Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5

The Super.Fi 5 come with a small plastic box with rounded edges. The included silicon tips are typical Ultimate Ears quality: thick and sturdy, yet soft and comfortable, with no injection mold ridges. Due to the thickness of the silicon material they might isolate a tiny bit more than thinner tips, but this might also depend on one’s ear canal shape. All in all, their isolation is pretty much average, same level as most other canal-phones out there provide.

Contrary to the older dual driver Super.Fi 5 Pro and EB variants, the new Super.Fi 5 use single armature drivers to reproduce audio. Time doesn’t stand still; armature technology is getting better, so it must not be a bad thing having fewer drivers in a phone. The Phonak Audéo for example shows that a single armature can even surpass some dual- or triple armature phones in certain aspects. In general the new SF5 don’t have to fear the comparison to their more expensive dual driver siblings in the SF5 range. The one detail where the new SF5 completely stomp all over the older SF5Pro and SF5EB (as well as the Super.Fi 3 and Triple.Fi 10, for that matter) is comfort and fit. My personal opinion is that the SF5Pro and EB are the most uncomfortable and anatomically incorrect phones ever created. Their designers appear to never have seen a human ear in their life, which resulted in phones that are – both form- and comfort-wise – a blend of Lieutenant Uhura’s humongous “communicator” earpiece in Star Trek and the head screws of Frankenstein’s monster.

As strange as it seems, the Super.Fi’s armature drivers need some time to settle down. I was honestly shocked how muddy and clogged they sounded right out of the box, but they got better over time – a lot better. After a few hours of listening they sounded fine – something I experienced with only one other armature phone before, the Shure SE530. Usually armatures don’t change their sound characteristics, but as it seems there are exceptions to this rule. Maybe it’s not only the phones but also the listener’s brain that “burns in” and gets accustomed to the new sound. In any case – give them some time; don’t judge them by their sound after the first few minutes you listen to them.

Ultimate Ear’s claim that the SF5’s bass goes down to 15Hz is of course not true, the bass starts at about 27Hz. This is good enough, since portable players (and even professional sound cards) usually can’t reproduce frequencies below 20Hz anyway (and hardly any music track contains frequencies below 30Hz).

So… who are the Super.Fi 5 actually made for? Ultimate Ears’ claim of the SF5 being made for “fashion minded consumers who listen to a variety of music genres” seems about right. In my opinion the SF5 are a good upgrade for people who used some of the inexpensive, higher quality dynamic driver phones like the V-Moda Vibe, MylarOne X3i, or people who want a less analytic, sterile sound than the q-Jays, Etymotics, or similar ones provide. The Super.Fi cater to people who like an “euphonic” loudness curve style that works well with portable players. They are tuned for “fun”, not for analyzing sound waves – which clearly must not be a negative thing, depending on one’s personal taste.

If you’re fed up with your dynamic driver earphones’ lack of instrument separation, dynamics, punch, or treble, but also don’t want overly analytic phones that aren’t “exciting” to listen to, then you should take a good look at the Super.Fi 5. They are really nice performers in general. Maybe not the best choice for critical listening, mixing, and mastering – but great for enjoying music on the go. All in all, they’re really precise compared to dynamic driver earphones and they’re really fun sounding for single armatures. Over the last few weeks I have grown to like them a lot - in my book they're a keeper.

source by anythingbutipod


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cowon D2

Cowon may be a bit of an underdog in the U.S. market in terms of sales, but this Korean company sure does know how to make a quality MP3 player. A solid and compact player dominated by a 2.5-inch screen. Cowon D2 is a pretty geeky-looking PMP that fits squarely in the palm of your hand, ready to play 30-fps video, photos, and music at the touch of a virtual button. With up to 4GB of internal flash storage plus an SD card slot–and a 50-hour battery life–the D2 can keep you mindlessly occupied for hours on end. That doesn’t include the time you’ll need to get familiar with the touchscreen-driven interface, though.

The analog controls are along the top, including a hold/power switch, volume up/down, and a menu/custom button, as well as a pinhole mic for voice recordings. The AC power jack and standard USB mini ports (AC adapter and USB cable are included) are covered by a plastic door on the left side next to the headphone jack, and an SD card slot is on the bottom.

The D2 shows up as an external drive on Macs and PCs (and Linux boxes), but you can sync via Windows Media Player or your MTP-compatible client of choice if that’s your thing. While you can play music and other media off of an SD card, you can’t transfer files to or from the card. Using the touchscreen is surprisingly easy, thanks to just the right amount of sensitivity and a mostly well-thought-out interface that works well with your fingers or the included stylus (which doubles as a kickstand). But the menus aren’t always intuitive; I often found myself in the wrong menu or accidentally stopping a track or video. I’m into the user-assignable menu button–when you tap it once, you’re brought to the main screen, but when you hold it down, you can set it to be a play/pause or track skip button.

The integrated FM tuner is sensitive enough to pick up even fringe stations very well, and you can record radio at up to 256Kbps in MP3 format. The voice recorder also works fairly well, though the tiny pinhole mic is very easy to overload. For better recordings, purchase the optional line-in cable and use a real mic and preamp.

The D2 can play WMA (including PlaysForSure audio content), MP3, OGG, FLAC, WAV, and APE, plus AVI files (320 by 240 or less). To create playable video files, I recommend using the excellent and extremely speedy included JetAudio video conversion software. Unfortunately, the D2 can’t handle protected video downloads.

The D2’s sound quality with the stock earbuds is very good right out of the box–partly because several of the sound enhancement modules are active by default. Video and photo playback are both excellent in terms of clarity, smoothness, and color. You can view media on an external monitor or TV, but you’ll need to pick up an optional video cable from Cowon. Battery life is one of the D2’s biggest wins: It will play audio for around 50 hours and video for 8 to 10 hours–very impressive on both counts. The only thing better would be if the battery were removable.

Overall, this is one of the most versatile and satisfying players out there; the battery life alone is worth the price. You’ll get a lot more out of the D2 if you know what you’re doing. I enjoy using this gadget ^^...

source by CrunchGear

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Microsoft Zune

In the market for MP3 player easily has more than 5 years under his belt. So you think that today, most manufacturers have a recipe for success so far; copy the Apple iPod or create something innovative and new. Microsoft should be the company a loss of memory, because Zune is a nightmare, wrapped in a package.

In the window that the Zune comes in a very smart. Title slide up to reveal two compartments. One side of the box has a lid to cover the inscription "Welcome to the social." Under this cover is the unit of Zune. The other is a carrying case, headphones, USB cable, software, Quick Start Guide and Product Guide.

Available in three colors: white, black and brown (to fire, Brown decided it was cool), and Zune is a very minimalist look to it. This is generally a good thing, but the Zune is a minimalist in general terms, there is no kind of sex appeal. There are only a few buttons on the device: the back button, Play / Pause button lock button at the top of the device and the wheel button, which serves as a means to navigate the menus. In the headphones is attractive at first, but very lightly, and that concerns us. Let's try this in the next section.

On the audio front, the Zune supports music recorded in the Windows Media Audio Standard (WMA), MP3 (up to 320 Kbps) and AAC (up to 320 Kbps). We were surprised to see support for AAC since it’s the default Apple iTunes codec (something going on here that we do not know about?). For video, the Zune supports Windows Media Video (WMV) up to 1.5 Mbps peak bit rate at 320x240 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. There is no support for MPEG-4, DivX, or AVI. Other features include an integrated FM tuner, 802.11 b/g WiFi and JPEG picture viewing capabilities.
Source by Digital Trends

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shure SE530

The SE530 is made from plastic and fake bronzed/chromed for enhanced tackiness.The earphones themselves are very comfortable, even for lengthy listening sessions. Their form factor is quite ergonomic; they fit my ears really well. The SE530 don’t stick out as much as, for example, Ultimate Ear’s Super.Fi series, and I have no problems using them even while sleeping. Yes, the SE530 are comparatively big phones, but due to their cleverly designed housing they don’t feel or look that way. Isolation from outside noise is one of the strong points of these Shures. With the thicker than usual silicon tips isolation is already a bit better than with many other universal-fit IEMs. With the black “Olive” foam tips however isolation becomes really outstanding.

The bass is quite fine on the SE530, it’s clean and fast, but it doesn’t really extend all too well to the lowest octave. Around 40-50 Hz is where they still perform well, but below that it’s all quite rolled off. Comparable phones like the Future Sonics Atrio or JAYS q-JAYS go deeper than the SE530, are less recessed, and deliver more sub-bass impact. The amusing thing is that the q-JAYS have one teensy micro-armature for the bass, while the SE530 have two regular sized ones – and the q-JAYS have at least the same bass quality and quantity, but extend to the very bottom of the lowest octave… On the positive side, the SE530’s bass isn’t muddy at all and doesn’t veil midrange frequencies. It’s a good bass for most kinds of acoustic music, but real bassheads might have to look elsewhere for earth shattering quantities.

Soundstage/headstage is very good on the SE530, considering they’re in-ear phones. Of course the sound doesn’t expand in all three dimensions, but well mastered recordings can extend quite wide to the left and right of your head.

The Shure SE530 are a slightly contradictory mix of features and qualities. Some of their strong points are usually found in dynamic driver earphones, not in balanced armature ones: good sound at low volume, good sound with dense orchestral works, good soundstage, low fatigue, and so on. Most other balanced armature phones I know don’t excel regarding these issues, the SE530 are rather special in that matter. Where the Shures clearly surpass most dynamic driver in-ear phones is their excellent clarity, precision, and “snappiness”. Their weak points are in the extremes of the audible frequency spectrum. The SE530 are neither overly analytic nor overly “fun” sounding phones but they’re certainly not boring. They sound fine for most applications, but they’re quite picky about their source. They don’t really like many portable players, so a headphone amp should be used to get the most out of them.

source by anythingbutipod


Monday, June 8, 2009

Samsung P2

The Samsung P2 offers fantastic audio quality and a large, brilliant touch screen. The interface is fun and customizable, and the player is packed with features including video playback, a great FM radio, support for subscription music and Datacasts, and a plethora of sound enhancement options. Bluetooth also plays a supporting role in the feature set, giving the player the ability to connect to wireless headphones and to your mobile phone (in future updates). The near-buttonless design comes together very nicely with a solid build quality common to Samsung’s portable devices. Wrapped inside this player is a well thought out interface that most people will be able to just pick up and use. Despite a few complaints, the P2 is definitely something to consider even though it commands a higher price than similar capacity MP3 players.

The P2’s sound quality is very good and will work well with higher end IEMs and headphones. Sound quality will impress the majority, but for those who are listening to their P2 in quiet listening environments with an ultra high-end setup, I will go into a bit more detail. Being overly critical on sound quality, I find the mid bass is lacking clarity, running into the lower end bass. The highs tend to be very bright, stating this not as a good or bad aspect, but more of a personal preference of sonic characteristics. Again, that was for the audio snobs, the rest of you will be very happy with the P2’s sound quality. Samsung uses a sound technology called DNSe. The P2 sounds good at a flat EQ, but for those who want a little more control, the 7-band EQ will do the trick. It works well and is very responsive.

Video on the P2 looks great especially on its bright, clear screen. It is smooth and the pixels are quick. The player supports two different file types in two different resolutions:

SVI (Video: MPEG4, Audio: MP3 (44.1kHz 16bit Stereo, 128kbps), Resolution: 480x272, Frame Rate: 30fps)

WMV9 (Video: WMV9 Simple Profile, Audio: WMA9 (Max 860kbps), Resolution: 320x240 or 480x272, Frame Rate: 30fps

Clearly, the Samsung P2 is an audio enthusiast's MP3 player. Music sounds simply fantastic, and the nine-band user EQ--a rarity--makes it easy to fine-tune audio to your exact specifications. Overall, the P2 provides a highly pleasant and engaging listening experience.

source by anythingbutipod

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sony A820

The A820 series is Sony’s latest and flagship in the Walkman line up. As the head honcho of the family, the A820 is the first to sport Bluetooth audio. Unlike recent Samsung players which support extended Bluetooth features, this Sony only supports Bluetooth audio transfer and control. If you have used any of the more recent Sony Walkmans you will get a near identical experience since the interface and the features are the same. The only new thing here is the addition of Bluetooth, larger screen, and different form factor.

The A820 is the best sounding out of the box MP3 player (aside from the same A810 experience) meaning that if you don’t want to purchase any additional headphones, this is the best sounding all in one box solution (but again you get the same experience from the Sony A810 and A720). The playback for pictures and video are identical to the rest of the recent Sony line up; reading the A810 review will give you full explanation. For a basic summary, the A820 does a really nice job of video playback. It does require video to be in a specific MP4 (H.264) format but that is not worries since there is already a lot of content out there since the iPod and PSP uses the same format. Converting your own content is also a breeze since; again, plenty of tools exist because of the iPod and also PSP.

The Sony A820 Walkman is a great example of a device where the whole really does exceed the sum of its parts. There are literally hundreds of MP3 players on the market but few offer such a comprehensive list of features and even fewer are able to excel in each department. If Sony can release the A820 at a realistic price-point then I think it will be a winner. If its price in on a par with the likes of Apple and SanDisk then I will definitely be considering one myself!

credits by anythingbutipod

Monday, June 1, 2009

Creative Zen Mozaic

The Creative Zen Mozaic offers a unique design, great sound quality, and a sweet, customizable interface. It's packed with features such as an FM radio, a voice recorder, a built-in speaker, and photo and video support. The player is also a good value, and video battery life is exceptional. It offers great bang for your buck as far as MP3 players go: get super sound quality, a boatload of features, and a cool interface--all wrapped in a funky design at an ultralow price. Device type: Digital player / radio ; Flash memory installed: 4 GB ; Digital player supported digital audio standards: MP3 , WAV , WMA , ADPCM , Audible , Protected WMA (DRM 9) , Protected WMA (DRM 10)

The Creative ZEN Mozaic comes complete with an impressive built-in speaker, vibrant 1.8-inch LCD colour screen, FM radio and voice recorder. Weighing just 43g and measuring 79.5mm x 40mm x 12.8mm, the super compact Creative ZEN Mozaic provides up to 32 hours of audio playback with a single charge of the battery. Also available at a later date are 8GB and 16GB models. It with a standard USB cable, earbuds, and Creative Centrale media player/organizer software. Creative does sell a few accessories to go with it like various cases, armbands, and pouches.

The sound quality for the average user who plans on sporting the included earbuds or a mild upgrade will be just fine. One of the more differentiating features on the Zen Mozaic is the built in speaker. This is always nice for podcast and audiobooks, keeping you unfettered. The speaker will work okay in a slam room and sitting at your desk in a fairly quite environment, but like any tiny speaker it won’t go much further than that. It is definitely something many will only want to use for spoken word audio, since music and quickly become fatiguing to your ears.

source : reviews.cnet

Jabra BT620s Bluetooth Headphone

Jabra BT620s in order to process phone calls and listening to music. You can pair the headphones with two different devices, as well as play music from your computer via USB connection. Bluetooth is used as a thing that only stereo Bluetooth mobile phones and is even more exclusive. Now you have on any phone and there would be more in technology in MP3 players. Samsung, one might say, is a pioneer in this field, with most Bluetooth equipped players, but other brands as a sign of Sony, Cowon and others have begun to include a good thing.

The Jabra BT620s is good for listening to tunes but its uncomfortable design and poor call quality will turn off most users. and the specs are microphone Built-in ; Product type: Headset ; Design: Behind-the-neck. The included accessories are pretty decent. You get the standard manuals and USB cable but also an AC adapter and spare headphone pads. The BT620s charges through the USB mini B port and such devices don't always come with AC adapters. Jabra also offers standalone Bluetooth transmitters that work with the BT620s if you want wireless headphones but don't have a Bluetooth capable MP3 player.

The most important thing on any headphones and Bluetooth tend to get a bad reputation in this area. There are several reasons why this is very few well known headphone manufacturers make Bluetooth headphones. Secondly, a lot of headphones have bad Bluetooth abilities. A lot of people think that Bluetooth is Bluetooth since it's a digital stream, but that's not the case. The sound quality is very good for a Bluetooth headphone and decent design and battery life is what's made this 2 year old model a best seller.

source by

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Creative Zen X-Fi

The new Zen X-Fi is an updated version of Zen, but with added wireless features and X-Fi sound enhancement. Like many players today, X-Fi comes with bases: USB cable, earphones EP-830, Zen X-Fi Set the disc and the Quick Start Guide. Creative also released some accessories, including formal screen protector, arm band, silicon case, leather case and a speaker dock.

Creative Zen X-Fi provides a huge range of possibilities, especially considering the price, making it easier to start, which does not show. No audio recording or video (we especially like the second), and you do not receive a Bluetooth connection. Sampling of dishes includes support for MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA (including subscription), audio and video, AVI, MPEG4, and WMV video (transcoding often), and JPEG photos. It also has built-in microphone for voice recording and FM radio with AutoScan and 32 preset slots. And Creative includes basic PIM functionality: you can sync contacts, tasks and calendar information from Outlook to the device. You also have the usual shuffle and repeat playback modes, handy contextual menus and the ability to search for artists and songs as well as rate songs on the fly, and define up to 10 bookmarks. Nine preset EQs, a five-band user-definable mode, and low to stimulate the function of ensuring that you can adjust sound to your liking. Even built-in speaker for sharing music.

Sound quality is top-notch, the screen is lovely, and the rated battery life for audio is impressive. You will find the same video experience with the Zen X-Fi as you did with the Zen. Overall it is a good experience. Video playback is smooth, not too different than what you would see on your computer LCD screen. The X-Fi follows the same video type as the Zen, so most video must be transcoded to one of the accepted video codecs (WMV, MPEG4-SP, Divx 4/5, Xvid, and MJPEG). All of these are of 320x240 resolutions. Converting your videos is pretty easy with Creative Centrale.

Source by Anithing but Ipod

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Creative Zen

The Creative Zen sounds fantastic and features a brilliant color screen capable of displaying images and video. The player offers a smorgasbord of desirable extras such as an SD card slot for expansion, an FM radio, voice recorder, and user-definable EQ. It is Slim, handy pocket design is easy to use, supports subscription music, sports, and reasonable prices. This new Zen--which comes in 2GB ($79.99), 4GB ($99.99), 8GB ($129.99), 16GB ($199.99), and 32GB ($299.99) versions.

A short USB cable, the Zen player, earbuds, and Creative's Media software are the things inside the box. The Creative does have a nice line-up of optional accessories, mainly cases. There is a silicon case, hard plastic case, leather case, neoprene like armband, and screen protector . You may see some speaker docks and other third-party cases in the future.

The Zen is slightly larger than a credit card and about the thickness of a CD jewel case. The player's exterior is made entirely out of plastic. The back has a matte finish that fends off nearly all possibilities of scratches. The front face of the player is made of a very hard glossy plastic. Creative has upped the ante on the screen, pushing it, as mentioned, to an impressive 16.7 million colors - up from 267 thousand on previous model. It is a great looking screen, accurately producing colors for photos. Video looks great as well: true colors and fast response times. The Zen sounds great like most of those in the Zen family.

Source Anything but ipod


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Creative Zen V Plus

Creative Zen V Plus offers a beautiful hand pocket design without compromising screen real estate as well as a bright OLED screen to view from any angle. The player is packed to the gills with features, including FM radio, voice and line in recording, photo and video, as well as compatibility with subscription WMA tracks. This is the first flash player to be offered up to 16GB of memory. Well, the sound quality and the battery is great.

Zen V Plus feels good in your hands - it's as easy, polished river stone. This is one of those things they need, even if you do not use it. The player is light and plastic, but it makes sense durability. The best way to describe the Zen V is the quality of construction is so well made toy.

Its bright 1.5-inch screen and colorful, bright, but not enough to be very visible in bright light. Zen V Plus is small and rounded and can fit on an armband easily. The player supports MP3, WAV, WMA, Audio, MPEG-4, WMV and DivX. In FM tuner, line in recording, and 20 hours of battery life make this a winner. The battery is very popular in 15 hours! When was the last time you saw a real life over the expected life specified by the manufacturer?

If you are looking for an alternative to the iPod nano, which is here. The Zen V Plus looks great, has lots of features and accessories, as well as excellent battery life.

Creative Zen V Plus [CNET]



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