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Are there any good AAC/MP3 CD players out besides eXpanium?
Phobos
post Jun 29 2002, 15:46
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Since my favorite audio format is AAC, i want a CD player that allows burning of this kind of files and play then in a car, by now the best choice i've know of is

eXpanium EXP503
http://www.audio.philips.com/found.asp?Pro...e&AbsPosition=9

or either this baby with 8cm cds that is also cool:

eXpanium EXP401
http://www.audio.philips.com/found.asp?Pro...e&AbsPosition=4

While surfing in its official page, i encountered in both manuals this supported AAC format: ISO-13818-7 MPEG2 (low complexity profile), stereo, ADTS and ADIF header, AAC bitrate <160kbps. Newer models don't even claim AAC support sad.gif , ive sent a mail to them anyway.

Let me set things clear, <160 kbps means i cant use more than this bitrate??? if its true then it kinda sux, cuz i only like extreme encodes that are cd quality. So this is the reason i ask if there are any ISO Non-Encrypted AAC portable CD players out there that can hold any VBR AAC files, like -extreme (around 224kbps).

Thank You for your Time
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rjamorim
post Jun 29 2002, 17:45
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Phobos
Let me set things clear, <160 kbps means i cant use more than this bitrate??? if its true then it kinda sux, cuz i only like extreme encodes that are cd quality. So this is the reason i ask if there are any ISO Non-Encrypted AAC portable CD players out there that can hold any VBR AAC files, like -extreme (around 224kbps).


You can use bitrates higher than 160 with Expanium, and even -extreme. But you must be sure to set the encoder to write ADIF frame headers instead of ADTS.

The drawback is that you can't know the file lenght nor you can ff/rew inside the file using ADIF.

Regards;

Roberto.


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Phobos
post Jun 29 2002, 18:34
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i have my albums enconded in psyteldrop/psytel AAC encoders, are they on ADIF or ADTS?
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rjamorim
post Jun 29 2002, 19:01
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Phobos
i have my albums enconded in psyteldrop/psytel AAC encoders, are they on ADIF or ADTS?


The default is ADTS. It only uses ADIF if you specify it with -adif switch.


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Hanky
post Jun 29 2002, 19:40
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The new Iriver IDP-100 states AAC support in the specifications. Although it's not a CD based player and in my opinion it has an ugly, fat design, it could be an interesting portable audio product.

Iriver IDP-100 product info
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Cygnus X1
post Jun 29 2002, 20:11
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Re: I-River: I would stay away from products using the DataPlay media anyway. The media is riddled with copyright protection schemes, is write-once, and is not very innovative for 2002. It's been in development since the mid 1990's and has been delayed umpteen times since then. Given that fact, a 3cm disc shoiuld be capable of holding more than 250MB/side at this point, as several companies (including Toshiba) have demonstrated this year and last using shorter wavelength lasers and different writing techniques (alhtough I should point out that DataPlay is a MO (magneto-optical disc) and works on a different principle anyway). Technology aside, it is a format that only the big record companies could love, since you have to pay to unlock tracks and additional features on the disc. All this in an ugly, bloated player that looks like a wristwatch with a gas problem. I'll stick to flash, personally.

Back on topic, my personal choice for MP3 CD player would have to be the SlimX. I've been fortunate enough to have tried out a friend's SlimX, and may just have to get one for the car! Though it doesn't yet support AAC (not that I'm aware of anyway) it's upgradable firmware could support it in the future. If you're bent on having AAC, Wal-Mart has had some Expaniums laying in the clearance aisle lately for 50 bucks. . might want to check at your neighborhood store.


[Edit: Added player recommendation]
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DSPguru
post Jun 29 2002, 22:03
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i bought EXP501 last week, and made a quick test, encoded one track with AACEnc (i think i used 'standard' preset) - it played it fine.
never tried encoding to higher bitrates with adif, but anyway i find adts a more logilcal data structure.


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Phobos
post Jun 30 2002, 01:11
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standard is around160-192 isnt it?? so it means that info in the manual aint correct. As rjamorim says all my encodes must be at adts, but if the all-mighty dsp guru says it works on 180 , then why wont it work at VBR 224 (my extreme encodes)?? I sent a mail to iRiver asking if there is going to be any aac playback implementation firmware upgrades, i hope its positive.

Cygnus, an EXP501 for $50 would own, buy i live in mexico so there are hardly any crappy tavarua mp3cd players around lol
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Demon
post Jun 30 2002, 12:17
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I'm new to this site, but have been looking for a 'good' portable device for listening to all my music collections, but as yet I haven't found that one 'perfect' product..

I notice that the main critieria for your choice is the AAC bitrate, and as we know VBR gives the best quality/size trade-off.

Unfortunately, no-one mentions a problem I'm finding trying to get a decent portable player, and thats the quality of the audio produced from the DAC onwards....

If I voice my concerns, perhaps if I'm mistaken, you can tell me, and it might help me find something as well...

If you look at the Sony MZR N1, there top of the range Network Minidisc player, and listen to a native 260Kit ATRAC recording, the actual listening experience is awseome, even with the supplied 'ear-buds' its absolutely spot on... Now granted the max bit rate transferable via the USB is 130Kbit, which seems pretty lame (No pun intended), but the listening experience is still enjoyable, and the music still sounds good. My mate has just got one, and even though I was very sceptivle of it, the listening quality is outstanding...

Now this is where my problem lies,

I've listened to quite a few prtoable Digital Audio Players, and have to say that not one actually reproduces the track like the MZR-N1, even when playing 320Kbit CBR MP3's...
I think its the age old problem of "A system is only as good as its weakest link".. and if you look at the specs of the players, its hardly surprising they struggle....

the EXP401 for example, has a weighted SNR of 80db!!! thats pretty low, and I bet does not give a good rendition of any music....
THe last player I listended to was an Archos Jukebox with a 90db SNR, and I used my reasonable seinheisser head phones, and even then the quality was awful, I made the owner download a fresh 320Kbit CBR LAME 3.89 encoded CD Track that I also got encoded @ 130Kbit ATRAC on the MZR-N1..

Well, the Archos sound quality did not improve at all, its clearly useless in the audio department, no matter what adjustments we tried, yet the MZR-N1 on the same headphones sounded a league higher in quality, even @ 130Kbit....

The only saving grace so far seems the Creative Labs Jukebox 3 with a 96db SNR on headphones, and 98db SNR on line-out... if this translates to what reviewers say is hi-fo quality, I think this may be the 'expensive' winner, bu them 40Gb's of music on the move may make me save up...

But then I'll have to hear it with my own ears to believe it...

At this moment in time, I'd much prefer the 130Kbit(Against all my instinct) AAC on the Minidisc to 320Kbit CBR on a naff DA player....

so please let me know if any of the portables can match the soundstage, stereo speration and overall presentation of something like the SONY MZR- N1.. (or any of there $150+ players)

Please don't flame, I'm just as interested in getting the best sound quality as possible...


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Phobos
post Jun 30 2002, 14:57
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Maybe we are both looking for this one, lots of reviews claim the best audio fidelity for an MP3CD player wich also has FM radio. On the other side, its firmware upgreadable, so theres a chance iRiver implements AAC playback support, I've already mailed them and will post if i get any reply.

Speaking of Fidelity, i have a SB Audigy on a "crappy" Creative Inspire 5.1 sound system. The card has 100DB Snr and the system only 85, i know im not suking up all the fidelity the card has, but still i think its worth the money. This sound system has enough fidelity and it was only $95 shipping included, maybe its because i dont like too loud high frequencies and i equalize the card this way, but it still has a whooping bass, all this at only 85Db SNR. EXP503 has 85DB SNR and is car ready, so i think it can suit my demands, but i still want to play the AACs i already have, so lets hope it better does or either iRiver supports AAD wink.gif
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rehgf
post Jun 30 2002, 15:19
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I bought an EXP301 after performing some tests. Most of the tests were of course related to the AAC bitrate because the manual states ADTS <160 kbps. On my player, this is not true.

One of the tests was a full concert encoded with -ultra and the player never skipped or stopped. I could not hear any anomalities in sound quality either. I have now owned the player and played my old ADTS encodes at -normal for a month. It has never failed so far.

Since the EXP503 and EXP401 are based on the same decoder I would be very surprised if they couldn't play ADTS >160kbps also. How about burning a test-cd with some extreme encodes and visiting a reseller for some tests?

Good luck,
rehgf

edit: spelling error
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Phobos
post Jun 30 2002, 17:19
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Thank you very much man!!!

I'll just wait for a reply of my e-mail to iRiver, if i get any BS on it, ill buy EXP503 right away, maybe thet specifications are just meant to let n00bs know that AAC performs better on lower bitrates than MP3 does. But we audiophiles who want the best, seems still a good solution. hmm, as a second thought, i might tell my dad to buy an EXP503 for the car and EXP401 for me, along witha 25 mini-cd pack, very cheap over the net.biggrin.gif

Thnx again REHGF, your comment was very useful.
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SometimesWarrior
post Jul 1 2002, 00:14
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I own the EXP401 and, while I really like it, I can't recommend it to anyone.

[list]I've had bad luck with -normal AACenc encodes on my player. I haven't spent too much time with AAC since, compared to MP3, it creates many more annoying artifacts, but I did make an AAC CD. Not only does it play all AAC audio about 10dB quieter than the MP3 audio on the CD, but it turned itself off every 20 minutes or so with an "OOPS" error code.

However, with my Koss Porta Pro headphones the player sounds very nice, and it plays MP3's without problems. It also fits very well into your pocket, and it can start playing music as fast as normal CD players (meaning almost no load-time), as long as you don't use a packet-written CD-RW.

As for SNR ratings... I don't think they mean much with consumer audio equipment since the measurements are so arbitrary. Sometimes the difference between the manufacturer's web site and the packaging can be 15-20dB. There are other important aspects of a DAC and amplifier (and whatever else goes into the "audio experience") to consider.

**EDIT**

Oh, and if you do decide to get a Pocket Expanium (EXP401) anyway, I recommend finding yourself some high-speed (4x-10x) 8cm CD-RW's, perhaps 10 or so, and some mini-CD cases. There's an old Expanium thread on this forum where someone posted a link to the site that sells these delightful things. Just keep your MP3 collection on your hard drive, and whenever you want some music, just throw open Nero or Easy CD Creator, plunk 2-3 hours of MP3's onto the CD, and you'll be on your way in 2 minutes.
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Phobos
post Jul 1 2002, 03:53
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thanks for the headphone advise, anyway i cant afford some cool high end headphones atm, my budget would be like $20, i can get some radio shack ones for that. As for bass boost, well, its true Sony's GROOVE is the best out there, but this DBB has to be respectable. As for the media, all ive found at pricewatche are crappy Ritek-Arita MiniCDs (well, at least they come on jewel case), so im of course keeping my files in the computer.

Using miniCDs sounds great, but it would be even better if SlimX gets AAC support wink.gif. I hope to get a reply from iRiver along the week... ill keep you guys informed.
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SometimesWarrior
post Jul 1 2002, 04:34
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Here's the high-speed media I was talking about. (Beware: link doesn't work in Mozilla)

Also, I recommend getting a few mini jewel cases too.

After reading this discussion, perhaps I'll try playing AAC again with my player. It's purely for academic reasons, though; MP3 has faster encoding times, has more reliable playback, and is less prone to artifacting (in my experience). That's why I don't think AAC playback is a worthwhile selling point for any portable player. YMMV (your mileage may vary)
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fewtch
post Jul 1 2002, 04:42
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Phobos
thanks for the headphone advise, anyway i cant afford some cool high end headphones atm, my budget would be like , i can get some radio shack ones for that.

The "Radio Shack ones" that go on sale for $20 ('Titanium' with volume slider) are rebranded Koss KTX-Pro's. Definitely the best anyone could do for $20, great headphones (if a bit bass-heavy).


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rjamorim
post Jul 1 2002, 04:48
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QUOTE
Originally posted by SometimesWarrior
MP3 has faster encoding times, has more reliable playback, and is less prone to artifacting (in my experience). That's why I don't think AAC playback is a worthwhile selling point for any portable player. YMMV (your mileage may vary)


Gah.

Are you talking about your problem with the Smashing Pumpkins clip?


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DSPguru
post Jul 1 2002, 06:41
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QUOTE
Originally posted by SometimesWarrior
<b>I own the EXP401 and, while I really like it, I can't recommend it to anyone.


yea, its output power isn't very high, and therfore sound isn't too loud.
yea, DBB truely sux!
as for aac that has lower gain,
i plan to add loseless normalizing capabilities to BeSplit, (you might wanna call it "AACgain"), this might help.
as for batteries,
i own 501 for a very short period of time, but it seems that you're right.


Dg.


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Phobos
post Jul 1 2002, 15:36
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So you mean i must get any other but expanium??? i still have no reply from iRiver, and as i say, AAC playback is my must...
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rehgf
post Jul 1 2002, 23:38
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Well I just tried some mp3 encodes on the EXP301. Yes, there is a difference in volume. But the AAC volume is high enough to cause tinnitus with my Koss KSC-35. I guess that is considered a positive feature?-)

The volume difference could be measured through the line-in on a soundcard. I will do that if someone specifically asks for it. Noone seem to be interested in the 300-series anyway.

Phobos:
I found this 301 is the only player that does what it promises; no id3 tag display, no 8cm CD:s. But it plays high bitrate AAC:s. If you want to buy an AAC player, I still recommend you to try before you buy. The mp3-cdplayer market seems to be flooded with buggy betas.
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Phobos
post Jul 2 2002, 00:20
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You got a point there, theres still a possibility that EXP401 wont support high bitrates on aac, it also doesnt support id3 tag or title display, portability is my point here. But man ill take the risk, since theres no possibility to find a reseller here in mexico with even any MP3CD player, ill order it from us, and if it doesnt support AAC fully, ill sell it to a friend and get EXP 503. thnx for your advise anyway
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DSPguru
post Jul 2 2002, 17:40
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Phobos
So you mean i must get any other but expanium??? i still have no reply from iRiver, and as i say, AAC playback is my must...
i still believe exp. is better than the slimX wink.gif


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Phobos
post Jul 2 2002, 20:04
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I'm going to buy it, if DSPguru likes it, i do too :listen:
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Demon
post Jul 2 2002, 20:20
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nice.. glad your getting some good feedback from the exp boys....

Maybe I should take my head outta the clouds and listen to some more portables as well....

The only problem is listening before buying, most of these things are mail order only... not much in the highstreet, and then they don't care much for demo's....

All I'm after is the playback quality of something like the minidisc players, but as pointed out, specs don't mean too much... I only trust my ears anyway, since I'm stuck with them....

As an aside, the coolest portable I've just demo'd was an IPAQ PDA, it sounded really good with decent headphones.. and you can get AAC players for it, shame its so expenive, and then its even worse with the cost of a 1Gb CFII card.... but you can play doom on it as well!!!

Maybe an 8cm CD Slim-X cased AAC/MP3 player would be the ideal solution for me!!, just have to keep waiting...


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DSPguru
post Jul 2 2002, 21:57
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@Phobos
keep in mind that this product isn't an hi-fi product. @ home i have a very nice amplifier by ROTEL. this monster can handle Dream Theater, Dissection, Television, PJ Harvey, Primus, you name it..
i use my portable expanium daily, listening to compressed music on my way to work (one hour per direction sad.gif).
sound's quality isn't that good, but still cheers me up smile.gif. besides, i can never find a radio-station that gives me a great 'shuffle' of music like EXP501 wink.gif, so i guess exp is the way to go cool.gif


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