Cowon Plenue L Hi-Res Portable Digital Audio Player Released – See Features, Specs and Availability

Cowon’s latest hi-resolution portable digital audio player (DAP) is the Cowon Plenue L; featuring a very shiny and attractive Brass Gold finish. The Plenue L features ESS Technology’s flagship DAC from their ESS PRO series – the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC. With the ES9038PRO DAC, the Plenue L is able to deliver a very detailed sound and wide sound stage; supporting both 32bit/384kHz high resolution audio and up to DSD256 natively. The DAC also features 32-bit HyperStream II with an 8-channel internal quad DAC. Also, gone are the 2.5mm balanced output and is now replaced by the larger 4.4mm balanced output that is currently growing popularity. The Cowon Plenue L has more to offer, continue reading below for more features, specifications and availability.

Cowon Plenue L Brass Gold DAP-03

Cowon Plenue L Hi-Res DAP – Meet The New Flagship

Like I said the Cowon Plenue L is the company’s latest flagship Hi-Res portable digital audio player powered with an ES9038PRO SABRE DAC offering 32bit/384kHz high definition sound, and even up to DSD256 natively. Not many DAPs are built with this high performance DAC; one of them is the Astell&Kern A&futura SE100.

About the ES9038PRO DAC:
It sets a new benchmark for audio excellence with the industry’s highest dynamic range (DNR), up to 140dB, in a 32-bit, 8-channel DAC. The ES9038PRO was designed for premium home theater equipment including Blu-ray players, preamplifiers, all-in-one A/V receivers, and more. For serious audiophiles it provides the most immersive listening experience — bringing music to life.

The ES9038PRO SABRE DAC also features ESS’ patented 32-bit HyperStreamDAC technology with-122dB total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N). The HyperStream architecture is responsible for both the outstanding sound quality of the ES9038 and the extremely low THD+N. A typical competitive, 32-Bit 8-Channel DAC using a delta-sigma architecture features-107dB THD+N (0.0004%), which when subjected to listening tests does not equal the clarity and sound stage of the ES9038PRO.

The body is made from a micro polish alloy with carved glass and it looks really premium. Be sure to put the leather case on to protect it from unwanted scratches. Cowon also incorporated the newer and “now-getting-popular” 4.4mm balanced output. I believe the 4.4mm will become the new standard and it won’t be long since the 2.5mm balanced port will be a thing of the past.

The Cowon Plenue L features a 3.7″ AMOLED display with a 400×800 resolution. It has a 256GB of internal storage, but there’s also a microSD card slot that can support up to 256GB of microSDXC. The unit itself is powered by an ARM Cortex A9 SoC and draws its power from a 3,050mAh rechargeable battery. The Plenue L also runs on a Linux based system.

As expected the Plenue L features the JetEffect 7 with 66 presets, 50 of which are presets and 16 are user presets. There are also several digital effects and sound enhancements aside from the 10 band equalizer. For those who are into micro tuning, there are seven digital filters, namely:

  • Fast Roll-Off, Linear Phase Filter
  • Slow Roll-Off, Linear Phase Filter
  • Apodizing, Fast Roll-Off, Linear Phase Filter
  • Fast Roll-Off, Minimum Phase Filter
  • Slow Roll-Off, Minimum Phase Filter
  • Hybrid, Fast Roll-Off, Minimum Phase Filter
  • Brickwall Filter


No Wireless, All Wired
It looks like Cowon isn’t really aiming for wireless audio. The Cowon Plenue L lacks any wireless connection, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. So wireless headphones, IEMs and Bluetooth speakers are already out of the equation. But Cowon focused more on the quality of the wired connection. Aside from the 4.4 balanced output, a 3.5 single ended output is also present and a 3.5mm optical output as well (in the same hole). You can also use the Plenue L as a USB DAC via the USB connection.

No Doubt About The Sound Quality
There’s no doubt that the Cowon Plenue L sounds great, considering the ES9038PRO DAC built inside. It offers a somewhat neutral sounding with an excellent amount of detail and texture. As expected, the soundstage, imaging and layering is top notch as well and background noise is none existent even when paired with a sensitive IEM. This is basically what the company designed the Cowon Plenue L to be – a DAP with “a rich, clear sound with the widest sound stage and realizes every minute detail to produce the ultimate in sound”.

Cowon Plenue L Price and Availability

Its predecessor, the Cowon Plenue 2 P2 MKII, currently retails for around $1,100 USD; the Plenue L could be retailed at around $1,500 – $1,900 USD. At the time this article was posted, it’s already listed on Amazon but no pricing or availability yet. But you can check out the links below for the latest pricing and availability.

Check Cowon Plenue L DAP on Amazon.com here
Check Cowon Plenue 2 P2 MKII on Amazon.com here

Cowon Plenue L Specifications

DACES9038PRO
CPUARM Cortex A9 1.2 GHz dual core
SNR125dB Unbalance, 128dB Balance
THD+N0.0004% Unbalance, 0.0005% Balance (24bit, 32bit)
Stereo Crosstalk-133dB Unbalance, -144dB Balance
Output2.1 Vrms Unbalance, 4.0 Vrms Balance
Output Impedance0.9Ω Unbalance, 1.8Ω Balance
Volume140 levels
ClockPrecision Clock Dual TCXO (Phase Jitter 1.0ps)
Display3.7" AMOLED Touch screen @ 400x800 resolution
Output port3.5mm single ended, 3.5mm optical out, 4.4mm balanced out
Internal Storage256GB
Expandable StoragemicroSD SDXC up to 256GB
ChassisMicro polish alloy & carved glass
ButtonsPower, Play / Pause, Forward, Rewind, Multi Button, Multi Wheel, Volume Wheel
File FormatsAPE, MP3, WMA, OGG, WV, TTA, DCF
DXD, DSD (DFF, DSF, ISO), FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC
Audio DetailsDXD: ~352.8/384kHz
DSD Native: ~11.2 MHz (DSD64, DSD128, DSD256)
FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, WV ~32bit/384kHz
- WAV Tag supporting
- 5.1 Channel Downmixing support
APE: Fast, Normal, High and Extra High compression rates (~24bit/384kHz)
TTA: ~24bit/384kHz
MP3:MPEG 1/2/2.5 Layer 3, ~320kbps
WMA: ~320kbps, ~96kHz
OGG: ~Q10, ~16bit/192kHz
JetEffect 766 Presets (50 Presets + 16 User Presets)
10 Band Equalizer (EQ Filter)
BBE+ - BBE, Mach3Bass, 3D Surround, MP Enhance
Special Effect - Chorus (8 modes), Reverb (8 modes)
Track InformationCUE sheet, SACD ISO (2ch)
Lyrics SupportLRC, LDB, Lyrics3, ID3 Tag Lyrics (Time Information Yes/No)
BatteryBuilt-in Rechargeable Lithium Polymer 3,050 mAh / 3.7V
Playback TimeApprox. 9 hours for MP3, ~8.5 hours for FLAC
Charging TimeApprox. 3 hours via 5V/2A
Package IncludesPlenue L, Micro USB cable, Quick guide, Warranty, Dignis leather case
Dimensions119.1mm x 16.5mm x 67.9mm
Weight199 grams
ColorBrass Gold

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