Saturday, 12 May 2012

Cowon i10 Quick Review

Cowon i10 Quick Review

Thanks to Advanced Headphones for the samples (AMP3’s sister site)

Brief: Cowon makes a fabulous but infuriating DAP.

Price: 8GB £99, 16GB £119 and 32GB £149


Most importantly, MP3/2, WMA,OGG, FLAC, APE, WAV

Accessories: A charging / data cable and a pair of ear buds. Why I don’t know as anyone buying this is going to know enough to have better anyway.

Build Quality: It’s actually a really nice product. It looks and feels very sleek and professional. You man have not heard of them but it’s easily the equal of Sony or Samsung.

UI: It’s pretty with its ability to change the colours but ultimately like pretty much all Far Eastern UI’s it sucks. It’s not terrible though and you’ll get used to it quickly so long as you don’t question why things are so.

In The Hand: It is very nice, the weird curved shape fit my hand perfectly and its tactile matte plastic back felt lovely. It’s a pleasant thing to hold in your hand. The volume button was in a good place to reach but the on / off, wake / sleep button wasn’t, it was a pain but only a little one. The capacitive buttons were horrid to use and a regularly set off one of them without meaning to.

Aesthetics: I like it. The screen looks good so long as you look at it directly, its clean and soothing to behold. It’s a nice looking product; calm and a bit boring, somewhat sophisticated looking in comparison to the competition.

Sound: Love it. Cowon have a reputation for sounding great and they live up to it here. I really, really liked how it sounded even if it was somewhat V shaped for me. So long as I didn’t pair it up with something with too forward treble it was fine. I should also note that the EQ on it was fantastic in that it didn’t suck. On many things you can tell when the EQ is engaged as it turns things to suckage but I could have sworn it was the work of a hardware EQ. I don’t know how they did that but it’s been the best EQ I think I’ve ever heard on a DAP. Also the amp is insanely powerful. I can’t help but recall the similarly proportioned Sony 846 which wasn’t hard to max out and not deafen myself. The i10 can power even my big HD600’s and bloody loud too. When it comes to it audio output I cannot really find any fault. Okay its V shaped and sometimes vocals were a bit too far off but if that bothers you it can be EQ’d back, that’s really all I can complain about when it comes to audio.

Value: It depends on how you like the buttons. In many ways I reminded of the Sony A846, they have the same form factor and are aiming for the same buyer. If it wasn’t for the buttons on the i10 I’d instantly pick the Cowon as the winner. It sounds fabulous, sure the screen isn’t as good but I don’t care. What I do care about is those stupid capacitive buttons as I skip tracks constantly and I couldn’t do it without looking at the damn thing. For me a deal breaker but if you’re happy with effectively touchscreen like controls then I don’t see how you could get a better sounding yet still sleek and pretty cheap option.

Pro’s: Sound quality is outstanding. Feels very nice to hold in your hand.

Con’s: Those capacitive buttons, I hated them strenuously.

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