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Old 07-19-2012, 10:49 PM
BruceBanner's Avatar
BruceBanner BruceBanner is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Australia, NSW
Posts: 2,728
Default i9 video review vs sansa's rockboxed


I recently bought an i9 when i already have a clipzip and fuze. "How many ears do you have?" says my wife... Zzzzz she just doesn't understand, you can never have too many DAPS

So why did i buy the i9 then?

Well... it's been a long time since i have played with a cowon product, previous players i have owned include the x5 and D2 (I had the O2 but returned it within a month).
So point being I am well aware how good the sound quality is on cowon players. I had some spare pocket money lying around and after using rockboxed sansa players for so long wanted to see just how close the sound quality (SQ) was between the devices, I wanted to see if cowon could beat the mighty sansa and replace them as my preferred player for work and gym.

But why the i9? why not a j3 or a c2 or i10? The answer is that i wanted a DAP first and foremost, not a pmp. Video was not important to me as when i am either at work or gym i use the player purely for music. I also needed the player to be as small and light, unnoticeable. Even with the fuze I can become aware of it being on my person (when at work for 6-7 hrs).
So i really narrowed the criteria down to;

a) small
b) light
c) good sound quality
d) build playlists on the go
e) decent battery

The i9 seemed to tick all these points.

As you will hear from the video below I was ok with a 16gb limit, so although for many this is a deal breaker for many it wasn't for me.

Anyway enjoy the video and pics to follow. Please skip to 4:50 to see the i9 in action (I wasn't aware i was rambling for so long to begin with).

The old 'stack the players on one another' pic

Lego dudes, the ultimate scale reference

Now Playing

Close up. The zip is far dimmer, especially outside.

The fuze holds its own for brightness, but resolution is far more pixelated.

Other interesting things to note that I forgot to mention in the video is that the D2 does favourites (or what it calls Dynamic Play List, DPL) even worse than the i9. Even in folder mode it is impossible to add whole albums or a collection of albums in one go. It gets worse, it seems to me that the only way to add a song to the DPL is during actual playback of teh song (from the now playing screen). I would love to hear if i am wrong on this, but i
tinkered with it for 10mins or so and it was the only way i could get the 'add to DPL' function to appear.

Another weird aspect is that the i9 3.5mm port is not accepting my Ultimate Ears Super fi 5 headphones properly. More information can be found here and thank you Walkgood for your help on this matter.

So a quick list of pros and cons;


weight (lighter than fuze, heavier than zip)
screen quality is best
sound quality is best
fairly decent shortcuts to EQ settings.
battery life is best

no clip (if that matters, either way DIY)
UI is cumbersome, awkward and definately a learning curve.
16gb max
creating playlists/favourites is awkward
256 file limit for favourites/on the go playlist
some headphones might be incompatabile with it
no crossfade and other little useful tweaks found in rockbox
price is highest
lack of tactile buttons (tho hold feature is nice)
capacitive controls


very good sound quality (tho not as good as cowon)
crossfade (as well as heaps of other nice features)
easy UI (even rockbox)
Creating playlists is easier/better, no limit file limit
expandable memory (even 64gb cards work)
fastest bootup (when using rockbox)
programmable shortcuts
customisable themes/fonts/now playing screen
Price is cheaper than the i9
Better controls than i9
More tactile buttons
has a clip (zip only)

controls too cramped (on zip)
lcd poor quality (especially zip but better or fuze
brightness on zip is especially poot, but pretty good on fuze
battery life is less than i9 for both models


So where does the i9 fit in? Potentially it will become my main player, I will continue to use it for a couple of weeks to really try and break the learning curve so that the UI will become second nature.

If the following are important to you, this device probably can't be beat by ANY other player (yes that's a challenge);

1) Uncompromising Sound Quality
2) 16gb maximum is fine for your needs
3) You need the smallest and lightest device possible (whilst at same time still having decent battery life
4) You mainly listen to albums all the way through or play your entire collection in shuffle/all fashion i.e. building playlists via genre etc isn't a feature you care much for.
5) decent screen quality and brightest/most easily viewed in sunlight

I welcome further questions or comments.

SOURCE: Xclef (gone) | Cowon X5(gone) | Cowon D2 (dead) | Sansaclip+ RB | Sansa ClipZip RB | Cowon i9+ (32gb) | Cowon C2 (4gb)
HPs: Soundmagic E10's | Hippo VB's | UE 600's | Superlux HD 668B | Superlux HD660 | Sony XBA3 | Sony XBA2VP

Last edited by BruceBanner; 07-19-2012 at 10:59 PM.
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