Smartphones may have killed off the common MP3 player, but the product still survives as a high-end device for audiophiles. The latest company to introduce this sort of FLAC-ready music player is Japanese firm Pioneer, which is offering the stylish XDP-100R.
The high-resolution device was first unveiled at IFA this year, and comes with an angular, machined aluminum body that's similar to products from Astell & Kern (albeit with the volume knob on the left, not the right). The XDP is also likely to draw comparisons with Sony's $1,119 Walkman ZX2, although with a reported price tag of $700, it's a lot easier on your wallet. A company spokesman described the XDP as built "for those who feel smartphones aren’t offering satisfying sound quality," reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Android-powered XDP will certainly beat smartphones when it comes to high-fidelity sound. It supports a whole array of audio formats (including lossless FLAC, MQA, and ALAC, as well as DSD audio up to 11.2MHz), and even has two separate circuit boards — one for the regular processor and another for the audio components — which the company says will "eliminate the effects of digital noise."
The XDP-100R will support all the usual streaming apps available on Android
The XDP comes with a 4.7-inch, 720p display, a pair of microSD slots (each supporting cards up to 128GB in size, on top of the 32GB of internal memory), up to 10 hours of high-quality playback on a single charge, and detachable bumpers on the top and the bottom of the player for extra protection. (These are the handle-like protuberance and pair of mini feet you can see at the top and bottom of the XDP in the picture above.) Even with the bumpers removed, though, it's quite a chunky device: 5 inches tall, 3 inches wide, and 0.5 inches thick.
Like its high-end fellows, the XDP isn't going to appeal to everyone, but for those lost in the heady world of souped-up personal audio, it could be a contender. There's no word on a US release date yet, but the WSJ reports that the device will be available in Japan from late November. Look out for more information then.
Verge Video: The weird, wonderful world of high-end personal audio