iOS Corner Face-Off: HF Player And NePLayer

Lieven told me that no one uses iOS anymore. Piss off, Lieven.

I use iOS. So does Louis. So does Chase. And guess what, Lachlan does, too. I’ll have you know, I’m with Lachlan. (Fist bump, dude.)

I’m practical. I have stayed with iDevice primarily because there’s a baseline performance you can expect from them. They have pretty good outputs. Some of them perform as well as audiophile devices. Some even perform better than after-market DACs like the Shozy, and certainly so with sensitive earphones.

That is, until iPhone 6S noisegate. (Fist bump, Lachie.)

Loads of iDevice users love their music, and listen almost religiously through their iPhones, iPod Touch, iPods, iPads, and more. And while Apple tossed us the bones of search, lock-screen controls, support for 3rd-party audio hardware, and more, the music-listening experience has progressively become worse. Well, that was the line I wanted to drive prior to spending hours and hours with the two apps in this review.

Without giving away my conclusion, I’d like to point that deficiencies exist in the stock Music app.


1. hi-resolution files don’t play
2. iDevice isn’t compatible with open-standard file types (FLAC, OGG Vorbis) among other file types
3. stock iDevice apps are limited to playing back 24/48kHz files
4. Music app is getting more and more junked up

Two alternatives make a good showing, both accruing good reviews among audiophiles, and serving up a lot of utility for their respective prices. Both are Hi-Reso capable.

What?

Hi wha??? Hi-Reso. (Hint: Rezo, not Lesso.) It’s an intolerable Jinglish bastardisation of the English term, high resolution. Evidently the concise abbreviation, Hi-Res wasn’t esoteric enough. Urban dictionary couldn’t do worse. In fact, reso is an accepted abbreviation for reservation. (Come to think of it, high reservation – I think I could find a use for that term.)

Whatever its history, we’re now stuck with Hi-Reso. Japanese companies make a bulk of hi-res DACs. Shit.

Today’s contenders are:

HF Player – ONKYO – 9,99$ USD (free + in-app purchase for hi-res playback)
NePLAYER – Radius – 14,99$ USD

HF Player

HF Player has been around since 2012. It goes for 11,99$ CDN; 6,99£; and on and on. It adds OGG Vorbis, FLAC, and DSD (2,8 and 5,6MHz) support to the iDevice’s bevy of supported file types.

Part of what initially sold HF Player was its built-in EQ. Onkyo threw in a bunch of preset headphone-specific EQs, as well as feature EQs made by famous musicians, all of which are meant to make your headphones sound better. It’s a pretty intuitive system, just not pretty. You drag your finger at a target frequency and pull or push it up or down. It’s like the EQ iRiver debuted in the AK100.

It continues after the click below or HERE

iOS Corner Face-Off: HF Player And NePLayer
3.8 (75%) 12 votes

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

14 Comments

  • Reply September 29, 2015

    George Lai

    I used to have HF Player in an attempt to play high rez on my various iPhones but as you rightly pointed out, the inability to sync high rez defeated its main purpose amongst other things. So now my solution is two-fold:
    1. Use the stock music app on my iPhones (I still use my iPod Classics) for my iTunes lossy and ALAC files. Nothing comes close to the ease of synchronization. Nothing.
    2. Use my Sony ZX-2 DAP for my lossless FLAC and DSD music.
    Life’s too short to try to shoehorn one into the other.

    • Reply September 29, 2015

      ohm image

      I need to update one thing. I didn’t point out that HF Player requires in-app. But even with it… ridiculous.

    • Reply September 29, 2015

      ohm image

      Honestly, unless you are listening at volume levels above the noise/dynamic ratio of 16-bit, hi-res has no advantages. I understand the need/want to play them. I fall into that group as well.

      Which is another reason I prefer the stock app. Anything that makes it harder to enjoy music is tough. That said, if I had to choose just one ridiculous 3rd-party app, it would be NePlayer.

      • Reply September 29, 2015

        George Lai

        I agree, Nathan. Though I have my high rez files, DAPs, DACs, and amps, there are times when my iPhones and the stock app with a decent CIEM more than suffices, especially when I’m outside the house at a coffee shop watching the world go by.

        The other thing I’ve never agreed with is the seemingly general view that iTunes is cumbersome. It is almost perfect for music. I just ignore the video, podcast, etc sections as I don’t use them. And I say again, I have yet to find any music app on my Mac that does such a marvelous job at synchronization and creating smart playlists.

  • Reply September 29, 2015

    derSchallhoerer

    You need to check out the Vox Player iOs App, Nathan. Hires support (even dsd if you’re fancy) and costs nothing.

    • Reply September 29, 2015

      dalethorn

      If you’re familiar with that player, can you say a couple things about it? Let’s say that all I wanted to play is CD rips at I have in a folder on my Mac. Can I download those tracks to Vox as easy as iTunes downloads to my iPhone now? Does Vox have as good an interface as iTunes, particularly A to Z buttons so I can jump to tracks beginning with Z immediately? Does it have an equalizer? Does the free versions hit me with ads?

      • Reply September 30, 2015

        ohm image

        I’ll cover this one, too.

      • Reply September 30, 2015

        derSchallhoerer

        As long as they are redbook alac’s, yes you can just transfer the way itunes would normaly work. If they are flac or everything above redbook, there is an app-folder menu within itunes were you can drag and drop files and folders into the vox app. I really like the UI. Its minimal and to me personally aesthetically pleasing. Scrolling from A to Z is possible, yes. The build in EQ is pretty good to be honest. I’m not aware of any ads whatsoever. And this thing gets updated regularly. Just try it out, Dale. It’s free and won’t bite. And maybe you end up digging it.

  • Reply September 30, 2015

    djordje

    Accudio™ Pro by Golden Ears

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/accudio-pro/id553759905?mt=8

    it has a big DB of headphones profile (personalized EQ for most models) that tries to improve sound – tends to make flat freq. response of a headphone by applying downloaded EQ created from official headphone frequency response graph…
    better explained:
    http://accudio.goldenears.net/accudio/concept/

    I think free version does not support FLACs or automatic EQ download anymore, personal EQ can be created though. 🙁

    On mac (os-x) I use VOX too , like it a lot (simple, drag and drop any kind of file and it plays well).

    • Reply September 30, 2015

      dalethorn

      I’ve used Accudio Pro, but what I tell users is don’t always settle for the setting that’s matched to your headphone. Sometimes there’s another setting that works better.

    • Reply October 1, 2015

      ohm image

      Largely, I put these side by side because both make hullabaloo about hi-res, not merely lossless. Golden Ears (which I own), does not.

  • Reply October 7, 2015

    Willyman

    You do realize there’s not actually anything above 20 kHz coming out of your iPhone right? Unless you connect a DAC it’s hardware limited.

  • Reply November 4, 2015

    Colin

    I can’t try ne player & kaiser-tone(i have read on other audio forum, anyone ever try this?), i have try(good) is golden ears(not accudio) but it has problems can’t play songs from music library & must manually manage the songs ; a better one(feel awesome) is relisten(arround usd60, amazing price i think), they have lite one to try it. So whose become the best arround this with yours experiences?

    • Reply November 4, 2015

      dalethorn

      According to the app’s description, Relisten will actually modify the music “to recover the original sound” from your MP3’s”. That doesn’t sound good to me.

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