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Are there any harddrive MP3 players that sound as good as MD?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I've been searching for a hardrvie MP3 player as an alternative to my Sharp MT832 minidisk player for a while, mainly because the harddrive based jukeboxes offer lots of storage. I use Ety's ER-4P for my portable listening, also have the original Airhead amp (the Sharp does not benefit much from it, it already has a pretty decent internal amp with very nice bass enhancement circuts).

I've got my hands on an Archos Jukebox 6000, and was disappointed with the sound quality, while using the headphone outlet the sound was simply horrible, I couldn't listen to that even for one minute, whether using the Ety's or the Sony 888's. Using the line out on the Archos with Airhead offers huge improvement, but the bass is still too subtle and the sound is not as much "warm" and "alive" as with the Sharp MD. Besides, the Archos/Airhead setup becomes very bulky and cumbersome to control compared to the ease of use of the MD with it's tiny inline remote control.

I am looking for an MP3 player that will have GOOD sound (at least just as good as my Sharp MD) without the use of an external amp. I would appreciate if anybody who had personal experiences with various harddrive MP3 players could share their thoughts on the sound quality. I know the new Archos Recorder and perhaps the Multimedia Player are supposed to have "significantly better" sound, but after the Archos Jukebox 6000 fiasco I am very cautious and suspect that "significantly better" than horrible is still not good enough. What about the PJB-100, Treo, iPod (I don't have a Mac, but I understand the iPod can be easily "hacked" to use with PC)?

Any feedback and thoughts are much appreciated!
post #2 of 34
Hango Personal Jukebox, also known as PJB100 is as good as MD IMO. The PJB is the most hackable of the ones I know, the hard drive is easily replaced with a 40G unit. A tiny alternative for around the same price as an iPod is a Nex II with a 1G Microdrive. If I was buying a new one right now it would probably be an iPod.
post #3 of 34

Re: Are there any harddrive MP3 players that sound as good as MD?

No
post #4 of 34
The initial Archos Jukebox did have pretty weak sound, but the Archos Recorder is greatly improved over it. I dont have one to compare it to, but a lot of people say it sounds just as good as the PJB and its got more features... doesn't have minesweeper though, so you gotta give n take . The iPod has great sound and I've heard its better than both the Archos and PJB. The only reason I dont have it is because I still think that despite all the good features, 5 gigs isn't worth 400 bucks (I dont care that the hard drive alone cost 400 bucks, it still just isn't worth it for me).

Most people have under 5 gigs though so unless thats a problem, I'd go with the iPod.
post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your opinions guys. I have about 35 Gigs of stuff, so iPod would not be my first choice anyway.

It would be especially helpful if someone who had a chance to listed to both good MD unit and one of the better MP3 player could comment on the sound quality.
post #6 of 34
I'm a bit puzzled by this question, and the answers to it.

You can't really ask this question, or answer it, without specifying what you're actually comparing: MD standard, LP2, or LP4? MP3 320k, 256k, 192k, 128k, or 96k?

A good HD-based MP3 player storing uncompressed WAV/AIFF will sound better than any MD player, provided it has a good headphone jack (e.g. iPod). Most MD players at standard speed will sound better than most MP3 players using 256k, or even 320k MP3s, simply because ATRAC is superior to MP3 compression, and most MD players have better headphone circuitry. But there are exceptions and other variables.

If you're looking for the best sound, get something like an iPod or PJB, and store everything uncompressed. If you're using compression, I'd go for MD.

All that said, the truth is that if you'll be using either in a true portable environment (ambient noise, movement, etc.) the differences won't be very big, if noticeable.
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 
MacDEF, sorry for not being very clear - I was asking about a harddrive MP3 player that has good internal circuitry with decent bass enhancement. I realize that the quality of the source directly impacts the sound quality but in my experience, songs encoded at even 128kpbs and then recorded onto my MD from my computer (SBLive! Value) sound way better than even songs encoded in 320kbps on the Archos, sh*tty circuitry cannot be helped by decreasing the degree of compression.

I love ATRAC, it's too bad there's no players that can work with this format using harddrives rather than MD media. But since that cannot be helped, I would settle for an MP3 player that has decent circuitry and doesn't sound like a $9.99 soap holder pretending to be a cassete walkman. I am inclined towards gettig the PJB with a 40GB harddrive but I would like to hear an opinion from someone who has had a chance to listen to both the PJB and a good MD player.

My Sharp and the Ety's ER-4P is a match made in heaven but I would love to have ALL my mucic available in one compact package rather than having to record hundreds of MD's and carry them around.

Any info or comments are very appreciated.
post #8 of 34
Lame 256bps and more encoding is more than a match for ATRAC.
Especially the low freqs. But it depends upon your playback device.

The Archos units are CRUD. The 6000's has to be the worst sounding portable anything ever created. Junk. I had one.

The PJB100 would have to be the best of breed, although no line out, and very expensive.

After that, I would say the Nomad Jukebox, using line out with headphone amp. That's about 20gb. WMA encoding is not so bad either.

A new Nomad Jukebox is coming out very soon, and the RIO unit is coming out soon. So you may want to wait.

Different devices for different uses. I use MD, MP3, MP3/CD, CD, MP3 Jukebox, and cassette.

I did get sick of carrying around even MD's on overnight stays. So I use a Nomad Jukebox now. Main weakness...batteries.
Average 1600mah Nimh battery charge is 3 - 4 hours, depending on usage and encoding rate.
post #9 of 34
I am currently using a PJB-100 with the Ety 4P's and am very happy with the sound quality overall.

To my ears, the PJB-100 sounds noticably better than the RioVolt MP3 CD player I used to use. Comparing the two, the Volt sounds less transparent and somewhat colored sounding compared to the more natual sounding PJB-100. I seriously think the Volt exagerates the highs and lows coming out of it's headphone output. Anyone agree?

Also, i would say the PJB-100 sounds on par with the headphone jack on my NAD integrated amplifer, which is a pretty nice unit.

The PJB-100's sound quality has two minor flaws though: On really soft music you can hear background hiss (this doesn't bother me much). And when the battery starts to get low, you can faintly hear the HD drive spinning through the headphones. Though when the unit is fully charged, this doesn't seem to happen at first.
post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally posted by fredpb
Lame 256bps and more encoding is more than a match for ATRAC.
Especially the low freqs.
I completely disagree with this. I've used LAME @ 320k and still think ATRAC is better.

Quote:
The Archos units are CRUD. The 6000's has to be the worst sounding portable anything ever created. Junk. I had one.
Everyone who has heard the Archos Recorder units has said they sound *much* better than the standard Archos units.

Quote:
The PJB100 would have to be the best of breed, although no line out, and very expensive.
The iPod actually would be "best of breed" if you're talking about sound quality. But models available today are only 5GB.
post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally posted by MacDEF


I completely disagree with this. I've used LAME @ 320k and still think ATRAC is better.



Everyone who has heard the Archos Recorder units has said they sound *much* better than the standard Archos units.



The iPod actually would be "best of breed" if you're talking about sound quality. But models available today are only 5GB.
I have only older MD units to go by. Sony JB320 and JB920 home decks, MZR50, EP11, and a Kenwood. All of the Sony's (using 4.0 or older ATRAC) are not as impressive as newer Lame MP3 encoder. The JVC MD portable really has sound superior to any MP3 except for the Low end, where it craps out. All the MD's can't handle really low end. The MP3 can. I have not used Type-R atrac.

Archos still sucks. I had one. It has little practical use. The way it utilizes batteries is horrible. Those who like them? Well, if they are engineers, they fail.

Never heard the iPod. If this was meant for the Mac market only, well, that was not too bright on their part.

post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally posted by fredpb




Archos still sucks. I had one. It has little practical use. The way it utilizes batteries is horrible. Those who like them? Well, if they are engineers, they fail.

I dont think Archos is ever going to win in the general public. I've been pulling 15 hours out of mine which is a lot compared to some of the other mp3 player (i haven't played with the iPod enough to know about that) I love my Archos Recorder and I plan on gettin their new Multimedia unit.

Overall if sound quality is your bag and you can't settle for anything half-assed, go with a nice MD player and call it a day. Even though the weight of HD-mp3 players is a drag, I like the feeling of having all my songs in my hand and I tihnk it makes it more portable in that sense (not having to carry a book of MDs).

Although ATRAC compression is superior to mp3's, using LAME at 256k is fine for me due to outside noise and movement. And I dont look at my self as anywhere near an audiophile, so my virgin ears are quite happy using KSC-35s or Sony V6s with mr Recorder.
post #13 of 34
My DAP jb sounds really thin thru phone line, even with TAH amplifier it doesn't is really much better. With line out (#1) I find it cleaner and better overall, anyway not shockingly good.

I somehow prefer my RIO 500's sound, but DAP's line out is fair.
post #14 of 34
I was a little strong condemning the Archos 6000's. I had one for three days before it died. The sound out of the headphone jack was the worst I had ever heard, at big bucks too. The Line Out was tolerable. But recharging the batteries or using the AC adapter got me an egg cooker...it got hot. I did not like the interface either.

The NJB (nomad juke box) is not bad. I ended up with the 6gb blue model. Sound through headphone jack is tolerable. It will power the V6's ok and the HD570's tolerably. Could use more guts. Using a Total Airhead through NJB line out is ok. I don't expect HD600/good amp performance, so this is ok with me. Different portable devices sound different. I want a good selection of music in one machine. 6gb now is not really enough.
I would prefere 256 kbps MP3 from LAME, but it would take up too much space and battery juice to play. So for rock I use 64kbps WMA and for Classical usually 96kbps WMA. Tolerable.
I need one of those Headroom bags for that setup.

What I really want are Etys 4p. That would be nice. But want my computer DSL connection so there goes that $$$$.
post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally posted by fredpb

What I really want are Etys 4p. That would be nice. But want my computer DSL connection so there goes that $$$$.
I hear you on that one. I seem to only like the hobbies that require massive amounts of money to stay in the game. Then after stumbling across this site, wanting to only find a replacement for my crappy streetstyle headphones, I ended up buying 3 different headphones and still counting. GRRRRRR

But I will say that the fact that the Archos 6000 got hot was a big concern. I've heard of some units literally melting while being charged. Scary thought... I bought a Radio Shack AC adapter and I haven't had a problem with my Recorder... still, scary thought for a $300 some product to melt itself.
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