If you want radical sound from your iDevice, you could pop in Iggy Pop’s New Values. Or, if you can’t keep pace with Iggy, why not check out MF Player Pro-radical HiFi. It is a ‘radical’ break from the traditional clean-cut – and often labelled ‘sterile’ – Apple sound. It’s an HiFi app in every sense of the word, and it’s radical in all others. The most obviously radical feature of MF Player is its most radical price, a gnarly 1.999 pennies. And that’s the clincher, really.
But let’s not spoil the rave yet, my party animals. There is praise to get through first. Namely, there are too few apps that are seriously designed for iDevice audiophiles. EQu has been a favourite of mine till now, and Equalizer (TMA Review) has grown up to be nearly perfect. MF player sports some of the lovely effects of a parametric EQ, but also adds its own flavour. While there isn’t a parametric EQ built in, the effects of MF Player are only really attainable by very very expensive EQ hardware, or impeccable settings.
MF player sports live audio positioning settings: SPEECH, Hi-Fi, and LIVE. These aren’t the Sony sort that suck out the highs or lows and turn your ear drums inside out in emulating sitting next to a party of drunk forty year olds at a Depeche Mode concert, baptising themselves with the remains of cheap beer and the chocolate bars they snuck in.
The positioning settings themselves are pretty interesting. I expected the SPEECH setting to boost vocal frequencies, HiFi to take a pretty straight path for music lovers, and LIVE to mess with bass and treble enough that, as Radsone says, vehicle and docking system speakers sound ‘better’. I was only partially correct. Strangely, I found that SPEECH was the most natural setting, differing little if at all from stock MF player sound. Hifi rides the middle ground surely, but it introduces more spice to the high end, and LIVE is the most spicy.
I’ll explain the spice later.
Both the twenty dollar version and the free version of MF Player are easy-breezy to control. You can scrobble, change volume, shift tracks back and forth, repeat, shuffle, and play and pause from the main screen just like the Music app. To turn effects off and on, tap the museflow logo under the title bar. It’s generally easy.
Here’s where my detractor voice cuts in. Similar to Equalizer, you must add songs or albums or playlists from your music library through Apple’s standard song browser that games sometimes use. In other words, this music app doesn’t directly access your music library. WTF? I would much rather not have to go through the extra step. Radsone, you CAN let the app access the device’s library from the start. This is a music app.
If you quit the app from the springboard, music fades to black rather than lurching to a stop. Nice touch. What isn’t nice, however, is when you want to pause a song, go back to the beginning, and have a bit of peace and quiet before the music starts again. Every time you hit back, or scrobble back to the start, music starts to play again whether or not the pause/play button is pressed or not. WTF? It’s annoying and contrary to the interface of every piece of audio equipment I’ve used, both kitschy and refined.
The other problem is that MF player eats up battery. MF Player probably eats battery about twice as fast, maybe faster, than the stock Music app. If you’ve happily been using Equalizer or EQu for a while, however, you’ll know that this just comes with the territory. Sound enhancing software and tiny batteries are always at odds with one another.
But that’s just silly talk.
The big question that any self-respecting audiophile should have ask is: is MF Player worth it? I’ve still not figured that one out. The basic difference in sound is distortion. (Oh yes, here comes the spice.) MF Player does wonky things to the audio signal from about 300Hz and above. The overall effect is a brighter, more exciting sound, one that will have its fans. Reviews in iTunes (who wrote this stuff?), and indeed, Radsone’s own marketing page tout MF Player’s ability to separate instruments. Sure, it’s a psychoacoustic world we digital audiophiles live in, so why not? The skinny here is that the twenty bones basically go into an audio mask. That’s all.
There isn’t any more space around instruments than there ever was before. Radsone didn’t re-record your albums for you, or hire better musicians. The did compress certain frequencies, however, and enhance others. That’s it. It may be enough for you. Table pepper is cheap, and does wonders for mashed potatoes. Chilly peppers cost more punch harder in the gut. Tweaking certain frequencies (adding chilly pepper) does emphasise different things in music. That’s probably why (according to Radsone) Korean radio stations (many of whom go out for spicy food for lunch) adopted Radsone technology in their broadcasts. Good for them.
The final bit of vitriol is this: with MF player, you have OFF/ON settings, and three levels of ‘better’ to throw at your music. For 20$. Not really a problem from a business perspective, but it feels like a much cheaper app. Maybe it should be. Maybe Radsone should think of lowering the price. I might cap my bottle of vitriol.
For me, computer says no.
Radsone are asking at least ten dollars too much for what Han Solo would describe as ‘tricks and nonsense’. I don’t like to get down on apps for their price; perceived worth is different for every person. The problem for me may be that my headphones are good; they don’t need more spice. Still, if you feel that there isn’t enough sparkle in the high end, and you, you could fork over 20$. Radsone will thank you.
I’ve already shed my yearling audiophile husk. I listen to Earsonics SM3 and Westone UM3x. Heck, even my MEElectronics M6 make my iPhone sound great, and they work on any stereo anywhere. My advice: save your 20$, buy better headphones. Or, keep your crappy headphones, buy MF Player, feed a two dollar coin into a metal masher, mix, and enjoy.
|Title:||MF Player Pro-radical HiFi||Developer:||RADSONE|
|Reviewed Ver:||Min OS Req:||4.1|