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  #1  
Old 09-27-2009, 01:15 PM
Cynically_apt Cynically_apt is offline
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Default Audio quality and battery life?

Hello all,

First off, I only use my mp3 players for music. I recently "upgraded" from a Creative Zen to a 16GB Cowon S9 after browsing a bunch of user reviews, forums, etc. When my player arrived about a week and a half ago, I did your mandatory housekeeping: firmware upgrade, UI updates (claw and aero), and sat down to get to know the player. Here's what I noticed:

Battery life: Absolutely dismal!!! I'm not naive enough to expect anywhere near their 55 hour claim, but I was expecting at least 30... 25 would've been disappointing, but still usable. Instead, I liberally estimated the battery life to be at most 10 hours. I finally put it to a more "scientific" test last night by fully charging the player and letting it run down under conditions similar to how I actually use it:

Headphones: Westone UM3x, impedance 56 Ohms
Screen conditions: Brightness 1, auto shut off after 60 sec, locked
touchscreen using Aero's lock function.
Bluetooth: off
Widgets: N/A
Volume: 10
Custom EQ: Mach3Bass 2, 3D surround 4, MP Enhance on. Everything else
was left untouched.
Music track: I gave the player the benefit of the doubt here. In reality,
I'll fluctuate between my Rhapsody-to-go tracks (WMA, 160kbs,
44kHz) and FLAC files. For this test, I used a MP3 white noise track I
made with Audacity (MP3, 128kbs, 44kHz). It's a five minute piece set
to loop continously.

Result: Total: 7 hours on the nose. After 6 hours I unplugged the headphones (the indicator was already at 25%). As I said earlier, 10 hours was the liberal guess. This didn't surprise me at all. From what I've read, it sounds like it's defective, although several people were saying you have to "break" in the battery. Any ideas in this case?

Audio: I have to admit, I'm a bit disappointing. The music seems a bit farther back than the Zen, which would've been fine, even preferable, except that the instruments and vocals seem muddled, even in the FLAC tracks. The clarity of the overall track is better than the Zen, but with the Zen I can actually hear the individual instruments quite clearly and the soundstage is much closer. The difference between the two players is similar in sound to the difference 128kbps and a 160kbps (OK, maybe 192) track, everything is still there in the Zen, but it just sounds a bit "grittier," although I do like the lack of hiss in the S9. Am I making any sense? Has anyone used a Zen that they can tell me if this is normal for the S9? I've tried several different preset and custom EQs on the S9 to no avail, while the Zen sounds best flat with no enhancements.

I think the audio question will make the difference whether or not I return the S9 or try to go through Cowon tech support, because I assume I have a defective battery. Also, does anyone know if Cowon automatically replaces the player (or part) with a refurbished piece? If I return the S9, I'm thinking of going with the Sony X-1051, does anyone know anything about that player?

Sorry for the long post, hopefully someone has a few suggestions
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  #2  
Old 09-27-2009, 04:18 PM
aki aki is offline
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Have u charged the S9 a few times? It is common that the first few times the battery is far from its optimum.
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  #3  
Old 09-27-2009, 04:25 PM
Cynically_apt Cynically_apt is offline
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Yes. Probably about 6 or 7. Is that enough?
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:53 PM
Abby Abby is offline
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Well I switched from a creative zen to a cowon s9 too so I hope I can help some. I did notice that with the Cowon I was using the equalizer pretty frequently when with the creative I never even touched it. (granted I've become a lot more aware of sound quality since then but still) I also use Napster (which is 192kbs, WMA) and FLAC files (with some mp3's thrown in there) and I've definitely noticed that the noise is a little bit farther away, that's a good way to put it, with the same headphons (my cheap skullcandy everyday ones, though the sound quality is suprisingly good) but personally I got used to it pretty quickly. And for the battery, one thing that you have to make sure you do is charge it until it says battery full and even a little after that. I've charged mine maybe 17 or so times (only have had it for a couple of weeks) and use it for a minimum of around 3 hours a day and every time I charge it it seems to last longer. I would wait a bit (the warranty is probably for 30 days right?) and see if the battery life improves. I remember reading somewhere that draining it wasn't good for it either? I don't know I avoid it just in case. Don't really know if that was helpful at all or just blabbering but hopefully it was somewhat helpful
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:20 AM
Cynically_apt Cynically_apt is offline
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I'd have to say that's what I normally do. I'll use it throughout the day (about 1.5 hours), and then set it to charge every other night. I'll usually leaved it hooked up throughout the night. The thing I've noticed is that once the player reaches 100%, it stops charging... which is normally a really good thing, except that it won't start recharging once it dips below the 100% again. So I can have the player hooked up for a while, have it reach full charge, but then when I remove it, it's no longer at full capacity. I've only let it run 'till it shut off twice, once by accident on Fri night and the other for the test last night. And actually, I think the battery life has been decreasing since I got it, but that'll be hard to prove.

PS. Those cheap Skullcandy Inked ($16.99 @ Target) have a sound quality to rival most of the higher costing headphones in the sub-$100 category (and maybe even a few above it). Before I got the Westones, I had a pair of ER-6i. Whenever they were in the shop and for the 4-5 months between the ER and the Westone, Skullcandys were my 'phone of choice .
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:19 AM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynically_apt View Post

PS. Those cheap Skullcandy Inked ($16.99 @ Target) have a sound quality to rival most of the higher costing headphones in the sub-$100 category (and maybe even a few above it). Before I got the Westones, I had a pair of ER-6i. Whenever they were in the shop and for the 4-5 months between the ER and the Westone, Skullcandys were my 'phone of choice .
If you think Skullcandy Ink'd are that good, then maybe you should just return the S9 and its sketchy battery, and try another player.
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:34 AM
Cynically_apt Cynically_apt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
If you think Skullcandy Ink'd are that good, then maybe you should just return the S9 and its sketchy battery, and try another player.
If I thought they were THAT good, then why did I get the UM3X? I just said they're my headphone of choice when my better ones were in the shop... ie when I needed a pair of headphones and wasn't going to spend more than 20 bucks for something I'd use less than 3 weeks.
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:38 AM
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The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynically_apt View Post
PS. Those cheap Skullcandy Inked ($16.99 @ Target) have a sound quality to rival most of the higher costing headphones in the sub-$100 category (and maybe even a few above it). Before I got the Westones, I had a pair of ER-6i. Whenever they were in the shop and for the 4-5 months between the ER and the Westone, Skullcandys were my 'phone of choice .
That's what you said, and it means the SQ is fantastic. In reality, all the skullcandy hp's and iem's I've tried sounded like shiite. This includes the inked model. There's ton's of sub $100 hp's/iem's that have quite good SQ, and skullcandy doesn't make any of them - period.

As for the S9, it is defective. Exchange it for a new 1, should solve the battery issue.
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2009, 05:53 PM
Javsay Javsay is offline
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Wink zen to s9

hi, i also switched from the zen to s9 (although i used my anceint zen sleek and an ipod video :-( in the middle). Firstly the zen does sound pretty good in any case but when i switched to the s9 i was amazed in terms of sound quality. Although i've found that through speakers the sound quality isn't as noticeable. Mainly though, I've found ever since switching to firmware 2.41 my cowon doesn't sound as good anymore - maybe its because i got used to listening to my music through my altec lansing speakers, or because i lost my old eq settings...i don't know. (I use sennheiser cx95 in ears).

As far as the battery life, at first i wasn't too impressed as i was getting around 20-25 hours but now after a few charges (had the s9 for a few months now) i actually get over 40 hours sometimes (i haven't measured it exactly but it something like that - put it this way i rarely need to charge my S9, plugging it into the pc for transferring msic and videos is usually enough) and this is with a custom eq with bbe+ as well as brightness between 2-4. Bare in mind though, although i have claws amazing ui and some others atm i use the ui which looks like the zune - so its quite simple (so no continuous flash animation in the background like snw flakes) but looks quite nice.

Your battery might well be deffective in which case, cowon will prob give u a new s9 - it's easier for them). As for the SQ, try downgrading the firmware and spend some time with the custom EQ.

cheers
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  #10  
Old 10-01-2009, 05:36 AM
Uphaillife Uphaillife is offline
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if you dont get at least 15 hours on your first run, im pretty sure it's defective.

i easily get over 40 hours and thats with brightness 4, volume 15, and BBE+

as for SQ.. thats subjective.
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  #11  
Old 10-01-2009, 05:55 AM
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SansaRulez83 SansaRulez83 is offline
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They say 55 hours for audio and 11 for video. I don't give a crap if 55/11 is some wonderful universal figure and under what circumstances it's achieved. I want to know what it is for what I use it for. I sure as hell am not going to put the brightness on anything less than 6 (the Touch's max brightness is like a 10 on this scale btw.) The reality is about 35-40 and 7. Still dece.

Also the battery indicator has something funky with it where it will stay at full for a while then go from that all the way down to 25 percent relatively fast, then sit there forever. I would say that 1/4 is equal to about 1/2 battery life.
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  #12  
Old 02-03-2010, 11:11 AM
bonapardo bonapardo is offline
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I thought I'd put my two bits into this discussion having bought a second hand S9 recently. Being second hand, I do not have the option to send my unit back to Cowon so was very concerned when I was only getting around 5 hours playtime. I was prepared for some depletion of capacity given someone else had been using it but to drop from a realistically expected 35-40 hours when new to just 5 was unacceptable.

I had spent this first week of use fiddling with my 'levels' and jumping around different tracks to test them. The screen was often on (at brightness 6 and set to turn off after 10 secs). Also, I had loaded tracks onto it AFTER it was charged. I was starting up the S9 alot because I was at work and kept having to stop my music. I wasn't watching any video though.

So last night I played the unit continuously on vol 20 with Mach3Bass on 5, my graphic equalizer enabled and my Klipsch Custom 2 headphones plugged in.

I woke this morning to find the unit had been running for eight hours and used only one bar of the power. This should mean my S9 can last around 30 hours continuously. Phew!

From a usability perspective as well as power, try setting your lock button to 'touchscreen only'. This will prevent the screen from lighting up in your pocket without your knowledge and avoids annoyingly skipping tracks when simply trying to change volume or pick up the S9. I've dropped screen brightness to 2 and to expire after 5 secs.

Longer term, another thing to bear in mind is FLAC compression. Higher compression means more energy to de-compress and play the track - if you're ripping FLAC, probably best to stick to level 5. Flash games can also be unpredictable. They vary wildly in terms of the processing power required to run them. A few days ago, I left a game running by accident. Nothing was happening on screen as such - the game was effectively idle. It took only an hour to completely drain my battery, leaving the S9 all hot and bothered. I have since deleted all flash apps from the device to avoid temptation when travelling!

Cowon's players have always mainly excelled at sound quality. Don't let quirky navigation or battery teething issues turn you off. I've yet to hear another player match the quality of the X5 or S9. Even the i7 blows most out of the water. I've found boosting the lower frequencies on the graphic equalizer and ensuring I keep Mach3Bass at 5 or below ensures better sound quality than relying on Mach3Bass for my bass boost. Spend time getting the EQ right for your (hopefully non-stock) headphones and you won't look back...
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  #13  
Old 02-03-2010, 01:31 PM
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Satellite_6 Satellite_6 is offline
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Just one comment about the audio: I don't have the s9 but I have noticed the same thing on the i7 vs. the Zen, the instrument seperation on the Cowon is worse, but overall, the sound is much more refined.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:43 PM
ghandi2000 ghandi2000 is offline
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@op

your device seems to be defective.

as for your sq-issues: tastes are different but your cowon shouldnt sound worse than a creative. i came from a great sounding archos but the sq of the cowon even for me is phenomenal.
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  #15  
Old 02-03-2010, 03:48 PM
steagle steagle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonapardo View Post
Longer term, another thing to bear in mind is FLAC compression. Higher compression means more energy to de-compress and play the track - if you're ripping FLAC, probably best to stick to level 5.
That's an interesting point. I always thought by using Q8, you'd have a smaller sized file which would require less processing by the S9. Is it really the other way around - the more you compress it, the more work the S9 has to do?
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  #16  
Old 02-03-2010, 05:56 PM
steagle steagle is offline
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edit: nevermind, dumb question!
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Last edited by steagle; 02-03-2010 at 09:14 PM.
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  #17  
Old 02-04-2010, 04:49 PM
Beremat Beremat is offline
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Definitely defective. I get ~40 hours of audio under the worst conditions (brightness, EQ, FLAC, lots of screen use, etc), volume 10 or so. Usually it's closer to the 55 hours advertised, sometimes higher.
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:16 AM
johnwesleyharding johnwesleyharding is offline
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I think people are forgetting that the battery life is not only dependent on volume, brightness, and BBE+ settings, but also what type of files you are playing. 90% of the music on my Cowon is in FLAC, and the rest is 320 mp3. I therefore would not get as much battery as someone who only plays 128kbps or 192kbps. Another issue is how often you put it to sleep (or turn it off): I will listen to the Cowon for about 30 minutes to 1 hour at a time and then turn it off to only turn it back on a little bit later (I listen to it at work so I need to turn it on an off constantly). With that in mind, I still get somewhat decent battery life (it last me about one work week when only being put to sleep). The battery does need a break in, and some of the UCIs do affect it (if you use Piano music UCI, turn off motion field... it will kill the battery within a couple of hours.) One last thing to consider is that the player is rated to last 350 hours in sleep mode (~2 weeks). After a week of using the player without turning it off, you should have half the battery, just from keeping it in sleep mode by itself.

SQ on the Cowon is completely dependent on the EQ settings. When people compare SQ, they usually have BBE Viva on vs other players normal settings. If you take the time to properly set the EQ, you will be amazed how great the player can sound.

Last edited by johnwesleyharding; 02-07-2010 at 12:45 PM. Reason: Forgot to mention SQ
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  #19  
Old 02-07-2010, 11:05 PM
Jab Jab is offline
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actually FLAC is more efficiently decoded and should be easier on the battery than MP3 files.
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  #20  
Old 02-08-2010, 12:40 PM
bonapardo bonapardo is offline
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Is anyone else using high resistance headphones? I tend to stick to 16 ohms to get the best loudness. I wonder if a higher resistance drains more power while playing, rather than just because they require a higher volume..? The 56 ohm resistance of cynically apt's headphones seems mighty high, more like studio headphones than portables...

quick note on the i7 as it's mentioned above - the sound quality and loudness is not quite up to the standard of cowon's 'full sized' players so I wouldn't use it as a benchmark. the S9 is noticeably better. but the i7 is still pretty damn good and outclasses other players of its size...
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