Pros: Simple UI, Sleek design, Eye popping color, 3 second start up/shut down, Great Lineout, Folder view only (as of the review on 1.22firmware),Amazing sq
Cons: Simply UI, Folder view only at the moment, Folders appear out of order after initial load. Lack of "modern" extras.
A little bit, about me.
*Disclaimer- These opinions are solely mine and we're not encouraged or solicited by Aune. The Aune M2S was bought with my own money and as such is subject to my scrutiny. These opinions are honest, fun and full disclosure...
Im not one to jump on trends quickly, and I will do much research/reading before I buckle down and actually decide, it's hilarious I wish you could see the stages I go through. That's neither here nor there though. My background is simple. I grew up surrounded by music and when old enough I sought to find what music meant to me.
When I was young my first experience with a Hifi device would be the Iriver IHP-140, in the summer of 2004. I had only limited experience with audio confined to tv, and radio at the time so it would be my first eye opening experience on how close a device could bring me to the music. Unfortunately for myself I would go on to break the device in a year and wouldn't have another "HIFI" experience until my purchase of the Sony PCM D-100 last year.
The Sony was wonderful albeit cumbersome. I knew what I was getting into with the limited UI, restricted file number, and odd file display setup. Nothing mattered though when after working all day, coming home and hooking the PCM-D100 to the Meir Corda 2sidestep and listening to the Sony Dr-Z7 (thirty year old headphones) deliver me into sonic bliss. Black background, great separation, very revealing, however also cold and analytical with a hint of warmth if bass boost is turned all the way up. It was what I considered a great reference to test all others, especially with different buds(which I never got a chance to get too crazy with).
Fast forward to now. I no longer own the Sony PCM-D100, having sold it to get by some hard times. I now find myself with the beast from the east, Aune's M2S.
When I knew I would have my opportunity to replace my old DAP, I started looking high (Sony PCM D-100,LPG,AK240SS,Fiio X7, L&P L5pro) and low (ibasso dx80/90/100, fiio x5, L&P L3) and settled on this little blue nugget that stood out from all the others. Looking at the main site (http://en.auneaudio.com/index.php?s=/Home/Article/detail/id/105.html), it's easy to be quite taken and I was; looking at the carefully thought out design and layout was "B-E-A-Utiful". However, what really caught my eye was the DAC used inside this blue guy, the AKM AK4490 32bit DAC chip also used in the AK380. Being in this hobby it's always nice to want to be on top with the very best available to you so you can get as close/personal with your music as you feel you can. I feel what Aune has done is nothing short of that. However, when we factor in price, build, design we'll see that at least as far as I am concerned, they gave back to the community and cemented their status in the game as a respected house of sound and makers of fine quality audio devices.The Aune M2 comes in three flavors, however per this review I will be focusing on the M2S as I don't/cannot compare the others on hand. I won't go into detail with the differences as that has been covered already, so lets break it down.
Three buttons in the front, sidewheel, power button up top. I love this setup, very simple no thrills down to business attitude. Straight to the music.
It is limited to one sd card slot which even for myself is a little wrinkle. The feel in hand is nice for a right handed person, and at least for me is akin to holding an old cassette player which I rather like. The UI, while basic in most eyes wanting things like album art,swiping motion, touch screen, bluetooth, wifi, DNS are all things I don't care for or use anyways (coming from a guy who owns the nokia pure view 808, that should say enough about me). Folder browse at the moment is the only option, though I have reached out to Aune and it seems at least that more options are forthcoming (new firmware soon!!!). I've always been fine with folder view as this is how I have my library set up with flac and cue files. So in that regard I feel like this truly was an early birthday present. It was made for me in mind. While things like digital out and coax are things not yet implemented, these are things Aune does have in mind implementing with the device later down the road. Again, I'm fine with just line out, though the lack of DAC function through the computer is one I can agree with others as being a MANDATORY feature. Besides the lack of a proper updating of the library where after the initial load on the card, if you put more artists/folders they will appear at the end of the abc order of the first load, typically being abc in the second instance. If any of that sounds confusing, it is when you look at it. Basically it just amounts to disorder, which for me amounts to a tiny niggle. When comparing to the Sony PCM-D100 for me its an upgrade on the UI. Barring these slight issues, once rectified I'll truly be without criticism.
Ohhh man. Haha, yea I'll start it like that. First impressions plugging up to the MEE P1 (look out for that review forth coming) in the B1, Aune M2S combo was magic!
To my ears, and now subjective/selective memory, this brings me closer to the magic than the Sony PCM-D100 had. I have much love for that old Sony but man, the liveliness of the music, detail retrieval, separation amounts to me not having second considerations. Additionally, I'm benefiting from a background that's just as, if not more black and spacious.
Using the the Sony DR-Z7 on tracks like, Nostalgia 77's quiet dawn, brings goosebumps, a swell of emotion and the feeling like your sailing along the milky way. Other performers like Janis Crunch and her recent release (while not very good production wise, I can hear a noise floor I feel higher than other recordings which is shame since it sort of smears the overall beauty of her piano work) is forgiving enough though very obvious with any shortcomings in the production itself. What really sealed it for me and really got me going was Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here (Rare 1984 UK limited edition Nimbus) Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts1-4.
Its always been one of my favorite tracks of theirs and having listened to it so many times throughout my life I thought I had heard all the little nuances, however I would be proven wrong. The recording is THE best I've heard. Complete blackness provides the perfect canvas for Pink to lull you into their world and steal you away once again. Of course, it would be the saxophone at the end of the song that just SEALS it for me. You can hear that sax go all the way back, back, back, back, to the end of that hallway. Its pure bliss, and if it isn't already apparent I'm not gonna be saying many more negatives about the player, because essentially it does what it should very well. However, it still is limited in what it can do for you in regards to augmenting sound, if EQ is your thing, you wont find it here. What you will find instead is 4 digital filters, which for me while not providing the same flexibility as EQ, do a fine job in allowing the player to sync with a different pair of headphones/genres.
I'm going to now tread murky waters and for INFORMATIONAL purposes ONLY will be sharing work that is NOT mine in regards to the filters and how they affect the frequency, if this breaks rules or offends anyone I will make the necessary changes. This is from a Blogger by the name of Lin - Xi ink, (http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_60c1aacb0102w3ht.html) All credit and praise be directed at her/him?
As you see rather than looking at EQ, we simply look to the rates of decay, adjust and move on per genre or headphone with the feeling your trying to illicit. For me it works out very well, but I can already hear people wanting more control which isn't a bad thing. However I am content in this regard.
The Aune with the B1 stacked, is really where it's at for those wanting first hand accounts. The Aune M2S by itself does very well and capable through HO, however it excels LO and paired with the B1, the levels at which we climb go up and then some. Whats great and has already been spoken of more thoroughly, is in how well the B1 just steps aside and gives the source room to grow. No coloration, no distortion. For me paired with the P1's I have no hiss, though remember user/equipment subjective. I have plugged the Meir Corda 2sidestep into the Aune. However, I didn't really find it all that great. Nothing against that amp, which I did find appropriate for the PCM-D100. What we hear combined with the M2S is something more veiled, with more noise. Not terrible noise mind you, but it's enough to make me just plug back in the B1.
The last thing I would like to touch on is battery life. Comparing to the Sony, I believe it sits somewhere around 9 or so hours. Additionally, what drew me to the PCM-D100 was the fact it had removable batteries, which could be charged and cycled out. With the Aune M2S, we see about 7 hrs of playback with the B1. Looking at my application for this player has been limited to bus trips to and from work, with sprinkled time throughout the evening and I don't typically charge till somewhere after three days of use. Again, while I love music I'm also living life, so it's not a deal breaker.
Looking for a player myself I considered a few things. Well thought out design and implementation of resources, ergonomics/handling, price, UI and of course sound. I won't lie, when it came down to it I took a shot in the dark with Aune and after a solid month have been happy. No restarts, some files not playing properly, but all in all very positive. For those looking for an affordable DAP, without bells and whistles looking for that magical connection with their music all over again look no further, but don't necessarily think that the M2S appropriate. The M2pro will do the job just fine and allow you to spend more on interconnects/amp or headphones. Nothing wrong with that. Also as a final conclusion, no one is gonna be able to relate, or very few will. The combination of M2S,B1 and Sony DR-Z6 is AMAZING!!!!!! *pant*pant*pant*!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you Aune, thank you Head-fi.
Hope you enjoyed my ramblings
Final snippet- When the areas I have a concern with, file compatibility, cue file accuracy, UI, ABC disorder as well as digital out, coax out are fixed/implemented I will be changing this to a 5. We'll see what they can do for this little blue dude over time.