Pros: Incredible sound, great build, nice design, simple yet functional UI
Cons: Bugs in the UI, battery life, limited functions (no playlists, no USB DAC)
I was intrigued by this DAP because I really like the sound of the AKM4490 DAC that I had heard on the AK380 and Cayin N5 player. I was somehow convinced it could compete with much more expensive DAPs and besides, I really like the all brushed metal design.
So I contacted Aune and asked if I could obtain an M2S demo version free of charge as I am in China. It didn't work out but I got a fair discount on the MRSP in exchange for writing a review. The contact was very nice and reactive, so I can say the service was quite good.
The M2, M2 Pro and M2S can be found here: http://mall.auneaudio.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=18_45&product_id=54
The M2S is the higher end model and costs 650$, and it comes only in blue. It is not available in China normally, only for export.
The differences can be found here:
I am using 1.1 fw, which is the only stable one in my experience so far. I find the 3 button + volume scroll manipulation very easy and intuitive. I navigate through my files easily and quite fast as you can use the volume wheel to scroll faster, or just skip entire pages. I recommend that you split you files into several subcategories if you have a 128g or 200g micro sd, because the player with FW 1.1 has two limitations:
It will not read a list of files or folders over 150 or 200, I am not sure. So if you have over 200 albums in the same folders, the albums in excess of 200 will not appear. Same for files
It will not read special characters. I just eliminated characters with accents from folder and file names. I had very few but it could be a problem for others
Other than that, my two main issues are the following:
It doesn't have a USB DAC function (so far)
There is no playlist management (I mean playlists created outside and imported, in M3u format for instance). It would be ok if like on the Lotoo Paw Gold you could add whole albums or folders to the favorites playlist, but it is only track by track
The battery life is quite short, I would say 6 hours at most
I tested this player for about three weeks with redbook and highres flac. My other sources are AK240SS, Lotoo Paw Gold and Mojo. I tested with all my iems (SE Ultimate, Rhapsodio Solar and Galaxy, Shure SE846)
I will start with the (only) negative: the player is not totally hiss free. The most sensitive iems (Zeus, 846) will have some hiss, less than with the Lotoo Paw Gold, but more than with the Mojo. I should mention that I am VERY sensitive to hiss, so I guess this level of hiss would not be noticed by most. The player is totally quiet with my SE5 Ultimate and Rhapsodio Galaxy.
Other than that, this player sounds very good. The same type of AKM4490 I heard in the AK380 from memory. It is a spacious sound, more width than depth, detailed and precise, yet very liquid. Liquid is the key word here. A sort of effortless musicality that does not sacrifice to detail: bass has authority, even though the player does not exhibit the raw power of the Lotoo Paw Gold, and the rest is smooth and transparent. The M2S is neither warm nor bright but neither aggressive nor fatiguing, but once again without scarifying an ounce of detail. Once again, it could have more depth if you compare to the Lotoo PG, but the Paw is really a champion in that area (and three times more expensive).
Note: I have not tried the M2 or M2 Pro so please do not ask me to compare.
If you do not need a very long battery life and value SQ over functionalities, this player is one of the best sounding I have heard, regardless of price. I think I prefer it over the AK240SS.