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Old 12-30-2009, 12:19 AM
willow willow is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Sydney
Posts: 23
Default Cowon i9 Review

This is my first review of an MP3 player but as I'm yet to come across a review of Cowon's new i9 on here I thought I'd post one up.

The 16GB i9 is my first Cowon MP3 player and I purchased it as an upgrade from my reliable 8GB Creative X-Fi. Ultimately what I was after was a player that sounded better, had the ability to support lossless formats and had more capacity. After reading and pondering between the D2+, the S9 and the i9 I went with the i9 as the price was right, as was the size.

So my 16GB black i9 arrived just before Christmas which meant I had to start going through my CD collection and start converting my favorite songs to FLAC. I just used JetAudio software for this and 2 days later I was done. Regarding the player itself, most would have seen the photos on Cowon's website and elsewhere so I won't add anymore here. The player itself is VERY light, even lighter than my X-Fi which I considered very light. The buttons feel tactile and the player well put together though.

Before I transferred my music onto the i9 I first updated the firmware with version 1.10 and 1.11. No problems encountered with this at all, so next on went my music, 98% of it in FLAC and the remaining 2% in 320Kbps MP3. No dramas with powering on the i9. Start up time is excellent, way quicker than the X-Fi. And while the screen is small, the clarity is also better than the X-Fi, although I won't be using the i9 for videos.

My initial music listening consisted of playing a variety of songs using a flat EQ. The earphones I used are brand new Klipsch X-10 in-earphones. I have read that these require some burn-in time too. No hiss from these at all when paired with the i9 and they're very comfortable to wear. With the volume on 22 and a flat EQ set, the sound was passable, certainly not poor but not quite up there with the custom EQ I had set on the X-Fi. I figured there was a lot of room for improvement though.

Next I went into the settings and accessed the JetEffect 3.0 menu. There are a heap of preset EQs all ready for those inclined to select and forget and Cowon offer significantly more tuning features than any previous player I have used. I thought the Rock EQ sounded quite decent initially but I still wanted more, so I began to tune my own custom EQ instead. In the end I came up with an EQ that sounded similar to the Rock EQ but had a little more bottom end and a slightly warmer sound overall. As I listened to a variety of artists specifically to pay close attention to different vocals, guitar, drums, bass, keyboards etc, I gradually tweaked the EQ until I was happy.

As far as music goes I prefer hard rock, industrial, alternative and some techno. Throughout the tuning process I listened to bands such as 10 Years, Ashes Divide, Celldweller, Earshot, Evanescence, Faith No More, Flyleaf, Joe Satriani, Julien-K, Lacuna Coil, Living Colour, Paul Oakenfold, Sevendust, The Crystal Method, VAST and Zeromancer (for anyone familiar with these bands).

As far as menu navigation goes, I didn't bother with the instructions to be honest. The i9 is the first touch-screen player I have used and it was simple to figure out. Took me no longer than 10 minutes to turn off some default settings and start playing around with JetEffect, tweaking the sound to my liking and skipping backwards and forwards between songs. I have found the touchscreen very responsive and for a first-charge, battery life is also holding up well, particularly compared to the X-Fi which was slowly starting to fade I believe.

Otherwise I don't have much more to add at this stage. I'm very happy with the performance of the i9, it has the tuning ability I have been searching for in an MP3 player and I bought it primarily to play music and that was it, so I apologise for not covering its video playing ability etc.

Hope this review has proven useful to anyone considering an i9.
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