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darklife41

Good sounding & large capacity MP3 players?

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Title pretty much says it all.

 

I've been using a Creative Jukebox Zen Xtra in the Jeep via an Alpine deck and MTX sub and speakers for almost 7 years. It's really a great sound system and one of my biggest sources of pleasure/relaxation. But alas, the Creative Zen Xtra has finally died. It came with a 60GB hard drive, and I quickly swapped that out with a 120GB hard drive. And yes, we used it all frequently. In fact I'd have upgraded it to a 320GB drive this week if it hadn't bit the dust yesterday. So looking to replace it, but it seems that the manufacturers have lost the plot on mp3 players.

 

I don't care at all about video or photos, although I wouldn't count a good mp3 player out just because it had these options. It seems there are very few large capacity players around anymore, and the ones that are concentrate much more on video or photos than good audio and/or large capacities.

 

Here's my priorities:

1) Good sound. No tinny shit, no hiss. In order to have good sound it must play WAV files. Flac is a bonus, but not necessary.

2) Large capacity. I have almost 2TB of quality music (WAV and flac), so the bigger the better, but must be at least 80GB to be worth considering. The less often I have to swap songs the better.

3) We don't use iTunes or any protected content, so not a consideration.

 

I had no idea how spoiled I'd become with sound quality, until listening to several iPods tonight (Shuffle, Touch, Classic). OMFG!! I can't believe people actually pay for those pieces of sh*t. They may have nice features, interface, and all the 3rd party gadgets in the world, but they sound like absolute sh*t on a decent system. I compared with wav files that I've listened to every day on the Creative, and not even close to the same quality. The bass is adequate once the sub kicks in, but the midrange and highs are tinny and sound like they're coming from miles away. Simply pathetic. So iPod is not an option for us.

 

Because wav or some form of lossless is a requirement, MS's Zune is not an option. Shame because they are priced nicely for 120GB. (WMA lossless is NOT lossless, no matter what anyone says. I can live with converting to other formats, but not at the expense of quality.)

 

Because at least 80GB is a requirement, SanDisk, Sony, Samsung, Cowon, Philips, and Creative are no longer options. Seems none of them make anything bigger than a 32GB model anymore.

 

That leaves... Vosonic and Archos?? Archos 5 and 7 have reviews all over the place, from buggy and DOA and terrible support - to the best thing since sliced bread. No one seems to be complaining about the sound quality, which is my number 1 concern. And they offer 250GB and 160GB/320GB, so the number 1 contender at this point. The Vosonic markets removeable SATA hard drives, which is great. They also do wav and OGG, but I don't know how good the sound quality is.

Can't believe I'm considering tablets just to get a decent MP3 player. :-s

 

 

Anyone know of a product that meets my requirements and that I'm not mentioning? I'm all ears (pun intended). Obviously I'd like to spend as little as possible (and would buy an Archos from the USA rather than pay the crazy markups in Australia). But we did pay $600+ for the Zen Xtra back in the day, so not out of the question either. Something else to consider is that we'd gladly swap out with a bigger (IDE or SATA) hard drive if possible. But I really don't know which models allow you to do so, other than Vosonic.

 

Thanx in advance for your replies. :)

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I know you said that it must be 80+, but the Cowon x5 comes close - 60gb.

 

 

From what i can see it uses a standard 1.8" hard disk, so it should be user upgradable, at a guess.

 

I'd suggest if you're considering that, then get the x5, in 20gb version, then buy a verbatim 1.8" hard disk and swap the drives over, so you get a 250gb x5.

 

 

OK, so there'll be some hacking required, but it'll give you the end product that you're after, no?

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I know you said that it must be 80+, but the Cowon x5 comes close - 60gb.

 

 

From what i can see it uses a standard 1.8" hard disk, so it should be user upgradable, at a guess.

 

I'd suggest if you're considering that, then get the x5, in 20gb version, then buy a verbatim 1.8" hard disk and swap the drives over, so you get a 250gb x5.

 

 

OK, so there'll be some hacking required, but it'll give you the end product that you're after, no?

Thanx for the reply.

 

That depends upon how they implement the software (on the hard drive itself, or integrated on the board of the x5 as it is on the Creative Zen Xtra and Vosonic).

 

I wouldn't spend that kind of money without knowing for sure. But if anyone has done it and has a link to where I can get ahold of new one, I'd sure consider it. :-)

Edited by darklife41

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So the more I look into it, the more it looks like the best option might be to upgrade to a new Alpine car stereo that takes USB input. Too bad everything is iPod this and iPod that. If I can connect a removable hard drive to it via USB, and create play lists, sort by artists, albums, title,.. that would be the cat's meow. Also needs to play wav though, and not sure why that's not listed among formats since music CDs use wav.

 

Damn, I absolutely love the Alpine I have now (CDA-9827). :-s

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+1 to Cowon. Audio quality is second to none.

 

If the x5 isn't feasible, perhaps get the D2 (not necessarily the D2+) and a few 16GB SD cards. They go for about $40 each now. Not as good as a HDD though.

 

Who stocks the Cowon x5 in Australia?

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The x5 isn't just hard to find in AU, its not available much of anywhere. The few that I've found are over $300USD for the 16GB, which even with several 16GB SD cards is a long ways from where I want to be for capacity. Same thing with the D2, and the S9. As I said, these manufacturers have lost the plot. Very few are doing high capacity anymore. I'm not willing to give up the storage space for a barely audible difference in sound compared to this option:

 

I've pretty much made up my mind that I'll go with a new Alpine HS. Plugged a couple 250GB 2.5" drives into the front USB of a CDE102Ei ($319 2x pre-out) and CDA-105Ei ($430 3x pre-out + Bluetooth). Since they still use Burr Brown DAC, the sound is still top notch. It'll be even better when I attach it to my MTX amp and subs. I have to go back tomorrow to make sure it was playing WAV files, as I also had some MP3s and WMAs on the drives for testing. It was getting late and I was in a hurry. But even it I'm relegated to 320 bitrate MP3 (if that's what I was listening to), it still beats the heck out of most of these MP3 players and any iPod on the planet, again thanks to the Burr Brown DAC.

 

These are pretty cheap compared to the $560 I paid for the CDA-9827 a few years ago. If I can get a couple hundred for it now, that easily justifies the upgrade. Wouldn't even consider upgrading if it wasn't the best looking option to get the storage space back. Oh well. :-)

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The speakers don't go through the MTX amp (no need for it with 4 x 50w), just the subs. But yes, everything goes through the best car amp in the world, the Burr Brown. :-)

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But yes, everything goes through the best car amp in the world, the Burr Brown. :-)

Burr Brown DACs, sure, but I'm guessing that the deficiencies of the analogue stage do a good job of hiding any benefit.

 

Not to mention that this is car audio, just about the least ideal audio there is.

 

Rob.

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I'm really not interested in debating the quality of my car audio system, especially since MTX isn't available here (mine was brought over from USA after seeing the crap they sell in Australia and the ridiculous prices they want for it). Suffice to say that MTX components been listed among the best in the world (if not THE best) for many years. My system isn't using Jackhammers, but then I don't own a vehicle big enough for one either. :-)

 

I'm looking for decent sounding large capacity storage solutions for the Jeep. The speakers, sub, and amp have nothing to do with that.

 

 

 

But yes, everything goes through the best car amp in the world, the Burr Brown. :-)

Burr Brown DACs, sure, but I'm guessing that the deficiencies of the analogue stage do a good job of hiding any benefit.

 

Not to mention that this is car audio, just about the least ideal audio there is.

 

Rob.

 

And as usual your remarks have absolutely nothing to do with the thread. No idea what point you're trying to make, and honestly I don't care.

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If you are thinking of buying a head unit like the Alpine make sure that you look into the number of files you are allowed to have on your usb device. I a pretty sure you are allowed up to 256 files other wise it won't work so I would suggest you try and reduce the number of files you have got by putting your songs into bigger files rather than having them as albums, if you have it this way.

 

Also the head unit does not produce 4 x 50w that is the max power of the head unit. in reality it would be producing maybe 22 Wrms. Max power means absolutely nothing, rms is what matters.

 

If you are using aftermarket speakers I would definitely want to amp them as not only does the head unit produce very little power it also does it with a lot of distortion. If you amp them the difference will be like night and day.

 

Also MTX have down hill and are no where near the best car audio gear out there. They used to be good like 5-10 years ago especially in the early 90's but now they are that good and you could do a lot better for the price.

 

If you want good advice I would suggest joining a dedicated car audio forum like Mobile Electronics Australia and you will get great advice with regards to the Alpine head units and recommendations on other head units that would suit your needs.

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And.. The speakers and amp will have more impact on the quality of your music than your media player of an ipod(or similar) compared to a cowon(or similar).

 

 

Let alone the fact that a car is FAR from a good place to actually listen to music.

 

 

Look, i can't blame you for wanting a good source, but if your speakers, amp and listening room(car) isn't up to scratch... then why bother?

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Look I don't want to get into a debate as it will be detracting from the OP topic but if you have ever actually listened to a decent car audio system you wouldn't be saying things like that.

 

I know that a car is not the most ideal place for listening to music, however this does not mean that great sound can not be achieved. If the media player or an external hd is only being used to store the music and the mp3s are of a high quality standard then yes the speakers and amps will have just as much impact on the quality of the music as the source, because in this case the head unit will be doing the processing.

 

Having more power going to your speakers gives you more head room as you will be able to supply enough power to the speakers without out getting more distortion. As am amp generates more power more distortion is also created. Thus using an amp that has enough power to power the speakers properly will have a dramatic effect on the sound quality rather than using the head unit as the amp in the head unit will generate much more distortion than a dedicated amp power the speakers.

 

As I said if you won't to learn more check out a forum like Mobile Electronics Australia.

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Actually, most amps distort more at lower output than at their rated output.

 

 

 

But car amps are all about power. More volume the better.

 

 

 

 

How many car audio competitions are about the quality of music, rather than actual volume?

 

 

You don't have anyone winning comps with an output of 95db, do you? ;)

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None of the HU manufacturers support WAV via USB nor any lossless formats (other than Apple lossless via an iPod). Pretty stupid as a music CD is wav. Only the Alpine and Sony even saw my 160GB removable drive (not Kenwood nor Pioneer). So that rules out upgrading the HU.

 

Also ruled out Archos (505, 605, 5, & 7) as support seems terrible and sound quality is questionable.

 

 

So I've narrowed down to a few options that are easily found in AU:

 

1) Cowon O2+ 32GB flash ($450AUD) + 32GB SDHC (around $90AUD) totaling $540AUD

http://www.eljomedia.com.au/Cowon_O2_PMP_32GB_p/coo232gb.htm

 

2) Cowon S9 Curve 32GB flash ($400AUD) + 32GB SDHC (around $90) totaling $490AUD

http://www.minidisc.com.au/cowon-iaudio-s9...ger-p-1693.html

http://www.themp3outletstore.com.au/catalo...products_id/359

 

3) Vosonic VP8870 0-GB replaceable SATA hard drive ($465AUD)

http://www.igadget.com.au/catalog/vosonic-...8870-p-995.html

 

4) Vosonic VP8860 0-GB replaceable SATA hard drive (343.79AUD)

http://www.proluma.com.au/index.php?main_p...;products_id=90

 

I'm leaning toward the damned flash drive Cowan O2 at this point (guess I'd rather have the limited storage and guaranteed sound quality), but would sure appreciate any feedback offered on any of these devices. Thanx. :-)

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Well for starters the International Auto Sound Challenge Association (IASCA) has 3 categories for sound quality competition.

 

Plus as I said if you won't to learn more go check out the forum I suggested. Each state has there own sound quality competition scene and there is also a national competition. These competitions are done at moderate listening volume.

 

Not every into car audio is after really loud systems. There are those that are after sound quality and that is why there is gear available from highly regarded audio companies like Dynaudio, Focal and Morel just to name a few that make car audio gear.

 

Also another thing just because an audio system has the ability to go loud does not mean that it is not of high sound quality.

 

Anyway this is really beginning to get pointless and not helping the OP, so I will end here.

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Look, i can't blame you for wanting a good source, but if your speakers, amp and listening room(car) isn't up to scratch... then why bother?

If you'd read the initial post, I plugged several iPods into the same system that I've been using for years with a Creative Zen Xtra and the same lossless files. The sound difference was drastic. So obviously my system isn't a problem. Even my wife (who's no audiophile) noticed a drastic difference. So the storage device (player) is going to have a big impact.

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A difference in quality, or sound? Different audio enhancements can trick you into thinking it's a quality difference, because you prefer your sound a particular way. I personally prefer the BBE+ algorithm.

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Cowon S9 doesn't have an SD card reader IIRC.

Good catch. I must have gotten confused with another model (D2+?). So much for the S9. :-s

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Look I don't want to get into a debate as it will be detracting from the OP topic but if you have ever actually listened to a decent car audio system you wouldn't be saying things like that.

 

I know that a car is not the most ideal place for listening to music, however this does not mean that great sound can not be achieved. If the media player or an external hd is only being used to store the music and the mp3s are of a high quality standard then yes the speakers and amps will have just as much impact on the quality of the music as the source, because in this case the head unit will be doing the processing.

 

Having more power going to your speakers gives you more head room as you will be able to supply enough power to the speakers without out getting more distortion. As am amp generates more power more distortion is also created. Thus using an amp that has enough power to power the speakers properly will have a dramatic effect on the sound quality rather than using the head unit as the amp in the head unit will generate much more distortion than a dedicated amp power the speakers.

 

As I said if you won't to learn more check out a forum like Mobile Electronics Australia.

Good points.

 

All USB devices must be formatted to FAT32. So there's a 4GB limitation that has to be overcome. The Alpines USB limits are: 100 folders/files on the root, 100 folders/files in those, and 100 folders files in those. Theoretically you could load 10,000 files. If those are lossless, we're talking 300GB. I'd be happy with half that, but you're right that it does have limitations and requires some thought on how to configure the folders/files.

 

Honestly, I have no desire to upgrade my car audio system. My MTX components are all over 5 years old and perform remarkably well. I run the volume level between 14-16 as a rule (goes up to 35) , and never over 20. At 14 the windows start to bounce, and at 20 I can only take it for a few minutes before my head starts hurting and my ears will be ringing for an hour. I don't know what the actual RMS is of the integrated amp, but I'd bet its much closer to 50w than you think. ;-)

 

Trust me on this, or don't.. but I paid around $500USD for my MTX subs, amp, and box back in the day. You can't touch anything in that quality range here and now, until you get to 3x and 4x the price here. Anyway, it doesn't have to please anyone but me, and it does that well.

 

I spent 10+ years in recording studios a while back, so know a little about these things. But keeping up with the latest and greatest isn't high on my priority list now either.

 

I just want my friggin lossless storage device back! :-)

 

Yeah, D2 and D2+ have an SD card reader.

 

This seems to be the best value, at $239. 16GB flash, then add 32GB SDHC cards (assuming they're supported).

http://www.minidisc.com.au/cowon-iaudio-d2...ase-p-1679.html

 

Edit: Hmm, they seem to work fine with 32GB SDHC cards from what I can tell.

Thanks CG.

 

I'm torn between the 16GB D2+ and the 32GB O2, both of which apparently take 32GB SDHC.

 

The wife will definitely pick the cheaper option. :-)

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If you are happy with your system that is all that matters.

 

I was just pointing out that MTX are not as highly regarded as they once were and you can get much better gear for the price these days.

 

Oh btw you can get MTX gear in Australia. Check out Custom Car Sound www.customcar.com.au they are the distributor of MTX in Australia and they would have been around when you bought your gear so there was no need of importing it from the States.

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If you are happy with your system that is all that matters.

 

I was just pointing out that MTX are not as highly regarded as they once were and you can get much better gear for the price these days.

 

Oh btw you can get MTX gear in Australia. Check out Custom Car Sound www.customcar.com.au they are the distributor of MTX in Australia and they would have been around when you bought your gear so there was no need of importing it from the States.

I moved here from the states and already had the MTX gear in another Jeep there. I was traveling back and forth several times a year anyway, so was just a matter of pulling it out and tossing it in my suitcases, except for the box which I bought here. If MTX was here in 2002, they sure did a good job of hiding as we looked for them before stripping the vehicle. ;-)

 

 

I'm probably going to go this route and find a AC cord here:

http://www.amazon.com/Cowon-Video-MP3-Play...3817&sr=1-6

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