When I reviewed the HUM Pervasion back in January it was a brand new player on the market and the version I was using was one of the first ones ever made. As it happens, HUM discovered an opportunity to improve the Pervasion after my unit was made so my contact arranged to get my unit updated to bring it in line with the performance of all units being sold through regular retail channels. Now that it’s back with me I wanted to update a few points about what’s different and how it’s improved an already excellent player.
I’m starting with an apology because my contact originally asked me to not discuss this upgrade publicly for fear that people might worry that they have an inferior unit, but that puts all of us in a tricky spot. The sound is different with the modified components and it makes some of my old review seem inaccurate so I have to explain why my original impressions may not reflect what end-users hear. Secondly, the Pervasion deserves success – it is a great unit – so this update is also designed to help raise my rating of the Pervasion to the level it deserves in its final production guise.
Believe it or not, the only change to the Pervasion’s internals is a single capacitor. And no, it’s some super-duper brand replacing an average brand. No, it’s just a different batch of exactly the same capacitor. I assume HUM discovered some quality variation or a drop in the sound quality of the very early units compared to what should have been achieved, but all production units sold through retail channels have the correct batch of capacitors so what you’ll be hearing is what I’m now hearing, not what I was hearing before.
With that said, let me discuss what’s changed so that either:
- You don’t think I’m crazy when you hear the Pervasion and it doesn’t match my original review or
- You get a good understanding of just how good this player is
Regarding the Original Review
Here are some quote from my HUM Pervasion full review and my comments about how it sounds in the production version:
…there is a very slight background hiss when using sensitive IEMs that is particularly audible if the IEMs isolate very well. The hiss is very, very minor (slightly less than the Alien) – to the degree that slight background noise in the room completely hides the hiss – but it is there which is a shame.
Well the hiss is gone. There is absolutely no background hiss with the production version. I can still hear the tiniest bit of noise during some on-screen activity, but the player is dead silent when the screen is off (which is most of the time) and the noise from the screen is slight enough to be insignificant when there is music playing.
The sound from the Pervasion’s headphone jack is slightly warm – not at all bloated or thick, but slightly warmer than neutral.
Um, no. Or at least not any more. The final version of the Pervasion is really balanced with great bass and excellent treble extension and clarity. One could argue possibly that it’s ever-so-slightly v-shaped, but given how difficult it is to define what is truly neutral, I would say that the Pervasion is as neutral as you could expect while still maintaining excellent bass weight and strength. It’s definitely not what you might expect based on many of the past Wolfson-based DACs and portables – listening to the Pervasion is a study in lean, accurate, and energetic sound, but to my ears it never strays into cold or analytical territory.
I know some users have found that brighter / edgier earphones can become a bit fatiguing when used with the Pervasion, but I don’t believe that’s the Pervasion creating the fatigue so much as not smoothing over anything and therefore allowing the earphones themselves to be fatiguing. Where other players may warm up a bright / edgy ‘phone, the Pervasion will let you hear exactly how your ‘phones sound.
I compared the sound of the Pervasion to the Shozy Alien in the HUM Pervasion full review, but the reality is that they’re quite different. I love the Alien, but the cleaner sound resulting from the updated capacitor in the production version of the Pervasion gives is a resolution and clarity that the Alien can’t match. The Alien still has the edge in ambience and spaciousness, but the Pervasion is clearly superior now in terms of detail, resolution and realism of the sound.
With just a single capacitor update, my early version Pervasion became the same as a production / retail model and with that change it transformed into a beautifully balanced and detailed portable player. It was no ugly duckling before, but it has become the proverbial swan thanks to the HUM engineers’ attention to detail.
All of the benefits of the Android interface remain fully intact so the user experience is flawless with the exception of the week WiFi reception as I discussed in the original review. By combining this perfect interface with spectacular sound quality, HUM have offered us an incredible portable audio experience at less than half the price of the other ‘top dogs’ on the market. The beautiful implementation of the of the WM8741 chip from Wolfson combined with an excellent amp stage make for a killer player in the $500 range.
If you’re in the market for an AK100, AK120 or maybe even AK240, check out the Pervasion before taking the plunge. They’re very different players in terms of design and functionality, but in terms of pure sound quality they are absolutely direct competitors to my ears.