Archos volume & portable amp mini review.
The Archos volume is a huge pet peeve of mine. I will concede that in headphones and output to TV it sounds just fine. SNR is a little high - but tolerable.
The main issue that made me return the first 504 I owned was the volume on the device hooked up in my car. I have an inline fm modulator - not wireless - that I can plug into any audio output. Got it from Crutchfield several years ago for under $50.00. Very easy to install. Antenna into modulator. Modulator into radio antenna socket. Ground it and give it power = done.
The fm modulator worked great and sounded decent (acceptable) using my old Archos av340, Sansa c250, Creative Zen PMC, Creative Muvo2, Creative Zen:M. Why wouldn't it sound equally good on an Archos 504?
But it did not. While the all other units would be too loud when I raised the car volume to anything beyond '40' on the dial (range is 0 - 50) the Archos was barely audible. At max volume on both the Archos and radio dial (50) I could hear it but it was the equal of volume '25' when compared to all the other devices hooked up.
With prices falling I could not resist buying another 80GB 504 and hoping I could figure out within the return period how to 'fix' the volume issue. I had heard in previous posts/threads about a small inline amp called a Boosteroo. (Spelling may be off.) The last thing I wanted was to buy online and have to pay for shipping back if the device did not solve the issue. And introducing noise when boosting the audio was also a concern.
So I checked out Radio Shack and saw they had a similar device (33-1109) carried in store that ran on 2 AA batteries. While I definately would not call the amp portable in any 'carry on you' pocket size sense it is 'back pack' portable. I tried it on the Archos and can say it has improved the Archos car volume incredibly while not introducing additional noise in the process. This device is similar to the Boosteroo (re-label?). It has an on/off switch. So the volume is either Archos low or louder. It is extremely easy to install. Plug your output into the audio in (it uses headphone jack size). Then plug your headphone or output line into one of three audio out ports and turn it on. On the car radio dial with the amp on the Archos is very loud at '45'. So to take an educated guess - I'd say it raised the volume at least 30%. Maybe as high as 35%.
For testing I used the same music file's and (if applicable) video file on all the devices so things were as equivalent as possible. I'm not certain how long a pair of Alkalines will work continuously - but I will eventually use rechargables to save money and the environment.
This device was a worthwhile purchase for me and was the difference between keeping the Archos 504 and returning it. In any situation where you are having issues hearing your Archos I believe this is a solution that should be considered.
Edit: As of 07-11-07. I have used the amp on commutes for a total of 21 hours. Still on the first set of AA batteries. And the amp has completely solved all my auto volume issues that I experienced in the car. When I go on plane trips and the like this will be part of carry-on.
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