Second time today - its scary how many folk dont seem to know about these apps.
Portable mp3 players better than iphone 4? - Page 3
Head-Fi's Best Sellers
I have the Cowon S9, J3 and HM-601.
The S9 for some reason sounds marginally better than the J3 with the same EQ settings and both sound better than any ipod I have heard. However, the 601 sounds best of all even with all EQ turned off. The 601 is just so much warmer and richer sounding than the Cowons.
However as a day to day player, I tend to favour the J3 because of the microSD card feature allowing me to swap my huge catalogue of music around as and when I want...oh and the claimed 64hrs battery life helps sway me.
Although the 601 also takes SD cards (full size), the size of the unit and its poor battery life means that I dont use it as often as I would like.
FWIW, someone here submitted a similar comparison between their S:Flo2 and the J3 recently. I havent had a Cowon since the iAudio 9, but it wasnt the 'gee whiz !' player I had been hoping for at the time - to be fair, the RE0 may not have been the best match either.
Without the clever EQ settings that Cowons have, they are pretty mediocre sounding to my ears. However, they do have that EQ trickery , size and battery life in their favour.
I'm looking forward to the day that niche manufacturers such an Hifman catch up with modern day tech and create players with decent battery life and I could easily forgive the player size.
If you read any of the interviews with Fang, he deliberately modelled the 801 after the Walkman of the 80s. The battery life will always be a function of the fact that he has designed his players to drive insane loads - read some of the impressions of the 801 with the balanced amp module. Given that people struggle to drive the HiFiMan orthos with fullsize (and expensive) headphone amps, I cant imagine how quickly said phones would drain the 801 battery. Compare the 801 footprint, even with its 'backpack' amp module, to any speaker amp (the usual choice for the HiFiMan orthos) and I know which one I'd prefer on my bedside table.
To be fair, the size of the 601 is not too much of an issue as it is quite light and I quite like the retro look. I tend to listen to music on average about 8hrs a day at work and it becomes a real bind to make sure it always charged in case I want to use it on my commute. I have been caught out like that a few times with the battery dying mid commute.