back to article Colorfly Pocket Hi-Fi C4

The true audiophile is likely to have many questions concerning the Colorfly Pocket Hi-Fi, but chief among them is likely to be ‘How f*%&ing much??!?’ At £549 this Chinese-made high fidelity portable music player is nobody’s idea of a bargain, but if you’re one of those brave souls who still cares about sound quality, who …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised they put an equaliser on it. my information may be outdated by 20-30 odd years, but it always used to be that the money was sunk into quality of components, while equalisers were for the shelves of dixons, Amstrad & Matsui.

    1. AdamWill

      can be useful

      can be useful in the headphone world. there are some headphones that a lot of enthusiasts consider to be good absolute quality but with an unsatisfactory sound signature - so they want to use eq to address that. a high-quality eq could actually be a significant selling point for such people.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonder where all that scrap electronics would end up ?

    Been seeing loads of old stereo's/getto's at the scrap market, going into the back of vans for sometime, apparently into a container and bound for India or China, now we know where those flat Sony tape decks went. China might make a nice sound, but talk-about cyberpunk, it looks like its thrown together with scrap spare parts and whipped together using slave labour ! Sound quality it may have, but 500+.................only in China.............50 quid.....on fleabay by next week.

  3. ridley

    You might want to try downloading some 24bit tracks from somewhere like

    How can you review it failry without checking out the 24bit/192khz files. TBH I think 24b/192khz stuff can be absolutley superb, getting onto vinyl quality it has only taken 30 years...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Vinyl resolution <11 bits

      And I love playing records.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


        "How can you review it failry without checking out the 24bit/192khz files."

        Quite frankly, I will never believe that using high-res audio files will make the least bit of difference here. For the size and type of analogue stage components in that thingy all the benefits of the extended dynamic range and lower quantisiation noise will be lost or inaudible.

        Add the external noise seeping through your headphones (because you are buying it to listen on the go, aren't you? Because IF you are buying it at all you already have an expensive audio setup for home, right?) - and all the HD audio stuff is just a marketing gimmick...

        1. ridley

          "Quite frankly, I will never believe that using high-res audio files will make the least bit of difference here."

          Are you meaning on this device or in general? If in general then I suggest that you listen to a few.

          1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


            I mean on this one and on any similar small-scale portable device...

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        Vinyl resolution <11 bits?

        you don't really understand analogue, do you?

        1. Sean Baggaley 1

          I do.

          I spent about a month's worth of my free time 'ripping' my parents' vinyl collections into AAC format.

          I wasted more time trying to get rid of all the hisses, clicks and scratches in Audacity than I spent actually playing the tracks into the machine in the first place. Some of the records dated to the 1950s and had been played so often that they'd become audibly worn, with all sorts of nasty audible artefacts.

          I can only assume that the truly hardcore vinyl fans are like comic book fans: they buy the records and never, ever, take them out of their original packaging to listen to the things.

          As an audiophile and occasional musician myself, I have no time for vinyl. It was, and is, hugely overrated as a format.

          1. Liam Johnson

            re: hugely overrated as a format.


            I pretty much gave up my audiophile aspirations 20 years ago after spending 3 days, and finally 2 grand on a factory refurbished ex-demo Musical Fidelity pre/power combo. As a joke I asked, what comes next. They swapped out the pre-amp for one costing 4 grand. The difference was incredible. For 3 days we had listened to a Decca LP of Bach's Toccata and Fugue, and for the first time, we could hear the individual caps closing on the organ pipes. Other LPs were also improved, but this was a real difference you could point out to anyone.

            I decided to bail out before the single crystal silver cables took over my life, but but I now know there is a whole world of HiFi out there way beyond what people normally get to hear. Hell, they wouldn't even demo this stuff unless I had spent 2 grand in the first place.

            Since then, if anyone says they can't hear the difference, I simply assume it is because their hearing is shot. As mine is too, 20 years later, but it doesn't mean the difference isn't there.

            1. jason 7

              Vinyl listeners - cloth ears?

              I've listened to many turntables from Amstrad to Linn and they all have the same issue. The needle drops, pop crackle, crackle then after about a minute you get into it, past the surface noise. Then you get 5-10 mins of reasonable sound. Quite enjoyable. Then physics and the inherent limitation of the media kicks in as tracking distortion mounts. Then its 10 minutes of nails down a blackboard as the distortion becomes really noticeable. In this instance you cant help but 'listen to the hardware', the limitations are hitting you over the head.

              This is on properly aligned decks too. After 20+ years of CD/digital sources I just cant get past the distortion of LP. Yet if you mention this on a audiophile forum they all say "No I cant hear it, rubbish!" To me its far far worse than what you could possibly get while listening to a 160k digital Ogg stream on Spotify through a £40 soundcard.

              Which must prove they have terrible hearing. Which is why they can enjoy it maybe? Good for them is all I can say.

  4. petur

    For those on a budget

    You can get a supported mp3 player and put rockbox on it. See

    1. AdamWill

      won't do anything for the sound quality

      that's not going to do anything for the sound quality, though, as that's almost entirely determined by the quality of the hardware components of the player - the DAC and amplifying hardware. whatever firmware you put on a cheap DAC, it's still a cheap DAC.

    2. Andy 97
      Thumb Up

      Never knew about Rockbox, thanks.

  5. Nick L

    Aha - some empirical measurements!

    Forgive me, but I am unconvinced. I'd like to be convinced, though!

    "the Colorfly undoubtedly delivers a fuller and more complete sound than the same tracks played on cheaper PMPs"

    That's something measurable in the signal then. How about some proper facts and figures to back it up? Or even a single graph of response? Or should we just accept that the heavy, weighty MP3 player, with a natural wood finish, that's costing 550 quid, really did just sound 'fuller'.

    Or are you just describing how you felt listening to an expensive player?

    Well done on not using the words 'richer', or 'deeper' or 'heavier' or even 'more natural' or 'harking back to analogue days', given that's what the whole packaging is aiming for with the wood, sliders, etc.... You lose points for 'glorious' and 'intimate' though after noting that the wood gives an 'air of reliability and class'.

    after being fooled myself by psychoacoustics (heavier cables give deeper bass, silver cables give a brighter sound), I'd like to see some proper testing.

    You know what you're doing reviewing other stuff, so it's not an unreasonable expectation for you to do a proper job. How about a proper double blind test with something running rockbox with some interested readers?

    1. Antidisestablishmentarianist

      You are clearly deluded if you think you'll get any empirical evidence for anything in audiophile land. That's unless someone has come up with an empirical model of the brain.

      Just understand that some things sounds 'better" than others and some people are willing to pay more than others for what they 'think' sounds better. What is wrong with that?

      Who is sadder, those people who accept that and enjoy their lives, or those trying to suck that enjoyment out with cold calculations.

      1. Nick L

        OK, forget empirical measurements then and try to take the psychoacoustics out of it? Don't get me wrong, I like my audio toys, but I'm a little jaded with the whole cable thing: my brain sees shiny, my brain hears shiny, my brain feels something heavy, my brain hears something heavy...

        That's possibly why I've gone back to using Kef speakers that are nearly 20 years old and selling on my monitor audio setup...

        What about comparing a flac played on this thing against a flac played on an iPod with RockBox using a double blind test? Too much to ask? Not even difficult with the size of the things involved!

        At the moment the review is just one person's opinion after sitting down and listening to something that claims to be the best audiophile portable player, leagues above anything else out there. That's a big claim, and it needs big evidence, and deserves a bigger test.

        I daresay anyone dropping £550 on this will be extremely keen to state the same as the review, as I doubt you'll get someone saying "actually, I preferred my setup that was one fifth of the price of this thing".

      2. jason 7

        I was one of those.....

        ...that had a full Meridian Audio setup, would strip and clean my system down every few months, had the spiked tables, the £200 cables between CD player and amp etc. etc.

        All you do with those setups is listen to the hardware, not the music. Very few 'audiophiles' ever learn this or will admit to it. They cant as they feel idiots to admit they spent all that money and have forgotten the key element in it all...the tunes. Just enjoying the tunes.

        Since then the Meridian gear has gone into storage (I might get it out as an ironic joke one day) and most of my listening is now done on a separate PC speaker system through a Spotify account on my PC.

        I now listen to far more music and really enjoy it. I don't care what the hardware is doing anymore.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Who is sadder?

        How about those trying to suck money out of audiophiles wallets with cold calculations of what they can get away with charging?

        There are self professed 'audiophiles', who like to tweak. There are real audiophiles who work to improve audio quality through science and engineering. It's the latter we have to thank for any improvements in sound recording and reproduction quality.

        In recording studios, where kit has to pay its way, the volume knobs are all plastic, and the mains plugs are not gold plated.

      4. Anon E Mus

        @ Antidisestablishmentarianist

        There are plenty of things that can be shown empirically in an audio equipment test. For instance the Colorfly claims good high frequency performance and low jitter so why not do frequency response and jitter measurements?

        What cannot be shown empirically is personal taste for particular sound colourations. Whether you go in for clean detailed sound or gentle valve distortion or even massive bass boost is your choice; taking empirical measurements simply shows which of these a given product delivers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Personally, I agree with Accoustical Engineering's vision

          An amp should be like a piece of wire - with gain

    2. DrXym

      Well quite

      "You lose points for 'glorious' and 'intimate' though after noting that the wood gives an 'air of reliability and class'."

      Audiophiles like wooden knobs, valves, needles, copper piping, gold connectors. Integrate any of this crap into your design and you can slap a 2-10x markup on your device. Never mind if it's got some bog standard electronics inside of it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Design - as the AC above says, it's boomboxtastic. Fail

    Classy logo - badge of the would-be oligarch.

    Ergonomics - vertical volume slider on a device designed to be taken vertically in and out of a pocket.

    Gold plated USB. Gullibility alert.

    Upsampling crappy MP3s. Gullibility red alert.

    'Testing' - confirmed it supports various file formats. That's some serious testing!

    Equaliser - if you're going to spend serious you'll have serious phones and wont need eq. This thing will end up plugged into Beats by Dre or Bose so will need all the help it can get.

    Bargepole - it should come with one

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      I read the sentence about Beats and Bose, and just had to hit the upvote!

      In addition to all of your thoughts, I'm pretty worried about what pocket lint will do to the volume slider after a few weeks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "serious phones and wont need eq. This thing will end up plugged into Beats by Dre"

      In that case, you will need a bloody good EQ in order to tone down the unnatural extra bass that Beats add.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sorry for the ambiguity

        Of course I meant that Bose and Beats by Dre are the exact opposite of serious headphones. Clownphones, in fact

    3. a33a

      "- if you're going to spend serious you'll have serious phones and wont need eq. This thing will end up plugged into Beats by Dre or Bose so will need all the help it can get."

      and then

      "Of course I meant that Bose and Beats by Dre are the exact opposite of serious headphones. Clownphones, in fact"

      Bit of a contradictory argument then?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not really

        What I wrote first -

        "Equaliser - if you're going to spend serious you'll have serious phones and wont need eq. This thing will end up plugged into Beats by Dre or Bose so will need all the help it can get."

        What I should have written -

        "Equaliser - if you're going to spend serious you'll have serious phones and wont need eq. INSTEAD, this thing will end up plugged into Beats by Dre or Bose so will need all the help it can get."

  7. Matt Brigden

    Looks like an old star trek prop

    People hankering for vinyl need a good slap . I have Dj'd for years and dropped vinyl the second cd's went mainstream . Cds went the way of the dodo when mp3 became viable . I have listened to Flac and all manner of other lossless files and unless your running it on rediculously over priced uber gear you cant hear a jot of difference . Audiophiles and Wine buffs have a lot in common .

    Anyone seriously wanting to fork out £550 on a pmp that looks as naff as that does has far too much money kicking around .

    1. ridley

      Thankyou for confirming my long held suspicion that the majority of DJs have cloth ears.

      1. Sean Baggaley 1

        DJs have a target audience...

        ... that couldn't give a shit whether the audio is 44.1 kHz or 192 kHz, as long as it has solid beats and a good melody.

        The sound systems used even by the most famous of rock bands and their ilk have barely changed since the 1950s: it's all just monaural crud cranked out at the highest possible volume using technology that wouldn't look out of place during William Hartnell-era episodes of "Doctor Who".

        The quality of any recording is only ever as good as the quality of the sounds being recorded. Recording a live concert isn't going to give you amazing sound worthy of a 24-bit, 192 kHZ DAC simply because the technologies used to perform a live concert are, frankly, shit.

        Even orchestral music has a large portion of extraneous noise—you've got anywhere up to 80 people breathing, scraping stuff against other stuff, hitting stuff, blowing, or just shuffling their feet and occasionally coughing. If you can't hear any of that in your recording, it's not an accurate recording, but a highly processed and unnatural one. (Recording an orchestra is still considered something of a dark art even today; there's no single standard method for doing it.)

        The only sound sources that can possibly be recorded faithfully, without any extraneous sounds, artefacts and other noises, are digital synthesisers, that can bypass the analogue conversion phases entirely.

        Ergo, if you're not listening to electronic music, you're actually spending all that money just to hear the bits the record producers never wanted you to hear.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          For live pop, rock, etc - You do know you can take a feed off the mixing desk, and just mic for ambience and audio response? The days of miking with a crossed pair from a front row seat are long gone.

          And the technology has changed. In the 50s, 'singers' had to mime to an offstage backing singer. Now the soundman has a laptop.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      People hankering for vinyl need a good slap

      no they don't, they just like something you don't. I still buy on vinyl if available. All my recent vinyl purchases have come with free mp3 downloads anyway, but that doesn't stop the gatefold sleeves and coloured vinyl discs being lovely things to own.... (P.U.T.S Highlighter, I'm talking about you in particular!)

  8. Paradroid

    That is one hideous piece of design. High tech and wood do not mix!

    Reminds me a bit of how how Apple (usually masters of design of course) screw up with their software by putting wood/leather textures into their apps.

    If it didn't look so bad I might be interested.

  9. Kevin7

    It looks like an MP3 player a 15 year old would make in woodwork lessons. Epic fail.

  10. Richard 31
    Paris Hilton

    Fairer tests.

    Why do we never see these tests of observed sound quality performed under anything even approaching a fair test.

    In a world where so much of sound quality is perceived, and there seems to be a lot of snobbery amongst audiophiles separation from the system is essential.

    In my mind the sound quality should be reviewed in a dark sound proofed room. The reviewer is told nothing what-so-ever about the system they are reviewing. The reviewer may have any music they please played for them, and for as long as they like, BUT they under no circumstances get to touch or see the kit until after they have written the review of the sound quality. This review is then sealed away from them and may not be altered.

    Then and only then may they be permitted to see the kit to give the review of the aesthetics of the kit.

  11. DrXym

    A rich seam of gullibility

    I intend to produce a mat to complement this device. To the untrained eye it may look like a beer mat (possibly due to the Fosters logo on it) but in reality it is part of a signature series of mats hand engineered to dampen background electronic interference, and increase acoustic resonance producing a rich and warm sound. The mat will be on sale shortly for £600 which I'm sure you agree is a bargain for anyone who strives to attain the ultimate sound reproduction system.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      "engineered to dampen background electronic interference, and increase acoustic resonance producing a rich and warm sound"

      You mean demagnitise!

      Excellent idea - I remember some people in the 90's made a lot of money selling demagnetising kit for ... CDs.

  12. Patrick R
    Thumb Down

    Looks like a Zune

    For that price they could have involved a designer.

  13. Some Beggar

    This is brilliant.

    It's a spoof, right?


  14. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Mixed feeling about this...

    The design form factor is pleasingly different, though I'm worried about the slider build quality - these potentiometers tend to go bad very quickly leading to them adding nothing but awful noise very soon, especially on a portable player exposed to dust etc... I may be wrong here and the volume is controlled in the digital domain but is it, really?

    On the audio side - all this HD uncompressed stuff is irrelevant on a portable machine because a) you'll be listening to it on the street and not in an anaechoic chamber and b) because the miniaturised analogue stage electronics cannot be good enough to do justice to the source material.

  15. blofse

    minidisk anyone?

    Can pick them up cheap off ebay - much cheaper than this device and they are of equal quality and if you have many disks - equal capacity.


  16. Anonymous Coward

    I know an audiophool

    I know an audiophool - and they won't touch anything digital, unless it's for their 90" plasma HDTV + Blu-ray. But for enjoying the holiest of holies - music - it MUST be analog and it must be tube.

    If they really want to capture the audiophool market, they must have a pair of firebottles sticking out of the top (because audiophools MUST display their superiority to all, so the tubes must be visible). And since that will suck power like crazy, you MUST have a special power supply, with genuine oxygen free copper extra virgin yak wool insulation and harmonized by not less than 50 hours of Tibetian monk throat-singing.

  17. stucs201

    Er, how LITTLE?

    "Uncompressed hi-res audio files take up a lot space, but thankfully there’s 32GB of storage on-board"

    WTF? 32GB is a pittiful amount of storage for high quality and/or uncompressed formats. Stick another zero on the end and we're starting to get somewhere. The robustness and silence of flash storage might be good, but capacity really needs to catch-up with aging hard disk based players (and even there I've spent several years waiting for a 320+GB version of the iPod classic).

    True in this case you could theoreticaly use multiple micro-SD cards in a similar way to the old swapping of tapes, but they're just too small to really label with their contents (and rather loseable).

    I really wanted to like this. The styling is a little too retro for my tastes, but its nice to see some proper connectors and physical controls (though I too have doubts about the slider) instead of the usual featureless black slab and touchscreen. Failure to be able to hold my music collection (even in mp3 format) without swapping fiddly little cards is a dealbreaker though.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      I'm one of the few people to own a Zune HD, and a big part of the reason was that it came with 64 GB onboard for at least $100 cheaper than an iPod Touch with equivalent storage. For anyone with a sizable music library, especially one with high-resolution audio files, 32 GB is inadequate, although it's better than the 4-8 GB that seems standard with most other brands.

  18. jason 7

    Unless it has a......

    ....massive battery in there why does it have to be so large?

    Looks to me like it was initially designed to take a HDD of some sort.

    Open it up and chances are a lot of it may be fresh air.

  19. pear


    Would you really want to carry around £500+ gear on a bus?

    I do actually understand this product though, it does have the potential to be the basis of a mini audiophile setup.

    Some minor issues...

    It 1) Could do with more capactiy, although a standard lossless album will take 500mb or so, so around 100 albums ain't too bad.

    2) Double up as a usb dac, for things like spotify etc without needing a converter.

    3) Better format support.

    4) a squeezebox touch costs less than half that

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, yeah...

      People carry iPads, iPhones and all manner of similar expensive gadgetry around on buses all the time, so why not? I bought headphones that cost more than this player, I work in an open plan office and good closed cans are the only way to avoid distraction sometimes.

      I'm using a Cowon X7 as a player due to the decent sound and 160gb drive inside - I would honestly like to know how the sound -really- compares with the Colorfly. For example all Cowon players newer than the X5 have bass rolloff which can only somewhat be fixed with the EQ, but they still sound better than most. We're told in this review that the Colorfly sounds 'intimate' etc, but honestly it could do with some detail to make it really useful. Going to Scotland where AMP are situated for a test drive isn't really an option for most of us.

      Sod the cost, sod the looks, sod the lack of features - there are people out there like me who really just care about sound quality and storage space. If it does what it says on the tin sound-wise, feel free - make it look like a 70s hi-fi, I don't care :)

  20. Dick Emery

    I tried...

    ...I failed (thus far). No empiracal evidence provided (yet).

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