Music
Seiun Players lets you listen to a tune in hi-res audio

MP3 players and smartphones ushered in a whole new era of convenience for music lovers wanting to take their tunes with them wherever they go. But sound quality has been traded in for portable convenience because of the compression that’s done to the music.

Seiun Players are sleek high-resolution audio and, in the case of two models, 4K video players that its makers say offer much superior audio quality to rival devices on the market. Three models are being fielded: Seiun (pronounced Say-yune), Seiun Pro and Seiun Pro X. All three can play uncompressed hi-res PCM audio up to at least 192 KHz/24-bit and can upscale music that’s not hi-res to that same rate, according to the Indiegogo campaign.

While the entry-level model features only a 1.04-inch display and isn’t designed for video playback, the Pro and Pro X each have a 5.5-inch touch display and are built on the Android OS, adding access to hi-fi streaming services including Tidal and Deezer via the Google Play Store. The Pro and Pro X can play uncompressed hi-res PCM audio up to 384 KHz/32-bit. While Seiun Pro features a 720p-resolution screen and 32 GB of onboard storage, the Pro X offers 1080p resolution and 64 GB storage. The Pro and Pro X also each offer video output of up to 4K resolution, according to the campaign.

Each Seiun Player ships in March. Future retail pricing isn’t available. But early bird backers can get each one now at prices starting at $35 for Seiun, $90 for Pro and $150 for Pro X. Its makers are looking to raise $30,000 by Dec. 6.

If the Seiun Players indeed provide the superior audio quality they promise, a potentially large market awaits as long as established brands such as Apple, Samsung and Sony don’t offer similar products in a comparable price range.  Neil Young’s Pono player also offers hi-res audio, but has failed to catch on. Other potential negatives for Seiun are that the players don’t support Bluetooth aptX wireless audio, for now anyway, and that there are already portable devices available boasting higher-resolution displays.