Review of the RioRiot HD-MP3 Player
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Peddler

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I won’t go into details about the physical aspects of the player as this information is easily available on the net for anyone to look at. Needless to say the player is fairly large and heavy but does fit in your pocket. The player comes supplied with a pouch and belt clip.

The display is nice and clear – not much good when the unit is strapped to your belt though – shame the unit doesn’t come with a remote control – for the price this is something I would have expected.

Usage

Connect the Riot player to your USB connection on your PC – run the supplied software and begin exporting tracks to the player. Be warned though, you really need to take care with your ID tags on your MP3’s as this player tends to rely on them for navigation and sorting purposes. If you don’t, the playlists will be a mess and there’s no easy way of sorting them out once they are on the player.

File transfer is reasonable but if you plan on exporting a lot of tracks to the player best make it an overnight session. I personally don’t feel that this is much of a problem as once the tracks are exported that’s it generally. 20 GB is a fair amount of space but sod’s law says that eventually you will run out of space and need to erase some of your lesser played tracks.

Navigation from the player is pretty good (providing you follow the details listed above and sort out those ID tags – believe me it’s worth it!). You can play selections based on artist, album, genre, date, most often played, least often played and so on. Pretty cool but what’s really missing is the ability to play say 45 minutes of music from a particular genre – that would be useful when wanting to listen to classical music in bed.

Battery

The battery consumption appears to be pretty good. I have not done any specific tests on the unit but you should get at least a couple of days or more general playback from one charge – obviously this depends on how often you listen to the unit though. The battery charges up pretty fast and you can use the unit to transfer tracks whilst charging. Note that you cannot listen to music whilst the unit is connected to your PC – the USB port also takes up the headphone port. Potential owners should also note that the battery appears to be a sealed unit. This means that you will have to open up the unit to replace in the future which will almost certainly void the warranty. It does appears that you can get into the unit no problem though.

Sound Quality

This is what it’s all about. The good news is that the player sounds superb. I own Etymotics ER4P, Sony D-915, Iriver SlimX, Panasonic 570, Sony MDR-900 MD recorder and others and I know what to listen for. This player is the best MP3 player I have heard period! The sound is rich, full, mellow (in the right way) and loud.

My sister summed it up when she listened to the unit – “oh wow – sounds like the old valve stuff!”. To be honest I have been using Sennheiser MX400’s with the unit as my Sony 888’s only have a short lead. There is no hiss, artefacts or nasties to the sound – everything is as sweet as a nut. Most of my MP3’s are encoded at fairly high bit rates – I personally find 128’s generally horrible and don’t waste my time with them however this unit plays 128 encoded mp3’s better than any other player I have heard.

Misc Info

I have not even bothered trying the supplied headphones so no comments there. The player only features a headphone socket – no line out – no line in – nothing else. Headphones, USB and power. The unit appears to be well made but I noticed that the volume buttons are a little creaky after a couple of days use. I am being very careful with the player as it’s almost certainly going back to good old Argos before the 16-day money back is up. The only reason for this is that I honestly don’t think I can afford it yet.

The player doesn’t act like a portable hard disc. You are limited to using the supplied software to get your tracks into the unit. You can still use your favourite LAME/EAC combo to extract your tracks from CD before porting though.

Hopefully some of the minor issues with the navigation and functionality of the unit will be addressed with firmware upgrades. The one thing that really cheeses me off about the unit is the lack of remote control on the headphone lead - for this kind of money I expect perfection. If you have the cash and are looking for a HD-based jukebox player, this may be a great choice. I must admit I am seriously considering selling my SlimX, D-915, R900 and Panasonic 570 and get one of these units – very VERY impressive.

Comments/Questions Welcome.
 
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Flasken

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Wow thanks alot Peddler!!

Very nice review... I had been hoping for a head-fier to review this unit (potential reviewer: don't freak out on me if i missed yours....)

I have some questions for you: How would you compare high bitrate mp3 from the headout with, say, your sony mdp?? And how does the EQing compare??
 
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Peddler

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To be perfectly honest the headphone out on the Rio Riot is better than my Airhead. The player seems to go plenty loud enough but what is really surprising is the sound quality of the unit. I don't know if they're using a special 'playback codec' or what but the detail this player pulls off even familiar mp3's is truly remarkable.

I am taking the machine back however as I have purchased the Archos Jukebox Recorder 20.

The sound quality of this new unit is definitely NOT as good as the Riot but the player was cheaper (by quite a large amount) and double as an effective portable USB HD (sadly something which the Riot didn't).

The Archos machine is not bad, headphone out is plenty powerful (100mw) and the sound quality is still very good but the Riot really is something special.

The Riot appeared to me to be able to extract more detail than I heard through the SlimX or even the original recording (when played on my Discman anyway). The sound easily compares to my full sided Pioneer player (PD-8700 from a million years ago).

Didn't need the EQ function but I can tell you that it's effects are fairly subtle which is a good thing.

I hope this helps.
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by Peddler

I am taking the machine back however as I have purchased the Archos Jukebox Recorder 20.

The Archos machine is not bad, headphone out is plenty powerful (100mw) and the sound quality is still very good but the Riot really is something special.


Ahh, these kinds words about the AJR20 make me happy.


I agree, I do like the sound quality of the Rio Riot better, but the fact that the Archos's file transfer is so easy and that it doubles as a hard drive made me stick with it. Oh and the size of the Rio Riot was a bit of a factor too.

One thing I didn't get to check out on the Riot was the radio function. How was that: Good, Bad, Not worth mentioning?
 
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Ruahrc

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--begin rant--

My personal experience with SonicBlue has left an ugly taste in my mouth. I have a Rio800 Flash-based player, and the unit was totally awesome when I had W98se. Then XP came out and no matter what software I try to use, the files get corrupted on the way over to the player, resulting in almost unlistenable music. (Definately more hassle than it's worth).

I can let the problems with a single product slide, and it appears that their RioRiot player works great. However the level of their customer service cannot be excused. It is downright worthless, with this widespread XP and 800 problem, not a single word have they said about it. Ask the techs and if they ever get back to you all they have is precanned responses like "download the drivers". Furthermore, they even told me once that they did not officially support XP nor did they have any plans to do so.

So in all, it is not the bad quality of a single product that has swayed me from SonicBlue, but rather the total disregard for the concerns or complaints of their customers after they have taken their hard earned greenies. I will most likely never buy SonicBlue again, not until the change the way they respond to customers.

I guess my point here is just be wary of the company, as the player might seem like a great product- if it ever develops problems or flaws are uncovered, dont' count on SonicBlue to do a darn thing about it.

--end rant--

Ruahrc
 
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I had the Rio Riot for about an hour. Long enough to notice that it had the sealed internal battery. Based upon my experience with my Rio 800 and a special AA battery, the Riot went back immediately to the store.

That fact alone....the sealed battery......makes it imperitive to purchase a Riot with extended warranty (like Best Buy) or not at all, as their batteries stink.

Best of breed is STILL the PJB100.

My Nomad Jukebox 1 died (#3), so I got the Riot. Under extended warranty. But even then I did not like the RIOT. I got the Nomad Jukebox 3, which also had some unpleasant surprises for me, big time. I still have that. I should have gotten the old NJB1 with 10gb. I give the NJB3 and Creative Labs about a month to get their act together, then the NJB3 goes on ebay and I get what I should have gotten day one, a PJB100. Yeah, I have had the Archos before. Won't go for that one either.
 
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Well in the end I got the Creative Nomad Jukebox 3. The reason is the removable batteries, excellent sound quality and the fact that it's cheaper than the Riot.

To be honest I was really impressed with the Riot but, like the others in this thread, the lack of removable batteries makes the unit a little flaky.

I love the sound of the Nomad 3. Whilst the unit is a little on the large side, it's not really a problem. The sound quality is well up to listening with the Ety's. I'm afraid the same cannot be said for the Archos - very poor sounding.
 
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I've had a Riot for about 4 months now. It has completely replaced all my other portable devices.

It sounds great. I have Ety 4p's which it drives really nicely.

It does not have a line out, which concerned me at first, but the headphone out is extremely clean, no noise at all.

I agree with people complaining about Sonicblue support. The initial drivers were uncompatible with XP. After several loud conversations, they released new drivers which work great (available on their support site.

Overall I am very happy with the box.
 
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fredpb

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I strongly recommend that anyone who does want a Rio Riot to purchase it at a place that has a multiyear replacement warranty. A battery can last a week or a couple of years. Best Buy said just return it and exchange it when the battery goes bad (I bought one and returned it when I discovered the sealed unit).

For my one single purchase at Best Buy I am on my fourth player.
Does not say much for the Players, but says good things about the store. Wait........when I include the first one, an Archos, it's FIVE players.

Yeah.....your'e right......I have crud for luck.
 
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andrzejpw

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hmm, so you're saying the reliability isn't too good?

Is this widespread? Can anyone else confirm?
 
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fredpb

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Well, since on my fifth player in under a year and a half, I would say reliability is not the greatest.

If you get any MP3 player, get a good warranty.
 
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