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Best MP3 player for sound quality?
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October 03, 2011, 04:34:58 PM
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  • BSD2000
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Recently, my Sony MP3 player got wet and the left channel stopped working. Between my Ipod Itouch and the Sony, the Sony had better sound quality. I'm looking to replace the Sony, and I was wondering if anyone has any experience with the Zune players, specifically, which one of the Zune models has the best sound quality - the hard drive based (30, 80, 120GB) or the flash based models (8/16/32GB).

I had a Sansa and Cowon in the past which were decent, but I hear the Zune's have great sound quality. Anyone have any experience with the Zune's?

Do you have any other suggestions for a MP3 player with good sound quality?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 01:17:51 AM by BSD2000 »
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December 16, 2011, 01:37:01 AM
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Has anyone heard the new HiFi Man portable audio players? They range from the HM-601 ($259) to the HM-801 ($790!). The headphone amp is supposed to be very good. I'm still looking for a new audio player and the HM-601 seems reasonable.

Anyone have any experience with HiFi Man products?


August 29, 2012, 05:42:42 AM
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I had a chance today to compare four different portable audio devices including:

    Apple Shuffle clone ($5.03 shipped from Ebay)
    Apple iPod touch 8 GB (2nd Generation)
    Zune 4 GB Video MP3 Player (Black)
    Sony NWZ-A728


[attach=1]
Out of these four, the Sony is far and away the better player, SQ wise. There is a perfect blend of depth, frequency extension, clarity and sweetness to the Sony that is really amazing. I would love to compare the Sony to one of the HiFi-Man players since I'm sure it would be a close match. The Sony also comes with the best headphones of the bunch with oversized drivers and tuned chambers for deep bass.

[attach=2]
Goin down the list, I actually preferred the cheap, Chinese Shuffle clone to the Itouch and Zune. Considering its $5 price tag, I was blown away by the quality of the sound. There was no hiss or background noise like some of the other cheap clones I've tested. The bass was deep and tight and the highs were clean, sweet and airy. It's not as good as the Sony, but it comes close. It's also not quite as detailed, but what it lacks in detail it makes up with being very musical and enjoyable to listen to. It's very no-frills, just play/pause, forward and back plus volume up/down. Some of the clones don't resume playing after they are turned off, surprisingly, this one does. I wouldn't consider it an 'audiophile' player like I would the Sony, but it is amazingly good for the cheap price. Mine had no internal memory and uses micro SDHC cards. I picked up a 8GB for $5 which worked well with it. I used a card reader to transfer the files since, even though they listed it as 'hi-speed USB 2.0' - it wasn't. Transferring files using the USB cable netted speeds slower than 1MB/sec. This could make transferring large amounts of files a problem if you don't have a micro SDHC card reader.

[attach=3]
Third and fourth place was a toss-up between the Itouch and Zune, with the Itouch being just a bit better overall. After reading that the Zune uses Wolfson DAC's, I was hoping it would sound better than the Itouch, but I was disappointed. The Itouch had a little better bass definition and slightly better highs than the Zune.

[attach=4]
The Zune can sound 'crunchy' and congested on loud music. I've read very positive reviews of the Zune - mainly the original 30GB version and I suspect the newer, slim-down models use a different Wolfson DAC. I really like Wolfson chips, especially the A/D converters for recording, but with the Zune, the sound doesn't have the frequency extension that the Itouch has and is nowhere near as good as the Sony. Maybe since its brand new it needs some time to fully break-in. I do like the wireless sync capability on the Zune and the addition of an FM radio, which the others lack. The build quality is very nice but the screen is too small to really be useful for watching videos. They should have made the screen go edge to edge like the Sony - the 1.8" screen makes it almost impossible to view any detail in photos.

For music quality, the Sony beats them all. For a shocking surprise, the Chinese Shuffle clone sounds much better than it should for $5. Of course the build quality of the Shuffle clone is lacking, and only time will tell if the battery will last (or burst into flames). If you do get one, don't bother trying the Apple cloned ear buds they send with it, they are pure garbage. Real Apple ear buds actually sound OK but the clone versions are terrible. As an added bonus, my Shuffle clone came with a USB wall charger which worked with all four MP3 players. Also, the Shuffle clone plays only MP3 files - it skipped over the .wav files I tried with it. The funny thing is, the Shuffle clone has no shuffle function and plays the files on the card in alphanumeric order. lol
« Last Edit: August 29, 2012, 06:26:04 PM by BSD2000 »



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