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AUNE S1 MEDIA PLAYER
Is this the media player of tomorrow? That's how Chinese manufacturer Aune presents their S1 media player. Noel Keywood is impressed...
I agree with Aune that the future lies somewhere near here – a media player that is simple to use but powerful. The Aune S1 is almost as simple to use as a turntable. OK, it occasionally refused to start, unlike my Garrard 401, and whilst it is conceptually straightforward, it’s not without its foibles and difficulties. But the S1 gave lovely sound quality at the push of a button, when playing high resolution digital music files stored on a memory stick. And it costs a very reasonable £500, about half the price of competitive hi-fi players.
Think of the Chinese Aune S1 as a CD player of the future, which is why I said the future starts somewhere near here. If you don’t want to faff around with music libraries and playlists and all that computer related compilation stuff, this is the player for you. Download and store music onto the computer, using it as a music purchase and storage mechanism, then copy those files to a USB memory stick and play them on the S1. What this does is simplify and clarify track selection. The memory stick stores what you currently want to hear in good depth, as a 32GB stick will hold 150 high resolution tracks (at 200MB/track). You are not faced with a vast music library to sort through; it’s like having your recent favourite LPs on hand, in a place where you can find them easily.
Ironic that this access issue hasn’t gone away with digital. And the S1 doesn't solve it: it has a tiny display screen that isn’t legible unless you are close, a drawback shared with all network players except the Cyrus Stream series that put the screen into the remote control. Aune don’t offer any solution to this difficulty in the S1, but if albums are saved into folders on a memory stick, finding what you want to play isn’t too strenuous, as menu tree depth is limited.
Playback from a memory stick also avoids streaming digital through a Cat5 wired home network; a reader explains in Letters this month why this is not the best idea if you value sound quality. All the same, the S1 does play from UPnP servers feeding a home network if you so desire.