The Big Gapless Dilemma (H1X0 or HD5 or MZ-M100 or Karma)
Dec 3, 2005 at 10:34 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

phosfiend

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I love my MiniDisc Player, I really truly do. I felt that up until very recently, featurewise, it couldn't be beat. But I find myself finally succumbing to the lure of greater storage capacity - and interestingly, it's not in terms of portability but transfer convenience. Transferring an MD's worth of tunes via NetMD used to be fun, giving me that mixtape thrill that I enjoy so much. Firing worthy albums down optical into this little gadget for SP discs used to be a labour of love. But lately I can't be bothered. NetMD transfers are 25X, and buggy 50% of the time and optical is bloody REAL-TIME (but sounds fantastic).

So, that leaves me here today, fetishizing other, more badassed miniature examples of beautiful industrial design. While my requirments are few, they do seem to be limiting my choices, and that is why I'm here; looking to the experts to help guide me. Here are the criteria:
absolutely necessary:
Gapless

absolutely UNnecessary:
colour screen
playsforsure/itunes compatible
video playback
What, "Sound Quality isn't a priority?" you ask? It most certainly is, but for me, you could stream 96khz 24bit directly into my skull, but if there are gaps between that sweetness i just cannot enjoy it. Fortunately, it seems for now atleast, that gapless and sound quality are usually part of the same pakage. Other than these few, what are my options?
Rio Karma
Iriver H1X0 + RockBox
Sony HD5 + ATRAC
Sony HiMD + ATRAC
last things first - the Sony units. I must admit, despite being a longtime MD user, doing the atrac thing all over again doesn't really appeal to me. This is further enforced by the fact that a sizable portion of my music is already in lossy formats. Also, While HiMD has its benefits, in terms of live recording my current units satisfy me entirely. The design of the HD5, plus the option of a decent remote does still keep me curious though...

The Iriver, nothing but praise is heard about the intergration of RockBox - usability, gaplessness, speed... but what of sound quality on this unit? My MD unit sounds really, really good - i don't want to downgrade in this department. I'll take SQ over storage convenience... plus, this thing is a brick!

Rio Karma - if it weren't for the state of the RIO corporation, this discussion would probably have been solved. Sound quality, gaplessness and size. Also, in photos one can clearly see that these units should be remote capable - does such a remote exist?

And finally, the future. I gather the next gen Neuros gadget might satisfy my needs, and sound bloody awesome, but alas, it's all hypothesis until someone actually uses one. Are my portable hopes un-attainable?

Thanks you guys,
 
Dec 3, 2005 at 11:28 PM Post #2 of 15

DougGreenberg

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There is no remote for the Rio Karma. Sorry.

The Karma has excellent audio quality and plays reliably gapless with compressed files IF you do high quality encoding of your files. I use EAC with LAME compression and I get excellent results (i.e., true gapless). When I used the endoding associated with the Rio software and iTunes the gaplessness was inconsistent.

There's been some discussion in these forums lately about the remaining options for buying the Karma. You can get them as "refurbs," which usually is ok, but there are horror stories, too. Given that the Karma has a less than stellar reputation in terms of build quality, buying a Karma at this point involves risks, as well as rewards. If I were to buy another now, I'd be sure to get an extended warranty of some kind.

I can't speak for the other alternatives you mention. I'm sure someone else will.
 
Dec 3, 2005 at 11:54 PM Post #3 of 15

phosfiend

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i guess that's the clincher, the warranty. I'd love to walk into a futureshop (canadian bestbuy/circuit city equiv) and discover a karma box covered in dust and forgotten, then walk out with it and a rediculous 5 year warranty (that would otherwise be a ripoff).

anyone from Canada have any experience with purchasing warranties online with items from the US?
 
Dec 4, 2005 at 10:28 PM Post #6 of 15

st5150

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Don't forget the iriver H320 / H340 + rockbox. It's in very early development right now, but I just tossed on the latest bleeding edge build and am listening to The Wall gapless in Ogg Vorbis Q6 right now. Another live 256kbs VBR mp3 album I have also plays gapless now. I had no idea what I was missing with those gaps in there before! I don't think I can ever go back to gaps after having gapless for half a day. Be warned not all tracks / formats / bit rates / songs play gapless yet, but every week a lot of improvements are happening and it's only a matter of time before it fully catches up to the H100. As for your sound quality concerns, don't worry about it. With out a good amp and great cans you'll have a difficult time and a lot of A/B testing to tell the difference between the players you listed.
 
Dec 5, 2005 at 12:01 AM Post #7 of 15

wanderman

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the h120 is now where near brick in size. It is slightly bigger then the 3rd gen ipod. It has better battery life then the karam and preforms gaplesss with every codec it plays. It also supports pretty much every modern codec. Rockbox allows for more customization and the firmware is still patching, upgrading, and preforming better then any thing manufactures have put out. The h120 will probably sound just as good as any of your MD units except for a little bit of hiss, which is only really audible on iems. h100 series with rockbox also has tons of plugins that can expand the functionality of the player.
 
Dec 5, 2005 at 12:58 AM Post #9 of 15

Chri5peed

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If Creative don't fix my Zen I'll be in the market. Definitely need at least 40GB.

The H340 looks ideal. Don't care about its 'brick-ness'. Got a Xin Macro amp, would this sound great out of the line-out? The new 60GB iAudio is interesting, but no line-out.
frown.gif


14 hours battery is just about acceptable and a colour screen is handy, I guess?
 
Dec 5, 2005 at 1:27 AM Post #11 of 15

Sparky191

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SonicStage 3.2 and 3.3 are trouble free for most people. With HiMD you get to use all your old MD and have gapless, great SQ, and all the old features with the new. Theres no need to transfer realtime with the new HiMD units USB is as good and better than optical. You can use PCM (CD quality) 352kps, 256kps HiSP. Most people reckon 256kps ATRAC3+ is on par with SP 292kps. The alternative is rencode all you music to another format and use another player.

Personally I switched from MD to HiMD. But I primarily use it for recording. I find a MP3 player (A Zen micro and a Shuffle) is easier to manage and sounds as good, if not better. Over on Minidisk.org people with lots of MD tend to like using disks though.
 
Dec 5, 2005 at 1:39 AM Post #12 of 15

wolfen68

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Chri5peed said:
The H340 looks ideal. Don't care about its 'brick-ness'. Got a Xin Macro amp, would this sound great out of the line-out? The new 60GB iAudio is interesting, but no line-out.
frown.gif

The H340 is fine...

True, the X5 has a lineout on the subpack (but it's worthless for several reasons IMO). However, I've been using the head-out (with volume set at max) to an SR-71 and it's really not bad.

It might defy the Head-fi creed of using a true line-out, but it sounds excellent to my ears....I actually prefer it *very* slightly to the iRiver because the soundstage is slightly better.
 
Dec 5, 2005 at 2:21 AM Post #13 of 15

phosfiend

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Sparky191
SonicStage 3.2 and 3.3 are trouble free for most people. With HiMD you get to use all your old MD and have gapless, great SQ, and all the old features with the new. Theres no need to transfer realtime with the new HiMD units USB is as good and better than optical. You can use PCM (CD quality) 352kps, 256kps HiSP. Most people reckon 256kps ATRAC3+ is on par with SP 292kps. The alternative is rencode all you music to another format and use another player.


I use my current units for recording, and i don't see myself needing to upgrade that department. If i did, i would likely go with something like an m-audio microtrack. Plus, the really slick HiMD units are still really bloody expensive, mz-rh10 (meager battery life) or the MZ-m100 (ChaCHING). Plus given the nature of my music collection, gapless won't be happening on either of these units, except for the cd's i rip myself (which, admittedly, isn't the majority)

And as far as sonicstage 3.3 goes, it works, pretty well too. The only way i can see myself going HiMD is if it got even more undesirable to the average consumer, driving prices down. Given all the great decisions SONY's been making lately, that just might happen.
 

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