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What is the best sounding harddisk based mp3 player?

 

Unregistered guest
hello there my audio loving friends, i want to listen to music, and lots of it and i want it to be portable too! what i find the absolutely most important factor in my future player is.. sound quality. I want a sound quality thats equal to audiophile equipment, or at least the best i can get on the market. So than, whats your top 3? please not that i'm only interested in the output quality of the player, not the earphones that are included. thanks alot audiophiles.
 

Gold Member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 1099
Registered: Dec-03
none, they are all horrible. MP3 has horrible quality, way too much compression. Worry about bit rate instead.
 

jdizz
Unregistered guest
Rio Karma supports flac. That's CD quality encoding. The Karma and the iRiver ihp-120 also support .ogg which is a better codec than .mp3. So it depends on how you store your music, what codec and all.

Top 3 IMHO:
1. Karma (for flac support)
2. Creative Zen Xtra - most Creative products sound pretty damn good, but they don't support .ogg and flac, a future firmware update may incorporate that.
3. iRiver ihp-120
 

jdizz
Unregistered guest
Rio Karma supports flac. That's CD quality encoding. The Karma and the iRiver ihp-120 also support .ogg which is a better codec than .mp3. So it depends on how you store your music, what codec and all.

Top 3 IMHO:
1. Karma (for flac support)
2. Creative Zen Xtra - most Creative products sound pretty damn good, but they don't support .ogg and flac, a future firmware update may incorporate that.
3. iRiver ihp-120
 

Gold Member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 1147
Registered: Dec-03
I have the Karma and i am not too impressed with sound quality. Excellent if you are using it at the gym but not too good for critical listening.
 

stereophile
Unregistered guest
I brought a Creative "ZEN touch" and the sound quality is amazing.
Make sure you brought a pair of good headphones like the SR60 from Grado.
I never believe MP3 can sound that well but make sure you use at least 192 - 256Kbits (320 max) if the original album sound quality is good (especially classical music). (At high bit rate, the MP3 algorithm is still one of the best sounding... who cares of file size if you have a hard drive player!).

The new MP3 encoder algorithm has improved so much that MP3 songs even with low bit rate are now sounding many many times better than before... almost like the improvement in CD quality during the '80s (remember the day when stereophiles said digital sound was a joke ?.... I was one of them!)

-Tat
 

ThatGuyYouKnow
Unregistered guest
I have a song(live proformance) encoded at 192Kb/s and I would like to know if any MP3 with a HD can store this 101MB file on it. Its 2Hours long.
 

Foinktus
Unregistered guest
With the enormous disk space available in the Zen Touch, Zen Extra and the Zen Micro you're far better off uploading WAV files directly to your player.
 

MWraith
Unregistered guest
Bit rate really isn't a big problem as long as you know what you are doing when ripping the songs. There's a huge amount of people that talk absolute nonsense in audio communities about the evils of compression. In reality there are formats freely available that work perfectly fine with digital music players and are capable of compressing an audio file without losing a single bit of data. Both AAC lossless and FLAC can do this for you. Also even if you do opt to use a lossless format such as ACC 192kpbs it's still going to be better quality than an mp3 at the same bit rate as it is a more efficient format.

Personally I have an iPod and the audio quality is ok for using as a portable player but I have tried connecting it to their 'dock' which bypasses the iPod's pre-amplifier and then connecting the audio out to my amplifier. To be honest I didn't think the quality was as good as connecting it straight to the audio out of the PC playing the same file. I never really have any issues when listening through earphones though.

So basically the iPod isn't really audiophile quality in my opinion and there are probably better alternatives if you are critical.
 

Anonymous
 
wavs crushes the puny buffers on these toys and eats battery to fast
 

Bronze Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 100
Registered: Mar-04
stereophile gave a favorable review of ipods at highest sample rate with aiff files that are supposed to be "cd resolution"

compression IS EVIL. compression removes data from your source. if ANYTHING, we should all be embracing sacd and DVD-A which after 20+ long years, finally offer higher resolution than CD. (vinyl DOES still sound better than CD)

instead, everyone is embracing LOWER fidelity mp3.

arrrrrrrghhhhh!

everyone should be forced to listen to real hi-fi at gunpoint once in their lives. most people i've known don't even have stereos and most of the ones that do own crappy k-mart shelf units.

*sigh*

24/96+ audio is suffocating because of napster robots! LOL

i want 16/44.1 PCM portables WITH UPSAMPLING!

die mp3 die!
 

man with an ear
Unregistered guest
budget minded it's about damn time. finally, some sense in the universe. are they all deaf???
 

golden eared madman
Unregistered guest
good point budget minded

tho sacd isnt the golden format that many claim it to be, sure it sounds more airy and the bass is deeper, but dsd is the devils butt when it comes to distortion in the audible frequencies.

ive listened to a bunch of sacds thru a friends marrantz sa 14 eunning thru plinius sa250's into some monitor gold references and they sound hmmm to my ears anyway gravelly/grainy and too much emphasis on air and bass.

the whitepapers on dsd seem to support this theory with recorded distortion in one of the more important frequency bands, which one i cant remember. (easily researchable)

portables are good for on the move listening, for more critical listening i would recommend a decent reclocked cd player with class a output, a class a headphone amp and some nice large open backed headphones.

cd isnt really that bad when done properly (wadia) tho now mastering on dsd and reconverted to pcm is starting to reduce the quality of cd audio. even my reclocked pioneer stable platter running thru a
musical fidelity upsampler sounds better than the grainy sacd.

even with all these new "hq" formats its still a bad time to be an audiophile although there is an extensive back catalog if you dont have to have the latest and greatest.

dvd-a would be nice but is mostly aimed at multichannel (and thus reduced bitrate) so unfortunately doesnt count.

im buying the karma.
 

mpick
Unregistered guest
I think you have to consider the signal to noise ratio with these players too. My Creative Nomad Jukebox III had 98dB SNR, and it sounded excellent. My iRiver IHP-120 SNR is lower and you can really tell. The high highs and the low lows just don't hit you the same.
 

well
Unregistered guest
I think you folks are high. The Ipod has a decent output circuit, and the best earbuds you'll find sold with a player right there in the box. Lossless AAC is a good thing, and I can boot linux from my ipod and get ogg, flac and video.
 

Unregistered guest
MP3 OFFERS, I FEEL, AN EXTREME FORM OF RESOLUTION. SURE IT IS COMPRESSED, BUT THINK OF THE SOUND. THE SUPERB DETAILING OF MILES DAVIS SKETCHES OF SPAIN. I HAVE A CREATIVE NOMAD 20 GIG. SUPERB REPRODUCTION, WHICH PROBABLY COULD NOT BE MATCHED UNLESS YOU HAD THE BEST HOME SYSTEM. MY HEAD PHONES ARE A GERMAN NAME YOU PROBABLY WOULDN'T RECOGNIZE. (NOT SENNHEISER), YOU MUST UNDERSTAND TO ENJOY AT CRITICAL LEVEL, ONE MUST NOT SIMPLY HAVE THE RIGHT PLAYER, BUT A QUALIFYING OUTPUT HEADPHONE: SENNHEISER MAKES A SERIES OF WORLD CLASS CANS, EVEN ON ENTRY LEVEL.
I WAS SHOCKED AT THE RESOLUTION AND IMAGING OF THEIR 202-400'S MODEL. I AM PRESENTLY EYEING A GRADO. THE WOOD FINISHED MODEL WAS IMPRESSIVE. BUT I AM STILL A LOYAL SENNHESER FAN. RECORD YOUR MUSIC AT PROPER RATES, AND THEY'RE SURE TO SURPRISE.
 

fyshgsta
Unregistered guest
You are all losers. "compression is evil" ... poof
 

New member
Username: Blaster2100

BilbaoSpain

Post Number: 2
Registered: Aug-05
Hi there to everyone.

1. Compression is evil? How many of you can sense frequencies above 22000 Hz? Let's be a bit real and serious.

I considered myself granted with a gift. I'm musician and also have the ability to "catch" frequencies above 22Khz, that's the higher treble in sound.

So just to start the discussion I feel quite satisfied with mp3 (LAME encoder, the best) at 192 bitrate, fixed or variable. I'm musician and at those bitrates (192 and above) is really really hard to find saturation (the sense of overall background noise or light distortion) or treble being "too" cutoff by hearing. This happens at very complex sections of a song, with many frequencies in the original wave (44,1Khz, CD quality) changing at the same time (for example, a big orchestra, or guitars which are really difficult to sample) At the same time I recognize I haven't messed around too much with other codecs, since they are not suported by Mp3-diskman o USB-mp3, I'm tied to mp3. At this point mp3 is universal, the other codecs are not.

2. Regardin' which is the best mp3 player. Check the signal to noise ratio (as you should do with whatever sound equip, home o professional). 65dB is quite bad. 85dB is quite acceptable. >90dB is really good. Separation between channels is also interesting. I like Creative but haven't tested the portable audio player. However I've installed two Audigy Platinum cards in my computers. And they are good. Impressive when connected to a good HIFI.

3. AGREE COMPLETELY with MUSIQ. GOOD HEADPHONES IS A MUST. I almost killed a friend when I was told he was around stating his Mp3 player was a crap, while he used 3$ headphones bought in a low quality store. A smart equalizer preset does matter too, keeping in mind that trebles reach us much better than basses or highs. I like Sony's (half portable half studio) and AKG (pros). Even the worst device sounds really different.

Hope this guides you a bit. Feel free to add any comment, since I'm not pro and may have said something wrong, and apologies if you find the english "foreign" ;-)
 

FLACMe
Unregistered guest
"compression IS EVIL. compression removes data from your source."

This is the type of nonsense that you should avoid on the internet. As others have already mentioned on this thread, there are LOSSLESS options of compression but it's just that some idiots don't know this.

Compression isn't evil. Ignorance is.
 

shane318
Unregistered guest
hey guys what u think about atrac3plus?
 

Anonymous
 
Instead of demanding higher than 96db resolution (>16 bit) be sure your player have a clock source with less than -96db jitter. What is the point of having insain resolution in one axis when the time axis is full of jitter.

Soundcards, CD-players and I bet also mp3 players could benefit from a new stable clock source. Check the LC-audio reference clock. It can be soldered to a soundcard like a modchip. Not sure if it fits in a small portabel player tho. http://www.partsconnexion.com/catalog/digital.html
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