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Your favorite MP3/MP4 player

Discussion in 'Portable audio players' started by Mez, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    It might be informative for persons looking to buy and smart enough to check here first instead of when they have problems.
     
  2. bulldogz

    bulldogz Guest

    Well I don't really like ipods as they are pretty useless but I wouldn't mind having one.
    Good manufactured mp4's(chipods=hell no)) are pretty good too.
     
  3. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    What makes you say iPods are useless?

    By the way, thank on the tip to fix the Chinese junk mp3 players. I have one that died a week after I started using it. I will be able to give that to my 9 year old so he can listen to audio books. I had written that off as an expensive mistake. Because most of the cost was shipping 45 shipping and $15 for an 8G MP4, it did make sence to return it. I hoped I would find a solution to bring it back to life.

    I do think iTunes is middle-of-the-road for OEM software. Any after market audio manager that can sync to an iPod corrects that problem.

    I actually think ipods are the best player even though they are over priced. I have a 4G nano that I love and always carry with me. If I get stuck doing nothing, I plug in. I usually swap 1 gig of tunes each week so I don't 'wear out' what is on the nano. Since it carries about 50 hrs of music I never ever hear all the music I put on by the time I swap it out. I get the diversity of a disk ipod but the battery life of the nano. I found iTunes was not friendly to doing routine swaps. I think they want you to buy a bigger one so Apple does not want you to swap out effortlessly. My audio manager Media Monkey has lots of play lists with the size tacked on at the end rounded to the nearest 100 megs. So I can easily put back what I take off without figuring. These play lists average about .5G. So I uncheck 2 and check 2 playlists.

    I do recommend getting Koss Earplugs they allow you to hear what the iPod really puts out. They are real cheap and real good. Many people don't like them because the plugs goinstide your ear. However, that is the only way they can produce 10 hz tones which would require more power than a player can produce using a diaphram to move air. My sterio can produce 4 hz but it is a dinosaur in age and size. The speakers are 50 lbs and the power amp is 75 lbs. and can blow house fuses if you tunr it up too much. Ultra low notes can vibrate masonry walls up 6 stories.

    I would not get the disk ipods unless I traveled a great deal. Then I would be tempted to load several movies on to it.

    All that said, I would only buy an iPod for myself since they are over priced. I have several family members I can buy mp3 players for. I hope to use this thread to pick the good from the bad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2008
  4. binkie7

    binkie7 Moderator Staff Member

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    Personally I love my Zen W. A little bigger then the iPod 30 gig but doesn't have all that proprietary format junk. Just a simple drag and drop.
    Also plays divx/avi's usually w/o any conversion first - again just drag & drop.
    The audio and video play great.
    For smaller media players I like the Sansa too. Another drag and drop - too easy :)
     
  5. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    binkie7, what proprietary format junk are you refering to? Just the videos? It would be nice not to have to spend 5 hours to compress 5G into the ipod video.

    I do love drag and drop but then can it use play lists? My family only has 2 iPods and one chipod. The chipod was drag and drop till it broke. It could not use play lists.

    Although I may be playing randomly 70% of the time there are some times when I want/need to hear a specific kind of music. For instance, if I am doing something aerobic I want real toe tapping music played loud. I find that will improve both my energy level and duration by maybe 30%. Other times I want light and some times I want heavy. I always have one of each on my nano at any given time. I almost never play by artist or pick a song. The only time I touch my player is to start and stop it.

    I do not remember hearing one complaint about either device. My sister in - law has a little Sansa flash player. It looked nice but she doesn't know enough about players to use a play list. So I can't ask her questions about play lists.

    My son has a Zune which I am not fond of but the player works well enough that I will say $90 for a 30 G delivered was a great value. However, I do not like that you can't use after market software to sync the player. I also hate the software you are required to use.

    My daughter has a 30 G ipod. Neither child uses play lists or random play. They always play by song or by artist. They don't mind spending all the effort to play song by song. I think it is too much effort to figure what song I would want to play next. That is why I would waist money on the ipod for my self because I use I 'live by' playlists. I sync with play lists and I swap out music weekly. Play lists allow me to fill the ipod with a certain mix of tunes without any effort. Why spend a lot of money for features you don't want?
     
  6. binkie7

    binkie7 Moderator Staff Member

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    iPods also have the aac(?) audio format - can't remmber the exact one off the top of my head. My friends have iPods and since they can't figure out iTunes I end up loading them w/ their music and videos :)
    The other thing I don't like about the iPod is unless you get 3rd party software you can't copy the music or videos back off the iPod to our hard drive.
    The Sansa and Zen keep the original format like mp3, avi etc. so if you wanted to put it back on your hard drive - plug in the player to the pc and copy it over.

    Zen comes with software that is very easy to use but you don't have to use. You can also use WMP too. That's what I use for the Sansa to sync. Either WMP or Zens software which use windows explorer is very easy to use and will create playlists.

    lol - I'm the same way - my playlists are pretty much done this way. I want to listen to the heavy/loud stuff when working out/exercise etc.

    I agree + plus portable media players aren't 1 size fits all so it is good to have a variety. What one person likes another may not :)
     
  7. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    binkie7, you answered my first question well but I am not 100% on the second. Can you tell me if the Zen or Sanza support play lists? You mentioned, you do listen to play lists. Can you grag and drop play lists? I just can't invision how this could be done without really smart software.

    Yes, I almost forgot what ITunes does to your music it puts on your ipod. I rip to VBR mp3s in the extream mode. iTunes down grades the music to 125 constant bit rate. With good ear buds (not Apple), I can hear the difference on my ipod. Before I switched to a third pary software, I assumed the ipod was not good enough to reproduce the additional quality. I will never forget the first time I synced without itunes. I can hear the pops and needle hiss from my vinyl captures now. What rubs me the wrong way about that is, I have to wait while iTunes takes time to ruin my music during the sync process.

    Introduce your friends to Media Monkey. It has a free version. They should be able to do their own audio management.
     
  8. bulldogz

    bulldogz Guest

    Oh well I don't really think big of them so yeah sorry.
    By the way are you thanking me?
     
  9. binkie7

    binkie7 Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry Mez my response wasn't that clear.
    Yes you can create playlists w/ the software that comes w/ the Zen, Sansa or WMP and the others music managers that it supports.
    Now for dragging and dropping an already created one - I'm not sure - I've never tried it.
    Usually I just drag over the whole cd, a movie - stuff like that.
    Another kinda cool feature of the Zen is you can set part of the hard drive up as storage to save basically any type of file.

    Does Media Monkey work w/ the iPods? Cuase I'm no fan of iTunes.
     
  10. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    Yes MM works with most mp3 players. The exception is the Zune. I Don't ever up date my ipod just in case they slip something into the pod that will shield it from the computer. MM treat customers as customers not like livestock that they use for their own purposes. Their forums have lots of nice friendly persons. It is so well thought out. I am a developer who works for a strict operation. I am very critical with stinky software, management, the programmers and the testers all must think garbage is OK. I also appreciate a work of 'art' when I see it which I think MM is. I love all the different sorts or views it provides. I organize my music in a unusual way. I can view my library the way I organized it. It also can run VB routines that do all sorts of things to your files. They have a bunch you can use. It is real cool because you can select the target files from the manager by highlighting them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  11. binkie7

    binkie7 Moderator Staff Member

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    Cool - thanks for that tip on Media Monkey Mez. I'm definitely going to check it out.
    Since your a developer what do you think of Nero? (if you've ever used it) Just curious what a developers perception is of it. Sorry just a bit off topic.
     
  12. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    I don't like it at all. I only use it for data disks. I do lots of video burns. I can't set Nero to a safe burn speed. Nero tech support blames the burner as being too fast or the firmware is to stupid or both. Funny thing, Imageburn and a couple of careful burners allow even slower speeds than I want but I am happy to have them just in case I buy some garbage.

    MM has a nice audio burner but it is crippled in the freebee. I think it allows you 2X or maybe 4x. That would aggravate me because I have a very fast burner as the typical video junkie does. I paid my money the software is worth the 20 bucks. It is surprising to see what smart people can do. My library is not very groomed because I don't spend much it house cleaning as I should. I have duplicates. It highlights suspected duplicates in red, even it the file names are different. You can kill one, the other both or none. That is what I like. I like to tell the software what to do. If it obeys I am happy even if I made a mistake. What I don't like is to have moronic software make the choice for me. 9 out of 10 time the software makes the mistake while I rarely do.
     
  13. binkie7

    binkie7 Moderator Staff Member

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    I like your thinking on software - tell it what to do not the other way around. What a novel idea :)
    I downloaded Media Monkey so it may be one of my new favs.

    Thanks again!
     
  14. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    Please post what you think. Part of the music experience is the software. For instance itunes down grades mp3 files in the sync process to low quality 125 BR, probably to fool you into thinking 125 BRs are just as good. They sell 125 BRs what a coincidence! The thing is I can hear the difference between a 125 and a higher quality tune.

    You might have a different idea about the package which is OK my me, though I do hope you like it. I probably like it because the developers think like I do. We all do not think the same way which makes the world go round.

    While I am on this quality thing, PAY attention to your ear pods folks. They may be more critical to the music quality than anything else. I would not buy any replacements where the manufacturer did not advertise the response range of the product! The response range is the quality of the product. They know what it is but most don't tell you because you would buy them if you knew how bad they are! That and how they look (no one wants to look like a dork) and how they hold up are the only real issues.

    I will plug Koss Earplugs as an good example. They cost $15 from Koss, you can get them cheaper on ebay, they have a 10-20,000 Hz response, life time guarantee and they come with extra rubber thingies. The thingies have lasted me a year with out much wear. I have seen $300 isolation ear buds that gave 20-20000 response. It is easy for little speakers to go higher than 20,000 but the base is very difficult to produce with little devices. 10 hz will rattle your head. Both 10 Hz and 20000 Hz are out side human hearing but you can feel the base. You can't hear or feel anything above 20000 Hz. Unless you are a dog, paying extra for speakers that produce higher tones is a waist of money. Some people don't like the plug because it fits into your ear even more tightly than ear buds. That is how the base tones are transmitted. It takes less energy to transmit low tones through solids like the foam and your ear than through air.

    I think if we pool our good and bad discoveries we can avoid bad deals if we read Afterdawn forums before we buy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2008
  15. Nephilim

    Nephilim Moderator Staff Member

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    Personally, despite good asthetics and a wonderful interface I find the iPods a poor value. A player that has so many restrictions is worthless to me both practically and morally. On the practical side I like to have as many options as I can - a department where I believe iPod products fall short. On the moral aspect I feel a company that gives me a very versatile product values me more as a consumer than a company like Apple that is perfectly happy to dictate to me what I can and can't do with their product. Its like Ford telling you where you can and can't drive the new Mustang you just bought.

    For my money the Meizu miniplayers are hard to beat when compared to the Nano. For $30 to $40 less than a comparable Nano you get great sound, stout construction, both MSC and MPT transfer modes, a bigger screen (2.4" vs. 2"), zero format or software restrictions and no hanky panky with new firmwares. The one area where iPods have everyone beat hands down is in the accessory department!

    I'd also like to point out that sound quality in general is highly subjective and thusly a poor topic for sweeping statements. Quite simply some folks can easily tell the difference between bitrates and formats, others can't. For someone who can tell the difference a quality player sporting good buds and high quality home-ripped FLAC files is a pretty sweet piece of kit.

    Anyone in the market for a small, good quality flash player would do well to include the Meizu M6 miniPlayer and M3 Music Card among their considerations :)

    http://en.meizu.com/product_list.asp?myShow=goto&gotoBt=2

    I most certainly agree with everyone's opinion of Media Monkey. I can't think of an app in that category that even comes close to offering everything it does.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2008
  16. jandara85

    jandara85 Member

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    Personally I hate iPODS. I have always found the wheel disgusting and temperamental to deal with. Player organization is not innovative at all. There are much better looking players out there with more features, better sound and don't require the use of iTunes. I love the music organization capabilities of iTunes, but the lack of good sound and customization is stifling. Do I want automatic sync? No. I'll sync when I want. Do I want to pay for the Apple brand name? No.
    I've always picked the player for sound quality and features.
    Samsung players have excellent sound quality, from the YP-T7J (my first) to the K3, (which sounded better and looked better than an iPod). Now I have the Sony NWZ-A816 Video Walkman which is beautiful and sounds incredible. It is easy to find music and video and has many features.
     
  17. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    jandara85, can you be more specific? You review was very subjective. We all value different things. I bet there is someone out there that even like 'the wheel'. I hate it. Sounding good is very important for most people but even good sound is subjective. What features do you like the best?

    What videos does the Walkman play? Someone was asking for help on this forum because they couldn't get the videos to play.

     
  18. Mez

    Mez Active member

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    Nephilim, I tend to agree with your Apple bashing. They treat the customers like cattle. They assume the customer is a dummy and that Apple, is the only source of intelligence. What an attitude!

    I noticed you prefer FLAC files. I am delighted to be able to discuss the pros and cons of lossy vs. lossless formats with and intelligent, informed and articulate person with the other point of view. I prefer HQ lossy formats over lossless formats because I can’t hear the difference and the size difference is substantial. I am not opening up the discussion to save you from wasting space. I just want to make sure I have not missed something.

    For Rock and Roll, VBRs in the extreme mode are usually about 20% of a FLAC file. The extreme mode is supposed to cut out only music a young undamaged human hear can’t hear. The general public doesn’t hear that well. I know I don’t. I like to use movies as an example of lossy format. Movies flash frames at about 16 frames a second because humans can only process at 12 frames a second. If a video used 100 frames a second the quality would be much better but humans couldn’t tell the difference unless you wanted to watch slow motion. Would you keep movies in a 100 frames/second format?

    Can you hear the difference between a FLAC file and an extreme VBR? If not, why listen to FLAC files? By the way I should stipulate the VBR should be encoded by a current version of LAME using the slow (careful) analysis. Media Monkey uses a less expensive encoder. You can download a trial version from PowerAmp that lasts 30 days if you do not know where to find something that uses the LAME encoder. I suggest any one that is a bit picky about their tunes to at least try their ripper. I use their reference (Pro) version. When I was researching what encoders were the best I ran across an audio freak forum. They were at least as avid about audio as this forum is about video. As late as last year a German build encoder was considered the best VBR encoder. They would include sound bites of lossless, and some VBRs with their dsicussion. The last bad LAME VBR created some minor distortion with certain brass sounds. This summer these guys claimed the new LAME encoder was finally transparent to the ear from original. I just took their word on that one. I personally can’t tell the difference between a 160 and a 320 BR.

    I guess you and use my own logic against me. I am storing more information than I can hear. For Rock and Roll the extreme VBR is about 200. Because it actually cuts out more information that you can’t hear, the file size is about the same. Because I do have an extreme stereo, someone might be able to hear the difference. I also feel better keeping a format one step better than what I can readily hear to be on the safe side.

    You can buy legal FLAC files as well as making your own. Here is a musiic service bit-rate chart.
     
  19. jandara85

    jandara85 Member

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    Sorry, I was letting off steam about iPods here are the details:

    Sony NWZ-A816 Video Walkman
    The walkman plays mp4 files. In response about the wheel...it's very touchy and imprecise. Especially if you are using it while exercising or when your hands are cold. It is difficult to get to the music you want. On the other hand the walkman has a simple five way control pad and a simple but innovative interface. The intial search is quite nice, also the grouping of song titles into groups such as a-f g-j and so on.
    Sound: For sound quality, clear bass, and the equalizer options are excellent. The included headphones sound amazing, with clear bass and clear highs. The DSEE feature makes even lower quality mp3s sound really good. The processor is quick as well. Another thing I like is you never really have to turn the player on, it instantly picks up when you push play. The bookmarking system for videos is flawless as well.
    Software: On of the greatest features is the ability to use it with any software. WMP and Mediamonkey work great. You do have to convert video with a separate program, but it is easy to find. Album art will since if done with Mediamonkey or WMP, (but not Winamp)
    Appearance and construction: Construction of the player is extremely solid as well. Nothing feels cheap and the body is made of metal with a really nice finish. The chrome accents look good as well.
    The 2" screen is very clear and looks good in any light. The lightness controls are nicely made to match any situation.
     

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