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Please help me choose a portable high-quality media-player
Diethert
post Aug 3 2012, 17:45
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So there it is.

I don't have a smartphone.
My pretty old Ipod Classic 160gb broke down recently. Keeps pausing songs randomly and it doesn't seem to be fixable.
I also have been thinking about buying a new player all the time and I have some money to burn at the moment.

So I searched some on this and other forums but opinions differ so much that I just decided to create an own thread, therefore my excuses for any possible dupes...


So I am mainly looking for the following:

- Flac player
- good capacity (at least 64gb with or without SD card).
- Durable battery life (and charge time)
- Option for TV connect possibilty: I would also like to watch movies on it, probably avi but HD would be nice bonus. It should also have an tv connect possibility, I am often the guy who provides the movie when watching at a friends place and that would be a lot more handy then bringing my laptop all the time..
- Bonuses like wifi and cool features like BBE and jet-effect, lyric databases and stuff are cool. I don't have a smartphone and I don't have wifi-access at my house though..


So far I have narrowed it down to the following players, they are all cowon but I haven't quit explored any other brands yet.

D3:
Pro's: Great screen, great video quality, HDMI tv connect possibility, wifi-possibility, andoid OS
Cons: Little playback time, 32gb flash memory so i have to buy an SD card with it.

X7:
Pro's: Great capacity (160gb), great playback time.
Con's: Resistive touchscreen, tv-connect is there but it's AV-out don't know if people will still have that on their tv's soon..?

J3:
Pro's: Overally great. Good screen, good playback
Con's: Same tv-connect as the X7.

So any help on choosing out of the above or offering a good alternative (some other cowons look pretty good though but I really wouldn't know which ones to select) would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advanced,

Diethert

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Takla
post Aug 3 2012, 22:49
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If you can live with a mediocre resistive screen then an Archos A43IT does everything you specify. It is close to or at end of product lifespan so the price should be low now (currently about 105 on amazon.co.uk). It has 16GB onboard and a microSD slot which will work with many micro SDXC 64GB cards (if formatted to FAT32). It has native support for just about any consumer audio format you can think of except mpc. Install DeadBeef and/or Rockbox and you have gapless playback and audio format support as good as a PC. It has wifi of course but you don't need it just for adding media as it has a micro USB port so you can plug it into your PC and treat it as a mass storage device.

Sound quality is really nice, at least as good as my ancient iRiver H140 and H340 but without their hiss and occasional disk access ticks and crackles. Unlike tiny pocketable players like Sansa Clip and similar it has a wide soundstage and is really enjoyable to listen to. It doesn't have BBE and all those toys but Rockbox does allow you to set custom equalization settings and use a crossfeed so it definitely is a player that complements good quality headphones or IEMs. Battery life is fine, as an audio player it will run for days and days; as a movie player you should get through at least a couple of full length HD movies before needing to think about checking the battery level. I bought mine about 17 months ago, and since Rockbox on Android became stable enough for everyday use it has made my iRivers and Sansa player totally redundant (and these are not bad players!).

It has HDMI out and can playback 720 h.264 up to level 3.1.

A device with very similar specs and purpose but with a much better capacitive screen, and correspondingly much bigger price, is the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 5.0. I haven't listened to one and can't comment on the sound or build quality. Next to a Cowon player it probably still looks amazingly low priced....
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yourlord
post Aug 3 2012, 23:10
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QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 3 2012, 17:49) *
Unlike tiny pocketable players like Sansa Clip and similar it has a wide soundstage and is really enjoyable to listen to.


Qualify this claim please.

I've not noticed any problems with sound stage on the Sansa Clip, and I really enjoy listening to it quite a bit.
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saratoga
post Aug 3 2012, 23:36
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QUOTE (yourlord @ Aug 3 2012, 18:10) *
QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 3 2012, 17:49) *
Unlike tiny pocketable players like Sansa Clip and similar it has a wide soundstage and is really enjoyable to listen to.


Qualify this claim please.


Takla dislikes the Clip+ and will become extremely upset if you try and get him to explain why:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=86066

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Kohlrabi
post Aug 4 2012, 01:43
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Get a smartphone.


--------------------
It's only audiophile if it's inconvenient.
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Takla
post Aug 4 2012, 02:24
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Saratoga in the thread you link I made a criticism of the Clip+ player 18 months ago. I pointed out a genuine problem it has, which other people experience, and which is both measurable and audible and which you even acknowledged (somewhat unenthusiastically it seems, see below). I don't know why this has festered for 18 months(!!!) such that it forms the basis of your response but never mind.

I don't need anyone else to proclaim my dislikes or likes, especially if done so in a spirit of hostility or censure, or because I'm not in some mutual admiration society or fan club. I won't become extremely upset on being asked to explain why I find the Clip+ good but not fantastic:.

I own a Clip+ 8GB which I bought to replace my Sansa Fuze whose buttons failed (out of warranty) but I don't find it beyond criticism. Here is why:

The Clip+ can suffer from problems with noise from the player. This is quite well described at http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....=86306&st=0 and indeed the final post http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=765428 in that thread is written by a certain saratoga
QUOTE (saratoga @ Aug 7 2011, 17:40) *
If it happens in then Sandisk firmware too, then yeah theres probably no easy fix. That said, it might be possible to work around the issue like we did with the pitch error in the sandisk firmware. I'd be interested to see what recordings of the noise look like.

FWIW on my Clip+ there is a bit of background noise, but I can only really see it on a scope, since at +6dB volume, its only a few mV (and it does scale with volume). It sounds like theres a batch of players out there that are much more susceptible to this background noise. Interestingly when the DAC is powered off it doesn't entirely go away (but gets much, much weaker), so I tend to think its power supply noise being amplified by headphone amp.


There are other threads discussing this and other extraneous noise issues with the Clip players both here at HA and elsewhere, the above is offered as just one example. My Fuze had some similar but very minor noise issues: they were minimal and rarely intrusive and were usually only noticeable on changing tracks or pressing buttons (raising/lowering volume, pause/resume and so on). My Clip+ has that but louder and also more intrusive noise problems which make the player less satisfactory including audible noise while playing audio (irregular clicking probably caused by RAM or CPU access).

This tiny player is not 100% beyond criticism, it is just a very small, mass produced, electrical device, apparently of variable quality according to batch.

My Clip+ is noisy. Other people have noisy Clips. Apparently many people have Clips that aren't noisy. That's nice for them but doesn't negate the fact that other players, supposedly identical, are noisy. Mine also sounds narrow compared to my Archos. It's hard to think this is unrelated to the Clip+ having noticeably poor measurements for crosstalk/signal leakage and mediocre measurements for IMD, though of course it might be just a bad batch, or imaginary. Perhaps yours is better, being from a better batch.
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saratoga
post Aug 4 2012, 03:28
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QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 3 2012, 21:24) *
I don't know why this has festered for 18 months(!!!) such that it forms the basis of your response but never mind.


Actually I still don't remember posting in that thread, and I certainly didn't remember who you are. I found that thread while searching to see how you managed to get so many posts here without better than to make unsupported claims about audio quality.

Good to see that I made more of an impression on you though.

QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 3 2012, 21:24) *
It's hard to think this is unrelated to the Clip+ having noticeably poor measurements for crosstalk/signal leakage and mediocre measurements for IMD, though of course it might be just a bad batch, or imaginary.


http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/sansa-clip-measured.html

The clip has extremely good measurements for all of those things, so yes, its probably unrelated. If you believe otherwise, feel free to support your claims with suitable double blind tests.

QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 3 2012, 21:24) *
I won't become extremely upset on being asked to explain why I find the Clip+ good but not fantastic.


Great, you can start by answering yourlord's question.
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Takla
post Aug 4 2012, 10:06
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QUOTE (yourlord @ Aug 3 2012, 22:10) *
Qualify this claim please.

I've not noticed any problems with sound stage on the Sansa Clip, and I really enjoy listening to it quite a bit.


Neither did I until I had another player that was noticeably different. If I'd only ever listened to the Clip I possibly wouldn't think there was an issue. Like I said, I don't think it's a bad player but neither is it quite as brilliant in all respects as is often asserted.

QUOTE (saratoga @ Aug 4 2012, 02:28) *
http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/sansa-clip-measured.html

The clip has extremely good measurements for all of those things, so yes, its probably unrelated. If you believe otherwise, feel free to support your claims with suitable double blind tests.


Not true. nwaguy's RMAA results in that article show that the Clip's crosstalk measurements are in fact obviously bad, not extremely good. The Clip is over 10dB worse than the compared player. It is also performs poorly in terms of intermodulation distortion+noise.



In nwaguy's non-RMAA tests in the same article he finds
QUOTE
OTHER ASSORTED RESULTS: The channel balance was within 0.20 dB (inaudible) on the Clip+ and iPod. The channel separation was about 50 dB on the Clip+ and 60 dB on the iPod (both loaded with 15 ohms). I'm not sure the extra 10 dB advantage to the iPod is audible but it might be. The Clip is handicapped by it's extremely small size. Physical separation of the left and right audio circuitry is a key design technique to increase channel separation. Sandisk clearly didn't have as much space to work with as Apple did. I suspect the tiny Shuffle performs similarly or even worse.


I thought that was overall an excellent test and a good article and my only reservation was that while acknowledging some deficiencies (nwaguy absolutely does not claim "extremely good measurements for all of those things"! ) he doesn't go further than saying he's "not sure" if they are audible and doesn't look any closer at the issue. I can't help thinking that if the article had been "DOES THE iPod DESERVE ALL THE PRAISE?" instead of "DOES THE CLIP+ DESERVE ALL THE PRAISE?" (anyone spot the leading question and notice the inherent expectation?) then those very poor measurements might have prompted further investigation. As it happens the most obvious measurable shortcomings tie in precisely with the perception of narrow soundstage/poor stereo separation.

I thought his own tests are really good and informative. His RMAA results are credible, because he demonstrates that his methodology and hardware does indeed allow him to test and compare the test items as well as possible within the limitations of RMAA without his hardware introducing or masking/minimizing any problems. See also http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/righ...lyzer-rmaa.html

A double blind test of Clip vs Archos A43IT? I can identify the Clip+ by the extraneous noises it makes.

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saratoga
post Aug 4 2012, 22:07
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QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 4 2012, 05:06) *
Not true. nwaguy's RMAA results in that article show that the Clip's crosstalk measurements are in fact obviously bad, not extremely good.


No they're extremely good. Better then pretty much anything Cowon, Iriver, Samsung make. Better then all but a handful of Apple products. Certainly enough to be transparent.

For instance, you like the H3xx right?

QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 4 2012, 05:06) *
Sound quality is really nice, at least as good as my ancient iRiver H140 and H340 but without their hiss and occasional disk access ticks and crackles. Unlike tiny pocketable players like Sansa Clip and similar it has a wide soundstage and is really enjoyable to listen to.


http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...ip,%20Vibez.htm

Crosstalk on the H340 is an order of magnitude worse then the Clip+. So I think we can conclude that its not crosstalk you're hearing, else the H3xx would be far worse. Since you haven't done any double blind testing, just failed the positive control, and seem to have made up your mind without knowing any of the facts, I think its likely that you aren't hearing anything at all. Placebo can be overwhelming.

QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 4 2012, 05:06) *
It is also performs poorly in terms of intermodulation distortion+noise.


You really need to read that link rather then just look at the pictures:

QUOTE
Again, 0.03% IMD is below the audible threshold. Note, unlike most RMAA IMD results, you can actually see what happens at higher frequencies here. There's a different sort of ultrasonic hash here from the THD measurement. You can clearly see the interaction of the two tones creating "pairs" of harmonics. You can also see the 44 Khz sampling carrier leaking through. Note the IMD reading is lower than the THD reading due to the way IMD distortion is calculated from the predicted side bands. I'm not sure how RMAA calculates IMD, but it's often inconsistent with the results from real audio analyzers.


0.03% IMD into a load is extremely good, and the RMAA calculation is incorrect. The peak distortion is 80dB below the test tone. This isn't "poor".

QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 4 2012, 05:06) *
I thought that was overall an excellent test and a good article and my only reservation was that while acknowledging some deficiencies (nwaguy absolutely does not claim "extremely good measurements for all of those things"! )


Take the time to read it, rather then just skimming for things that agreed with your preconceptions. It'll save you from making these mistakes.

QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 4 2012, 05:06) *
As it happens the most obvious measurable shortcomings tie in precisely with the perception of narrow soundstage/poor stereo separation.


No such measurable shortcoming exists, and you are apparently insensitive to crosstalk, so I think its also likely no such perception of yours exists either.

QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 4 2012, 05:06) *
A double blind test of Clip vs Archos A43IT? I can identify the Clip+ by the extraneous noises it makes.


If your unit is so defective that you can't use it in an ABX test, then by definition any conclusions you draw are not blind and should not be posted here.

Anyway, you're doing the same thing you did in the last thread, clinging to your misconceptions long after you should realize you've made a mistake. You were proven wrong then. Pretending otherwise rather then listening to reason is why you're still wrong now. Stop being so stubbornly ignorant or you'll just end up making a fool of yourself a third time.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 5 2012, 00:03
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QUOTE (Takla @ Aug 4 2012, 05:06) *
Not true. nwaguy's RMAA results in that article show that the Clip's crosstalk measurements are in fact obviously bad, not extremely good.


You're talking numbers. Got any idea how much crosstalk it takes make an audible difference? Its less than 40 dB.

QUOTE
The Clip is handicapped by it's extremely small size. Physical separation of the left and right audio circuitry is a key design technique to increase channel separation. Sandisk clearly didn't have as much space to work with as Apple did. I suspect the tiny Shuffle performs similarly or even worse.


I don't think you know that all analog audio in any digital player starts with a DAC chip that is fantastically tiny. The channel wiring is separated by next to no distance at all. It is often amplified in a dual op amp chip that is equally small. That is true of virtually every digital player from your home optical player to the largest or smallest portable. In the case of the Clip/Fuze and many other players including smart phones and pad computers, the analog signals start out on a chip that contains both the converters and the headphone amps. In the case of the Clip/Fuze that chip is in fact the guys of the machine including the CPU.

QUOTE
A double blind test of Clip vs Archos A43IT? I can identify the Clip+ by the extraneous noises it makes.


Noise while the music is playing, or noise between tracks or during power cycling?

Only noise while the music playing relates to sound quality. I've never noticed any noise between tracks on mine, but I think there are reports of some older versions doing it.

This post has been edited by Arnold B. Krueger: Aug 5 2012, 00:05
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cpchan
post Aug 5 2012, 08:37
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QUOTE (Diethert @ Aug 3 2012, 12:45) *
J3:
Pro's: Overally great. Good screen, good playback
Con's: Same tv-connect as the X7.


You can connect the J3 to a TV. You just need to buy the TV out cable.

This post has been edited by cpchan: Aug 5 2012, 08:37
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Diethert
post Aug 5 2012, 12:03
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Thank you Takla, that Archos looks really good.

Apart from the discussion about the sansa which interests me altough I don't know enough about audio gear to participate, is there anyone who can maybe recommend me something else?

Because otherwise there is a big chance that I will buy the Archos.

Also Takla, can you tell me why specifically this archos product? Is it simply the cheapest product that has all the functions I need?
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encoder
post Jan 21 2014, 06:30
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Bump. I am looking for a tiny player similar in size to the Sansa Clip. Any better alternative? It really has to be that small for my use case.
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saratoga
post Jan 21 2014, 06:35
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Other than the clip series? The Ipod shuffle is also quite small. Maybe the nano as well, although its a little longer.
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encoder
post Jan 21 2014, 07:35
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Edit: I want the best neutral sound quality as well.

Sorry, I missed this important criteria.
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saratoga
post Jan 21 2014, 07:40
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QUOTE (encoder @ Jan 21 2014, 01:35) *
Edit: I want the best neutral sound quality as well.


Probably still the same. The iPods and Sandisk players are both quite good in this regard.
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marc2003
post Jan 21 2014, 08:12
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sansa clip+ 8GB, screen, expandable with microSDHC cards, rockbox
shuffle 2GB, no screen, itunes

as they cost the same, it really is a tough choice. biggrin.gif
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