All is not lost, however, for you can buy the D2 without DAB and it’s otherwise an extremely capable machine. You get an FM radio included with the player too, so you’re not completely bereft of news, sport and music broadcasts. The D2 allows you to record directly from radio (DAB and FM) and you can even set the player to record at a certain time and date, just like a VCR or act as a radio alarm clock.
Being a Cowon player, the D2 is packed with a myriad of other features. File support, for instance, is superb. Not only can you play the usual MP3 and WMA files, but also OGG, FLAC and (in a future firmware upgrade) APE. You can switch between MSC and MTP modes for USB file transfer, which means you can use the D2 to play DRM tracks if you want, or simply drag and drop music straight onto it, as if it were an external hard disk. On the recording front, you can set up different levels for microphone and line-in recordings, and different bitrates for recording voice and radio broadcasts.
Battery life is unbelievably good at around 50 hours for music and, more impressively, 10 hours for video – enough to watch Lawrence of Arabia (the director’s cut) twice with room to spare for a couple of episodes of The Simpsons. Other nice touches include a mini stylus, which ingeniously doubles as a kickstand when plugged into a slot at the bottom right, and a TV out, though irritatingly the cables for this are ‘optional’ extras.
Most importantly, however, sound quality is extremely good. The standout feature is its output power, which is an impressive 37mW per channel into 16 ohms. Many flash-based players don’t get anywhere near this level of output and it means that the D2 can drive larger headphones just as comfortably as it can smaller earbuds and noise isolation ear canal phones.
On top of extra volume, that extra power also means increased dynamics – orchestral strikes take on a new life while quiet passages of music don’t suffer from loss of clarity and detail. The opening to Mahler’s 5th Symphony is a good test of this, and most players flounder when confronted with the simple solo clarion call of the trumpet followed by an enormously powerful blast of complex orchestral ear-bleedery. The D2 pulled it off with surprising dexterity, making it possible to hear each section of the orchestra clearly.