Author Topic: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread  (Read 5200 times)

QDRPHNC

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Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« on: September 03, 2020, 04:20:15 PM »
So in recent months, spurred by posts by Sebastian Cobb and wasp_f15ting, I've been exploring the world of Chi-fi - weird and wonderful Chinese audio equipment that seems to be rapidly gaining the respect of audiophiles.

For a long time I'd been wanting to pick up a Fiio M7 (about $200), because I was sick of the volume limitations on my phone, and I wanted a dedicated player with lots of storage for lossless files. But the more I delved into sites like Linsoul and Penon Audio, the more I started to realize what a vast range of options are out there, beyond the Sonys and the like.

Criteria started to form. Cheap. Great sound quality. And no touchscreen, because I didn't want to be faffing around with another phone and another version of Android to deal with.

Here's where I landed on the player:



This is Acmee MF-01. It's tiny. I mean, really really small and compact. For scale I have shown it next to a Tum and a Realistic Micro 27 (the same one Cooper uses in Twin Peaks, fact fans). It's solid, you could use it to hit a person on the head. Is it quirky? Hell yes. It can only read one folder deep, so I had to do a few hours of folder rearranging and renaming. Then I had to use a program called Fatsort to organize the files properly, instead of the player's own mucked up way.

But here's the thing - it's $95, and it sounds stunning. I haven't found a single review anywhere that has a bad thing to say about the sound quality. Inside, it has the same guts you'll find in players costing much more - the amp is the same one used in some Astell&Kern models, and it uses the same post-amp as the Sony DMP Z-1, which is $8500. It's hard not to love this thing.

Also, here are some highlights from the official product description:

Quote
MF-01 workmanship is commendable, small body and even small girls can easily hold in the palm, frosted metal feels like the comfort of a lover's palm.

Quote
On the tuning, the MF-01 is a high-resolution that can be felt at the beginning of listening, and can easily to find the singer's breathing sound. The bottom sound purity is like a few kilometers of deep sea, and no murmurs should be allowed.

Quote
The whole machine design is a sound service, not a game machine that plays games or a reader that reads novels.

One the headphone front, I went with the Tin Hifi T3 IEMs. Mostly because they're fucking gorgeous, and like the Acmee, I couldn't find a single negative review. In fact, Steve Guttenberg (not that one) on Youtube says he'd have placed them in the $400 range based on their sound quality. They're actually $69.99, and the build quality is incredible.



It's been a lot of fun, revisiting my music collection and hearing it again in a whole new way. And I could see myself going further down this Chi-fi rabbithole. Really, what I have my eye on is this thing, the Xeulin H6. Look at this thing. Look at that screen on the side of it. Jesus it's a piece of work.



And that's the thing with Chi-fi. It's all sort of crazy and amazing. The designer is me is completely delighted by all this stuff, our phones and TVs and receivers are for the most part just black glass and plastic slabs. These guys are making industrial design interesting again.

Anyway!

PlanktonSideburns

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2020, 06:43:00 PM »
Love the look of that last thing what is it?

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2020, 07:44:40 PM »
That's the aforementioned Xuelin H6, the most lovely audio player I've ever seen.


PlanktonSideburns

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2020, 08:38:41 PM »
Man the 0hz are pumping outta that tune

Would love a gunmetal ipod

Where are they on sale?

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2020, 08:46:50 PM »
The two most popular Chinese retailers seem to be Linsoul and Penon. I ordered from Linsoul, paid $12 for express shipping and it got to Toronto in 6 days.

I'm listening to my Acmee / T3 combo right now, and I can't believe the level of quality I'm hearing for less than $200.

Other notables:



The bizarrely-screenless Walnut V2, which apparently sounds fantastic and retails for $35.



The Blon 03s, which a lot of people consider top of the line sound quality - $26



Zishan DSD, which looks like it's held together with glue, but has reviewers raving, $150.



The Xuelin H-8, which comes with different DACs and amps you can switch out to get your preferred sound. Pricey though, $800.

Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2020, 04:24:09 PM »
That's the aforementioned Xuelin H6, the most lovely audio player I've ever seen.



Can't get over how lovely that looks. And it comes in a leather presentation box. Amazing.

PlanktonSideburns

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2020, 06:26:27 PM »
Yea these things look lovely - the one big knob energy is doing it for me

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2020, 12:09:27 AM »
Explain to an idiot (me) what’s going on here.

Are they just MP3 players but with a much higher build quietly and superior audio fidelity because parts/labour are cheaper in China, and the lack of a screen means more focus on the bits that matter?

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2020, 12:59:17 AM »
Yes and no. I've picked a few of the stranger ones, but most of the players have touchscreens and for the most part resemble phones, except for some unusual design and interface flourishes.

They're really designed for lossless or hi-res audio files. And internally they're using the same DACs and preamps you'd find on my much expensive models from the big names. So yeah, you're getting good build quality and great sound.

Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2020, 01:51:53 AM »
Are there any Chi-fi takes on Tascam recorder type things?

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2020, 01:55:39 AM »
From what I've seen so far, Chi-fi really refers to playback equipment. But Alibaba I'm sure has a bunch of Chinese Tascam-style things.

Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2020, 02:04:20 AM »
I hope the term for them is Chi-scam.

Dex Sawash

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2020, 02:15:28 AM »
We can't  use earbuds/headphones at work. Are there any bone conducive devices that are not garbage? Just want some sort of sound for podcasts, etc.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2020, 10:15:14 AM »
We can't  use earbuds/headphones at work. Are there any bone conducive devices that are not garbage? Just want some sort of sound for podcasts, etc.

A guy at work bought some as he's got a deaf relative. I had a go and they were surprisingly good, a bit low on bottom end but that'd be fine for voice etc. I'd been considering getting some myself for cycling but then my route changed and I found I could just sort of 'zone out' so it didn't matter.

Techmoan has reviewed some of them.

Dex Sawash

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2020, 01:54:32 PM »
Stumbled on Bluetooth sunglasses while looking.  What I want now is the Bluetooth device that clips to my prescription frames. Doesn't seem to exist but will go down the aliexpress hole later today.

Dex Sawash

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2020, 12:24:01 PM »

This is too hard, may just post my bank card number and address and let CaB do the shopping.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2020, 06:17:45 PM »
What's the storage on these things, I have 3 TB of audio, would it hold that?

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2020, 09:09:52 PM »
They mostly run on micro SD cards, so fitting 3tb onto a single device won't be happening right now.

I'm glad this got bumped though, I discovered that the Chinese equivalent of black friday is November 11, so the likes of Linsoul and Penon Audio should be having deep discounts very soon.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2020, 09:19:42 PM »
Nice, I was going to diy a cmoy headphone amp, the kits run about £40 which seems a rip off, I could probably do the pcb on matrix board or even ask the guys in the electronics lab nicely if I could cut one on their pcb mill, but by the time I've sourced components and an enclosure there's no way I can beat a neat £13 thing from aliexpress that includes usb charging and a lion battery and is roughly the size of a passport hdd enclosure.

I don't want a really posh one, this is just so I can listen to my akg headphones in bed rather than trailing an extension lead through my flat from my amp, so I can beam stuff from my phone (rather than casting to my chromecast plugged into an amp).

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2020, 04:16:30 PM »
I remember seeing a video on YouTube of some ultra-portable amp that plugged in between your headphones and the source (I know the all do, but this is smaller - like this, but that not one exactly).

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2020, 04:28:32 PM »
I remember seeing a video on YouTube of some ultra-portable amp that plugged in between your headphones and the source (I know the all do, but this is smaller - like this, but that not one exactly).

I think there must be a generic one knocked out.
like this:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32917166293.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.5e426e8e3IBid1&algo_pvid=53049c3a-a008-4a18-8144-6286efcc207e&algo_expid=53049c3a-a008-4a18-8144-6286efcc207e-0&btsid=0b0a182b16030348258391887e32e8&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

Same thing under a plethora of brands on amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=headphone+amplifier&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2020, 05:31:03 PM »
Is that an amp or pre amp?

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2020, 05:39:50 PM »
Is that an amp or pre amp?

It's a headphone amp, so probably the latter but given the levels it's working at the differences are minimal; the idea is it should give a boost to big headphones on small devices like mp3 players and phones which have puny capacitors that can't drive them properly. 

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2020, 05:42:29 PM »
I figured as much, was a bit thrown by the terminology.

Amazed you can get this stuff for pennies - is aliexpress legit? Does it actually work as a viable service for getting stuff shipped out of China?

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2020, 01:16:01 PM »
It's a bit like Amazon, some sellers are going to be more trustworthy than others. I've ordered a couple of things from there and had no bother, and a friend of mine likes making his own weird pedals and soundboards, orders cheap parts off there all the time.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2020, 01:27:58 PM »
Good to know! Will definitely have a dig around on there for future projects.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2020, 04:28:23 PM »
Yeah I've not had a problem yet, apart from the site being flaky and not letting me pay for something, which got cancelled and I re-ordered a bit later.

If you're building electronics it's good but the variable delivery times mean it'll tell you things will take 'up to' 60 days, but in reality 90% of your stuff will arrive in a couple of weeks and you'll be waiting for one thing forever.

I just got a Xaomi rechargeable ultrasonic toothbrush off there for £7 after I rather embarrassingly managed to knock my Braun into the bog with a towel as I was getting out the shower.

It's great if you're willing to fix broken stuff yourself too... I bust the screen on my Nook e-reader and the screens on ebay were more than the thing was worth (considering Barnes and Noble had a fire sale and sold them off at £30) but it was about £8 for a screen on Aliexpress which made sorting it worth it.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2020, 04:35:50 PM »
If you're building electronics it's good but the variable delivery times mean it'll tell you things will take 'up to' 60 days, but in reality 90% of your stuff will arrive in a couple of weeks and you'll be waiting for one thing forever.

Yeah that’s what I was afraid of really, but as long as it eventually turns up it’s not the end of the world.

I wanted to build a few of my own guitar pedals, will start on these lads to get my eye in then see how feasible that is. Will also need a new sound system in the next few months so if I can get some cheap components (amp/preamp mainly as I have a decent turntable already) then I’ll do that and get a nicer setup.

Fix me gameboy up as well, I bet parts for that are all over aliexpress and it really wants some attention.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2020, 04:56:59 PM »
Come to think of it, I dunno about Canada but they must use some internalised fulfilment in the UK as I've ordered stuff from individual sellers and the postie gave me one plastic post bag with a handful of small parcels (with their own shipping labels) in it.

I guess they just fill containers with stuff and unpack it at the other end.

QDRPHNC

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Re: Like a few kilometers of deep sea: A Chi-fi Thread
« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2020, 03:47:44 AM »
Got my fingers crossed that the Cayin N3 will be on sale soon. It's got a tube amp in it (visible through the front window) ffs


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