JetEffect 7 + EQ options
One thing I found unexpectedly impressive about the Plenue R2 is its impressive EQ suite and JetEffect AI technology. A ten-band EQ is offered, allowing for precise user-control to match preferred sound-signatures and for tweaking with individual headphones. In addition to being able to create four user-made settings, 50 JetEffect 7 reference settings are included, using BBE+ digital phase-correction technology for some sound tweaks that amount to nothing short of digital ‘wizardry’. Unlike simple EQ-ing, the BBE presets have an uncanny ability to boost frequency response without seemingly going into clipping – they seriously need to be experienced to be believed. I have to say that ‘BBE Mach3Bass’ was somewhat of a guilty pleasure that I switched-on from time to time, but for the most part I tend to enjoy the individual characteristics and tunings of individual headphones, so tended to leave it off. Tinkerers and eq-ers among you will love this, however.
For a final touch to sound personalisation, four DAC filter roll-off options are available, Fast/Low-Latency, Fast Phase-comp, Slow/Phase-comp, and Non-oversampling. I’ll let you try and work out the difference between these – I generally leave DAC filters alone for the most part.
Spending a month or so putting the Plenue R2 through its paces revealed a couple of interesting things. Firstly, consider me to be a newly-minted DAP-covert. I don’t know what’s taken me this long, but in a way, the Plenue R2 is perhaps the best DAP choice for a DAP-novice like myself to jump-in and reap the benefits of having both my library and a terrific playback device on-hand at any given time.
Next, consider me hugely impressed with the Cowon Plenue R2 as a complete package, and what it represents. From end-to-end, it’s a quality experience, and frankly, terrific value at $549. This is a seriously decent option for not only the mobile IEM user, but full-size headphone users and desktop / two-channel users alike. The added DAC / digital connectivity options are hugely useful and given just how well the Cirrus Logic DAC chips are implemented, the Plenue R2 can operate as both a source and as your primary digital to analogue converter. If you have a decent library of digital music, or are looking to grow one – the Plenue R2 is a terrific choice. If you’re a streamer or are looking to add apps, well, you’d best look elsewhere.
All-in-all, the Cowon Plenue simply made being outside a joy. I don’t think it got quite near the claimed 20-hour battery life, although it did seem impressively long for me not to ever worry about it during daily use. Being able to cart-around my entire FLAC-collection and play-back so superbly via a simple, well-put-together device with a bullet-proof UI made me want to play music more often. And that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day…right?