Ok, guys… Here is some new and fresh approach from FLANG company in HiRes audio world in terms of bundling such equipment: FLANG P5 HiRes DAP that has very peculiar design and which is shipped along with S5 stereo audio docking station as one set. Never seen anything like this before and got a chance to examine the early samples of this audio solution.
IMPORTANT: FLANG is currently running a giveaway campaign at FaceBook by this LINK
As it is already clear that FLANG has targeted two markets at once: one is entry-level HiRes DAPs based on capable DAC chip and the other is the market of portable audio speakers featuring different types of connections including Bluetooth wireless. The attractive point of this particular set from FLANG is that docking station, besides regular market features for such type of devices, has been designed to serve a role of external stereo speakers and stand for FLANG P5 DAP.
My opinion — they did a good job there. As a matter of fact, buying this set would allow three different usage scenarios:
- Listening for P5 on the go as portable HiRes DAP
- Using S5 audio dock as portable speaker with any audio source
- Docking P5 DAP to S5 and using as a portable music station
Moreover, there are some additional interesting and attracting features about this set which I would like to describe later…
*Note: my set is evaluation units only. Final specifications are a subject to change.
FLANG P5 DAP:
- DAC chip: AKM 4452VN independent DAC
- I²S Data Bus
- Dynamic range: 116dB
- THD: -117dB
- Isochronous distortion: 0.0035%(1KHz)
- Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR): >95bB (A weight)
- Channel Separation degree: 78dB (1KHz)
- Element base:
- high-performance special audio components are used in the power system and preamplifier section
- sophisticated filtering system uses US AVX Tantalum Capacitors, Japan Murata ceramic capacitors.
- separate U.S. TI op-amp LM49721 on each channel, offers high-level signal for the amplifier.
- Power output: 125mw (EL=32Ω/THD=1%)
- Display: LCD
- Audio formats: WAVAPEFLACWMAMP3
- Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2, low power consumption
- Ports: 3.5mm for headhones (left), 3.5mm Line-out (right), USB type-C (with line-out for docking station)
- Memory: microSD card
- Battery: LiON 2000mAh
- Playtime: 10H
- Dimensions: 123x73x30mm
- Weight: ~165g
Additional information from FLANG about supported audio formats:
MP3 format is described as follows:
2、Code Rate： 8Kbps-448Kbps
3、Bit Width： 16bits
WAV and WMA formats are described as follows:
2、Bit Width： 16bits
Support MPEG1/MPEG2, (layer1,2,3) formats
Support MP3 CBR/VBR/ABR, maximum code rate: 448kbps
Support MP3 ID3V2
Support WAV ima/microsoft ADPCM format
Support WAV PCM format
Support WMA,code rate>=5 kbps
Support MP3/WAV/WMA sample rate(K):8/11.025/12/16/22.05/24/32/44.1/48
FLAC’s 16BIT with a sample rate(K):8/11.025/12/16/22.05/24/32/44.1/48
The Series Coding method of APE’s 16BIT AC69：FAST NORMAL
FLANG P5 audio dock station:
- Speaker diameter: 2ⅹ50mm
- Impedance: 4Ω
- Frequency response: 60KHz-20KHz
- SNR: 80bB (A weight)
- Maximum power: 2ⅹ4.8W
- Additional features:
- Digital signal acquisition and transmission over I2S (Inter-IC Sound) bus
- Stereo Neodymium-iron-boron high-sensitivity unit
- Dual-pump adaptive pre-boost power amplification
- Sandwich biscuit speaker structure: FLANG has created a unique structure which is divided into inner and outer layers, connected with a large number of reinforcing components to disperse harmful resonances and maintain higher rigidity and less weight
- Dual-pumps system to reduce EMC
- Automatically adjusts boosting coefficient according to the battery voltage
- ALC — automatically identifies distorted band and limits it, increasing the speaker’s undistorted volume limit
- Stereo 25mm dual neodymium iron boron high sensitivity magnetic circuit system improves NSV voice coil frequency
- Metal tweeter cap improves higher freqs
- Elastic suspension system to aid deeper and more powerful low freqs
- 120mm*60mm large size passive radiators, greatly improve sound pressure and low-frequency drive
- High quality and low power consumption G-class amp
- Wireless connection: Bluetooth 4.2
- Ports: USB type-C line in + charge for P5 DAP (front stand), 3.5mm AUX (back), USB type-C charging port (back)
- Charging voltage: DC5V
- Battery capacity: LiON 4000mAh
- Playtime: 14 hours
- Dimensions: 229x100x67mm
- Net weight: 700g
Specifications of both units seem pretty nice, reasonable and attractive. I’ve spent 4 days discovering this set features, pros and cons and would like to describe my findings one by one:
Design and control elements:
FLANG P5 DAP:
When I’ve seen the picture of P5 player for the first time — it really got my attention. Not so boring as many other DAPs in this segment, lots of interesting details and control elements, peculiar chain that serves a specific role, 3.5mm caps, external Bluetooth antenna housing, controls seemed to be convenient… The reality didn’t disappoint either — overall build quality is excellent and this DAP looks really great and fresh.
P5 is made of plastic with lots of fine details and texturing. The only aluminum elements are caps for both 3.5mm outputs at top. Someone would complain that most of the manufacturers would use CNC aluminum for such device shell, but I would object and point at the price which is ~$100-150 for the entire set (P5 DAP + S5 Dock). I am totally satisfied with the choice of materials concerning such price range and bundle. Moreover, people from FLANG told me that final units would have some positive changes in volume and track play control encoders that would add much to overall feel.
Again, plastic molding is perfect, all elements and labels aligned great. Let’s go over all elements: top side has left (headphones jack) and right (line-out) 3.5mm ports covered with aluminum screw-on caps. One great detail is that when you unscrew one of the caps — you can use rubber ring attached to chain to secure it from loosing. Nice, ha!!! Although, I am not sure that it would work in any situation cause the cap might come off the ring with some force applied but in general — it should do the trick. One issue here that I should mention — if chain is not removed when P5 is attached to dock it would start to make noise at higher speaker volumes.
Another element at top is external Bluetooth antenna housing that reminds me of walkie-talkie radios. My particular unit doesn’t feature such more powerful antenna but guess what — Bluetooth connection range is surprisingly long: ~15m at open space.
Left side contains chain mounting bracket, vents opening covered with soft material grill and microSD card slot with neat rubber cover. I am not yet informed which type of microSD cards are compatible. I’ve tried HC, XC and they all work.
On the right: power on|off slider which would cut off the power completely when you want to avoid any power drain during long period of inactivity or when you don’t want P5 to take charge from S5 docking station. Next is hold slider to prevent accidental button presses. Back button, Enter button for menu navigation and jog dial to scroll through tracks and menu items. This jog is a part of similar control element at front — you can perform the same operation in more convenient way under different usage scenarios… this really works — it is easier to use right jog to control tracks when P5 is held in hands and front jog would be used when it’s docked.
Bottom: USB type-C for charging, dock and PC connection. Plus a couple of openings to hold player in dock securely.
Back side is free of any controls.
Facing part is where most of the control buttons and elements are situated:
- PLAY/PAUSE (Enter while in menu)
- Tracks forward/backward (changing and seeking tracks, up|down in menu)
- Bluetooth ON|OFF
- Play mode (single repeat, repeat all, shuffle, normal)
- Menu (Short press: play options — REPEAT Mode, EQ Mode, File Explorer, Del file, Return, Long press: menu options — backlight time, contrast, language, auto power off, version, exit)
- EQ (NOR, ROCK, POP, CLA, JAZZ, FOLK)
- Sleep (30, 60, 90, 120mins, OFF)
- Power ON/OFF (press and hold for soft power ON|OFF)
- Volume roller (moves smoothly but volume change is discrete with steps of 1 from 0 to 30)
- Track control jog (next|prev track, menu items navigation)
At top of the facing part buttons there is large area left for screen. Unfortunately, screen is not so big and consumes only about half of the entire area. The rest are back frames covered with glass. Screen is LCD-type with backlight. Screen size and resolution are not declared in the specifications and my guess that not much. Totally enough to inform about currently playing track (scrolling artist and track name) and some additional information (datarate, EQ, file type, playing mode, batt level, track time, volume, progress bar), no more than that. Let’s say that the screen as well as firmware UI is very simple and would perfectly match the intent of using this player docked and placed on shelf — you would still be able to see some information from a distance…
On the other hand, if a person got used to some sophisticated HiRes DAPs based on Android or other powerful proprietary OS like Hiby — FLANG P5 would seem dated and too simple. That is why FLANG is targeting entry-level segment of HiREs DAPs and insists that P5 should be considered as a part of S5 dock — such approach adds much more value to either of those devices…
Screen backlight is ok for indoor use. The only concern which is already reported to FLANG is that there is no way to leave backlight forever. The default options in system menu for backlight time gives 100sec at most, after which screen backlight goes off and information gets hardly seen. I would prefer to be able to keep it always on while P5 is docked and accepts charging from the speaker.
FLANG S5 docking station:
As a matter of fact — I don’t have any complaints about S5 in terms of build quality, control elements or choice of materials. Perfectly crafted product, made of plastic with metal front and back speaker grills and neat buttons and ports. S5 dock is not so heavy as expected and weights only 700g despite large capacity battery inside.
Top side contains small aluminum handles, 4 control buttons and blue led to indicate working state. The buttons are:
- Soft power ON|OFF
- Mode (scrolls through Bluetooth, AUX modes)
- +|- buttons (press and hold to increase|descrease volume, short press — next|prev track)
Side parts left blank. Bottom side has a couple of stands with soft material applied. Back side has a section that combines 3.5mm AUX port, USB type-C port for charging, power ON|OFF (power cutoff) and red led that indicates charging process (goes off when fully charged).
Front side contains very important element — folding stand with USB type-C AUX for P5 DAP. Not only P5 plays though that port, but it also accepts charge simultaneously.
Dock stand additionally secures P5 with special plastic projections that go into P5 bottom openings and not only that: there is a magnet inside P5 case that would hold player tightly against S5 speaker grill. I must admit that this is very elegant solution. On the other hand, it might lead to some vibes and noises at high volume levels.
In overall S5 audio dock station is excellent. It feels solid and looks very good. I would say that FLANG has put much of efforts developing and building this product. Build quality is on par and even exceeding the other similar products of other popular brands.
Forgot to mention that there is a sweet female system voice to inform S5 current working mode.
Using|testing. Results and impressions:
FLANG P5 DAP as a standalone portable player:
First of all I should emphasize that I am not the beginner in DAPs and got used to some much more sophisticated products like Hidizs line up, devices from Line6, Sony, etc. My expectations from DAP functions and sound quality are more demanding. In case, I often had to remind myself that I am dealing with entry-level DAP with the emphasis on sound quality rather than complexity of functions and features of the FW.
It is very easy to operate and would be a perfect present for a child or older people. Large fonts, large buttons, short function lists, duplicated controls, etc. Probably, the easiest DAP to operate.
I’ve checked the sound quality of P5 with my favorite Audio-Technika ATH-M50 studio monitor headphones and compared it to Hidizs AP100, AP60II, Sonata DH1000 and Line6 UX. Listening material is as always — FLAC files.
My findings are that the sound of P5 is very different. It has the good sound quality indeed but the nature of the sound and the overall approach has nothing in common with the rest of the devices I’ve mentioned. First of all — FLANG DAP emphasizes low frequencies at any EQ settings. I would say that JAZZ and FOLK EQ are the most balanced over entire frequency range and closer to natural EQ. All other EQ settings would satisfy those who like bass boost kind of sound. Anyway, FLANG has told me that they are still working on tuning the sound and would release further FW updates. Therefore, I am judging upon evaluation unit that might not represent the final unit sound quality.
The rest about the sound is good. Yes, it does sound darker with a slight feel of muting compared to more expensive DAPs. On the other hand, its sound shows good amount of details with good control and resolution on high octave. Mids are brought to front a bit what mostly controlled by EQ profiles. Channel separation is good as well. In overall, sound stage is not very wide but each instrument is present. I haven’t noticed any significant loss in sound and detail resolution compared to other DAPs, except for more pronounced lows, and on the other hand — haven’t discovered any new details in the same compositions. Probably, the best audio material for this DAP is something like JAZZ, Blues, Folk, Instrumental — everything slow and limited to several instruments. Fast and compressed genres like modern rock, etc., would sound a bit dirty and messy.
From this I can conclude that FLANG P5 DAP sounds better than expected from entry-level product but some final polishing concerning low frequencies should be applied. And as people from FLANG told me — they would be working on that and release some FW updates prior of launching this product.
Total DAP playtime seem to be close to 10 hours declared by the manufacturer. The good point is that P5 would accept charge and play when placed at S5 dock podium. That is very nice.
One more detail — if you switch DAP off and leave it docked — you may also use power cutoff slider on DAP to prevent it from charging from dock.
FLANG S5 audio dock as a standalone stereo speaker:
Nothing to complain about — this product is almost perfect. Believe me, you’d be impressed as soon as you’d switch it on. You really wouldn’t expect this sound from such portable speaker in terms of quality, frequency response, volume level and, especially, bass reproduction. I used to possess different devices of the same size in this segment like JBL Flip, Sony soundbar, etc — I would say that FLANG S5 outperforms all of those.
FLANG states that they have created a special sandwich structure to achieve great sound from this speaker and real life tests show that these are not just some words.
Volume level is so high that it would be enough for 15-20 sq.m room. Sound gets a bit distorted at high volume level, though (anyway, such volume is exceeding my expectations). At volume less than maximum, S5 produce clear and detailed sound with the emphasis on lower frequencies and very good reproduction of mids. Highs are a bit underpowered to my liking which mostly depends of the initial recording. Some compositions show perfect balance throughout the entire frequency range.
Bass is where S5 really shines. Despite so small size — S5 might sound as if we are having a separate subwoofer, in a good sense. Midbass is tight and quick. It really comes in above ~10% of volume and might be increased further when the dock is placed against wall corner (bass is produced by large-size passive membrane at the back). As a matter of fact, it doesn’t interfere much with the other frequencies and remains well controlled.
The easiest genres for this speakers are any but heavy metal. Too much of fast mids would tend to distort the sound and create a feel of mess. Compositions in other genres sound good and natural.
3.5mm AUX and dock AUX connections result in better sound quality compared to Bluetooth wireless protocol. This is logical but not always apparent. I would say that S5 clearly shows such difference.
Button operations are very convenient. You can even navigate tracks with short press at +|- buttons. Long press would increase or decrease the volume. Mode button would scroll between AUX and Bluetooth modes. No Bluetooth discovery is necessary. Unfortunately, S5 accepts only one Bluetooth device at a time.
Total battery life is ~14 hours and would depend of sound volume or whether P5 is accepting charge from its dock.
*Note: you can cutoff P5 DAP charge while docked by Power OFF button at the back of S5 speaker. This is even more convenient rather than using power slider of P5 player.
Another great thing about S5 compared to JBL Flip, for example, is the total wireless connection range. I’ve managed to achieve ~15 meters before S5 started to show some frame losses (which is great for Bluetooth 4.2LE receiver) whereas JBL fails at ~10m range.
My personal opinion that S5 portable stereo speaker is an excellent product even when compared to more famous and expensive brands. It is perfectly crafted and impresses with its sound quality. Very capable and universal device with almost no drawbacks. A must have for anyone who would like to have a good portable or shelf speaker.
FLANG P5 + S5 set:
This usage scenario discloses what FLANG R&D team had in mind while developing both products: long lasting universal portable|desk stereo system with the removable and portable sound source and maximum ease of operations when combined together. P5 does a good job of serving S5 speaker dock as a sound source concerning special USB AUX + large and convenient control elements. And S5 is a good supplement for HiRes DAP in terms of sound quality, power supply and dedicated P5 stand. Such approach is much more universal and interesting rather than using SD card slots in JBL, Sony or other portable speakers and trying to blindly navigate through the entire music library. FLANG S5+ P5 make such processes much easier without compromising other common features and at the same time providing the ability to use both devices as standalone products. Great approach.
One peculiar function to mention about this pair of devices: both devices would allow their own volume control. FLANG informed me that it order to get the best audio quality from the speaker — DAP volume should be kept at default (10) or within 15 point at most. Although, they also said that when you want more drive and punch at low speaker volume — you can increase DAP volume further (not too much or the sound would get distorted).
*Note: when back 3.5mm AUX and front USB AUX are used simultaneously the default source is 3.5mm AUX.
I’ve spent 4 days with FLANG set while testing, trying, listening and understanding its nature… I can tell for sure that I love S5 as a standalone universal speaker as well as when it’s paired with P5 DAP and used as desk audio system. I must admit that I would rarely use P5 DAP as portable audio source for my headphones while possessing a whole bunch of other more capable HiRes devices, but on the other hand — I would definitely prefer S5 speaker to be driven by P5 DAP due to more convenient and easy operations. Consequently, I would say that FLANG HiRes P5 DAP + S5 stereo dock is a logical bundle, especially considering its price of around $100-150. Great value for money. Instead of buying lower sound quality, less universal, less functional and more expensive portable speakers from famous brands you can stick to FLANG set and get a good sound quality along with 3 usage scenarios at once..!
Link to FLANG HiRes set official page: LINK
Feel free to ask any questions about FLANG products.
IMPORTANT: FLANG is currently running a giveaway campaign at FaceBook by this LINK
Stay tuned, FLANG P5+S5 set release date would be announced very soon!!!