Review : Cowon Plenue D2 – Back to the future


For the nit-picker and nerdy one here, I’m giving the specs and technical sheets . For all the other, you can just go to the next page to see how the amp performs.


At the heart of the Cowon Plenue D2, you have a set of two Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC. Issued from the MasterHifi line from Cirrus, those chips integrates the DAC and the headphone amplifier on the same IC. This gives the DAP one of the best power-efficient circuit at the moment, which might explain why the D2 can live up to 30h in HD playback.

Mounted in dual-mono, the dual CS43131 system boast impressive numbers, even if you compare them to higher tier player :

– 130dB of Signal To Noise Ratio. This is a studio level measurement, so you should never, ever heard noise at any given volume.
– 0.0004% of Total Harmonic Distorsion. This value indicates the Plenue D2 can deliver high voltages without any distortion, interesting if you plan to use power-hungry headphones.
– 143dB stereo crosstalk. Ok, this is one of the best number I ever seen. This means there is no leakage from left to right or right to left channel, in any condition, ever.

Those are astounding numbers and if we feed the Cowon Plenue D2 with High-Definition files, you should enjoy every last bits.

Premium Sound DAC Filter

I don’t look much into DAC filter usually. It’s one of those settings that I don’t find really relevant in a real world usage, yet the Plenue D2 got me triggered for one option : non-oversampling.

You have five digital filters :

– Fast/low-latency
– Fast/Phase-comp,
– Slow/Low-Latency
– Slow/Phase-comp
– Non-Oversampling

I didn’t hear a big difference between the four first settings, even with DSD files. The Non-Oversampling was the only one I could sense a difference with during my tests. Voices were softer if not duller and I ended up, leaving the Plenue D2 in this mode for good. It’s not night and day, but it’s not uninteresting by any means.

Full specs

  • Type : Digital Audio Player- OS : Cowon OS – Matrix Browser
  • CPU : dual-core ARM
  • Rom :64Gb
  • DAC : 2x Cirrus-Logic CS43131
  • Sample rate : PCM : 8Hz – 384kHz (8/16/24) native – DSD64/128 – 32bits WAV
  • Outputs : 3.5mm headphone out / 2.5mm TRRS out
- Input : micro-USB

  • Screen : 2.8″ 2430×320 IPS Screen
  • Micro SD : SDHC / SDXC (single slot)
  • Battery life : 45h with MP3 playback / 30h with HD playback
  • Charging time : around 2h with a 2Ah/5V charger
  • Size : 53.1mm*79.2mm*14.9mm
  • Weight : 97g

JetEffect 5

  • 48 Presets (44 presets + 4 User Presets)
  • EQ 5 Band Equalizer
  • BBE, Mach3Bass, 3D Surround, MP Enhance
  • Reverb 9 modes

3.5 mm Headphone out

  • Output power : 2Vrms
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 40kHz
  • THD : 0.0004%
  • SNR :  125dB
  • Crosstalk : – 120 dB
  • Output impedance : 1 ohms

2.5 mm Headphone out

  • Output power : 4Vrms
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 40kHz
  • THD : 0.0005%
  • SNR: 130dB
  • Crosstalk : – 143 dB
  • Output impedance : 1.5 ohms

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

4/5 - (71 votes)

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 September 24, 2020


      I’m honestly thinking of getting this player but.. what about the reliability?

      I wanna be able to use it for 3-4 years without software/hardware issues.

  • 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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