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Old 09-27-2009, 12:15 PM
Cynically_apt Cynically_apt is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 4
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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