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Old 01-26-2012, 04:51 PM
nick.knack9 nick.knack9 is offline
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Default Best Player + Headphones Combo & some Intriguing Questions

Hey All, So I have around 300$ ( can be streched to 400$ if really needed) to build a portable audiophile setup ( player + headphones + amd if reqd)

I have been considering both cowon J3 aw well as Sansa ( prob clip zip or original fuze), now i have a library of around 50 ish Gb , so I am bending towards J3 because of its bigger memory size ( 16+32 compared to 8+32 with sansa although i am not sure if 64 gb cards wud work well with both) but sansa makes more sense from price point to me.

Also one worry with sansa is wudnt it be much more diff to browse through a huge library with lets say clip-zip than with J3 ?

Battery life isnt too much of an issue, nor are apps, video wud be bonus but not a deciding factor, listen to quite a few genres but mostly rock and metal. Also I do understand Cowon has better Equaliser (BBE), but I dont like to use Eq too much as I end up tinkering with the natural sound so better Eq isnt also a huge factor for me.

So which player would you recommend and also suggest which earphones (sub 50$, can strech to 100$) pair best with them and if any need of amp.

On a Side note, I do own a Touch now (8 gb) and am obviously looking to upgrade for capacity but also for Sound quality in which both cowon and sansa are supposedly superior but this ( http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum...ad.php?t=64216 ) has made me think if i can make a touch sound that great as well or maybe even galaxy 5 player ( in which case I can think of considering them).


Really Need your help in deciding.

Tnx
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  #2  
Old 01-26-2012, 05:13 PM
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The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
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Get a Digiziod ZO2, and new HP's/IEM's,...the touch sounds good as is.
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:49 PM
nick.knack9 nick.knack9 is offline
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With ZO2 does the Touch sounds on par with cowon/sansa or even better ? because in case of former I would rather spend money on clip-zip/fuze and 32 Gb Memory card which would also address my need for Extra memory ( which is limited to 8 gb with my touch).
Also wudnt portability a problem with ZO2 as I wud need to travel a lot ?

Also S9 32 gb at 200$ (probably because of Z2 lauch) now seems pretty good deal to me so i may consider that as well. I would prefer J3 though but not sure if its price wud suffer as well.

I would prefer IEm's but am considering Hp's ( not too fussed about design) as well if comfortable over long periods , so any suggestion regarding which ones to get would be helpful as well.

Tnx
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:58 PM
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The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
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A Digizoid ZO plus ANY quality player will sound excellent. Here's the ABi review of the first gen model: http://anythingbutipod.com/2011/06/d...woofer-review/

I own 1 and use it and LOVE IT!!!
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  #5  
Old 01-27-2012, 12:13 AM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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You have headphones thrown in pretty much as a afterthought. If you make sure you have a top quality set of headphones to go with a good player you can assure yourself of the upgrade in sound quality you're looking for. You may find a amp isn't needed if you get the right headphones.

You have a decent source now. The Touch produces a signal that is as good as the Clip+ or a Cowon. Take a look at dfkt's response in post #8 of the thread you linked. The test results he links to show the player you have now produces a signal that good enough that it's extremely unlikely anyone would be able to tell them apart once the volumes are matched.

That's true of just about any quality player now. It's considered fairly easy to make a player that sounds very good relatively cheaply now. The differences in sound come in other areas. Equalizer capabilities, DSPs (Digital Signal Processors) like the Cowon's BBE effects and most especially the headphones are where the differences lie.

You can pretty much determine that with the player you have now if you get some decent headphones and add a good EQ app to your Touch. Minus the Cowon BBE DSPs what you hear with that setup is what you'll hear with a Clip+ or J3.

I'd take a while to consider what type of headphones suits you best. The post here will give you a good outline. Once you've thought about what suits you best you can start a thread in the Headphones subforum listing your requirements and budget.

I learned that using a quality DAP is only one part in having good sound quality. I found that out by buying several of them as I looked for one that would give me the sound I was after. Once I tried better headphones I discovered I had bought a number of them that were all putting out very good sound. I just hadn't been able to hear what they were producing with the cheap headphones I had been using.
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:18 AM
nick.knack9 nick.knack9 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip252 View Post
You can pretty much determine that with the player you have now if you get some decent headphones and add a good EQ app to your Touch. Minus the Cowon BBE DSPs what you hear with that setup is what you'll hear with a Clip+ or J3.
.
I guess I can keep using my Touch by adding EQ app for good SQ but 8 Gb is simply too less for me atm and hence the need for me to upgrade my DAP.

Also can SGP 5 as well be made to sound as good as clip+ and J3 with a good EQ app ?

Now, While I may end up hearing same thing with a Touch + Good Eq App Setup compared to a clip+ or J3 but wudnt the Source be much better with J3 and clip+ (lossless) than with Touch ( mp3) and hence lead to better SQ ?

Also Is Cowon's BBE DSP so much superior for me to spend similar amount of money to get a cowon rather than another Touch ( as SQ is the highest Priority but if its a negligible difference after adding a good EQ to Touch then I would rather get another Touch for all of its bells and whistles) ?

The tests linked by dftk are for touch 4G and I own a touch 1G as of now. So I was curious is there any noticeable difference in SQ of 1G compared to 4G ( as I understand one sports a Wolfson chip and other a Cirrus one) ?

Also does the touch require an Amp much more then J3/clip ?

And yes of course upgrading the headphones is first thing on my mind, but I guess need to finalise which DAP to get first and then hunt for a headphone.

Tnx for the Help.
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  #7  
Old 01-27-2012, 08:22 AM
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I suggest:
Clip Zip 8GB Rockboxed + 32GB microSD + shure 315
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  #8  
Old 01-27-2012, 10:18 AM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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I'd stop trying to shop differences in sound quality. The difference between one quality player and the next really is too small to make that a useful criteria.

If you volume match and listen to every player mentioned here you just won't hear a difference. That includes the Touches, Cowons and Sandisk players. The BBE effects in Cowons don't affect base sound quality. They are sound effects and are pleasing to some. There's others that can't stand the changes from the base sound. The only way to know if which applies to you would be to listen with your ears and headphones.

The one possible exception is the Samsung. Even the part where it tests poorly, high output impedance, shouldn't make a difference unless you are using highly sensitive IEMs. There's also reports of audible noises during CPU and app access with the Samsung so you might take that into consideration. A amp would help with the reported hissing, the access noises might be audible anyway.

I'd shop features instead of trying to shop sound quality. The feature I would NOT include is the ability to play lossless files. Using lossless files is a decision you should make after you've determined if you can hear a difference between lossy and well encoded lossy files.

There's nothing inherently better about using lossless on a portable. If you can't hear a difference you're spending additional to carry useless bits of information you can't hear.

You should make using lossless or well encoded lossy files your decision, not depend on what you may have read about how much better it sounds. Almost universally the people that say they can hear a difference refuse to put that claim to double blind testing. The few times I've read that anyone has done meaningful testing they are surprised that they weren't hearing the differences they believed they were.

You can grab a copy of foobar2000 and it's ABX Comparator component and determine using your ears and equipment if you can hear a difference between lossless and well encoded lossy files. Then you can make a decision on what's best for you instead of what's best for someone else.

I'm not saying you have to or need to. You can just go with lossless. The problem with that is now that I've told you there most likely isn't a difference you'll always wonder if you've paid too much for no audible result.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:49 AM
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All very good points from skip that you would do well to heed. Good man, beer and cookies for you.

I'll just add a note about what order to do your upgrading. I suggest you get the headphones or IEMs first, followed by the player and finally the amp but only if you have tested someone else's portable amp and concluded that there is a real difference. By getting the headphones first you will see what kind of a boost you can get to sound quality with good headphones or IEMs.

If you want to go heavy on the audiophile front you should look at full size open back supra aural headphones. If on the other hand you value portability (most people do) go for a solid/ well isolating pair of IEMs. If you lean towards portability don't forget that the audiophile requirements get watered down because of ambient noise.

We also do not know what you intend to use the player for.
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  #10  
Old 01-28-2012, 04:10 PM
nick.knack9 nick.knack9 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip252 View Post

You can grab a copy of foobar2000 and it's ABX Comparator component and determine using your ears and equipment if you can hear a difference between lossless and well encoded lossy files. Then you can make a decision on what's best for you instead of what's best for someone else.
Sorry for replying a bit late.

Yes I have earlier tried double blind testing with lossless and well encoded mp3 and I cant spot the difference but my Headphones are of pretty average quality atm so maybe that could be a factor too.

Also I would try with a better equipment in a store but problem is I am right now In India for some work and have to stay here for 6-8 months more and most stores here dont allow to test any Iem's or headphones so I couldnt decide for myself ( I would be either asking Amazon to ship my purchase here or ask one of my colleague who is due to visit here next week to collect them for me).So my thought process was that I would order a player which plays lossless and If I cant spot the difference with my new pair of headphones then I would use mp3 for my player.

I think Sideways is right that maybe I should order the headphones first then look for the player but its just that having only 8gb is frustrating the hell out of me for some time now.Btw I was earlier thinking of getting Iem for around 50- 100$ but now i think i would rather get SR 60i for home + get E10 for travelling which together still fit the budget.

Although I think I am most probably getting clip zip now also because they are inexpensive. But If i do go cowon route would you recommend D3 as its round 80$ cheaper than J3 for 32 gbs ( as I would be using D3 as only a music player and not for apps), is D3 stable now after newer firmware releases ? Or should i wait for z2 although I do expect its 32gb model to be around 300$ ? also do we expect J3 prices to suffer as and when z2 launches ?

and tnx skip and everyone ,u all have been of great help so far .
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  #11  
Old 01-28-2012, 04:38 PM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nick.knack9 View Post
Yes I have earlier tried double blind testing with lossless and well encoded mp3 and I cant spot the difference but my Headphones are of pretty average quality atm so maybe that could be a factor too.
Its probably easier to spot the difference between lossy and lossless audio using cheaper headphones. A messy frequency response on the analog side screws up a lot of the calculations that the codec uses, leading to more artifacts. If you can't spot a difference I wouldn't worry about it.
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  #12  
Old 01-28-2012, 04:48 PM
Enigmatic Enigmatic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nick.knack9 View Post
Yes I have earlier tried double blind testing with lossless and well encoded mp3 and I cant spot the difference but my Headphones are of pretty average quality atm so maybe that could be a factor too.
If you have ABXed and cannot hear a difference, then you should not worry about getting an MP3 player that supports lossless. Most listeners cannot hear a difference between a properly encoded MP3 and a lossless file. skip252 and sideways gave you good advice: do not worry too much about the sound quality from your MP3 players and spend most of your time, effort, and perhaps money on getting high-quality headphones or canalphones if sound quality is extremely important.
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  #13  
Old 01-29-2012, 04:10 AM
sideways sideways is offline
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Needing more space on your player is a solid reason to upgrade. Saratoga is most likely right that if you can't hear a difference with your current gear it probably will not make a difference with other gear.

Check out dfkt's reviews on both. If the D3 is sufficiently cheaper I would be tempted. Especially if you don't need a top of the line processor. Looking at US Amazon prices the 32 GB j3 goes for about 280 USD and the 32 GB d3 goes for 220 USD.

http://anythingbutipod.com/2011/10/cowon-d3-plenue-review/

http://anythingbutipod.com/2010/11/cowon-j3-review/

If you value the android experience there are the Samsung galaxy players which if I remember correct have microSD expandable memory.

Last edited by sideways; 01-29-2012 at 04:16 AM.
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:46 PM
JK98 JK98 is offline
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Why is the 32GB J3 $100 more than the 8GB one? A 32 GB micro SDHC card is only around $30 these days.

You should get two 2GB Clip+ players for $30 each and a $30 32 GB micro SDHC card to put in each. I can't see paying $280 for a 32GB J3.
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:56 PM
Enigmatic Enigmatic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JK98 View Post
Why is the 32GB J3 $100 more than the 8GB one?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:25 AM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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Why is the 32GB J3 $100 more than the 8GB one? A 32 GB micro SDHC card is only around $30 these days.
For bulk NAND (rather then uSD), it probably costs then less then $15 extra to make a 32GB player compared to an 8GB one. They charge $100 because 32GB players are a niche product.
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Old 02-22-2012, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip252 View Post
You have headphones thrown in pretty much as a afterthought. If you make sure you have a top quality set of headphones to go with a good player you can assure yourself of the upgrade in sound quality you're looking for. You may find a amp isn't needed if you get the right headphones.

You have a decent source now. The Touch produces a signal that is as good as the Clip+ or a Cowon.
Wait: different versions of the Touch have different DACs and amplifiers, so they don't sound exactly the same. So how can they all sound the same as the Clip+ or Cowon???

As one example of how much the hardware inside Apple products varies, and its performance, take a look at:

http://macintoshhowto.com/itunes/whi...o-quality.html

And Redwine, who specialize in modding iPods for sound quality, will only work on certain models:

http://redwineaudio.com/imod

So either Apple fans are even more susceptible to bs than I thought, or Apple products vary a lot in SQ and you can't tell him SQ from his Touch is fine when you don't even know what version he has.

Anyway, my suggestion would be

- Fuze (old model, not the Plus) 8GB + 16GB card

- HD25s for maximum sound quality (see my review) and because they should last forever. Or if the OP must have IEMs, maybe se215s (because they have replaceable cables, and investing serious money in IEMS without some degree of repairabilty bothers me.)

Why? The Fuze has more battery than the Clip (I assume) and its cheap, leaving lots of cash for the phones, where most of the money should go (at least until you have bought something in the same class as HD25s or IE80s.) If he decides that he prefers the Touch when he has heard both, driving the 25s, he can return or sell the Fuze. Why speculate when you can test? And how much money can he lose selling on a Fuze? $10? Otoh, if he likes the Fuze more than the Touch, he can sell the Touch and pay most or all of the cost of the HD25s.

Last edited by meanwhile; 02-22-2012 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 02-22-2012, 03:45 PM
Enigmatic Enigmatic is offline
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Quote:
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Wait: different versions of the Touch have different DACs and amplifiers, so they don't sound exactly the same. So how can they all sound the same as the Clip+ or Cowon?
The best an MP3 player can sound is neutral.

http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum...1&postcount=34.
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:32 PM
meanwhile meanwhile is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigmatic View Post
The best an MP3 player can sound is neutral.

http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum...1&postcount=34.

Yes. But that doesn't mean that all iPod models sound "neutral." There's been a lot of variation in the actual hardware used over the years.
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:36 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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The advice I gave was sound. I'm not going to base the advice I give on anyone's subjective test. Especially someone that believes there's a difference in sound quality based on which chip is in the player they are "evaluating" I'll consider someone's subjective opinion when they include the objective test results to back them. Until then I consider their opinions useless.

Sighted testing when evaluating audio performance in inherently flawed. The post you link to states
Quote:
the best iPods are those with a Wolfson audio chip
That's a fan statement, not a reflection of reality. The current generations of iPod products produce a signal that doesn't take a backseat to anything. They aren't based on Wolfson chips so where does that leave the "Wolfson is best" idea?

A Wolfson fan will think the Wolfson is better as long as they know which chip is in use. Once you take away that knowledge and have them attempt to identify which is better in volume matched, A/B testing they are unable to identify which chip is producing the signal.

There's just nothing special about a Wolfson chip that makes it able to produce a superior signal. That's audiophile nonsense. If the signal being produced tests the same as another beyond any limit of human hearing, the sound produced is the same. The name of the maker is irrelevant.

Take a look at the dfkt's J3 review and his RMAA testing using the J3 and Clip+. The Clip actually is technically superior to the J3 in the signal it produces. The differences are so small you probably will never hear the difference, but it's there.

You could also check NwAvGuy's blog where he does more detailed testing of the Clip+. Those and dfkt's tests aren't sighted tests that can easily be influenced by expectation bias and placebo. The tests measure the signal produced and allows you to judge each in a meaningful way. You don't have to rely on someone's opinion that can and will be influenced by knowing which player is producing the signal.

You'll see that the Clip+ stands it's ground easily against the Touch. Better in some ways, not as good in others, but so close you would do best to follow the advice I gave earlier. Don't try to shop sound quality, shop features.

The Fuze has the same audio hardware as the Clip+ so it's not a bad idea. The audio quality is the same. You can see that in test results on the NwAvGuy blog.

You might want to take a look at the links in Enigmatic's signature. I believed quite a few of the audiophile myths before I explored those links and did my own subjective testing based on what I found there.

That's where my advice that the best way to maximize sound quality is to get the best headphones you can. I had bought a number of DAPs looking for better sound quality. I based my buying decisions on the same type subjective articles you linked to. Once I finally bought better headphones I discovered that I had been buying the same top notch quality over and over. I just hadn't been able to hear what they were producing with the low quality headphones I was using at the time.

Last edited by skip252; 02-23-2012 at 05:05 PM. Reason: Added the word "special"
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