The Most Rugged Audio Player of 2016

by Brant David •

In a Nutshell

The Cowon Plenue 1 portable MP3 player is diamond-carved out of a solid slab of aluminum, making it impressively durable. In addition to its durability, it’s equipped with the world-renowned Burr-Brown PCM1792A Audio DAC, allowing it to deliver awesome sound quality that any audiophile would love.

The Details

The Best Ruggedized Portable Audio Player

I’m a true audiophile (a guitar player, in fact) who wants music to resound in his ears and brain with clarity, power, and instrument separation. I’m also someone who loves to engage in certain outdoor activities like running and hiking. My wife and I do a good amount of traveling, too. What that all means for me is that I’m prone to exposing a quality portable MP3 player to getting banged or dropped and damaged. With that end in mind, my research tells me that the answer is the Cowon Plenue 1.

Carved out of a solid slab of aluminum using diamond-cutting CNC (computer numerical control) machining technology, the Plenue 1 is highly durable with its full metal body, anodized finish, and half-an-inch thickness. Additionally included with the device is a leather carrying sleeve for further protection. If I’m looking for a high quality portable music player with the most impressive durability and ruggedness, the Plenue 1 is my choice.

This is not at all an inexpensive MP3 player. It sells in the U.S. for about $900. However, the Plenue 1 is equipped with the world-renowned Burr-Brown PCM1792A Audio DAC which allows it to be one of the best of the best high-fidelity portable music players money can buy. According to the manufacturer, the PCM1792A “is a monolithic CMOS integrated circuit that includes stereo digital-to-analog converters and support circuitry in a small 28-lead SSOP package. The data converters use TI’s advanced segment DAC architecture to achieve excellent dynamic performance and improved tolerance to clock jitter.”

The Plenue 1 gives you wide file support, being able to play 24bit/192kHz PCM (WAV & AIFF), DXD (352.8/384kHz), and DSD128 (5.64MHz) formats. The device has also got 128 GB of memory which can be doubled. Reviews and testimonials about this portable music player’s sound quality are overwhelmingly outstanding.

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Nothing is perfect. In addition to the hefty price tag that it carries, critics point out the Plenue 1’s absence of streaming support and third-party apps. Moreover, there are complaints about the awkwardness of the user buttons (not raised enough, not finger-friendly, easy to hit by accident) and there being less than 9 hours of battery life at full charge.

Nevertheless, for its durability and its awesome hi-fi sound, the Cowon Plenue 1 is worth the big bucks.

The Cowon Plenue 1 is available from Amazon for about $900.

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