Headphones & Mp3 Players forum


Mp3 Player search: high quality audio, simple/reliable UI

by JazzMetal42 / October 17, 2014 10:57 AM PDT

Hello, all! I am a longtime SanDisk Sansa Fuze user (on my 3rd which is finally dying), but with the player's discontinuation I'm trying to find alternatives. I use the player exclusively for music and audiobooks. Here's what I'm looking for:

What I like about the Sansa Fuze and demand of alternatives:
---extremely easy user interface and direct connection to computer; hardly ever any errors, almost never complicated ones (in my experience)
---many EQ options, including custom 5-band
---manual controls (I dislike touch screens and detest touch wheels)
---small size/portability (preferably no larger than 4"X3")
---extreme hardiness (all 3 I've dropped many times from absurd heights onto hard surfaces and only the most recent one suffered functional damage)
---expandable storage (SD card)
---less than $200 ($300 might be acceptable for a very good alternative)

What I don't like about the Sansa Fuze and would like to see removed/improved in alternatives:
---there is a tiny gap between tracks, so the continuity of albums is interrupted (NOT OK!)
---not enough storage for FLAC
---battery life could be longer
---base audio quality could be better

Features I don't care about either way:
---internet capabilities, bluetooth, all that fancy stuff
---external speakers or recording capabilities
---apps of any kind (radio, calculator, metronome, etc.)
---video or size/shape/quality of screen

In other words, I'm looking for the opposite of an iPod! I've looked into Cowon because of their high quality audio and long battery life, but the reviews consistently criticize them for lousy UIs, frequent errors, unreliable touchscreens, and other stuff that would destroy a technologically inept person like me. I don't know where to look.

There's got to be a usable, non-bell-and-whistle Mp3 player for audiophiles!!! Any suggestions??? Thanks!

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All Answers

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(NT) Nod. Went back to an iPod then Android.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 19, 2014 7:56 AM PDT
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by JazzMetal42 / October 22, 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Sorry, I don't have a clue what you're trying to say.

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(NT) I wrote what I tried and ended up with.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 22, 2014 11:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Um
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by JazzMetal42 / October 23, 2014 1:28 PM PDT

I thought an Android was a type of smartphone. Are you saying there is an Android mp3 player? And if so, are you suggesting it for my specific uses, as listed?

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Yes there are Android MP3 players.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 23, 2014 2:55 PM PDT
In reply to: Android?

However for very cheap you can get some phone and ignore the phone part.

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by JazzMetal42 / October 26, 2014 8:20 AM PDT

But do these Android mp3 players fit the criteria I listed?

And do they have model names that I can search for? "Android mp3 player" gave me no results.

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I can't guess why you can't find them.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2014 8:26 AM PDT
In reply to: So?

Maybe you live in some part of the world without a lot of choice. I had a philips, samsung android player and over a few days kept an eye open for other mp3 players.

Given you live in an area without much choice I have to write that for you, where you are, nothing will suffice.

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Figured it out
by JazzMetal42 / October 26, 2014 11:27 AM PDT

I see: Android is an operating system, not a brand. I found some, but they definitely seem more along the lines of iPods than what I'm looking for.

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by JazzMetal42 / October 26, 2014 7:43 AM PDT

Thanks for posting this; it's a very interesting find. There are just 2 things that trouble me, the first of which you might be able to answer:

1. How does the player organize files that don't support track information, such as WAV files?
2. A commenter on the article claimed that Pono has given no technical explanation as to how they've achieved this level of high resolution, nor has there been any double-blind test against standard high quality audio.

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1. Easy. Turn them into other encodings.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2014 7:55 AM PDT
In reply to: Interesting

2. There are more reviews out now. But my advice when a maker/supplier doesn't answer your burning questions is simple. Don't buy.

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More this just in. Bleeding edge outer limits.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 25, 2014 8:20 AM PDT
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The X1 pops in at 99.99
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 25, 2014 8:23 AM PDT
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by JazzMetal42 / October 26, 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Excellent links, thank you! I'm glad you directed me to the Audiophiliac; I can already see he is one of the must-reads in the audio technology world.

If Cowon develops a Plenue with acceptable battery life and more storage, that will certainly be my player of choice once I'm no longer a broke student. For the moment, FiiO looks like a pretty promising direction. Also pretty bad battery life, but better than the Plenue and truly affordable.

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Here's the part folk don't want to read.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2014 12:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks!
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by Pepe7 / October 29, 2014 6:57 AM PDT

For example, FLAC via cheap earbuds ain't that different from MP3. Wink

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I'm aware.
by JazzMetal42 / October 29, 2014 11:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Precisely

I use Sony MDR-XB500 headphones. Not high-quality as headphones go, but I can easily tell the difference between 256 and 320kbps with them, while earbuds make everything sound like 64kbps.

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Your ears must be good
by Pepe7 / October 30, 2014 5:40 AM PDT
In reply to: I'm aware.

Stating you can tell the difference between similar lossy formats (256 vs 320) IME is like seeing two white walls and asserting that one is blue Wink

Stick to 320 vs FLAC, and will say you are preaching to the choir though 8-)

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In your experience?
by JazzMetal42 / November 2, 2014 11:10 AM PST
In reply to: Your ears must be good

What, are there studies showing that the human ear can't tell the difference? Depending on the recording, it's pretty obvious to my ears because of the increase in bass with the 320.

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I would stick with the Sansa Fuze
by Pepe7 / October 29, 2014 6:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks!

Flash it with the Rockbox firmware, and you might like it even better. FWIW, I still have an old Fuze I rarely use with two or three 64GB microSD cards full of FLAC rips. Now, I am mostly accessing my flac files using the cloud w/ my iPhone, but that's another topic entirely Wink

IMO, the Sansas are so cheap to replace it makes a lot of sense. You could even have a backup around as a spare already loaded w/ tunes.

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Not anymore.
by JazzMetal42 / October 29, 2014 10:56 AM PDT

The Fuzes seem to be climbing in price now that there are hardly any of them left on the market. For my first and second that I got years ago I paid something like $70 each. My last one I got a few months ago and paid over $150 (for the exact same model). Ironically, it's this last one that's on the brink of crashing.

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Good point
by Pepe7 / October 30, 2014 7:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Not anymore.

Yeah, I see the stock is mostly ebay crud for the Fuze ;(.

Look into the Clip if you were desperate for sticking w/ the Sansa brand. I really have found them reliable overall. My own FLAC library is large enough now where any sort of compatible hardware makes a huge difference Wink

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