I really enjoy "hanging out" on this forum and reading the no-b.s. audio talk. It has already been pretty eye-opening (ear-opening?) in the short time I've been lurking here. Here is a great example...I present my Amazon user review of the Cowon J3 written on March 2, 2012 (which is before I really started getting into this site). Pay particular attention to the italicized line:
"Don't listen to these whackos giving the J3 one star (or two for that matter). They're nuts. Amazon really needs to overhaul and MONITOR their rating system. There are so many low-rated reviews with titles like "Package Never Arrived!!!1" "Item Broken!!" "I'm Too Stupid to be Patient or Do Research!!" But I digress...
As a four-year ipod devotee, I thought most of the folks on the internet raving about the supposedly stupendous sound quality of Cowon products were the same group of folks claiming to be able to reliably hear the difference between v0 mp3s and lossless audio. I really was skeptical, because my ipod sounded fine, and mostly served my purposes. I was always a little curious though, and I thought that one day, when my ipod (6th gen, 80gb) died, I may venture into Cowon territory and listen for myself. Well, one day I found a great deal on a J3 that I couldn't pass up, so I impulsively bought it, even though my ipod was still working fine. I took it home, loaded my favorite album (in .wav) on it and on my ipod, set the EQ on each to flat, and did a little comparison (with Klipsch S4 buds). I couldn't believe what I was hearing! The sound quality on the J3 simply demolished that of the ipod! It was undeniable, immediately obvious, and profoundly better. I was sold from that point on.
The sound quality is so good (never mind the practically endlessly customizable EQ options) on the J3 that it easily makes up for what few relative shortcomings I've noticed. The firmware is a bit of a chore to figure out: it's nowhere near the intuitively navigable system the ipod uses, but I have warmed up to it some. I think some of the initial learning curve was related to getting used to the touch screen (I'd never used a touch screen device for more than a few minutes before). The "user manual" is a bit...uh...non-existent, but it is available in full on their website. What it lacks in immediate user friendliness, it makes up for in simplicity of loading/removing files.
These complaints are so minor that I feel guilty even putting them here. Some more good things: It works exactly like a jump drive, which means dragging and dropping and no itunes or any other syncing program to deal with (you can use Cowon's software, but you certainly don't need it). An excellent video player, a great, BRIGHT screen, tactile buttons on the unit for use when the screen is deactivated. Micro-SD capability (a HUGE improvement over the S9). Sound quality. SOUND QUALITY. I'm still blown away by it (it's been 6 months). Buy one of these. Seriouly, Apple will be fine with their 80% market share of personal music players."
Wow. Just wow. It's hard for me to read that line without cringing now. Profoundly better?!
For the record, I actually did do another similar comparison between the J3 and my 6th gen ipod a few months ago, and guess what? I absolutely couldn't tell the difference between them! I know, you're not shocked. Seems I was a victim of confirmation bias! Oh, placebo effect, you are so cunning.
Anyway, I still love my J3, and for me it is the perfect player. The difference now is that I actually understand that there is no magic super-audiophile chip inside that makes sexytime to my ears, just a solidly-built player with the best sound enhancement options I've yet heard.
This is a great site, and y'all's good people. Thanks to all of you regular posters for keeping this place going.