Shozy Alien+ review - expatinjapan

Shozy Alien+ and Shozy Zero earphones

Shozy Alien+ review
-expatinjapan

For a full list of features and information please visit:

In this age of touch screens, streaming and a wealth of daps of all shapes, sizes and prices to choose from Shozy once again chooses the route less traveled of simplicity and a dedication to quality sound.



Specifications and information





Unboxing and build





USB cable for charging and data transfer.





Nice physical metal buttons.



"Ultra fine sand blasting and polishing.
Extreme high precision CNC body and back lid.
High strength aluminum body"


"Laser engraved"




"High strength screws"






Saurons eye!. Line out/Optical port.


3.5mm Headphone out


Smexy highlighted edges. Not as sharp as they appear to the eye.


Analog volume wheel

Shozy website information



http://www.shozy-hk.com/downloads/  Firmware updates and also USB DAC function download.


Firmware releases and updates


ALIEN+ Firmware

Download  (Sep 2017 firmware release with DAC function added)
*Enter the DAC mode by holding the middle enter button and turn on Alien+

Download (July 2017 firmware release)

Instruction:
Place the file Alien+.1573 under root folder ( of a fat 32 format micro sd card ),
hold the right button and turn on your Alien+ unit,
automatically it will bring you to system update page and finish the update in a few secs.

*DAC function at present works with Windows but not OS. (To be added later).

Size comparison


Alien Gold, Alien+ and Apple ipod touch 5G.

Alien+ Vs Alien Gold Notes, using the Campfire Audio series for coherency.

Gain set at mid. 
Sharp roll-off filter
All using stock ALO Audio Litz cable
Volume matched using a SPL meter.

Campfire Audio Nova

Alien+ - 
More balanced overall
More micro details
depth and width

 Alien Gold 
A bit more roll off in the treble
Natural
Smooth

Campfire Audio Jupiter

Alien+ 
Deeper
Blacker background
fuller sound
larger sound stage

Alien Gold
Smooth
still that treble roll off

Campfire Audio Andromeda

Alien+
Deep
excellent sound stage
good instrument separation
more effortless

Alien Gold
Vocals too forward
softer approach

*I swapped around a bit with some of the Alien+ filters, but the results were largely the same.

Headphone switcher, Alien Gold and Alien+ daps, ALO Audio SXC 8 mini to mini cables
 and Campfire Audio IEMs. All volume matched.

Price
The Shozy Alien+ retails at US$435.00


Sound

As usual I got a decent amount of hours on the Alien+ before embarking upon the review to please all parties on either sides of the burn in divide.

A variety of earphones (some pictured), places and situations were used during the testing and listening.
I used mainly FLAC files.

Shozy Alien+ and Campfire Audio Dorado

The Shozy Alien+ wasn't my first experience of a Shozy dap having reviewed the Shozy Alien Gold previously many moons ago https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/03/shozy-gold-alien-dap-review-expatinjapan.html 

Shozy has their own particular philosophy and ideas when it comes to the design of a dap, but their adherence to producing an item that excels in producing beautiful reproductions of music tracks is congruent with the belief system that its the sound that matters most.

The Shozy Alien+ follows in that tradition and is an improvement over the organic and natural sounding Shozy Alien Gold. For one it has a screen! That in itself sets it above its predecessor.

The Alien+ and the Alien Gold are altogether two different styles of machines when it comes to listening.

The Alien+ packs the AK4495SEQ dac and a 24 volt PSU, plus 32 bit bit processing filters, a change from the recent popular AK4490 dac that many daps were using with its forgiving natural and smooth edges.

The AK380 uses a dual AK4490 and the newer SP1000 uses a dual AK4497.

Shozy Alien+ and Kinera H3

When one plugs their earphones into the Alien+ one is enveloped in a maze of complementary opposing forces.

There are four filters which makes things a bit more confusing and increases work for a reviewer.

Gain - Mid.
All using stock ALO Audio Litz cable.
Volume matched with a SPL meter.

*Campfire Audio Andromeda

Sharp roll-off filter
Meant to be the purest setting- Well balanced, linear, neutral but not lifeless.

Slow roll-off filter
A bit softer on the top end, a little dark in the lower reaches. Similar to the Sharp filter

Short delay sharp roll-off filter
Very sparkly in the top end, treble stretched out to infinity. Clear, a sound that could be addictive but fatiguing over time.

Short delay slow roll-off filter
Similar to above, with a bit of low end warmth

*Campfire Audio Jupiter

Sharp roll-off filter
Meant to be the purest setting- nicely balanced. Usual V style, but smooth. vocals center stage.
Brings out the beauty and potential of the Jupiter.

Slow roll-off filter
increase in low end sub bass, similar to the above.

Short delay sharp roll-off filter
Lighter top end, cymbals and guitars/strings take center stage, more sub bass

Short delay slow roll-off filter
Top end extended, vocals forward, a bit darker/deeper overall in the low end.


*Campfire Audio Nova

Sharp roll-off filter
Meant to be the purest setting - Bit dark in the top end with the (XXx sig) Nova

Slow roll-off filter
very similar to the above

Short delay sharp roll-off filter
Nice and balanced with the (XXx) Nova. Great match.

Short delay slow roll-off filter
Very similar to the above, with a slight more in the lower end

Shozy Alien and Kinera H3

The Alien+ as seen above has several filters from the linear to dynamic. This provides a bit choice for one to craft the sound to match inconsistencies in earphones or to tailor the sound more to ones personal preference.

It is hard to say which filter each person may settle on, or to say 'this is the best filter' but I would recommend starting on the Sharp roll-off filter first and working your way through. This being the more linear or stock filter, but as I found with the Nova and its XXx signature which is rolled off at the highs/treble it matched well with the Short delay roll-off filter, which for the Andromeda sounds energetic and fun, but could be fatiguing over time (I did find it more a possible match with the ALO Audio Reference 8 and iBasso CB13 cables though).

As a pure player I think the Alien+ on the Sharp roll-off filter provides and accurate enough rendition of the original recoding to please most users.
It has enough power on high gain to power most regular earphones, IEMs and portable headphones - although I did not test it with anything particularly power hungry - so I can't comment on that..

The performance on the first filter is linear and neutral mix, decent depth, width and a good amount of height.
The sound stage is from upper medium to large.
Overall it has excellent clarity, instrument separation, layering and detail whilst doing it rather effortlessly.

It has that AKM signature sound of deep, rich and detailed sound, without the sometimes accompanying darkness in the low end that sometimes accompanied the AK4490 DAC, the AK4495SEQ is definitely a step up in that regard.

UI/Menu



The UI of the Shozy Alien+ is quite an easy scrolling affair with a few sub categories under the various headings. This isn't an exhaustive photographic series but covers the main features.
All the main headings have been shown.

As usual with most Daps there is a bit of a learning curve with the UI, this is more so with the Alien+ having physical button navigation rather than the simple system of a touch screen.


The main menu in two photos, As above, so below.



Now playing...


high Gain
Artist and song title, folder, bit size/rate, track number.
 Track playing time - center, battery left - bottom right corner.


Shuffle is of song or file.


Four language choices at present.


Four Gain choices rather than the usual three.


The first two filters sounds similar to my aging ears.
Linear, flat, fairly neutral, detailed and authentic to the original recording.

The second two filters also sound similar to my faulty hearing.
More lively, energetic, lots of top end and at times that dreaded word 'holographic'.


Brightness is very good, I found that setting at half way was more than enough.


Overall

I really liked the Shozy Alien Gold, I love the Shozy Alien+, it takes a step further into the zone of naturalness and gives it body and depth, a fullness that envelopes with speed, detail and excellent resolution and control.

The Alien+ comes in at US$435.00 and has many competitors in this straight music playing daps and streaming world. the FiiO`s, the Opus's etc, The thing with the Alien+ is it is a stripped down player with a focus fully on excellent and authentic playback of your favorite tracks.

The UI takes a bit to get the hang of and the 5-6 hours of battery life might not be enough for some.

I could easily list reasons why modern dap aficionados might not find the Alien+ to their taste, and I will: No balanced out, no touchscreen, no wifi, no apps, no streaming, no internal memory, no case, sharpish corners, simple UI, buttons...

Reasons enough for some not to buy it in this fancy pants dap saturated market.

Reasons on why it might appeal are simple too: basically superb and high quality sound. 
A rich, full, musical, dynamic, natural and detailed sound, or an accurate, linear, neutral, deep and layered sound depending on which filter setting is chosen. Whilst some of those terms often don't belong together or even seem often at odds the Alien+ manages to contain them and create a sonic bridge so to speak.

And of course separate consumers needs are different, nothing wrong with that, 'you must do what you feel is right, of course' -OWK.

But If a stripped down dap with high quality performance and accurate reproduction of tracks is your cup of tea, then the Alien+ could be for you.


Alien+ and Campfire Audio Lyra ii

Thank you to Shozy for sending the Alien+ to head pie for review.


1 comment :

  1. Am I correct that it is still impossible (with the newest firmware) to transfer files from PC via USB cable? I. e. the memory card still has to be taken out?

    ReplyDelete