Music

Echobox counts on hip crowd for its flask-shaped hi-res audio player

Echobox counts on hip crowd fo...
The Explorer X1 is a high resolution portable audio player with a flask-shaped outer skin
The Explorer X1 is a high resolution portable audio player with a flask-shaped outer skin
View 6 Images
Up top there's a knurled aluminum knob that's used to control functions and a 3.5 mm headphone jack
1/6
Up top there's a knurled aluminum knob that's used to control functions and a 3.5 mm headphone jack
The Explorer X1 runs Android 4.2, with users able to choose between the Echobox UI or a custom interface of their own creation
2/6
The Explorer X1 runs Android 4.2, with users able to choose between the Echobox UI or a custom interface of their own creation
The Explorer X1's curvy wooden jacket and machined aluminum detailing gives it the appearance of a hip flask
3/6
The Explorer X1's curvy wooden jacket and machined aluminum detailing gives it the appearance of a hip flask
The Explorer X1 features a 3.5 inch touchscreen display out front
4/6
The Explorer X1 features a 3.5 inch touchscreen display out front
The Explorer X1 is being made available in mahogany, maple or black walnut finish
5/6
The Explorer X1 is being made available in mahogany, maple or black walnut finish
The Explorer X1 is a high resolution portable audio player with a flask-shaped outer skin
6/6
The Explorer X1 is a high resolution portable audio player with a flask-shaped outer skin

At first glance, the Explorer X1 has the look of a hip flask. But rather than offer a wee nip to help take the edge off a chilly autumn stroll, the X1 is aimed at satisfying a very different thirst. Echobox is taking aim at the modern audiophile's pocket with a high resolution media player housed in a curvy wooden jacket.

The Explorer X1 portable digital audio player from California's Echobox Audio is reported capable of playing back all of the usual suspects in hi-res audio, including WAV, AIFF and FLAC formats, up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution, plus native DSD support. It has 64 GB of internal storage and 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, with microSD card expansion (an important consideration given the often enormous file sizes of uncompressed/lossless high resolution audio files), and runs Android 4.2, with users able to choose between the company's interface or design a custom UI over stock Android.

Joining the 1.6 GHz Rockchip RK3188 quad-core processor in the circuitry department is a Burr Brown PCM 1792 DAC for digital-to-analog conversion and a 300 mW per channel TPA6120A2 op-amp at 32 ohms, reported sufficient to drive "even the most demanding pro headphones." There's also a 3,700 mAh Li-ion battery inside, which should provide 6 to 8 hours of streaming and 12 hours of local lossless playback before needing to hit the charger, and a 3.5 inch, 720p LCD touchscreen display out front.

The Explorer X1 features a 3.5 inch touchscreen display out front
The Explorer X1 features a 3.5 inch touchscreen display out front

Up top there's a knurled aluminum knob that's used to control functions, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a coaxial output, while down below is a micro-USB port that provides cabled connectivity. Wireless streaming high bandwidth tunes from services such as Pandora, Spotify and Tidal is also catered for with the inclusion of Wi-Fi.

At the time of writing, the Indiegogo funding campaign being used to bring the X1 into production is 98 percent funded with 28 days remaining. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is expected to be US$499, but pledge levels for crowdfunding backers start at $249. By comparison, Fiio's upcoming high spec X7 hi-res player, which also runs Android, is expected to be priced at $650.

The wooden flask body is being offered in mahogany, maple or black walnut finish, and all perks will include three months free subscription to Tidal's premium hi-fi music streaming service.

If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in April 2016. The pitch video below details what's on offer.

Sources: Echobox Audio, Indiegogo

Echobox - The Evolution of Personal Audio

1 comment
Bob Flint
The ear buds junction at the cable and ear bud are one of the most critical areas. From what I see there is little on no strain relief. The cable will sever off at the edge within a very short time. Instead of coming out 90 degrees though a hole, why not straight out the end and use the strain relief as a means of insertion & removal. This will also greatly reduce the tangling so often seen with all wired ear buds. The digital hip flask needs some means of attachment either clip, belt, loop, lanyard not everyone has a big pocket...