3: Low-profile MMCX
Especially when paired with larger customs, or earphones with non ergonomic designs, low-profile MMCX connectors are important. That and the absence of memory wire. Muck’s sit between Linum’s true low-profile connectors and Oriveti’s more awkward designs. Especially bulgy earphones will push them out a bit, perhaps enough to jut away from the ear, but most earphones will allow Muck’s MMCX connectors to cleanly follow the ear’s contours.
2: legible/tactile interface elements
Muck’s shape bends far enough forward that you won’t need to look for its L/R labels. Its raised volume rocker is long, easy to use, and its nub won’t keep you guessing about which way is up (or track forward). Its power/pause button is neatly placed and quickly accessible. Microphone recording quality is clear enough, but connection times slow it down relative to the native iPhone mic. Still, with such great range, it would be remiss of me to reach for the phone.
1: Longer than five hour battery life
And really, this is what sold me. Muck isn’t cheap, but the price I got at e-Earphone wasn’t too over my allowance. Sony claim 7,5 hours of playback. I’ve not got that, but my unit was purchased used, and I sweat a lot and keep forgetting to bring my phone with me, which probably makes its receiver strain a bit. I get more than five hours, possibly even six, which is all right with me. It kept up through Fujiya’s Headphone Festival, and nails 2,5 hour train rides into Yokohama and back. And it does all of that with rock solid connection quality. Damn.
Finally, let’s talk sound.
8: Good sound quality
Knowing you, this is probably most important. And I agree – to a point. If it sounds like crap, there is no point. It’s just that wireless is already somewhat compromised. There is no way for it to perfectly rival a wired connection. For me, it’s all the other stuff done right that makes a good-sounding device worth it. And Muck is good sounding. Damn good sounding. It is the first wireless receiver I’ve used that hisses about as little as the headphone output of a high-quality smartphone. If your iPhone 6’s headphone output is fine, Muck will be fine. It hisses less than a number of high-end players and amps I have tested in the last five years. It hisses less than my Lynx HILO, than COS Engineering’s H1, than most mains amps I’ve tried, than the AK100, than the AK70. It’s brilliant.
And, as far as I can tell, it spits a quality signal, suffering very little under the load of Xelento, though struggling slightly with Campfire Audio’s Nova. Bass comes through strong, sound stage is wide, detailed, and extension is good. It’s probably on par with many of today’s commercially available players, and certainly better able to hold signal under load than a certain number of yesterday’s top-flight DAPs. Damn.
If you get Muck, you’re stuck with single-ended MMCX. Sure, it hisses less than Astell&Kern’s XB10, but if you upgrade or side grade, or fail a grade to anything but MMCX, you’re Muck the creek without a paddle. That’s it for me.
Is Muck’s output as good as an iPhone SE’s? I doubt it, but it is close enough, and Muck is way, way, way more convenient. Except that, because its usable range is so damn good, I keep forgetting to take my phone with me. I think it is ugly, like Google Glass for the earphone geek. But there are way worse designs out there. Muck’s got it where it counts. And I’m counting on it to make my listening life funner and easier.