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Digital Audio (FLAC/MP3/etc) Players (DAPs) item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Sound. EQ. Portability. Durability.
Cons - Hiss. Navigation
I’m currently 18 years old which as little as that matters to me seems to be interesting to many people in this community. I’ve always liked music and sound equipment but I never really got into the head-fi hobby until I discovered the Live Sound field from my schools drama club. From there I began to appreciate sound quality as it was just satisfying for me both from listening but also the engineering and everlasting ability to tweak and work on such.
I have worked with home audio, car audio, theater/show systems, portable/personal audio, digital audio (IP-LAN(uhg…) and DSP) and lots and lots of DIY projects. I’ve gone as far to make some of my own speaker cabinets and sound systems from various components too – most notably a very large 2 driver, 4 voice coil, 16ohm, band-pass subwoofer box that I’m quite fond of for its bass quantity and quality.
I’ve owned many headphones/IEM and related gear. Ill list some here but this certainly isn’t all; Shure SE846, Shure SE315, Shure SE215, Westone UM3x, Westone UM3x RC, Westone UM1, Earsonic SM3, Sansa Clip Plus, Sansa Clip Zip, Bravo Tube AMP v3, Sennheiser IE80s (the fake ones) and Sennheiser HD420s
So while I don’t like to be arrogant I do feel qualified to judge products effectively and share my opinion and I hope you find my opinions and ideas entertaining and helpful.
I bought the Sansa Clip + for my very first set of IEMs (fake IE80s) as I wanted something cute in size that sounded good. I read all about rockbox and thought that was super cool so I ordered on amazon. I had a 32gb Micro SD with some flacs on it so I figured it would be perfect. This was at the youth of my Audiophile adventure. And it was cheap… So…
Good size. Good Clip. Screen was kinda silly but good overall – I didn’t get screen on anxiety.
I very quickly rockboxed this as I was not into dealing with the limitations of the stock software. I wanted EQ and I wanted a file explorer where the stock software was not interested in that. Rockboxing it was very easy and took only a few minutes. It was so easy that I think I only spent like 5 minutes using the stock software right after I got it before I switched to rockbox. So if you do buy one of these put rockbox on it ASAP.
When I bought these for my IE80s I was satisfied – but as my headphone collection grew more and more intense and vivid I noticed various flaws of the Clip. The sound is pretty flat – I would say very close to flat. But I do notice that sometimes detail can be lost and sibilance is prone on certain IEMs. Hissing and noise is a problem on sensitive IEMs such as my 846 which makes me not want to use the clip as much.
The clip works well when connected to a stereo system but can be annoying to tune the EQ depending on the setup you are using. The lack of Line Out is a problem but I mean you cant complain for a $30 mp3 player. Many people claim that the headphone output is very close to a Line out though. Depends on your application I guess.
The Rockbox EQ is very good. I was able to provide a lot of bass to my UM3x and 846 without too much distortion – I liked giving a boost to the sub bass as I just find it exciting to do. I did find myself adding some highs at times. The parametric EQ is nice.
I prefer the sound of this to the sound of the clip Zip.
The clip will struggle to power larger headphones that have higher impendence so an amp might be nice.
As I said the EQ is cool but can be confusing to use. This is more rockbox fault than the clips. The EQ sounds well.
Your features will depend on Rockbox so remember this review is told from Rockbox entirely on the clip.
Gapless playback works well if setup correctly – your mileage will vary.
It has FM Radio… and a voice recorder. Both sound nice but the voice recorder is only Mono and meh. I don’t really use these features anyway.
I like the clip because I find it more reliable to use than my computer sometimes for shows. But at the same time this introduces a new sense of awkwardness that Im fighting with… Turning the device on while it’s playing can be confusing. Ill go to navigate the menu or queue a song up but end up accidentally pausing or skipping the song. This is terrible when Im trying to use it for a live even so its gotten to the point where I just don’t use it for that anymore. The lack of buttons make it hard to navigate sometimes but you can make due.
Pretty good. Lasts several hours but I often find myself charging it after some use. It doesn’t charge very fast but its not worth being upset over. I am not a fan of the USB port as it’s the old style Mini USB in our world of Mico USB.
Alright this is where the clip shines. Ive abused this thing so much, Ive thrown it , sat on it, cracked the case, and kicked it a lot. My friend even pretended to eat it once and put it all up in his mouth (gross) – he’s just that edgy dude. None of this has phased it.
BUT what has phased the clip is plugging headphones in and out. I noticed that I would loose sound on one side or both if I moved – the headphone jack was falling apart and the contacts were all bent out of shape. I cracked the clip open and re-soldered the jack on and all was well. Apparently this is quite common amongst clip owners. The problem returned and I soon realized the jack was toast as the plastic was broken and I couldn’t fix it. I had to solder my own cord on or buy a new clip. I bought a new one at this point.
The clip plus is a solid companion MP3 player. It sounds better than most devices and I often find myself bragging about how cheap and cool it is. IT CAN PLAY DOOM! But for your more advance headphones you might find it lacking. I also desire more features at times and better hardware. But again… Its $30.
The buttons and navigation can be a bit difficult. I do wish it had a click wheel or some sort of analog input but meh.
If you are rocking an old ipod or something lame I’d recommend the clip. If you crave something more crazy and advance you might want to look other places too but don’t you dare turn a blind eye to the clip.
Pros - Tiny, extendable memory, rockboxable, handful clip, reads FLAC, dynamic playlists, astonishing price/functionnality ratio
I bought this DAP for $50, along with a 16-GB micro SD card that cost me $17. So I've got a total capacity of 18,4 GB in a DAP which is 5,5 cm long, 3,5 cm wide and 1,5 cm thick for a total of $67. Less than the third of the price of an iPod nano that has less than 16 GB of memory.
It does everything I expect a DAP to do : it can sort tracks by folder in addition of all other ways, it allows dynamic playlists, it can play FLAC files (even if I never use this feature), and many other. All you can wish, I guess. The only things I miss don't even come from the DAP itself, but from Rockbox : to me, it lacks a "stop after current" function, as in foobar2000, and a "clear playlist" function.
I rockboxed it immediately after having receiving it. Rockbox adds some useful and other funny features, like radio recording and some games like Sokoban and chess.
The writing speed in the Sansa's memory is around 2.70 MBps.
I can use it for between 12 and 13 hours before having to charge it.
I've never used it with the default interface, it has been Rockboxed the minute I opened the package. The interface is extremely intuitive, but the Rockbox manual is useful for "advanced" features.
It is very reliable : it fell on the ground several times, sometimes king of bugged, underwent countless formattings, firmware re-installations and Rockbox installations, and works as well as when I turned it up the first time.
And finally, as for the sound quality... well, I can't complain about it. I never spotted any lack of details or coloration compared to my GrubDAC. Even amped.
I truly think buying this DAP was the best thing I could do with 50 €.
Pros - tiny; good battery life; Rockboxable
Cons - tiny letters, don't love the native UI
Rockbox it and you've got great sound in a tiny package. Give it to an amp and it's better yet, but not so portable.
After looking around at some other reviews, here are a few more details. First off, I should say that I'm a music lover, not an audiophile (yet). Although I can detect some differences - between amped and unamped sources, between the different headphones and IEMs I own for example - I don't yet have the depth of experience or language to give an extremely detailed review of this little player.
Did I say it was little? We're talking 2" x 1" here. It would be hard to get more portable. Unmodded, it's perfectly reasonable and extremely cheap. However, if you get it, you should Rockbox it for the amount of control (database, EQ, and a lot more that I haven't fully explored) you get.
What makes this stand out for me is the fullness of the sound. I don't demand overwhelming bass and the Clip+ provides more than enough for me. The midrange is forward and detailed, as are the highs.
For the price, I think it's hard to get a better small player.