Sony S639 - My Thoughts
Feb 16, 2009 at 12:15 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


New Head-Fier
Nov 17, 2008
Hi all,

As I've had it for long enough to form an opinion on it, I thought I'd share my thoughts on my Sony S639, in case anyone was interested...

The first thing you notice about the S639 is that it's small - about the same size as 4 stacked credit/debit cards (well, a bit narrower, and a bit longer). If anything, it could be slightly too small, as the buttons can be a bit difficult to jab accurately if you have slightly large fingers (primarily an issue with the main "jog" control and my chubby thumb). The unit itself is nicely made, with the front and back plates being metallic, and the bezel/side molding being plastic. There's a 4-way selector with central "OK" button on the front (along with a menu and option button), with a volume control and "hold" slider on the side. All the buttons feel nice and tight, as well as being rather "positive" when pushed - nothing feels sloppy. The headphone jack is at the bottom, along with a proprietary Sony WM port for USB connection, which feels a little tight when inserting connectors (a standard mini-USB connection would have been better, in my opinion). The screen is covered with a sticker advertising the included videos, and feels vulnerable, although it has been said to be quite tough. I'd have liked a plastic protector to have been included, as with mobile phones.

Installation under Windows XP is nice and simple - plug it in to your PC, wait for Windows to pick it up and auto-configure itself, and off you go. Files can be transferred using Windows Explorer via drag-and-drop, and you don't need to install any extra software to use it. Apparently, you can sync it using Windows Media Player, and other players, but I prefer to do things manually, so I haven't tried this.

User Interface
The UI looks very polished, and has a look of Apple's OSX, or KDE's Aqua theme about it (the player runs on LINUX, for those that are interested). Navigation is pretty easy - select the music library, and it gives you a choice of browsing by artist/album/genre/year/song. Selecting artist allows you to select an artist, and then prompts you to pick one of their albums, or play all (this is the method I use to pick what to play, as I tend to use it as a CD player holding many CDs, if that makes sense). For some reason, my unit is not picking up the year tag of any of the MP3 files I've transferred, although WMP can read them correctly.

Audio Quality
Using MP3s generated by LAME at the V0 setting (approximately 256KB/s VBR), audio quality is excellent - I cannot notice any defficiencies from the source CD. I've tried jazz, pop, blues, rock, and metal with it, and it all sounds fine (note: I have all the "sound optimisation" bells & whistles switched off).

The bundled headphones (MDR-EX82's, apparently) are surprisingly good. They have very good sound quality, and are pleasant to listen to, although the bass-line is a little "light". Whilst this makes them very easy to listen to, you may find yourself consciously listening to the finer details, rather than them "just being there". They are very comfortable and unobtrusive to wear, although I've found that they do not stay in particularly well if you are moving around, and noise isolation is not great. The cord is quite thin, and they are prone to microphonics when knocked. They sound a lot better than the cheap/bundled AIWA, Panasonic, Philips, TDK, and Sony headphones/IEMs that I've had over the years. In fact, I'd say if you hadn't heard a high-end set of headphones, you probably won't see/feel a need to upgrade them.

I've also tried the player with my Sennheiser IE7 IEMs, which present the bass-line in a stronger, but realistic, way, and have a more detailed sound (they develop a "pressure" like my Koss Pro4AA "full" headphones, and it's more like the details are being forced into your ears, rather than played at them). They really are startlingly clear, although this hasn't resulted in any issues being found with the player (any distortion, etc, has been present on the source).

Sorry for it being a bit late (I have been ill and busy), but hopefully it'll be of use to someone ...

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