Altmann Micro Machines Tera-Player Review
The lack of screen is indeed a pro and cons issue. Personally, it wasn’t a big issue for me to deal with since I don’t need to have 10,000 different songs stored on my DAP at one time. I listen to my music on an album basis, and so having 10 different albums would suffice for one week of listening time. But I realize that this is not the case with the majority of people who likes to have 500 different albums on their Ipod at any time. This is indeed a big minus with the Tera, but on the other hand the lack of screen again makes it a really though DAP. I’m never scared about accidentally dropping or stepping on the Tera (you know those things happen, right?).
Finally, the limited power output of the headphone amplifier. This was another big deal to me as I am a big time headphone user. No I didn’t test the Tera with the Koss Porta Pro (I probably should, but I’ve never thought about the Koss too highly). I would expect the Tera to be able to drive relatively easy headphones like the Sennheiser HD25-1 but it doesn’t! As a result, I’m stuck to using my IEMs with the Tera. Still a very good combination and IEMs are far more resolving than the average portable headphones, but it would’ve been good if we can have more power. Of course you can add in a portable amp to the Tera (simply use headphone out), but then you add bulk to the package. Maybe with something like the RSA Mustang you can have a nice little stack that can drive big full size headphones.
The price is definitely not easy to swallow. But if you think about it, from the days of the first RWA Imod + portable amplifier stack, it’s not that uncommon to see a portable rig that costs over $1,000. Personally, I don’t have that sort of money, but again I don’t think Charles is interested in making a player for the masses.
Me: Any plans to include FLAC support?
Charles: No. Let me explain: I wanted (for myself) a small portable player, with a real
DAC, super-fidelity sound quality, rugged, no frills and long playtime. I also wanted high-resolution audio playback up to 24/192 kHz, which is theDVD-A standard.Now look at other ‘portable’ devices that claim to be capable of 192kHz playback.
1) there are very very few, just a couple maybe.
2) they are not pocket size, they are bag-sized, heavy and have low
Now how is it possible that a one-man developed product beats all others ? I have chosen a very small ARM chip with low power-consumption. But a small chip with low power consumption also means: small program memory, small data-memory. To get the performance I have written the software in ARM-assembler language which is extremely fast and very compact. However I don’t have enough memory to perform data-conversions from one file-format to another. Therefore I have chosen the .wav file format as it is the most simple and it is absolutely lossless.
Another advantage is that by not using any file conversion inside the
player, the playback routines can be finetuned to enable a very smooth and
regular power-consumption, which is important for sound quality.
Gear used for review
Tera-Player, CypherLabs AlgoRhythm Solo, Fostex HP-P1, Hifiman HM-801, JDSLabs O2, JDSLabs C421, JHAudio JH5Pro, Etymotics ER4P, Shure SE215, Sennheiser HD25-1, HD580, Superlux HD661.