensitive headphones via its 6.3mm or 3.5mm stereo jacks gives you a great opportunity of taking your audio catalogue on the road or hide to the dedicated listening space with your in-ears monitors or large sized headphones. Via both outputs the gain was almost enormous (specially with 6.3 mm output) and C4 didn't have any trouble with driving even the 600 ohm headphones from my collection. Beyerdynamic T-1 Tesla under review is a monster to drive, but Colorfly C4 moved them with authority and some gain left for exploding levels of playback.
Colorfly C4 drive intimacy was almost on par with the dedicated headphones amplifiers like April Music Eximus DP-1 having here at hands. The three dimensionality and sense of space was not the same, but the music flow was really something to highlight. Considering, that you can get an instant intoxication of the music with one box, that acts like high-end audio media player and headphone amplifier seamlessly makes C4 it even more interesting. In high-elegant clothing included :).
If we look at past and what was possible with portable devices Colorfly C4 becomes a win win machine. Compared to other digital file players it's still bulky, but bulky with the style and guts to rave about. To be hones size didn't bothered me at all. As my retro, classical aesthetic urges was addressed spot on it grow on me with it's appearance.
Colorfly C4 stand on its own with its charm and substantial feeling. It reminds us how taking time for music listening is O.K. and needed! We're drawn into the crazy fast forward dealings of the daily routines without even stopping for a bit. C4 alarm us, that for somethings like music its worthy of stopping and taking time. If music gives us so much joy as we often like to talk about, then in cherishing it we should take the the path of ease and dedication.
Colorfly C4 is device not only for audiophiles on the go, but for music lovers and audio enthusiast. At home or while being mobile. It's "classical" appeal will touch many hearts. It certainly moved me.
In the world of simplistic and almost faceless devices C4 takes it's appearance boldly. It speaks in the language of music and aesthetically reminds us of the times when music matters and it was a thing of culture and dedicated events or historical remembrance.
Operating with Colorfly C4 might take a slower pace and few more pushes of the buttons, but you'll get to the desired point of action without to much hassle. Combination of looks and sounds C4 it's able to produces makes it an unique standalone player as both mobile and home system component.
Colorfly C4 wad made to impress when taking out of pocket or the travelling bag, but I believe the main things of highlight are that C4 ability to dragging you into the music listening with ruling ever tying else out.
Everything regarding Colorfly C4 is made in high style. From manual, packing box, web site and nonetheless device itself. I would really love to see more products getting attention and design dedication that Colorfly team put into the C4.
I'll end with the word I've started the review. It's classic!
Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. www.monoandstereo.com. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..