CES 2014 Calyx M Portable Music Player
My biggest gripe with the Astell&Kern AK120 is its inability to place artists and albums on a playlist. Adding one song at a time to build a playlist just doesn't cut it as far as I'm concerned. After my experience with the AK120, I've come to believe the user interface is almost as important as sound quality in a portable player.
So it was with baited breath that I sat down for my first test drive of the new Calyx M Portable Music Player ($995). Schwing! Man, this thing is cool. Android users will find themselves quite comfortably at home easily swiping your way through menues, and dragging and dropping artists and albums onto playlists using the proprietary Calyx user interface.
The sound is pretty top-notch as wellfrom what I could tell on short listenusing the very popular ESS 9018 Sabre DAC. Numerous file formats are supported (FLAC, WAV, DFF/DSF(64DSD and128DSD-DoP), DXD, AAC, MP3, MP4, M4A, OGG), and the M is able to play files at 16,24, and 32 bit depth, and 44.1, 88.2, 176.4, 352.8, 48, 96, 192, & 384 sample rates. The M is charged through a USB Micro-B connector, which also allows it to act as a USB DAC for your computer listening. Internal memory is 64Gig, and it will accept a micro-SD with up to 128G of additional storage. The case is black anodized aluminum with buttons for: power on-off; play/pause; and a very cool magnetically attached sliding volume control.
A couple of things were a little concerning to me: The output impedance is a tad high at a claimed 3.3 Ohms, so this player might not pair ideally with low impedance, multi-driver balanced armature IEMs. Many people won't care about its lack of Bluetooth connectivity, but I do like it in a portable player for use with personal audio speakers. And at 5.3" x 2.7" x 0.5" (134.6 X 69.2 x 14.5 mm), the player is a bit large. None-the-less, this a an apparently very well thought out player, and I'm going to be chomping at the bit waiting to get my hands on one once available this April.