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Will portable audio ever get good?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
again? I mean, today, everyone says that portable cd players, etc suck these days. Manufacturers are skimping on stuff like line outs, amps, etc in favor of battery life and size.

Will we every go back? Sadly, I think the chances are slim. Joe blow wants the smallest thing possible. I realized that theres no point. That's why I sold my nomad II (lol, got it for $110 used, sold it for $130), and bought an MD player. Sure, the mt90 is a bit bigger, but what's the point? So what, its an inch bigger.

Will we go back?
post #2 of 40
Tough question to answer. All portables sound pretty much the same through the headphones bundled with them -- crappy. Only someone who wanted to drive decent headphones would be concerned about the weak headphone amps and compressed-antiskip-deteriorated sound common nowadays.

You basically have two choices:

1. Only select CD players that have defeatable antiskip or offer lossless methods, and couple them to portable amps from the lineout. My Panasonic SL-CT570 makes enjoyable music this way.

2. Buy old model used players, if you can find them. I believe there are still Sony D-25S players available on eBay -- made from metal, with a decent headphone amp and a good quality line out. Unfortunately, batteries will eventually become impossible to find, and even though they're not used, they're 12 years old. Plus, it'll cost you more than the cost of the player just for a battery and a power adapter.
post #3 of 40
Hmm, sad perspective...
I guess, no one will listen to the minority, and let's face it we are by far minority. What does the average Joe wants, you said it right, smaller and longer battery life ( to the point that you batteries get drained due to self discharge rather than use).
I'm sad to say this but we are somewhat several thousands people on the entire planet that want mainly a good sound from a portable, the rest want 1cm thick and 120 hours on a single gumstick and think that the supplied buds rock.
Let's hope that at some point, some audiophile company will realize that there is a market for a better (not necesserilly Wadia) sounding PCDP, that wouldn't need a DAC and an amp to sound good.
post #4 of 40
I don't think we can go back to the old days. Back in the old days, building the portable audio devices was very hard and very exensive, so they put the time and quality into designing them. Portable audio devices were only sold to a few who can afford it. When I was in high school, no one owned a pcdp because they cost like $150.00. Now every kid owns one because they are like $40.00 a pop. Its all about selling volume now and cutting corners in manufacturing.

Companies in general are only willing to sell what MOST people want. Most people I talk to want longer battery life, lighter weight, and be smaller in size. Barely anyones mentions anything about sound quality. For us, making a device a littler large and not sacrifice sound quality is important. To most people, I don't think they notice a difference in the sound quality. Many people I know use the cheap headphones that come with the pdcp as their main heaphones.

The size problem went through a paradigm shift. In the early 90's, most Americans didn't understand why someone would pay more money for something half the size, espicially with pcdp. Now days, most people believe that convenience and portability is an issue, willing to pay more money for smaller items (ie: cellphones). Somewhere, quality was thrown out the window. When technology is crammed into a smaller size, most of the cost goes into shrinking it, not improving its performance (ie: laptops are slower because of power consumption and heat constraints). Only a few technologies improve as things get smaller, such as microprocessors.
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by pedxing
I don't think we can go back to the old days. Back in the old days, building the portable audio devices was very hard and very exensive, so they put the time and quality into designing them. Portable audio devices were only sold to a few who can afford it. When I was in high school, no one owned a pcdp because they cost like $150.00. Now every kid owns one because they are like $40.00 a pop. Its all about selling volume now and cutting corners in manufacturing.
That's 100% right and this is exactly what is happening with MD portables right now. They're still expensive but much better built and sounding than most PCDP. In a couple of years we'll be stuck with all plastic mediocre MDs as well. In fact some companies (JVC) already have these on the market.
post #6 of 40
I have four words for us:

Headroom Portable CD Player
post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 


Well, the thing is, old players will only last for so long. I'm only 15. What about in 10 years?

What are the chances panasonic will continue making decent players, ala 570/470?

Is te new 780 any good?
post #8 of 40
Also don't forget that there's DVD portables now, even some FINALLY without screens... not intended to be portable audio devices but something that Jimmy can take from dorm to home to his buddy's house easily. We have to keep an eye on these, a great DVD-A portable might just come out, or even just a normal DVD portable that plays redbook great...

Or even better, now that DVD recordables are under $10 and drives are under $600... uncompressed single discs that rival CD/MP3 discs... I'm itchin.

The portables future for us is pretty bleak; I'm sure we'll think of something!
post #9 of 40
I agree wholeheartedly with your points on manufacturers skimping on quality over quantity, so everyone can buy a pcdp for $40 a pop. I haven't noticed the same thing happening, yet, with MD portables. I own a Sony E75 and it sounds great, i love this thing, lug it around everywhere and it drives my 7506's very well! I think its all downhill from here with pcdp's and MD may follow that route if it becomes a mass market device (ie. everyone will own one!). Companies these days look at the bottom line not at customer satisfaction! I mean, how many people out there actually know there are good quality cans or discmans do sound different from one another? Not many, most people think that a $40 discman sounds just as good as any other discman. And this is what manufactures feed off of: the ignorant consumer.

George
post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by andrzejpw
Well, the thing is, old players will only last for so long. I'm only 15. What about in 10 years?
15!!!!!!!! And I thought Neruda and Gluegun were young! (Guys, just tell me to shut up if you get sick of me joking about your ages. )

Anyway, I think you should consider picking up one of those Sony D-25s. They're almost as old as you are... kind of cool, if you think about it. $45 plus shipping for the player (only) and then you'd have to find a power adapter that works. Sony wants $46 for the original one, but you might be able to find one for $15 or $20 at Radio Shack. A friend of mine (who used to own a D-25) told me that Sony made the power requirements kind of unusual for it, so it might be hard to find an appropriate one outside of Sony. Unfortunately, Sony is definitely the only source for the battery, which is $31 plus shipping. All totalled, you're looking at about $130.

If you've got money to burn, it would probably fit your needs. Of course, if you wanted a D-25 back in 1990 when my friend bought his, it would have set you back $320, but that included a carrying sleeve, a wired remote, headphones, and a manual too. So at $130, it's kind of a bargain, if you don't need the other stuff.
post #11 of 40
The 780 is every bit as good as the 570/470 if we're talkin' lineout. Probably better because it's smaller and has longer battery life. However, if you're not gonna use an amp and want it for the headphone jack, look for an older player. I love my 780, and people who use only the lineout on portables will love it as well
post #12 of 40
Unfortunately, that is not quite the case. Most of the older players skipped all too easily when you listen to your CDs during walking, and those that had any kind of anti-skip circuitry in that generation actually provided 3 or 10 seconds of REALLY compressed, REALLY lossy anti-skip! And that's because memory buffers (the ones used as anti-skip buffers) were ASTRONOMICALLY expensive in those days (i.e. when the first Electronic Skip Protection PCDPs came out, 1MB of 8-bit FPM DRAM cost a whopping $80 back then , versus about $25 for 256MB of PC133 SDRAM or DDR266/PC2100 DDR SDRAM today). So the PCDP manufacturers used an EXTREMELY puny amount (in bytes) of memory in those early digital anti-skip players.

Today, that situation isn't much better - sure, a few PCDPs, such as many models in Sony's G-Protection line, have a relatively LARGE (in bytes) amount of memory buffer (because memory is so cheap nowadays), so that some manufacturers can claim as much as 10 or even 20 seconds of UNCOMPRESSED anti-skip. But something's got to give: In an ongoing effort to improve battery life, the sound quality at the headphone jack suffers - and often GREATLY. Worse, many of those headphone jacks can BARELY drive the REALLY crappy headphones that come bundled with the players, let alone GOOD hi-fi headphones. And as I have seen, even the once-mighty Panasonic has eliminated the line-out jack on all but its top-of-the-line PCDPs. (Sony still has a line-out jack, but now you'll have to buy G-Protection just to get a line-out jack.)

Oh, BTW, anti-skip was virtually unheard of in the days of the Sony D-25S - I wouldn't buy that PCDP at any price, IMHO; you'd be WAY better off buying an AC-powered home CDP. What good is "portable" if you can't listen to your music while you walk? (There were a few "anti-shock" PCDPs that relied on mechanical "oil-damping" on the market when the D-25S was available, but in practice such "anti-shock" mechanisms only worked in the car, not for walking.)

Hope this helps.

TIA

Eagle_Driver/Randall
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally posted by Russ Arcuri


15!!!!!!!! And I thought Neruda and Gluegun were young! (Guys, just tell me to shut up if you get sick of me joking about your ages. )
I just turned 16 just over 2 1/2 weeks ago. Coolvij just turned 14 only 3 days ago. He's magnitudes smarter than I was at 14, and he still probably is!
Is it just me, or has he not been here for a while??
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
wow, 14? Theres more than 1 of us!

I looked at the 25 on ebay. The thing is, I have a md player for portable use, and well, though that retro look is cool, , I'm trying to get a denon 370! That'll be better than the sony, methinks.

WOOT! A real source for my 580s!
post #15 of 40
I bought one of the 25S units on ebay and it was delivered a couple of days ago. Wow! It was like opening a time capsule in a way. It is brand new, in the Sony box, and even has that new smell. Yet, it is metal/hard plastic, as thin or thinner than my D-EJ01, heavy and gorgeous! I will not be using it for moving around (I have MD for that) as it does not have anti-shock. I have ordered the battery from Sony parts and can't wait to here the little dude.

It's truely amazing how well built this unit is compared to the recent models. I'll report on the sound later.

Cheers,
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