I've gotta hand it to SanDisk. The company doesn't shy away from honesty. Recently, a handful of Sansa Clip users reactivated a forum topic having to do with apparent pitch issues on the device whereby music plays back ever-so-slightly slower than normal. The concern was that the problem may have carried over to the new Clip+. (Incidentally, based on my testing, it hasn't. If anything, it plays tracks a fraction faster when stacked up against my sound card and Sony Walkman.)
The interesting part, however, is not the existence of some exceptionally discerning listeners--neither CNET testers nor our Audio Precision ATS-2 Audio Analyzer noted anything particularly egregious--but SanDisk's response, which was essentially that in the battle between value and sound quality, value wins. And if you are unsatisfied by the audio offered by a Sansa player, you are more than welcome to look elsewhere for your MP3 player needs. Or, the company's own words:
"Over the last few days there have been several meetings with Engineering, Marketing, and Product Management regarding the pitch issue some users have seen. Please see below a statement regarding the decision that was reached as a result of these meetings. At SanDisk, our goal with our Sansa MP3 product line is to provide products which deliver a quality consumer experience at price points which are accessible to the majority of the population. Our 'value' positioning has served us well historically, although we acknowledge that occasionally our products do not live up to some users' expectations.
The issues raised on this Forum regarding sound fidelity are important to us however due to trade-off decisions that were made in engineering these products to deliver superior consumer value at what we believe are extremely attractive price points, our sound fidelity isn't perfect. We have re-evaluated the possibility of reducing the pitch variation and due to the engineering trade-offs the decision was made to stay with the current design. Very few listeners, however, have noticed or complained about it as an issue in actual practice. For those who can detect sound differences with their naked ears during actual use and not via frequency analysis, our products may not be the best choice for them," per slotmonsta, SanDisk Forums Admin
Maybe this comes off a slight to some, but rarely have I seen a company lay it on the line so directly. SanDisk could have just as easily danced around the topic with circular language or brushed it off entirely, and I have to applaud it for taking the direct approach instead. Maybe I'm giving the company too much credit? Feel free to add your own thoughts below.