Creative Nomad Jukebox 3 Review
post-190909
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 14

Peddler

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
339
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Posts
1,024
Likes
339
Website
sites.google.com
I know that there’s already a vast wealth of information concerning this player already available on the net – I know – I’ve looked it all up. This review is really designed to offer an insight into ownership of this player from a sound quality perspective in addition to its uses very much in a portable domain.

Portability

Firstly, I feel that I should only point out that this is a fairly large player. Same size in area as a typical portable CD player, but a lot thicker than most. Having said that I’m based in the U.K. so the player came supplied with an excellent carry case which allows you to strap it to your waist and when used like that, it’s really an easy player to carry. Care does have to be taken not to knock the buttons when carrying it in this way – although the player does feature a button lock and, on the latest firmware, can be fairly easily activated without having to wade through loads of menus.

I’m still waiting for Creative to release the in-line remote control for the unit – once I have that I think it’s fair to say that this will make an excellent portable system. Again, with the U.K. release of the product I got a wireless remote control with the unit but I’m not really inclined to carry this around with me.

Battery consumption in real world figures is close to the figures quoted – around 8 – 10 hours with normal usage – certainly enough for my purposes and would comfortable work all weekend if necessary I think.

User Interface

I’m afraid this is where the IPOD has it totally beat. Although navigating through tracks, albums, genre, artist, etc is no problem, it’s certainly not as elegant as the IPOD’s way of doing things. One feature which is most welcome on the latest firmware upgrade is the ability to search through albums by artists. Most people I think tend to select this music using this method anyway and it’s certainly the way I do it now. At the moment I don’t really make full use of the playlist function but it’s a snap to do on the PC. Almost all track manipulation is done on the PC and, thanks to the Firewire interface, it very fast and painless.

The PC software is fairly simple (but effective). I do have occasional connection problems which I still haven’t tracked down to either the PC or NOMAD – one minute I’m convinced it’s the PC that’s letting me down and the next I’m looking suspiciously at the player itself. Since I started using EAC/LAME for ripping though I’ve not really experienced connection problems – I’m really hoping it’s been cured with the latest firmware.

Upgradeable Firmware

As I have mentioned before, the NOMAD 3 features upgradeable firmware which can greatly improve both the performance and reliability of the machine. So far, to my knowledge, there have been two firmware upgrades so far – not bad for a machine this new. The latest firmware features better track navigation, a subtle remapping of the power button for button locking and slightly better handling of VBR files.

The Jukebox 3 can handle all the various MP3 formats as well as WAV and WMA. One of the most impressive features of the NOMAD is its ability to record – either from a line in or optical source. Various formats can be selected including uncompressed WAV and CBR MP3’s using the standard bit-rates. I have not really had the opportunity to test the analogue inputs but I can tell you that the optical input really does work as well as the Sony Portable MiniDisc units.

Sound Quality

This is what it’s all about as far as I’m concerned. There’s no point in having this excellent piece of hardware if it sounds like a bucket of nails. Previous to the NOMAD Jukebox 3 I had the Archos Jukebox Studio 20 player/recorder and I have to say that there’s really no comparison from a sound quality point of view.

What the NOMAD offers is a nice solid sound. There’s no significant emphasis on bass, mid or treble – it’s tonally flat in a nice way. The player is also powerful – I think the specifications rate it at 100mw output. There’s no significant line noise from the amplifier and, when fed with good quality MP3’s really sounds outstanding. Although I have not heard the IPOD, I have heard a fair few other players including the RIORIOT, SlimX and the Pocket PC and I have to say that the NOMAD easily outperforms them by quite a margin. The line-outs work fine and sounds sweet with my Airhead amp and Ety 4P/S. Yes, the player compliments the Etymotics headphones without any problems.

I must admit I have been eyeing the IPOD for some time now and really like its cool factor but I’m more than happy with the NOMAD and I expect it will be quite some time before anything comes along which will be significantly better. When I purchased my Nomad I also purchased a 3-year warranty which covers against accidental damage – this I’m afraid is a must as the hard drive based players are definitely not as tough as their MD and CD-based counterparts.

All in all I am more than impressed with this machine. The sound quality is absolutely first rate and when you take all the other factors into account – it’s unbeatable. Anyone sitting on the fence thinking about getting a hard drive based MP3 player shouldn’t hesitate – get the Nomad.
 
     Share This Post       
post-191451
Post #2 of 14

shaungenghis

New Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 6, 2002
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Joined
Oct 6, 2002
Posts
3
Likes
0
I have heard various discussions about this whole Ipod vs Archos vs creative vs ...etc thing but you have one of the more extensive reviews. I noticed that you said the Archos recorder unit had lower quality sound compared to the Creative, which others have said before. Would you say the difference in sound of the two are noticable if say a decent lower end headphone like a Koss closed was used first with the Creative and then the Archos as a blind test. Thanks, Shaun
 
     Share This Post       
post-191470
Post #3 of 14

e-r0ck

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 5, 2001
Messages
172
Reaction score
0
Joined
Oct 5, 2001
Posts
172
Likes
0
Yes, the difference is noticable. I'm an advocate for Archos, but the difference definately is noticable.

There is a thing called Rockbox , which is a developement team that was able to figure out how to code firmware for the Archos Recorder and Player units from scratch. Really cool stuff. The important thing is that they improved sound quality and battery life; and eliminated that ever problematic "hiss". Some other cool things they did was create customizable displays , allowing you to create your own display of information using simple codes.

If you decide to get the Recorder, you defiantely HAVE to get Rockbox firmware as it destroys Archos's. If you dont want to have to mess around with anything and want a unit that's chill right out of the box, Archos products probably aren't for you.

Either way, no matter how you cut it, the NJB3 sounds better than the Archos Recorder.
 
     Share This Post       
post-191678
Post #4 of 14

Peddler

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
339
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Posts
1,024
Likes
339
Website
sites.google.com
I found the Archos sounded very hard, harsh and metallic. That's the only way I can describe it. The Nomad has a more natural, neutral and warmer sound which is far more musical.

I think you will easily hear the differences between the two players - even with cheap headphones. I use the Koss 35's for portable use and the Etymotic ER4 for static listening. This player works well with both of them.
 
     Share This Post       
post-191722
Post #5 of 14

williamgoody

Banned
Joined
Jul 16, 2002
Messages
2,001
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jul 16, 2002
Posts
2,001
Likes
10
Have you read or heard anywhere that the Nomad 3 has a better sound than the earlier Nomad Jukeboxes?
Peddler, Did you compare the sound with the Archos Player or Recorder? I know there is a huge difference in sound between those two.
 
     Share This Post       
post-191874
Post #6 of 14

Peddler

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
339
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Posts
1,024
Likes
339
Website
sites.google.com
Hi William

The Archos machine I tried was the Recorder 20. The form factor, functions and basic concept of the machine was brilliant - the only thing I didn't like about it was the sound quality. The moment I started listening I knew there was some problems with the sound quality. I'm pretty confident that there was no fault with the unit - the sound quality was poor from the point of view of a Head-Fi'er with Etymotics! In other words, I was expecting wonderful sound quality and what I got was distinctly average. I tried a variety of phones and all confirmed the same thing - the sound was artificial, metallic and fatiguing.

Virtually the moment I heard the Nomad Jukebox 3 I realised that this machine was in a different league altogether. I think the fundemental differences between the Jukebox 1 and 3 is more volume, much better battery life, different battery type and perhaps a slightly (probably very slightly) better sound quality.

I also own the Sony D-915, Panasonic 570 (Japanese version), Iriver SlimX and, until recently, the R-900 MD recorder so I think I know what to listen for. The Jukebox 3 is easily as good as any of the above (and better in many ways).

I hope this helps.
 
     Share This Post       
post-191975
Post #7 of 14

williamgoody

Banned
Joined
Jul 16, 2002
Messages
2,001
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jul 16, 2002
Posts
2,001
Likes
10
Thanks Peddler. Wasn't trying to question whether you knew what to listen for. In your original post to had listed the Archos as a "Studio 20 Player/Recorder". I was confused bcause the "Studio 20" and the "Recorder" are two different items.
Thanks for answering my question though.
 
     Share This Post       
post-192395
Post #8 of 14

zowie

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
1,795
Reaction score
12
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Posts
1,795
Likes
12
Is is true that the recorder only records in uncompressed WAV format, not MP3?
 
     Share This Post       
post-204351
Post #9 of 14

Peddler

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
339
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Posts
1,024
Likes
339
Website
sites.google.com
The Jukebox 3 can record and encode directly into MP3 with varying bit rates.

The Archos model I tried was the Recorder 20 - I had previously tried one of their original 6 gig units and the sound was still poor.

I think I can honestly say that the Nomad Jukebox 3 is the best sounding piece of portable equipment I own - rather surprising when you compare lossy MP3's to standard CD's.
 
     Share This Post       
post-204375
Post #10 of 14

fyleow

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
516
Reaction score
10
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Posts
516
Likes
10
I can vouch for the Jukebox 3 as well, excellent sound quality IMO. The headphone jack is pretty crappy but it drives headphones pretty well, I can get comfortable volumes with my 580s using the headphone jack listening to classical music. The line out seems to be pretty good when I used it with a META42 and 580s. I've never compared it to other players before though.

The Jukebox can record in WAV and varying types of MP3. It can also do digital recording, a shame it doesn't have a digital out though.

The player is I would say slightly smaller than a CD player but it is thicker. It is suprisingly light though for the size.
 
     Share This Post       
post-204698
Post #11 of 14

Peddler

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
339
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Posts
1,024
Likes
339
Website
sites.google.com
From what I have read on the net, the headphone out is surprisingly pure - actually measures better than the line-out. Size is generally not a problem for me with this unit though.
 
     Share This Post       
post-204832
Post #12 of 14

zowie

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
1,795
Reaction score
12
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Posts
1,795
Likes
12
A firmware change gets rid of hiss?

If the hiss is generated by the firmware/processing, and not the hardware, then that's a pretty unexcusable design screw-up.

If the firmware gets rid of hiss from the hardware, then it must be employing some kind of roll-off or notch filter that can't be a good thing for fidelity.
 
     Share This Post       
post-205023
Post #13 of 14

Peddler

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
339
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Location
Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Posts
1,024
Likes
339
Website
sites.google.com
The Nomad doesn't suffer with hiss at all - certainly the Archos does.

I think it's fair to say that, in my opinion, the differences between the Archos and the Nomad from a sound quality point of view is HUGE!!! The Nomad totally beats the Archos - abolutely no contest.
 
     Share This Post       
post-205048
Post #14 of 14

williamgoody

Banned
Joined
Jul 16, 2002
Messages
2,001
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jul 16, 2002
Posts
2,001
Likes
10
In your opinion, Ok. In mine it's not huge. It's better most definitely, but not huge.

That's just my opinion though.
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 2)

Top