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The PERFECT digital AUDIO player.......

Discussion in 'Archived Blogs' started by lff, Mar 27, 2010.
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  1. Dev Avidon
    So I went ahead and got one, just for kicks.  The point of reference is my HM-801, so it's definitely facing some stiff competition.  First impressions are that it's definitely not on the same level, in pretty much every regard.  Detail retrieval, frequency extension, imaging, richness...everything feels more cramped, less subtle/detailed.  This is to be expected.  What I didn't expect is that it wasn't exactly blown out of the water either.  It holds its own very well against the S:Flo2 I just sold, and it has a DEAD black background with my high-sensitivity IEMs straight out of the internal HPA.  No hiss whatsoever.  This alone is extremely impressive.  Now, I'm picky enough to actually lug my HM-801 around with me on the train to and from work.  However, that said, in terms of a little something I can just clip on and run with, with some FLAC or high bit rate MP3s and my trusty NuForce NE-7s (a very underrated budget phone imho), this is perfect.  It certainly blows the socks off of any of the iPods I had sound quality wise.  Honestly, it probably competes with anything I've ever had short of the HM-801, which competes with my desktop rig.  All this for 50 bucks?  Um, yes, thank you.  I genuinely love budget audio gear of this caliber, because I can't exactly tempt my friends away from their iPods with 800 dollar DAPs.  But when you consider that this + NE-7, or any of a number of quality sub-50 dollar IEMs gives you a genuine mid-fi grade experience for under a 100 bucks?  Heck, if you figure an 8 gig iPod nano is 150 bucks, for the same price you could have this plus a set of RE-ZEROs.  Or for 200 this plus a set of DBA-02s?  At that point, it's probably a darn good setup.  This is the perfect gateway drug.
  2. LFF


    Cool review. Did you try it out with Rockbox?
    I agree that with the OF, it's not that close to the HiFiman but with Rockbox it's another story IMHO.
    The amount of hi-fi you can get with the Clip+ and the DBA-02's is phenomenal. What's better is that you don't have to spend much $$$ to get top notch sound.
    Clip+ = $50
    DBA-02 = $180
    Rockbox = FREE

    Total = $230.00
  3. Dev Avidon

    I didn't try rockboxing it yet: does it make that big a difference?  For me, personally, I'm not a huge fan of EQing (not that I'm inherently unwilling to do it, it's just that usually gear that I have to EQ is gear that is not for me).  There's not, per se, one tonal signature that I try to force everything I listen to to resemble.  I really want to hear what the engineer on a recording was trying to get at.  Basically, an ideal setup for me has the following, in order of importance.
    1. Superb detail retrieval.  I mostly listen to modern Jazz, and I want to hear as much of the subtle nuance that well recorded/engineered/produced/mastered recordings tend to have as I possibly can.  If there's a last little bit of feather on Roy Hargrove's flutter-tongue, or just a hint of growl on a Joshua Redman saxophone note, I want to hear it.  Especially in the higher frequencies, where you get a lot of cymbal and female vocal decay.
    2. Tonal neutrality.  As I mentioned before, I really don't want gear that colors the sound all that much.  My Acoustech 8025 monitors and their accompanying gear (Duet as DAC, Central Station as passive pre, XPA-2 soon to be replaced by dual UPA-1s as power amps) is pretty close to ideal for me in this regard.  A little too unforgiving for personal listening on a regular basis, but it has 1 and 2 covered.
    3. Soul.  Not really sure how else to put this.  I don't want my pleasure listening to feel like work.  There are certain intangibles, especially with headphones and speakers themselves, that makes them effortless and gratifying to listen to.  I could search for any number of amorphous, vague concepts to better describe what imbues a setup with soul - warmth, richness, control, spaciousness - but honestly, I just know it when I hear it.  Some setups have life, others, though they may well be identifiably perfect in every measurable regard, don't.  Some of the not overly sticky, syrupy, "tubey" tube amps I've heard have a way of doing it for me more often than not.  My father-in-law's (God rest him) old rig - an original Ear+ amp and vintage Fostex T50s fed by a 1970's Technics Silver table (1200 I want to say?) - was, I think, probably the first combo that really lived and breathed for me.
    So, the question is will rockboxing the Clip improve any of these three criteria in any meaningful way (especially number one?).  Totally easy question right? [​IMG] 
    Thanks for always answering these crazy long inquiries Luis; I have a lot of respect for your ears and expertise.
  4. LFF
    I think Rockbox makes a big difference. I personally use it with no EQ and feel it completely fulfills all of my needs. I do use the EQ for fun though. You can get the Clip+ to sound much like other portable players with the right EQ.
    For me, detail retrieval and tonal neutrality/naturalness are basically one and the same. Moreover, it's the most important things for me. I know what a cymbal sounds like in real life and I know what a guitar, piano, etc should sound like in a real acoustic space - both the direct sound and the decay. I want my recordings to sound the same as real life. There is a Grant Green recording I love to use to check systems for this. The reason I use it is because you can hear Green slightly touch his guitar strings while the bass player is having his solo - his direct mic is very low...almost off but there is a slight bleed on the right side. It's very subtle but it's a small detail which I listen for. Likewise, there are many other instances of small details that bleed through on RVG recordings. You sometimes get the direct amp sound of a guitar on the right but the actual acoustic sound of the nails hitting the strings will bleed over on the right. You might also get someone doing a great horn solo on the left and someone talking (very softly) on the right. Not all systems can pick up this detail and sometimes people can't hear it but it's there and it's the type of details I love. It's all there on my Rockbox'd Clip+ using the DBA-02's.
    As for the soul in music, well, I think that's something you experience on a very personal level. You listen to music with your ears but you feel it with your heart. If the equipment I have doesn't translate the music in a way I know it should sound & feel, then it's not a system for me. I know that not all people like the type of sound signature I advocate and love but like I said...it's more on a personal level.
    Give Rockbox a try. You might like it more or less but you will not know until you give it a try. [​IMG]
  5. Dev Avidon
    Just finished rockboxing it...definitely a noticeable improvement in terms of SQ.  And I love all the control I have...really turns this into an eminently competent DAP.  It's still missing that last degree of detail for me, but it's not a degree I'm really going to notice that often on the train I imagine.  It's nothing short of amazing, for me, that a 50 dollar player can do what this does.  Unreal...
  6. LFF


    Happy to see that! That's why I think this little thing is so perfect...for me at least.
    Price/performance/options = winner!
  7. danielghofrani
    Wow, This is very surprising. I hear from a lot of people that Sansa Clip+ has excellent audio quality. but how is that possible I mean. it is so tiny. how is it possible that they put powerful enough electronics in it? how is it that it sounds better than my 1700$ 17 inch laptop?! it just sounds so outrageos.
    I mean Sony is one of the first innovators of portable media players, Creative labs is one of the leading computer audio chip manufacturers,  how is their stuff not as good as little sansa?!
    Thanks a lot.
  8. LFF


    I was in the same boat as you. It was hard to believe. Well...go out and try one and be a doubter no more... [​IMG]
  9. Anaxilus


    A laptop is the worst place to put an audio component due to noise and interference.  Couple that w/ the fact not one laptop maker cares what they sound like.  I don't care what marketing BS they throw at you.  That's like asking why eating food at home tastes better than McDonalds.
  10. danielghofrani


     that makes total sense about the laptop. Good analogy too! [​IMG]
  11. andrew3199
    Sorry to drag up an old thread but does the Rockboxes Clip support Apple lossless? Furthermore, does the Clip support embedded album art?
  12. qualm


    Here is a list of audio codecs supported by Rockbox: http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/SoundCodecs#Current_status
    As to the album art, No.  The clip is tiny like 2 inches by 1.25 inches.  The screen is 1 inch by 1/2 inch or so.  For album art and a good screen go with the Sansa Fuze, which is basically a Clip with a better screen for album art and the like.
  13. LFF

    Actually, a Rockboxed clip+ does support album art. It doesn't look great but it does support it.
  14. andrew3199
    Thanks guys, it seems it does.
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