Nothing puts the quality cat among the audiophile pigeons like products billed as offering "premium" sound being found to use mainstream components. Latest to potentially fall foul is HiSoundAudio's Studio PMP, on sale for a whopping $345, but which - after MP4 Nation opened it up - was found to be using a Sigmatel 3770 chip as its main processor and DAC, something more commonly found in mid-range MP3 players.
Now, HiSoundAudio themselves have said that they're more focussed on using the right blend of components to achieve excellent sound quality, rather than chasing big-name chipsets, which is admirable. However, they also seem a little ashamed of their Sigmatel choice, going so far as to cover it up on the circuitboard with a logo-engraved custom cover.
MP4 Nation reckon the total cost of the components - bar the amp and 4GB of Samsung flash memory - would come to under $25, though obviously you'd have to add the casing, R&D, build and overheads on top of that. Actual audio quality is apparently pretty good, though there's noticeable hiss, but whether it's $345-good is the outstanding question. HiSoundAudio could also do with reworking their software; it only supports folder browsing, not by ID3 tags, and crashed repeatedly when trying to read a 16GB microSD card.
No doubt the company will have an explanation, but personally we'd save our money for something slightly less finicky.