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Please help me choose a DAP suitable for my big hands and failing eyesight (I have a Sansa Zip -...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi head-fi-ers.
 
It's time for me to stop lurking and come out in search of some specific advice.
 
Firstly, an introduction.
I'm a 34 year old who has always loved music (I have had a full floor standing Mordaunt Short 5.1 setup since my student days), but I am fairly new to the world of (quality) portable audio.
 
I have you all to thank for my smooth and rapid descent into headphone obsession (and yes, my wallet is feeling it).
 
So, on to my problem.
 
1. my current gear:
 
Sennheiser MM 400-X bluetooth (I use these with my Galaxy S3 when walking / biking).
ATH PRO700MKII (yes, as my nick suggests, I am a bit of a bass-head).
Sony MDR-XB700 (an impulse purchase this weekend - not sure what I think of these yet).
Sansa Clip Zip (Rockboxed).
Fiio E11.
 
 
2. my taste in music:
 
I listen to a lot of Hip Hop, but also plenty more besides. I love vocal stuff such as Joni Mitchell, the Magic Numbers, Sade, Antony and the Johnsons, Janis Joplin etc. I listen to quite a bit of rock and old grunge (think Evanescence, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden etc.), and also electronica (Eat Static, Orbital, Depeche Mode, Lamb, Nine Inch Nails ...).
 
 
3. my problem:
 
I love the sound of the Sansa, but it's just too small and fiddly. I am a very big guy with huge hands, and to make matters worse my eyesight is failing. It's time I went for glasses I think. Also, I listen when cycling a lot, and I can't be fiddling around with a tiny device like the Clip when on the move. This means I have to use my phone, and although that's not such a problem when on the road (because I can also receive calls via the MM 400-X cans), it can't be my main player as the battery takes too much of a hit (I often listen for up to 8 hours a day). It doesn't sound as good as the Clip anyway. Even when sitting listening at work, I need a good interface. I am a software developer, and user interface design is EXTREMELY important to me. I find Rockbox incredibly frustrating to use in this world of beautiful intuitive touch interfaces.
 
 
4. what I'm looking for:
 
A dedicated audio player with great sound quality (at least equal to the Clip Zip).
I have no need for games, internet or other bells and whistles (Android is OK if it delivers on all other points).
Battery life is a huge factor.
A big enough screen to make it easy to see.
A GREAT user interface, preferably touch. I'm happy to buy apps to improve user experience/SQ.
Space: I prefer Micro SD expandability over internal memory.
Price: I'm prepared to spend some cash, but I don't want to go too mad. I guess roughly around the 100 euro mark.
Bluetooth (Apt-X) would be a bonus, but is not essential.
 
 
5. what I'm not looking for:
 
An iPod Touch - I sold one recently.
 
 
I looked on Sennheiser's site for Apt-X compatible devices, and they mentioned the Creative Zen X-Fi3. The Zen range seems to be all but ignored on head-fi. Are they not worth bothering with? Has anyone tried the 3rd iteration?
 
Thanks for reading, and any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 14

Cowon C2 or Sony E series.

Check the website anythingbutipod, lots of help and feedback there.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Cowon C2 or Sony E series.

Check the website anythingbutipod, lots of help and feedback there.

 

 

Thanks PurpleAngel.

I cross-posted this on anythingbutipod.

Checking reviews of the Sonys now.

 

By the way... I'm growing to love the MDR-XB700's... I've just listened to the RZA's Birth of a Prince from start to finish and they handled it beautifully. In fact I am now on my 2nd play-through and am wondering just how long I can put off going to sleep. These are definitely Hip Hop 'phones :)

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

OK, I checked some reviews for the Cowon C2, but comments like "the least intuitive interface I have ever seen in my life" have me running for the hills.

 

The SQ seems well respected though. Is there a reasonably priced Cowon with a good UI?

 

I've also been looking at Walkmans (Walkmen?) and the Z Series looks interesting (Android so FLAC support via PowerAmp is possible). It's a lot of cash though.

 

Does anyone have experience of both Cowon and Sony DAP's? How do they compare SQ wise?

post #5 of 14
You'd be better off looking at the Cowon S9, J3 which allow you to zoom in and change font size manually, I'm not sure if the newer Z2 supports this?

C2 does have larger font than most players however the UI is well.....not for cycling. It only supports power / pause / volume up / down tactile buttons. The volume buttons can however be changed in settings for either > 'volume' or 'tracks' navigation. When set for volume to then change tracks you must first press the power button awake the screen then either swipe the screen with your finger or use the forward reverse screen icons. There are possible combinations like when the screen is on / off it will do visa versa.

C2 is the equivalent of inserting your bank card, entering a pin number when you change an album. tongue.gif

The sound however is brilliant. (very good SQ) wink.gif

With the S9 or J3 it's a much larger device, has the rocker buttons for both volume / track changing and can be font adjusted.

Here's an example of my S9 doing font size. By moving the slider you can obtain any size you want.







Sony Z series are one fine player from my research and can easily compete with all Cowon models. cool.gif
Edited by H20Fidelity - 10/2/12 at 1:22am
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post

You'd be better off looking at the Cowon S9, J3 ...

 

 

Thank you for the brilliant advice and the photos - the font scaling looks right up my street! 
I'm leaning heavily towards the S9 / J3 now. Time to go research some prices and read some in depth reviews atsmile.gif
post #7 of 14

The Cowon S9 surely is something i would recommend. I am using one for over 2 years now while biking to work, it has an easy interface and sounds great with my Sennheiser IE8.

I als have the Clip but i don' t like it while riding my bike, changing numbers and volume is very hard compared to the s9 (and i have small hands).

 

A while ago i crashed with my bike while listening to my S9 and it survived ( my collarbone didn' t regular_smile%20.gif) so i think the build quality is also great.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

OK, I think I'm almost there...

 

The J3 appears to have been discontinued, and I can't find a new one (I don't like buying 2nd hand because of battery wear concerns) anywhere feasible for my location (Netherlands). Even eBay failed me.

 

I can get the S9 from eBay (Korean seller), but it has no SD card slot according to Cowon's site. That's a deal breaker for me. 

Anyway, for about 10 more euro, enter the .... (drum roll) 

 

Cowon X9.

This seems pretty much designed for me personally from what I can see.

It's got double the battery life of the S9 (110 hours! That's a whole week of all-day work listening and then some!).

It's got lovely big readable fonts (thanks for the YouTube tip H20Fidelity).

The interface looks distinctive, simple, and big-finger / cyclist compliant.

It has a complete set of physical buttons for pocket control.

It's got Micro SD plus a choice of 16 or 32Gb internal.

It works with Mac OSX out of the box (apparently a problem with some other Cowon players).

No Android, so no duplication of my phone's functionality.

 

It really seems to be just what I want - a focused music player.

It's pricey for what you get, but the Sony devices seem to be even dearer (at least the Z series) and less suitable for my needs (Android, fiddly interface, no SD).

 

Before I pull the trigger on the X9, does anyone know of any reason not to?

post #9 of 14
I think it might be exactly what you're looking for, the icons and menu are spot on for your application. To my understanding it will have very similar sound quality to S9 / J3. So really I don't see any reason not to go for the X9. The layout is very similar to the other two though with pretty much bigger everything for icons and navigation.

Please let us know your thoughts if you choose the X9.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Well, I have been bouncing back and forth like mad for the past few days.

 

In the end, I went for the 4Gb C2.

 

Why?

Because it's significantly smaller than the X9 (but hopefully still big enough to be usable with my aforementioned big hands and failing eyesight). Having read more opinions (I was even considering the X7 at one point) and seen people say they don't use it as much as they would like to due to how big it is, I thought this would be a big factor. My first player was a Creative Zen 20Gb hard drive thing that was really heavy and bulky so I know what that's like.

 

Also, it seems there are a few modified replacement UI's available, so hopefully I will be able to get rid of those horrific motivational messages on boot. Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?

 

Also, it's less than half the price of a 16Gb X9 - this is less of a consideration considering it has half the battery life and a quarter of the bundled storage.

Still a consideration though... I was thinking that €200 can buy a lot of headphone joy. That's €50 more than a set of HD 598's and more than half of a set of HD 600's!

I figured I could get that legendary Cowon sound AND put some cash away towards a nice set of cans.

 

Win win :)

 

Thanks to everyone for all the advice - I will be sure to post my opinions on the C2 when it arrives from Korea.

I'll also probably be making a "please help me choose some cans" thread before long ;)

 

atsmile.gif


Edited by BassHeadJim - 10/4/12 at 3:43am
post #11 of 14
Ok cool. C2 is a good player, built like a tank too, has a little weight though only enough to make it feel sturdy and is quite solid in the hand. Don't worry about the silly motivational messages, you can change the theme and they go away never to be seen again. Doing so also makes the menu icons bigger. Also, with the flap that opens for charging lift it upwards rather than down as it provides more space. I tried one of the custom UI's and it worked fine for a day but crashed the device when I went to awake the screen, so I removed it. I'm only charging it once a week if that. The radio is top notch as well.

The signature of C2 is a little energetic compared to my S9, has a small fun factor to it while remaining true to Cowon.

You never know you may just find yourself enjoying an episode of game of thrones as I do in the evenings. wink.gif

I'll be really interested in your thought's.
Edited by H20Fidelity - 10/4/12 at 4:57am
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks H20Fidelity, great to know!

 

Does the non-motivational theme come as standard, or do I need to download it somewhere?

 

I paid for the semi-not-ridiculous postage option, so I'm hoping it will arrive mid next week.

That's assuming it doesn't get held up in customs. I tend to find that they let stuff from Asia through (unlike stuff from the US) so hopefully it will be OK [touching wood].

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by BassHeadJim View Post

Thanks H20Fidelity, great to know!

Does the non-motivational theme come as standard, or do I need to download it somewhere?

I paid for the semi-not-ridiculous postage option, so I'm hoping it will arrive mid next week.
That's assuming it doesn't get held up in customs. I tend to find that they let stuff from Asia through (unlike stuff from the US) so hopefully it will be OK [touching wood].

The option to change themes is built into the player. Just a simple icon press and it all goes away. My only concern for you is that one or two people have purchased C2 from Korea and it ended up arriving with the language set to Korean out of the box. I contacted a seller before I purchased mine and asked them. They said yes they do come in Korean however if they wanted it changed to English just leave a msg with the purchase and they will change it for you.

Now, if it does so happen to turn up in Korean, don't freak out. reinstalling the firmware usually lets you choose again on first boot. Also make sure you choose any region but Europe to avoid the volume cap placed in these country's.If you have time to contact the seller do so, if not, don't worry to much. It's all fixable.
Edited by H20Fidelity - 10/4/12 at 7:55pm
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post

The option to change themes is built into the player. Just a simple icon press and it all goes away.

 

Awesome. That's quite a relief. 

The prospect of being greeted by "it's a sunny day" when firing up my player on an October morning in Europe was quite upsetting.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post

My only concern for you is that one or two people have purchased C2 from Korea and it ended up arriving with the language set to Korean out of the box. 

 

Ha, again thanks for the heads up.

I would have thought there would be a guide on YouTube or somewhere to... um... guide me through the Korean menus to the language options screen, but reinstalling the firmware is no problem too. I guess that would need doing anyway - I see we are up to 1.17 now. Sounds like it might need a post-upgrade format, so best to do it while the player is empty:

 

http://iaudiophile.net/forums/showthread.php?t=40678

 

It sounds like their firmware updates can be a little problematic... I see huge warning signs against downloading 1.12 everywhere and there are people complaining that 1.15 caused alphabetical sorting issues (only with the last track in each list apparently) as well as battery drain issues.

 

But there seems to be a really nice community of users posting threads like this one with tips & tricks for the C2: http://iaudiophile.net/forums/showthread.php?t=40979

 

Got the email last night that my order is being processed. Getting excited now. Can't wait to hear my PRO700MK2's through it :)

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