In this article we look at the newest portable player from Colorfly, the U8 DAP
Disclaimer: The Colorfly U8 was sent to us free of charge in exchange for this review. The unit doesn’t have to be returned as far as I know.
Maybe the Colorfly brand name doesn’t immediately ring a bell here in the West but Colorfly actually was one of the first companies to launch an audiophile grade portable player with the C4. Maybe that name also doesn’t ring a bell but I’m pretty sure you’ll know what we’re talking about when you’ll see the unique unit with the sliders and wood. Colorfly’s was founded in 2007 and their C4 was the world’s first 24-bit/192kHZ portable HIFI player and it has become one of the HIFI industry benchmarks and is still sought after by professionals and music fans.
Our C4 article dates back to 2010 already, just to show you how early Colorfly was with their high end DAP. You can find the full C4 article here: https://www.headfonia.com/colorfly-c4/. Back then Mike concluded: “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 English Colorfly website can be found right here: https://en.colorfly.net/ . After years of experience in audio technology precipitation and unique insights into acoustics in the HIFI industry, Colorfly has developed, designed, manufactured, and sold high-tech companies that have become one of the top HIFI equipment manufacturers in China and abroad. Colorfly just might be the company with the pretties logo in the business and it looked gorgeous on the wooden C4. So yeah, I absolutely love the big logo print on the back of their new DAP as well.
Ever since the C4, Colorfly has released a series of other DAPs but none of them were as iconic or successful as the C4 was. But now it’s safe to say that Colorfly is back and with the U8 they have a new high end portable player which many of audiophiles will absolutely love.
Colorfly will be launching several other products over the next few months but we can’t share any info on that yet. In this review we’ll be focusing on the new U8 DAP, so let’s have a closer look at what it is all about.
For the record, the U8 is the first DAP of the Ultimate Series and the C4 – which is still available – is part of the Classic Series. The new U8 goes for $1199USD on Penon and that puts it at the lower side of the high end segment.
The U8 – A closer look (Inside, looks and a lot more)
The U8 is available in green and starry sky black. The unit we received to review is the green one and I find that refreshing. I really love the design and the build quality, the finish is perfect. The screens – yes, 2 of them – sit perfectly flush in the body and there are no sharp edges as you can find on the Astell&Kern gear in example.
I also love how the headphone outputs have a slight plastic bump/protector so that you won’t scratch the case. The buttons on the player feel sturdy and firm, they give you a ice click each time you push them and they will for sure last a very long time.
The whole player feels solid and it just gives you a luxurious feeling when looking at it and holding it in your hand.
Design & Lay-Out
The Colorfly U8’s design is refreshing and innovative. It doesn’t look like any other player on the market and its size and weight is just right. The U8 measures 110mm * 66mm * 14mm and weighs only 196g, making it very pocketable.
The unique thing about the U8 is that it sports two screens. On top of the player you find a small 0.87” 128*32 OLED screen which displays the battery life, Wifi activity, Bluetooth, gain level and shows a custom text. The main screen is a 3.97” WVGA 800*480 touch screen. While I really like the double screen usage I feel Colorfly could have done even more with it such as displaying the title of the song playing so you don’t have to turn on the main screen, but maybe that technically was too difficult.
So on top of the unit you on the left get the small, useful screen and the power button, which also serves as the screen on/off switch. On the right side of the player you have a touch module on top with which you can set the output volume of the player. In the beginning that’s a bit weird but it actually is really cool and easy to use.
On the bottom of the player you from left to right have the 3.5mm headphone, optical and line output, the 2.5mm balanced output, the USB-C port and the MicroSD slot. On the back of the player you have the pretty black cover with the beautiful Colorfly logo. The left side of the player has the play/pause, next and previous buttons which also can be used to change the volume (but more on that later)
All-in-all I really love the look and feel of the player and in my opinion the Colorfly design team did an excellent job in creating a unique, sophisticated and sexy looking portable player.
The Colorfly U8 comes with 64Gb built-in memory and for a player of this level that’s the very minimum. I wished to have had a 128gb capacity as the single MicroSD slot only officially supports up to 256gb of storage.
The U8 won’t ever be the storage king but at the same time you can us DLNA to access your libraries on a remote drive, so it’s acceptable but it could be better.
Battery wise the U8 sports a 3300mAh battery and with that it produces around 7 to 8 hours of music, depending on the file format used, the output used and the screen time. Again, that’s not the highest for a DAP of this level or compared to the competition, but I guess it’s the price to pay for having two screen and an excellent level of sound.
The good news is that the battery charges very fast, so you shouldn’t worry too much.
When the battery is charging you can see an animation on the main screen, and when that screen is turned off, the touch section on the right to set he volume, lights up red. It’s a nice detail, I like it.
Unlike the N8 from Cayin, we don’t really know the full audio architecture of the player. What we do know is that it took Colorfly 3 years of R&D to establish the new audio architecture and I have to say the end result is really nice, but more on that later.
The U8 uses 8 layers of gold plated PCB with silk capacitors and the (double) DAC chip inside actually is one they developed in cooperation with ESS Sabre. We don’t really know all the specs of this chip called the Colorfly Alpha, but from our listening tests it’s clear the chip performs at a high end level.
The review continues on page two of this article, after the click HERE or by using the jump below
Loganaden Balakrishna VEERAPEN
Lieven at the start of the ‘U8 Intro’ you mentioned ‘Cayin’ instead of Colorfly – you might to correct that.
Sorry about that, thanks
Lovin’ the green color on this thing.
Colorfly alpha is based on es9018k2m.
As far as I know, colorfly uses es9028pro in testing version of U8 and es9028q2m in mass production version of U8. I tried testing version of U8 before and it sounds better than mass production one.
Sorry, I made some mistakes in my comment, colorfly alpha should be es9038q2m in MP version. Colorfly’s engineers have tried different versions of es9028 and es9038 to balance sound quality and battery life.