Published on April 25th, 2015 | by Igor Rebenko2
Review: HUM Pervasion 8GB WM8741 28nm A9 Dual-Core HiFi Music Player
Pros: Clarity & sound quality, power, Android powered means nearly endless possibilities software-wise.
Cons: Battery life, outdated Android, no external DAC support.
Disclaimer: I did not purchase the HUM Pervasion and do not own it. I’ve had 1 week with it. So please take what I have to say with a grain of salt, or two.
A little about the HUM Pervasion:
About HUM (taken from the http://hum.hk website):
“Hum is a Hong Kong based audio manufacturer, specialized in designing, manufacturing and producing audio gear that is high in fidelity, detail and texture. We believe good quality and affordable price could come hand in hand, if manufacturers and engineers who are knowledgeable enough and handle it with love, passion and care.We design for music lovers, audiophiles to professional musicians. We would be really honoured if our users could tell that they hear a wider range, more texture layers, higher fidelity higher detail in their favourite song as if it is their first time hearing the track but be able to magically hum along.Every music lover is an explorer, let’s take the journey together one music note and one hum at a time.”
The HUM Pervasion comes to the market with only one thing in mind; to bring only the highest quality and highest fidelity possible at a reasonable price. It does this quite reasonably well.
It houses a Wolfson WM8741 DAC which is one of the most highly regarded value for money DACs to this day. To go with this it uses a TI LME49720 operational amplifier that runs a ±8V which gives it more than enough power to drive cans all the way up to the 300Ω I suspect. Unfortunately I cannot be for sure. All I can say is that it definitely has a lot of headroom for anything that I threw at it.
In addition to this wonderful DAC and op-amp combo, HUM boasts to have cherry picked only the best electrical components that are not audio related, these being WiFi module, other ICs, DC-DC converters to form a perfect power supply structure for the Pervasion.
|Display:||4.3′ 800×480 IPS|
|CPU:||28nm A9 Dual-Core 1.2 GHz|
|Card Slot:||MicroSD Up to 128GB|
|Low Pass Filter:||TI LME49720|
|Op-Amp Power Supply:||±8V|
|Battery:||1770 mAh Li-ion|
|Battery Life:||~6 hours (WAV)|
|Charging Time:||~2 hours|
|Connectivity:||WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0|
The HUM Pervasion as a Android Device
The HUM Pervasion is in quite a good place. There are not a lot of Android power high fidelity digital audio players on the market. What this means is that HUM has a lot of power available in their grasp to utilise. Android, being an open-source platform, is capable of being anything that the designer chooses it to be, as long as it is set-up properly and as intended. I’m not convinced that HUM have done this correctly, and I’ll explain why.
The hardware chosen is OK and is not really the issue. My biggest gripe here is the version of Android chosen. Android only gets better and more stable with every iteration. One of the biggest aspects of the newer versions of Android is the increasing support for external DACs. A limitation on the Android audio engine is that it is only capable of 48/16, and introducing the ability to use external DACs makes your Android device capable of all the formats the your DAC can play. This particular version does not seem to support any USB OTG devices at all, which is a huge bummer in my books. This feels like a huge opportunity missed.
My other gripe is that the chosen ROM is not a community built one, like CyanogenMod. While I understand that there may have been method in the madness, I do still think it would’ve been wiser to go with an AOSP base ROM and cherry pick your own features for customisation and hardware/software tweaks, for example: hold volume keys down to skip tracks.
All these I mentioned can be fixed with a simple ROM flash, and I do hope that HUM hears my call and does just that. Because, in my humble opinion, if this does happen, it will make this player a force to be reckoned with.
Now continuing with the review…
Playing around with the HUM Pervasion I noticed that this is probably one the smoothest Jelly Bean 4.2.2 experiences I’ve encountered. It is after all a fully stripped down version of Android. It is slightly modified but mostly just stock Jelly Bean. It is quite a joy to play with being an Android user myself.
The apps that come preinstalled are: Chrome (internet browser), Explorer (file browser), Gallery, Gmail, Play Music, Play Store, Settings & Video. It’s really as bare bones as you’ll ever get.
The apps I would recommend for playing music are as follows: HibyMusic, PowerAmp and USB Audio Player PRO.
All are great music apps and are available on the Play Store.
HibyMusic however was not available to download from the Play Store for the Pervasion, so what I did to get it installed was get the HibyMusic apk file from my rooted MotoG and transferred it across to the Pervasion and installed it manually from the Explorer app. Everything worked like a charm from there.
You may also play all you favourite games on this device. Don’t expect it to run anything graphics intensive though. It’ll run all you Candy Crush and Flappy Birds to your hearts content.
Design & Build
The HUM Pervasion is quite a chunky device. Of course this is only compared to a normal Android phone. Compared to any other Hi-Rez DAP on the market it doesn’t seem that big at all. Measuring at 66.6x118x13.8mm it reminds me a lot like my old Motorola Atrix (which I actually have on hand – see photos). This is the size that Android phones used to be a few years ago before they began to stretch to wider, longer and skinnier proportions. Everything about this device screams to me “Classic Android Phone”, and this is something I actually like. It’s what made me fall in love with Android after all the year of being a Nokia user.
The HUM Pervasion is mostly made of glass (front) and aluminium (rear). The rare cover is a solid chunk on aluminium which wraps around the player on all sides. It looks and feels like it will last a long, long time.
- On top you get a power button and the MicroUSB plug which actually feel very sturdy when plugged in.
- Left you get the volume rocker.
- Right is simply the microSD card slot which can hold up to 128GB.
- And the bottom is where the magic happens. You get a line-out, an ALPS analogue volume knob and the headphone out.
It’s a very unique that feature to have both a digital and analogue volume control. But it’s welcomed here.
I’m not sure if the screen is made from Corning Gorilla glass and I’m surely not going to test it to find out. Let’s just say that I didn’t hesitate to apply a screen protector on the unit when I received it.
The resolution is 800×480 which to me is still adequate as it’s always been.
The screen does have some reflection and is not the most ideal for use in the sun.
Battery life is quoted to be 6 hours and that is about right with what I’ve experienced. For me this is not an issue but for those who do a lot of commuting may know the frustration of a dying battery. It does charge quite slowly, but I found that it helps to use a better charger, something that pushes more than 1 amp.
EMI (Electromagnetic Interference)
When using the WiFi you do get considerably a lot of EMI. It’s noticeable at all volumes, and it’s very annoying!
DO NOT USE WIFI WHILE LISTENING!
WiFi strength is weak and the connection is somewhat temperamental when not in the same room as the router. Otherwise it work as intended.
Bluetooth works as intended when the screen is turned off. The second you turn the screen on the sound starts to stutter. I think that this may be another software issue with the old version of Android. I could be wrong, of course.
How does it Sound?
The HUM Pervasion does not disappoint in the sound department. Boy does it sound good! It is a very musical player, extending both treble and bass, making everything you listen to alive and fun. Most of my listening is done in the office at work where I need to have the music in the background. I could not use this player at work all the time. The reason being, is that I could not concentrate on my work. It made me want to jump up and dance, reach for that volume knob and turn it a little up. Most of the time spent the first time I listened to the Pervasion was me flicking through my favourite tracks and listening to them like I haven’t heard them in 10 years. It was definitely quite an experience.
“The player sounds very good” is where I’m going with this, if you haven’t got that yet.
*Comparisons using only the opening of Eagles – Hotel California on V1 MP3 converted down from 96/24 vinyl rip using latest LAME.exe through the Havi B3 Pro 1.
**Switching between sources using my DIY AB switch (pink thing in the photos).
*** Volume matching is done by ear, so not so accurate.
xDuoo X2 VS HUM Pervasion
HUM Pervasion is instantly noticeable to have a more cleaner delivery. Bass is effortless with good speed. Electric guitar is airy and placed correctly on the stage. Cymbals are metallic and placed correctly to the side, slightly behind.
xDuoo X2 has noticeably better soundstage and imaging; being slight wider and much deeper. Cymbal are further in the back, but aren’t as natural sounding; smoother not as tinny or metallic. The sound isn’t as refined as the HUM pervasion and the X2 is running out of headroom in terms of power. This track has a LOT of dynamic range and I had the X2 on 27/40 volume and the HUM maybe a quarter in.
HUM Pervasion wins.
But both sound great. Fun, forward and engaging.
FiiO X1 VS HUM Pervasion
X1 runs out of steam fast here. 90/100 volume. Treble is a tonne smoother & slower with the X1. Bass kick is somewhat hollow compared to the HUM Pervasion and not as punchy. Soundstage narrower. A very laid back sound here on the X1.
HUM Pervasion is a much fuller & warmer sound than the X1. Bass guitar flows all through the note held, unlike the X1 where the note flows but feels loose. Treble here is much more sparkly and sharp. The cymbals have more bite and electric guitars has a much more natural timber.
HUM Pervasion wins hands down.
X1 is a more comfortable listen though. I could listen to it all day long. Pervasion might get a little fatiguing at the same volume levels. Though, the HUM Pervasion is a much more rewarding listen.
Audio-gd NFB-15.32 VS HUM Pervasion
This did not go down how I expected it to. AB’ing between the 2 actually gave very, very similar results. They have the same amount of warmth and both are quite forward. The NFB-15 definitely has more extension in the treble. The electric guitar and cymbals sounded brighter, more real, and the cymbals seemed to ring slightly longer. Mids sound a tiny bit more refined here. Soundstage is slightly wider and imaging is slightly more accurate. Everything else is pretty much on par.
I’d give this one to the NFB-15 but the HUM Pervasion was not far behind. If I wanted a portable DAP that sounds like the NFB-15, then this would be the way to go.
I do conclude with the hope that HUM does listen and updates their ROM to a newer version of Android with hopefully some features from community built custom ROM.
It is a truly remarkable device which sound absolutely divine. It’s only fault is the outdated software it is running. Once this is fixed, the HUM Pervasion will truly be a force to be reckoned with!
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