Review : Cowon Plenue D2 – Back to the future

UI & Usage

Cowon Software – Matrix Browser

The Cowon UI is the same across the whole range, be it the Plenue D2, Plenue R or Plenue L. To be fair, it looks a bit out-dated now, especially compared to the android based solution.

Good points :

  • fast and simple. The Plenue D2 takes seconds to boot up and seconds to shut down. If you compare it to an Astell&Kern SR15, it’s like coming from edge bandwidth to fiber optical.
  • reliable. During all my tests, the player never failed me even when I used heavily charged micro-SD cards.
  • audiophile focused. All the playback options you need are directly accessible (equalizer, favorites, shuffle)

Bad points :

  • not as refined as modern UIs. When you scroll in your music catalog, there is a slight delay each time you want to drag down the track list.
  • pixelated. I mean… when everyone is talking about Retina displays, an UI like this really feels old.

The Plenue D2 UI isn’t bad by all means, when you understand this is not your “common” UI, it’s one of the most reliable ones I tried lately. It’s like driving an old car, you don’t get all the cool features like autopilot or Speedshift, instead you get an old manual gearbox… which works every time, any time.

Setting menu

To access the general menu, you can just click on the icon located at the upper right corner of the screen. Then, you click on the wrench, et voila.


  • Jet effect 5 : where the magic happens. Here you can activate all the BBE effects you need and adjust the sound to your tastes.
  • Display : language, font, brightness… all you need to adjust the screen.
  • Time : a panel where you can adjust the time and date of the player, as well as auto-idle and auto-shutdown
  • Music : this is where you can adjust playback options such as seek interval/skip interval, play speed and DAC filter.
  • System : in this menu, you can (des)activate the hearing protection, choose how you interact with the buttons when the player is locked, reset the player and set the channel balance (if you need more sound to the left than right for example)

Most options are directly available from the play screen, so you won’t have to go to the menu a second time.

USB and SD Card

Let’s cut to the chase, the USB port on the Plenue D2 is made for data transfer only. There is no USB DAC support and even less, no USB Out to connect another DAC to the player, just straight data transfer. Also, it’s not a USB 3.0 port, data transfer will be capped at 480Mbps or 60 MOps in real life.

The micro SD card slot worked as expected, data analysis being rather fast on the D2. I strongly suggest you to use a dedicated USB 3.0 card reader for faster transfer rates, with HD files this can take a while. Good news, the Plenue D2 also has 64Gb of built-in memory

The player automatically charges when you connect it to the computer. Since the Plenue D2 doesn’t support fast charge, it can take up to 3.5h but most of the time you’ll fill it up in 2h.

Streaming / DNLA / Bluetooth

All the above are not supported by the Cowon Plenue D2. Let’s move on.

Battery Life and Charging

Battery life has always been a forte of the D Series from Cowon. That’s still true with the Plenue D2. 45h of continuous playback with MP3 and 30h in High Definition. Thirty hours.

Cowon doesn’t give any information regarding the battery size or capacity, yet during my tests I think I’ve exceeded the 30h announced. By far. It’s as if Cowon applied some magic treatment to transform each mAh into direct music.

If battery life is crucial for you, make no mistake and get a Plenue D2. It’s been a long time since I used a player that could do weeks, one one charge. There is no deep sleep mode, but since the D2 only takes second to boot up, it’s basically irrelevant.

Everyday carry

As a daily driver, the Cowon Plenue D2 is a very, very good choice. It’s small, sturdy and fits in almost every pocket or bag. The back isn’t prone to scratch, nor is the glass panel once you’ve installed the screen protection.

It’s a bit thick so you’ll have a bulge in your pocket, but apart from that… It’s all good. Every button is found, even if you’re not looking at the player.

The review continues on Page Four, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.


A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.


    • Reply April 15, 2019

      Bo T.

      Funny, I almost never use the BBE Mach3Bass on my Plenue 1 because of its bloated bass.

    • Reply April 16, 2019


      I own the questyle Qp1r
      Do you think that, soundwise, the Cowon is equal, better or not quite as good as the Questyle ?
      I’m wondering to sell the Questyle and buy the Cowon…

      Thanks a lot !


    • Reply April 17, 2019


      As a self-confessed Cowon fanboy, it’s great to see their players getting more coverage in English-speaking markets these days. It seems that unlike Fiio, iBasso, A&K, etc. they’ve been behind in their marketing and international outreach until late.

      I had the Plenue V which is a very similar player – same screen and UI, just with one CS43131 chip instead of two, and only 3.5mm out. It’s a fantastic player, and I only sold it as got a hankering for going back to a larger screen Plenue with it’s snappier UI. With the PD2 released I’m very curious to hear the differences in the single vs dual DAC format, but probably never will.

      I agree start up times with Plenues are superb. Personally, Mach3 bass is a bit too much for me, mainly as I use bass-heavier cans like the B&W P7, Momentum 2 or HD58X. My go-to settings are BBE or BBE MP; it’s not just the EQ but change in soundstage they bring which lifts the sound to be more gripping and immersive 🙂

      Thanks for the informative review!

    • Reply May 5, 2019


      This one, or the Hidizs AP 80?

    • Reply October 29, 2019


      How is the sound compared to plenue 2 ?

    • Reply December 9, 2019

      Gary Bou

      I tested my D2 with 15 different headphones
      Like Sennheiser 4, AKG 3, Byer 1, Sony 1, Audio Tech 2
      Koss 2, Hifimann 1, KZ AS16

      Best sound with ALL AKG headphones!
      AKG Q701 Way better then other brands

      • Reply May 27, 2020


        Is the D2 able to drive the AKG712pro? And not just so, but very well?
        I got the D1 for super cheap but my desktop DAC died and now I’m debating if I should get the D2 or a portable dac/amp. I don’t necessarily need a dac for my PC but I want to drive the AKG712 with my Cowon Plenue D or Plenue D2.

    • Reply December 30, 2019


      How does the D2 compare to the HIby R3 Pro? I can’t find any direct comparisons online, which is weird since they both use the same DAC set. The Hiby has more modern features than the D2, AND it’s over $100 cheaper. However, if Cowon has a better overall implementation of the DAC that yields better sound quality and power, I might be able to sacrifice the extra features and lower price tag of the R3 Pro. Anyone else?

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