Colorfly C4: The New High End Player

People who are in the market for hi-fi players are willing to live with UI shortcomings and big physical dimensions, as long as the player gives them the ultimate sound quality. And so the real test comes with an A-B comparison with two of the most popular player today: the HM-801 and the HM-602. The HM-602, seen as a second-tier player on the Hifiman line, is not quite the proper challenger. That leaves us only with the HM-801. Comparing the C4 with the HM-801, there are two primary differences: the HM-801 is darker and has a lot more bass weight, while the C4 is brighter and leaner on the mid and bottom. Pairing with the HD800, the C4 feels too light, while the HM-801 gives a nice addition to the fairly mild bottom end of the HD800. But that’s a matter of synergy, and I can see how some people would prefer the C4’s brighter signature over the HM-801. Having a brighter signature always helps in perceived detail due to more treble presence, and in this case, the C4 does benefit from that effect. Upon short listening sessions, the C4 sounds nicely detailed and with a big soundstage. However, after longer listening sessions, I can clearly hear that the HM-801 has a much better level of micro-details, ambience, and soundstage depth, though the soundstage is slightly narrower than the C4. Comparing with the HM-602, the C4 again has a much wider soundstage, but not so good on depth, micro-details and ambience. Of course this was a disappointment for most of us, as we expected this new product to better the HM-801 player.

Size comparison: the HM-801 is shorter, but a bit wider.

Another angle: the C4 is just slightly thinner.

Listening to vocals with the HD800, I find the vocals on the C4 to be very similar to the HM-801, but with less sibilance. Vocals are a little more forward, which gives better sense of intimacy, but it also suffers from a little glare. Bass weight and impact is also lesser with the C4 when compared with the Hifiman HM-801, but the frequency balance seems more linear on the C4 than on the HM-801. Overall, I think the upperhand on the sound quality still falls to the HM-801 player, though people who feels that the HM-801 is too dark would prefer the C4’s presentation.

As I’m using Google to find more information about the Colorfly C4, I found out that Colorful is a manufacturer of computer graphic cards. I don’t know how they decide to start making Hi-fi players, but the Colorfly C4 has all the good elements in place for a high end portable player. It seems that they really have done their homework to find out what the market wants, and they came up with a product that fills the demand quite nicely. The vintage look may be a shocker in this Ipod era, but it is quite nice for the people who’s into vintage designs (me being one). A lot of the features, such as the slider volume control, the EQ button and the resampling button can be said to be the first in the market, and it makes the C4 stand out among the pack. The 24/192 ability is quite controversial, as it turns out that none of the three players we have around can’t play 24-bit files, but the resampling feature, up to 24/192 is quite nifty, though I prefer to stick with 24/96 as I find the sound to be more analog than 24/192. Overall, I think Colorfly is quite successful in launching their first Hi-fi portable player, and I expect to see more Hi-fi products from Colorfly in the future.

Gears used for review:
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, JHAudio JH16Pro
Source: Colorfly C4, Hifiman HM-801, HM-602
[galleria sid=”galleria-1328669076″ width=”561″ height=”520″ speed=”270″ transition=”slide”]

Colorfly C4: The New High End Player
3.5 (70%) 18 vote[s]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

105 Comments

  • Reply December 18, 2010

    Dan Colish

    Looks really sweet! I can't wait for the full review.

    • Reply December 18, 2010

      Mike

      thanks, Dan. 🙂

  • Reply December 18, 2010

    Mike

    The C4 wallpaper image can be downloaded at the downloads page:
    http://headfonia.com/downloads/

  • Reply December 18, 2010

    @JotaIGz

    Looks great! Gives a very nice retro futuristic feel to it. Important detail, how much does it cost?

    • Reply December 18, 2010

      @JotaIGz

      Oh, and does it have internal memory?

      • Reply December 18, 2010

        Mike

        Yes, 16GB and 32GB I believe

    • Reply December 18, 2010

      Mike

      If you buy from the Colorfly taobao store ( http://bit.ly/ffAEee ), the price is 3499 yuan for 16GB and 4199 yuan for 32GB, which comes out to roughly U$524 and U$629, respectively.

    • Reply December 18, 2010

      Mike

      If you buy from the Colorfly taobao store ( http://bit.ly/ffAEee ), the price is 3499 yuan for 16GB and 4199 yuan for 32GB, which comes out to roughly U$524 and U$629, respectively.

  • Reply December 18, 2010

    davy

    Wow!!! I can't believe this did not end up as vaporware…I'm seriously excited about this. Thanks for the photo's, Mike!

    • Reply December 18, 2010

      Mike

      Welcome, Dave. B)

  • Reply December 20, 2010

    iyayy

    omg woods!

    If that’s the only thing needed that thing wins. xD

    • Reply December 20, 2010

      Mike

      Lol.. A wood fan, huh? 😉

  • Reply December 20, 2010

    @LievenVranken

    Price does seem a bit steep for a new player. too bad it's so big :

    • Reply December 20, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, it's priced to go head-to-head with the HM-801 Hifiman.

  • Reply December 23, 2010

    George Goodman

    Have you used it with a good DAC? That is what the coaxial S/PDIF output is for. You could even use it with the Boomslang/Toucan combo to create a gigantic transportable rig. I love the wood on the player.

    • Reply December 23, 2010

      Mike

      Hi George,
      Yes I've used it with the Grace m902 DAC, as I mentioned on the article. 😀

      I think that with a player that costs close to $700, we expect it to have a good internal DAC. Otherwise you'll just buying a $700 transport.

  • Reply December 25, 2010

    George

    Yeah, you are right. For a transport, you could make it much lighter and smaller. However, having both analog and digital is good for a portable player because you can now use it directly with the JH audio JH3A which takes the coaxial inputs. But pretty much everyone who can justify this player probably has some kind of transport and home rig, so your point stands.

  • Reply December 27, 2010

    David

    I have a bad experience with the slider pot in the past time…

    due to the slider construction, there must be an opening on the front side of the pot slider… in my experience, this opening make dust more easily get into the tracking area (compared to the common turning type pot….) and thus after sometimes, I got crackling sound while slide the pot…

    hopefully the fly use the pot with good encapsulation…

    • Reply December 27, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, that can be a problem with slider pots. Good point. I don't know what grade of a slider pots they use, other than the claim that they are using an ALPS Pro.

  • Reply December 28, 2010

    Ubik

    But, if it don't have a RCA connectique how log in a headamp on the colorfly. (I have sennheiser hd 650 and I would will buy a Lisa l3 ).

    • Reply December 28, 2010

      Mike

      Ubik, one of the problem with the Colorfly is that it doesn't come with line out jacks. So, no external headamps, unless you want to hook it through the headphone out.

      • Reply January 1, 2011

        Ubik

        Colorfly make a good product but they don't add a lin out for use the Dac, who is very good ? This is stupid.

  • Reply December 30, 2010

    BenJ

    I want it!!! Where to by this device in Russia???

  • Reply January 1, 2011

    Mike

    I honestly don't know why they didn't make a line out.

  • Reply January 27, 2011

    Ubik

    I read the feedback to hifiman hm 801, hm 602……… and I just want know where the colorfly to lie between these hifiman. The hifiman hm 801 is better than the colorfly, but the colorfly is better than the hm 602 (or 601) or not ?

    • Reply January 27, 2011

      Mike

      Good question.

      As I review more and more DACs, I realize that often people's set ups
      are not as ideal as a review set up. For instance, the HD800 is the most
      revealing headphone I have ever found for testing source quality and you
      also need to be playing *most likely* live recordings, whether
      audiophile recordings or classical recordings to get a true sense of the
      soundstage performance, ambiance and micro detail levels. Say if I'm
      playing a rock or electronic recordings, often the low level detail and
      the ambiance information is not there, so in the case of the HM-801 and
      the C4, with those recordings, perhaps the only thing that will come
      through is the different tonal balance. The C4 is brighter, and so that
      may come up as more detailed because of the treble presence. But if you
      take a HD800 and a live recording, then you'll notice that the HM-801
      has a far better ambiance, soundstage and micro details.

      For this reason, for some people who don't listen to a lot of live
      recordings, sound signature is more important than the actual DAC's
      resolution.

      Now, between the HM-602 and the Colorfly. Micro detail, ambiance, and
      soundstage depth is still better in the HM-602. But soundstage width is
      much wider on the Colorfly. The HM-602 is also warmer with an even more
      relaxed treble than the HM-801, so for some music, the Colorfly would be
      more lively on the treble.

  • Reply January 29, 2011

    ubik

    The hm-602 it’s very good with the hd 800 but I find than the synergy between the different composant is very important. For me, the hd 800 is too expensive (and I try with a shining amp and it’s not transcend for me and it’s for this I think the synergy is very important) and I want take the hd650.

    But the hd650 is very dark and the hm602 is very dark too, but the together isn’t risk to become too dark ?

    My dream installation is a hd650, hifiman hm602 (the hm801 it’s too expensive), the futur lisa l3, what do you think ?

    Thanks !

    • Reply January 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, I can see the HM602 going to be too warm and too dark for HD650.

      I would rather get the HD650, driven straight from the HM-801, and
      bypass the amp. The HM-801 is one of the most awesome pairing, direct to
      the HD800, and I don’t see it having problem driving the HD650 as well.

      With the HM-801, you also get more treble presence than the HM-602, and
      the DAC resolution is also very2 good.

      • Reply January 29, 2011

        Ubik

        The problem is than the hm801 is very expensive.

        But the installation than I want is a hm 602 (because i have in a good price), hd650, Lisa L3 and a stefan audio art cable. Is this good ?

        I see Lisa L3 have a V signature and the stephan cable makes brighter
        the hd650, this together is good or is it better guide me for an other configuration ?

        • Reply January 31, 2011

          Anonymous

          The Lisa 3 doesn’t have a V-signature, it’s actually the opposite which
          is a mid-centric signature.

          I would just get the HM-801, direct to the HD650 and not worry about the
          Lisa.

  • Reply February 9, 2011

    Njiomo

    hi,
    is it gapless please?

    • Reply February 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      No I don’t think it’s gapless.

  • Reply February 26, 2011

    Katana

    The Colorfly 1/4 inch headphone jack is also the Line Out – variable up to 2v! It will also allow two sets of phones to be used. I have been testing the C4 for three months and am now using it as my main music source, far better than any CD player I’ve heard. So, my two CD players are now boxed up and my CD/ Record collection is stored safely on a 240 gig hard drive. It’s also great to be able to make high quality play lists on say a 2 gig MSD which the Colorfly also uses.
    In short, some of your comments are very ‘subjective’.

    • Reply February 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Do you know that there are fundamental differences between a true line out and a true headphone out? So far I haven’t seen any devices that is able to combine the two into one.

      I am glad that you find the C4 to be very good. I think it’s a good player, but there are definitely better ones out there, even more CD players.

      • Reply February 26, 2011

        Anonymous

        Actually, the Centrance Dacport also combines the headphone out and line out. I still don’t think it would be as good as a pure line out though.

  • Reply March 4, 2011

    Katana

    The Colorfly does have line out. The 1/4 ” headphone jack is a true line out and will give about 2volts at maximum . Also, having used the C4 as my main music source for over three months I find that overall it is simply the best, my CD players are now no longer used and nor is my deck. Much of what has been written about the Colorfly is very subjective and many so called reviewers have only ‘played ‘ with it for a short time.
    A quote from another, well informed, user –
    “Overall I would rate the Colorfly as being the best music player because it sounded better with my ACS T1 custom IEMs, has a built in 1/4 inch jack output, it looks a lot nicer, comes with a nice carrying case, has slightly better software, has 32gb internal storage (the HiFiMan has no internal storage, only SD cards) and is also about £50 cheaper than the standard HiFiMan. Also bear in mind that my HiFiMan has the upgraded headphone amp module and a 32gb SD card so the total cost of my HiFiMan is about £800 compared to £550 for the Colorfly”.

    I would highly recommend the Colorfly to anyone.

    • Reply March 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks for the glowing impressions on the C4. Hope you find a better CD
      player one day.

  • Reply March 16, 2011

    Katana

    Hi. Sorry to bang on about the Colorfly but you say there are better players. I can’t find one with a better overall spec so far, perhaps you could suggest one? As for CD players, well I understand that all CD players are limited to about 20 – 20Kh and since I use only quality Flac/Wav files of 24bit/96 or 24/192 surely the Colorfly will sound better. At least I think it does. It seems to me that most folks are happy to spend a small fortune on players and headphones but are listening to mp3’s, so to my mind, a bit daft. Perhaps I’ve got it wrong? I have, only last weekend, seen the Colorfly being used in a Pro CD remastering setup by a very respected audio engineer.Surely that says it all!The only down side is that I can now instantly hear the difference between a good recording and a bad one and boy, there are plenty of those. Good music of any genre starts with a good recording and mastering and if you don’t have that, well, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear”!
    Regards.

    • Reply March 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      Katana,
      Don’t worry about all these debates and enjoy the music. If your ears are enjoying the Colorfly set up, then I’m happy for you.

      Sorry I don’t have the time to explain everything. Perhaps if you feel really inclined to, start a post in the Audiogon forums or DIYaudio or something, the friendly folks there should be able to assist you better in the discussion.

  • Reply April 14, 2011

    jeffreyfranz

    Mike:
    I can’t think where to leave this. Can you give me the full name of the CEC player you recently acquired? Could you describe the sound, have XLR, play SACD and so on?
    Thank you very much.
    Jeffrey

    • Reply April 15, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Jeffrey,
      I didn’t acquire any CEC player recently, but the TL51XZ has been the player I use for quite a while now. It’s mainly warm with relaxed treble and slightly mellow sound. It shines on soundstage imaging, vocals, ambiance.

      It comes with XLR outs, but no SACD playback.

  • Reply June 5, 2011

    Rebel_lion973

    Cool review, question no one seems to be asking/answering though is just how portable is it with the slider volume design? Not only would it accumulate dust over time  but I think most would find it difficult not turning it up when putting it into a pocket and down when taking it out. Its a nice touch and all but theres a reason why buttons and tabs are popular.

    • Reply June 6, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, I suppose those are valid reasons, especially with concerns over
      the dust. However that doesn’t prevent people from getting the Colorfly.
      I think at this point the product segmentation is a bit different than
      the other DAPs. People who owns the Colorfly most probably has a good
      number of Ipods at home and want something unique and that sounds
      superior from the Ipod. If they’re going for a walk outside they can
      probably get the Ipod Shuffle/Nano, or the Sansa Clip+ as those are far
      more mobile than the Colorfly. The Colorfly is quite big and isn’t
      practical to take out.

      • Reply July 14, 2011

        Katana

        Hi. I disagree with you on portability to some extent. I often carry the Colorfly out, it fits very nicely into the same case as my Beyerdynamic T50’s along with an interconnect in case I end up at a friends house and want to plug it into a static system. Of course, if I were jogging I’d use my iPod and would be less concerned about sound quality.

        • Reply July 15, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes I suppose you can take it out of the house. 

  • Reply June 17, 2011

    Rubbermouse

    hi 🙂 very interested in the colorfly c4!
    i want to ask whether there is a “shuffle” option on the colorfly c4?

    • Reply June 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      Sorry, I didn’t notice that feature when I reviewed the C4.

    • Reply July 14, 2011

      Katana

      Hi there, no shuffle option but personally I think not required on a machine of this calibre. I never use it on my iPod, find it annoying. Also the volume contol is protected internally from dust and does not seem to alter in my pocket although in tight fitting  jeans maybe.

      • Reply August 6, 2011

        Dave.

        Correction. The CF does in fact have shuffle, having no interest in this function I had not noticed it before.

        • Reply August 8, 2011

          Anonymous

          Nice.

  • Reply July 14, 2011

    Dave

    There have been two new firmware updates for the Colorfly which resolve things such as file error display and battery life.

    • Reply July 15, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks Dave,  wasn’t aware of that.

  • Reply August 6, 2011

    Pete

    Hi Mike. Would you say the Colorfly direct to an IEM / headphone is at a similar level to an iphone > pico slim etc?
     

    • Reply August 6, 2011

      Dave.

      Hi Pete.
      Comparing the Colorfly to an iPhone played through anything is a bit like comparing  a VW Polo to a Porche. No contest! If you take a look at Amazon U.K. there are a couple of reviews that will give you a better idea. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colorfly-32Gig-Hi-end-Digital-Player/dp/B004DWNJ18/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1312646135&sr=1-1

      • Reply August 8, 2011

        Anonymous

        Good input from Dave.

    • Reply August 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      It’s hard to say cause the Colorfly gives you a superior DAC section, but the amplifier section won’t be as articulate as the pico slim.

      Still I would take a Colorfly > headphone over Iphone > Pico slim > headphone for sound quality simply because of the DAC section is so much better, and the amplifier section is also quite good. And if I was using the Colorfly as a portable player, I probably wouldn’t bother carrying an additional amp.

  • Reply August 6, 2011

    Dave.

    The CF does in fact play native Wav files in 24/96 and 24/192. It will only play Flac at 16/44 although a new firmware update is expected to enable higher res Flac file playback.
    I have never seen an error message on any of the CF”s sold so far. The only thing I can think of is that some Wav files e.g. some files offered by Naim are in BWF and contain metadata which until recently the CF could not play. This has now been resolved.

    • Reply August 6, 2011

      Pete

      Am I right in supposing that I can use my laptop with my HiFace 24/192 usb-coaxial converter and connect it to the Colorfly to use it for 24/192 files from my laptop?

      • Reply August 6, 2011

        Dave

        Sorry but you have lost me here. I do not own a Mac and reviews of the HiFace are not that good. Why would you want to do this anyway? The CF works just like a portable hard drive, you can simply drag and drop files into its internal memory or onto an SD card and off you go. Many folk download HiRes files from sites such as HD Tracks in anything from 16/44 to 24/192 onto their PC or Mac, convert to Wav if necessary and then, as I have said, drop them onto the CF. As a ‘stand alone’ player the internal DAC/Amp are very good indeed and if you want better then you can use the SPDIF out into any DAC or digital amp. Did you read the second review on Amazon? Fact is even 16/44 Wav files sound pretty good anyway on the CF providing they are good in the first place. I always use EAC for ripping from CDs and the results are often quite stunning. Plus you can upsample if you wish direct from the CF. Perhaps the main downside of the CF is that it is unforgiving of poor quality recordings, it tells it as it is!
        Hope this helps, many people do not seem familier with the CF and often post comments without substance. I am happy to answer any questions re this player as best and as honestly as I can. As a matter of interest how many people are aware that there is a facility in iTunes to convert to Wav? I wonder why?
        Regards, Dave.

        • Reply August 6, 2011

          Pete

          Actually the HiFace is very good, there is nothing else comparable at its price range. Of course there are better, but not similarly portable and cheap
          The advantage of using a laptop is that you can
          a. use a nicer interface / music library manager like jriver
          b. watch movies etc
          c. just choose any music to play immediately, rather than copying it across to the colorfly before being able to play it

          • Reply August 7, 2011

            Dave.

            O.K. I see now and of course, all that can be done with a Windows PC too. The CF comes with a USB lead so that is all you need to transfer files from Laptop to CF. You can transfer any compatable file up to 24/192 wav. I guess you could also use your HiFace into the CF  S/PDIF in and use it as a DAC feeding into whatever. The photos on their web site show this I think. Forgive me if I am still missing something here 🙂

  • Reply August 31, 2011

    Niko Issakainen

    Kohta näitä saa suomestakin =) ei tarvii kärsiä enää ipodien ym tarjoamasta kehnosta äänen laadusta ja antotehosta =)

    • Reply September 1, 2011

      Anonymous

      Nice. 🙂

  • Reply September 17, 2011

    Farhan | Official

    This looks like an amazing product, and I’m tempted.
    However, what’s the point when my CDs are 16bit, and I can’t download 24bit music?

    • Reply September 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      Well if you can’t download 24bit music, you can record your own 24bit music.

      http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4n/

      Just kidding, why can’t you download 24 bit music?

      • Reply September 17, 2011

        Farhan | Official

        Ha! 🙂
        Ok, I’ll rephrase my question- where can I find a large selection of 24 bit music online?

        • Reply September 17, 2011

          CccC

          • Reply September 17, 2011

            Farhan | Official

            Not that I want to buy, but I did a search for U2 and it didn’t find anything.
            Still haven’t found what I’m looking for- pardon the pun.

            • Reply September 19, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yes you can’t quite get mainstream recordings like U2 in 24bit yet.

        • Reply September 19, 2011

          Anonymous

          In addition to HDTracks, you can also get 24bit music from Bowers and Wilkins:
          http://blog.bowers-wilkins.com/tag/24-bit-flac/

          Though the selection is normally quite limited to Audiophile and Classical, so can’t quite get mainstream music in 24bit, at least not yet.

          • Reply September 19, 2011

            Farhan | Official

            I think I’ll revisit this issue in a year or two – no substitute for CD and vinyl just yet (in my mind anyway).

            • Reply September 19, 2011

              Anonymous

              Actually digital playback has surpassed CD.

      • Reply September 26, 2011

        Dave.

        Just a thought…. the Zoom is a very good bit of kit indeed. I use one for making Wav files from vinyl via a decent phono amp. Playback quality is better than many portable players too and as good as some of the best. I had a listen to some recordings last night that I have made from my old albums, played back on my C4 and have to say, I’d forgotten just how good they are.  I think the Zoom is underestimated as a player or maybe just not even considered.

        • Reply September 27, 2011

          Anonymous

          Indeed, Dave.. have heard nothing but good thing on the Zoom. Perhaps I should do a review on it.

  • Reply September 19, 2011

    Dbvt

    Does it fly 24 bit/96KHZ/192KHZ Flac recordings, or would I have to convert them to  WAVs.

    • Reply September 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think it plays FLAC.

      • Reply September 25, 2011

        databass

        So could someone please clarify: does the Colorfly play Flac in 24-bit 96KHZ as well as 24-bit 192KHZ, or must I convert these hi-end Flac files to WAVs?  I would have a hard time believing that a $800 player wouldn’t play 24-bit Flac. I realize that I can convert them the WAVs, but I don’t to have to spend extra time or diskspace doing this. 

        • Reply September 25, 2011

          Dave.

          With respect, if you took the time to read these posts you would see the answer was posted here only 3 days ago….. O.K. Lets clear up a few things here –  ‘ The Colorfly will only play WAV files up to 24/192. It will only play FLAC and other formats up to 16/44′. Not a problem for me as I firmly believe that native WAV files are better sounding than FLAC 16/44. I don’t wish to argue this point, after long trials over the last year or so I, at least, am convinced that FLAC is not truly lossless. Disc space is not an issue anymore either. I have a strong feeling that FLAC suits the providers and is not in the best interest of consumers such as myself. Yes WAV takes longer to download but so what? All just my personal opinion of course.
          As for the C4, $800 does seem like a lot, I live in the U.K. where it costs about £550, not cheap, but I still think good value considering it’s spec and don’t forget, the Hi FI Man 801 has no internal memory! I have two Colorflys’ now and have come to the conclusion that 16/44 WAV on this player is more than just ‘good enough’ providing you have good qulity files in the first place.

          • Reply September 26, 2011

            Anonymous

            Thanks, Dave.

            It seems that your knowledge on the C4 has clearly surpassed mine.

    • Reply September 21, 2011

      Dave

      Hi.

      I’m amazed that after some considerable time now the Colorfly C4 is still not fully understood. I have been using, testing and comparing the C4 to other players since last Christmas and now have two. I have also used the Colorfly with various DACs and Headamps.

      O.K. Lets clear up a few things here – The Colorfly will only play WAV files up to 24/192. It will only play FLAC and other formats up to 16/44. Not a problem.
      I firmly believe that native Wav files are the best option anyway, certainly not Flac and yes I know all about file size, again no problem.
      Like any player of this type you will only get the best results by using the best source i.e. The File/recording. There was a blurb on the QA site (refering to the QLS 350 that said ….. “only if you use files LOVINGLY extacted using EAC”. Quite right in my opinion. If you rip a CD with care using EAC correctly then the 16/44 Wav file will sound amazing on the Colorfly and in actual fact there is often not much to be gained by using files of 24/192. One can always upsample anyway and on playback I prefer to leave the Colorfly set at 24/96. The resolution is incredible through the right(?) headphones.

      I do have many higher res files, 24/96 and 24/192 but few give a noticably better result than 16/44. There are always exceptions to this of course and some have so much resolution I don’t always like them, too much detail!!

      There are other points I’d like to make.  The Colorfly is often unfairly compared to other set-ups that use various Players, DACs and Headamps. As a STAND ALONE unit the Colorfly is excellent and when one considers the cost, is also very good value. The HiFi Man 801 for example has no internal memory and also needs the upgraded headamp in order to compete, very costly!

      Perhaps the best advice I can give would be – it all starts with a good recording and how one creates a file. A good 16/44 WAV file of a good recording should satisfy anyone but the most difficult to please and if one has to listen so hard to hear a difference then they are not relaxing and enjoying the music. Remember, you only have to please yourself, not your mates (he doesn’t have ‘your’ ears anyway) and no need to impress anyone either. If your ‘whatever’ player gives you pleasure and gets your foot tapping then why change things?  THE LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS  is a curse on all things Hi Fi!!

      Looking back over  these posts I see I have answered some of these questions before so perhaps it would help if readers were to check out previous posts.

      Oh, and before anyone asks, NO the CK4 does not compare to the C4 in build quality and especially in audio/musical ability. They are aimed at totally different markets and as far as I know the CK4 is not yet licenced (mp4) for sale in the E.U. although it does appear on eBay U.K. from an obscure source in China.

      • Reply September 25, 2011

        Dbvt

        I’m going to hold off spending $800 on this player until it can play 24-bit Flac in at least 96KHZ. To me this is a major FAIL not to support 24-bit Flac. Until then I’ll stick with my $50 Fuze.

      • Reply November 15, 2011

        Allan

        Hi Dave,

        I came across your comment while searching for reviews on the Colorfly C4. I’m no audiophile yet but I have recently become interested in upgrading my music library with better sound quality starting by ripping the CD’s in the correct file format. It sounds like you really knoiw what you are talking about and if you are the type that likes to tyeach others I’m sure I could learn a thing or two from you. If you wouldnt mind mentoring someone please let me know if I could e-mail you directly for a follow up discussion. I can be reached at wiltz@videotron.ca   Thanks Allan

  • Reply September 21, 2011

    Dave.

    “Actually digital playback has surpassed CD.”  Posted by Headphonia.What exactly do you mean here? A CD player is digital and anyway, the end result is always analogue. Do you base this idea on the fact that CD players are mechanical? Or, that digital files can hold a much higher bandwidth? Much of  which is beyond my hearing ability. I do have both systems, at times I prefer CD, other times I prefer what I think you mean by digital. They both please me but frankly, I prefer them both when ‘fed’ into a good valve amp (harmonics). I do not like  total silence between tracks, it’s not normal.  

    • Reply September 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Sorry I was being ambiguous. I meant digital playback as in a computer file based playback.

  • Reply September 21, 2011

    Dave.

    “I think I’ll revisit this issue in a year or two – no substitute for CD and vinyl just yet (in my mind anyway).” Posted by Farhan.I used to think this too. I love vinyl, well at least the ‘sound’ and still prefer it to CD in many ways. However, we are talking portable devices here (C4) and therefore cannot compare them. Having said that, I have recordings made from my vinyl collection in both 16/44 and 24/96 Wav that are wonderful. When played back via my Colorfly or even a QLS 350 these recordings convey all that I love about vinyl. The surface noise, odd clicks and pops, warmth and of course detail. Especially when played back via my valve amps. The best part is that my vinyl collection is now safely stored away, no risk of damage, I have sold my deck for a very good price and I have recovered a lot of ‘space’. Can I just add that the process of recording is a real pain. Apart from anything else one has to do this in ‘real time’ using a decent phono amp and of course a recording device e.g. Zoom.Strange, but must confess to missing the pleasure/pain of using vinyl sometimes. Just nostalgia.

    • Reply September 24, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes I love vinyl, I just don’t think they blend too well with headphones due to the pops and clicks (and headphones tend to zoom in on those pops and clicks). Vinyl just sound so much better with speakers.

      • Reply September 24, 2011

        Dave.

        Agreed!!

  • Reply September 23, 2011

    Dave.

    Please be careful people. There are FAKE CK4’s out there already. An example is a listing on eBay U.K. This can be confirmed by Colorful – Colorful Technology Europe GmbH Habichtstrasse 41 22305 Hamburg Germany.
    Do not however confuse this with the C4 also listed on eBay U.K.

    • Reply September 24, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks for the solid info, Dave.

  • Reply September 27, 2011

    Dave.

    The posts here are all well and good, interesting and thought provoking but (and including some of mine) are tending to go off topic – Colorfly C4. Am I alone here, does anyone else have the C4? I’d like to read the thoughts and comments from at least one or two other users of this player.
    In the meantime here’s a question. Is it realy worth worrying about higher resolutions than 16/44 especially on a portable device ? How many can honestly hear a difference anyway (loads of blind tests only give a 50/50 result at best – much like tossing a coin). And another, am I the only person here who can hear a difference between Wav and Flac?

    • Reply September 27, 2011

      Anonymous

      Okay,
      I’ve only had the C4 for the period of the review so you probably know more about it now than I do. But on the topic of Wav and FLAC, I’ve heard more than one people say that WAV gives you a weightier sound.

    • Reply April 13, 2012

      Chris Hotte

      I’ve purchased two iPods. One was the 160GB classic. It was reviewed as a good performer. Within a couple minutes I had clearly decided it was missing presence, sound stage. The sound was basically flat and tinny compared to my old Creative Zen 60.  I promptly returned it to Future shop.

      Fastforward ~2years. I bought an iPod Touch 4g 32GB. I was blinded by Apps, Wifi and more tools than I could shake a stick at. WONDERFUL device. Loved the interface! As the night neared its end, I remembered that I had purchased a music player.  Transferred some loss less recordings to it and plugged in my Shure SE500’s.

      I shit you not, 15 seconds flat, I heard the worst garbage amplifier ever. I ripped the headphones off and threw them in disgust.  Nothing wrong with the player I’m certain, it’s just that I expect a heck of a lot better from a “Music Player”. I couldn’t stomach it.
      Returned it today.  Apple makes crap portable audio and that’s all there is to it.

      So as you say, can you hear 16/44 vs 24/96 or 24/192? How the fuck can you not?  I have year to actually hear acceptable portable audio. I’m still searching.  Hoping products like these will deliver.

  • Reply October 1, 2011

    Dave.

    At long last the CK4 I ordered has arrived. First impression… not good, it rattles like hell !
    The seller says that this is normal, all CK4s’ rattle ????? WHAT!  O.K. anyone here know how to open it up without damaging it? I think it could be the battery. Sounds o.k. but not up to my C4, no S/PDIF but then I did know this before buying, battery life seems fine (so far about 8hrs).
    In short, not fair to compare with C4 but maybe value for money, mass market product that might appeal to those on a tight budget and who are happy with mp3, 8gig not nearly enough for quality Wav files in 24/192 ! Or even 24/96 ! Can’t really see the point on a machine like this, bit of a gimick, sales point I guess.  I shall do some long term tests and comparisons. Probably end up selling it on – anyone interested?
     

    • Reply October 1, 2011

      Anonymous

      That’s what I’ve heard on the CK4 too, not quite the same audiophile-grade player as the C4.

      • Reply October 1, 2011

        Dave.

        Glad you agree. In fact after listening some  more today with my T50s’ not even sure I like the sound. Early days, but to be fair a big difference in price and for those who want MP4  maybe a good buy. Having said that, not if they rattle about like mine does! I think/almost hope the seller in my case is full of bull s**t. I’ll email Colorful in a day or so and see what they have to say. Perhaps this player will at least stir up the market a bit. A challenge to the god that is Apple? Very brave and good luck to Colorful, the C4 has opened up a whole new world of pleasure for me and I for one am grateful for that.

  • Reply August 4, 2012

    khubmai

    Mike.
    Can I find colorfly c4 at Jakarta audio store?

    • Reply August 6, 2012

      Mike

      Not that I know of, sorry.

  • Reply September 14, 2012

    Victor Halgaard

    Any chance of a DX100 review in the near future? 🙂

    • Reply September 14, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Victor,
      A few friends of mine has the DX100 and I’ve used it on a few occasions.

      UI wise, I think this is the most complete, most mature audiophile player so far. Likewise on build quality.

      Sound wise, I don’t think it’s quite up there with the HM-801 and Tera Player. But again Hifiman is our sponsor, so..

      Full review, I don’t have a plan for it, but if you have any questions you’re free to ask.

      Headphone out is incredibly powerful, BTW. I was able to drive the HE-6 though at maximum volume level and gain.

  • Reply November 12, 2013

    amuryo_rei

    Hi Mike. What will be the outcome of pairing these with HD650 which has darker tone and more bass. WIll it synergy to each other? And I also has Vulcan+ amp which has bass heavy slam tone. WIll it synergy each other? Thanks

    • Reply November 12, 2013

      L.

      I’m using it right now. The so called HD650 veil isn’t there at all and the Theorem makes the HD650 less warm. Pace is good. Bass isn’t that big. very clear and airy sound. The HD650 clearly misses the tubes.

      It’s an ok combo but not the best of synergy

    • Reply November 16, 2013

      Mike

      Phew. Colorfly C4 with HD650? Tonally should work. I just don’t enjoy the lack of depth on the C4.

      Vulcan+ amp should help warm things a little bit.

      • Reply November 28, 2013

        amuryo_rei

        So, which DAP is better for HD650? Currently I’m using Teclast T51. It sounds great. But I’m looking for an upgrade. Should I buy DX50, DX100, AK100, or something else?

        • Reply November 29, 2013

          Mike

          The best is still the HM-801. It’s just that it’s big and not so sexy.
          The AK100 is the one I’d go for.

  • Reply May 22, 2018

    zinlioren

    I’ve been using c4 for 4 years now. Changed four pairs of headphones. Shure SE535, iBasso IT03, IE800 and recently just got a pair of SE846. My friend bought the new IE800s last month and I listened for around 20 hours on that one. To me, I think the best combo is with either 800 or 800s, after all, c4 tuned more for classical pieces. It did surprise me that 846 as a more pop/rock genre product can sound this good on c4. I think the biggest con about c4 is that its lack of a balanced output. I really hope they can make a new version with the same look but better screen and more portable. The design of c4 is just terrific! I want to switch to a better DAP but I just can’t find anything that looks better than the c4 : /

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.