Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Boco May 22, 2011

Hey guys, I'm about to start re-digitizing my music collection and this time I'm ditching MP3 and going to FLAC, but that means my Zune will be obsolete. I know there are at least a couple of people here that use FLAC and so I thought I'd pose the question: what do you guys recommend? Got any good or bad experiences with specific players?

I was originally looking at the Cowon and Samsung lines, but the current models didn't seem to get very good reviews. Is that accurate or are there some models worth checking out? I've also been thinking about trying the whole iPod 5th gen/Rockbox route. Not very fond of Apple though. That's kind of a last resort. :X

I don't care about videos, games, apps or any of that other crap. I've got nearly 1,000 CDs and I want to be able to enjoy as many of them as possible as conveniently as possible with the best quality possible. Anything else would simply be a waste.

To summarize, my dream portable music player would support FLAC and prominently feature:
-Functionality
-Capacity
-Audio quality

Should I just give up now or is there hope? XD

Smeg May 22, 2011

Sansa Clip Plus dude. Cheap, tiny, awesome sound, FLAC compatibility and infinitely expandable disk space by way of microSD cards.

the_miker May 22, 2011

I'll second the Sansa Clip+ recommendation.  I have one of these and I love it.  Biggest one they make is 8 GB and the biggest micro SDHC card these days is 32 GB, so you can get a nice 40 GB FLAC player out of this little guy.  Also, FYI, if you buy the first generation Clip (not the Plus), you can install Rockbox on it.

If you need something with more space, I'd say look around for an older HDD-based Cowon player, namely the X5/X5L.  I think the biggest is a 60 GB but you can install a bigger HDD if you're good at modding stuff.  Rockbox can be installed on this device as well.

I've been using my Android phone as my main player lately and I would definitely recommend it if you don't wanna carry multiple devices around with you.  Only go this route if you have a phone with a good DAC (my Samsung Epic 4G uses the amazing Wolfson WM8994).  Combine the DAC with the custom Voodoo kernel driver and Android's native ability to handle FLAC files and you're all set.  Live scrobbling from the car ftw. smile

Jodo Kast May 22, 2011

Smeg wrote:

Sansa Clip Plus dude. Cheap, tiny, awesome sound, FLAC compatibility and infinitely expandable disk space by way of microSD cards.

Is there a way to make it compatible with ape?

Smeg May 22, 2011

Jodo Kast wrote:
Smeg wrote:

Sansa Clip Plus dude. Cheap, tiny, awesome sound, FLAC compatibility and infinitely expandable disk space by way of microSD cards.

Is there a way to make it compatible with ape?

Not unless you can convince SanDisk that it would be worthwhile to add support for the codec to a firmware upgrade. You'd have nothing to lose from a lossless to lossless conversion though, aside from copious amounts of time tongue

Push It May 22, 2011

Cowon players getting bad reviews is a little surprising since the J3 and the S9 were/are getting great reviews. I think the X7 got OK reviews, but I think people had higher hopes for the successor of the X5. I personally have not had any bad experiences with the J3, so again, I'm not sure where you're getting your reviews from.

Brandon May 22, 2011 (edited May 22, 2011)

Have you done a blind test to make sure that you can really tell the difference?

Boco May 22, 2011

The Cowon player I had looked at was the X7. Reviews from users and critics seemed to consistently bring up issues regarding the controls, touch screen, user interface, and connectivity with computers. The general consensus was that it was a step backward from the X5. I liked the idea of a large hard drive, long lasting battery and and high quality audio, but I'm not interested in constantly fighting with the player in order to load and listen to music. There's no excuse for that in this day and age.

That's also why I asked for input on the Cowon and Samsung lines. I wanted to know if people here had input on specific models or if the negative X7 reactions were exaggerated.

The Sansa is smaller than I'd like, but price and functionality seem hard to beat. I especially like the concept of being able to use memory cards. That really helps make up for the limited size.

Any other players that people have had good experiences with?

Push It May 22, 2011

I'd go with the J3 if you're considering the Sansa Clip+ one as you can get the 32GB version and it also has a card slot to expand on the memory. 64GB is better than 40GB and the J3 probably beats the Sansa in terms of audio quality as well. The Sansa might have the edge on battery life, but FLAC files will burn that battery pretty fast no matter what player you get. I'd also give the edge to the Clip+ for controls, but the J3 has a decent touch screen.

Like I hinted at earlier, I think the complaints with the X7 is that it is less audio-focused than the X5 which is part of the reason the X5 was so popular. Actually, the Clip+ is more like the X5 than the X7 except for the storage capacity. Cowon's user interface has never been good as Apple's, so it usually takes a hit there, especially from those coming from Apple players.

the_miker May 23, 2011

Jodo Kast wrote:

Is there a way to make it compatible with ape?

Get the regular Clip (not Plus) and Rockbox it.  Rockbox is compatible with APE and every other major format known to man.  It even plays SPC and NSF files!  Full list of supported codecs here: http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/SoundCodecs

Push It wrote:

I'd go with the J3 if you're considering the Sansa Clip+

Don't forget the price.  The Clip+ goes for $55 (8 GB) and the J3 is $272 (32 GB).  Adding an additional 32 GB card would be another $55 or so.

Boco May 23, 2011

The afford-ability of the Sansa Clip is appealing, but I honestly don't mind paying a lot so long as the quality matches the price-tag. Quality and function really are key here.

Honestly, I was pretty happy with my Zune so I probably shouldn't be as worried about some of these issues as I am. After all, the Zune had plenty of issues. >_<

Anyway, keep the suggestions coming! The J3 does look pretty promising. How happy were you with the touch screen? I'm not a big fan of touch-controls in general or touch screens in particular, but I could probably get used to it if the quality was decent.

Brandon May 23, 2011

Boco wrote:

After all, the Zune had plenty of issues.

Five years, and they still can't be bothered to install CJK fonts on the disk-based Zunes.

But hey, they did issue a hotfix to prevent us from installing our own fonts. So, you know, it's not like they're just sitting around twiddling their thumbs or anything.

I'd cancel my ZunePass subscription and switch over to Napster just to spite them for that, but my phone doesn't have enough space for all my music.

Boco May 23, 2011

No kidding. And the font fiasco is just one issue. It would be such an easy thing to fix too. Still pretty pissed off about that. >:x

GoldfishX May 23, 2011 (edited May 23, 2011)

I use a Cowon D2 and haven't really looked back since then. Great player...easy to use, sounds great and a snap to load stuff onto. I use a couple 32GB cards and swap basically my library on the go, while leaving my favorites on the main player. The ONLY complaint I have with it is I can't rate tracks on it, like I could with my iPod.

The complaints I've seen centered around the X7 primarily are due to its size than anything. It's basically the D2 or J3 minus the expansion slot and a big ol' 160 GB hard drive. It looks too big to haul around in my shirt pocket, like I can my D2 and 5G iPod, so that's the only reason I haven't gone to it yet.

I'll also second the Sansa Clip players. I bought one for my mom and sampled it. For something so disgustingly puny, it sure sounds really good. If you're looking for tactile feedback controls, it might be the way to go. It only took me maybe an hour or less to adjust to navigating my D2 with my finger, after 4-5 good years of the iPod wheel.

Important addendum: NEVER EVER connect a Cowon player to a Mac. Bad things happen.

James O May 23, 2011

I just got a J3 and the screen is great imo.  I don't really use FLAC but the sound quality is pretty good.  I was mainly tired of my old iRiver skipping tracks for no apparent reason, plus I had it so long the battery wasn't lasting as much anymore.

Plus the J3 is a simple drag and drop file system which I LOVE and is the one main reason I will never use iTunes to manage my music.

Push It May 24, 2011 (edited May 24, 2011)

the_miker wrote:

Don't forget the price.  The Clip+ goes for $55 (8 GB) and the J3 is $272 (32 GB).  Adding an additional 32 GB card would be another $55 or so.

I considered the price, but seeing as it would take four 8GB Clips+ to equal the capacity of one 32GB J3, I think the pricing of the J3 is relatively decent.

GoldfishX wrote:

I use a Cowon D2 and haven't really looked back since then.

If you can find a D2+, or if you can wait for the C2 to be released, that might be a cheaper alternative to the J3. I know the D2+ comes with a maximum 16GB, but it also has a card slot to expand on the memory. I owned the original D2 as well, so I can also vouch for its overall excellence.


Boco wrote:

The J3 does look pretty promising. How happy were you with the touch screen? I'm not a big fan of touch-controls in general or touch screens in particular, but I could probably get used to it if the quality was decent.

I'm not a big fan of touch screens, either, but there isn't much I can do about that nowadays. The touch screen is not as smooth as the iTouch, but I have not had any major complaints with it.

GoldfishX May 24, 2011

Well, I meant to say D2+ is what I use...From what I've read, the differences between the D2 and D2+ are very minimal (I've read you can basically upgrade a D2 to a D2+ with firmware). I use the 16GB version.

C2? That one is actually news to me. I know they released the D3 and it turned out to be sort of a dud.

xplojin. Jun 1, 2011 (edited Jun 1, 2011)

hi, found ths thread w/ google search. my mp3 player hard disk drive just died, so im looking into getting new mp3 player. is it better idea to use sd cards instead of hard disk? i like hard disk players since they have more space, but hard disk seems to die before its time. flash memory more stable than hard disk?

Push It Jun 1, 2011

xplojin. wrote:

hi, found ths thread w/ google search. my mp3 player hard disk drive just died, so im looking into getting new mp3 player. is it better idea to use sd cards instead of hard disk? i like hard disk players since they have more space, but hard disk seems to die before its time. flash memory more stable than hard disk?

From what I understand, flash memory is more stable than a hard drive disc as far as dealing with mechanical shocks are concerned, but having owned a hard drive disc player before (Cowon X5L), I had no problems with it after dropping it a few times. Don't know how long the hard drive would have lasted since I somehow broke the headphone jack while switching out headphones (it was a little over two years old at the time).

With that said, the longevity of a hard drive disc player probably depends on the quality of the hard drive being used and how much shock you place on the player during the course of its lifetime.

Smeg Jun 5, 2011

the_miker wrote:
Jodo Kast wrote:

Is there a way to make it compatible with ape?

Get the regular Clip (not Plus) and Rockbox it.  Rockbox is compatible with APE and every other major format known to man.  It even plays SPC and NSF files!  Full list of supported codecs here: http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/SoundCodecs

Actually, the Clip Plus is supported and I can report it kicks ass big_smile

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