|Originally posted by MacDEF
Or the Optimus 3400, which many claim was the best portable ever
Yeah, I always thought that was kind of funny. Radio Shack never set out to make the 'best' portable player. The story goes like this:
Someone made mention that the Optimus 3400 offered high-end sound, and Stereophile Magazine picked up the debate. They declared that the hype was valid, and that the 3400 offered truly high-end sound in a portable package. Many users at the time reported that the polarity of the line out jack was reversed, but apparently this only applied to a certain lot number. Seemed odd to me that such a highly-touted player would get the left and right channels reversed.
I checked one out -- bought used. I found it passable, but nothing special. The build quality was pretty bad, actually -- it was a flimsy player. With so many high-end afficianados talking about the importance of an extremely stable transport, how could they be recommending the 3400? Some people suggested sticking them in large books while playing for stability -- Bibles, phone books, world atlases. It seemed stable enough just sitting on a shelf, IMO. It also seemed vaguely ridiculous to have to pull it out of a big book, eject the CD, load a new one, start the player, and stick it back in the book.
Besides, I didn't think it offered anything terribly wonderful. It was a neutral player, but nothing special. There were then and are now portable players that are just as good, IMO.
Anyway, as everyone here knows, if Stereophile likes something suddenly the whole world likes it. It got hard to find 3400s for a while and prices on the used market got kind of ridiculous. I sold mine to a friend who used it for a year or two until it literally fell apart.
Anyway, I thought then that the Sony D-25 was a much better player (my college roommate owned one). Unfortunately I couldn't afford one, so I stuck with some lower-end Sony player (a D-9, I think). The D-25, unlike the Optimus 3400, felt solid, like a brick. I didn't have really good headphones at the time, but my roommate's D-25 served as the primary CD source in the dorm room stereo, and didn't fall apart despite heavy use. My old roommate tells me now that his D-25 worked perfectly for about 10 years, at which point it started skipping. He replaced it rather than getting it cleaned and lubed, which is probably all it needed.
Anyway, yeah -- if you can find an Optimus 3400 that hasn't fallen apart, you may find you like it. I'd still recommend the D-25 or D-25S over it, unless you absolutely need an optical digital output, which the D-25 doesn't offer.