Veggie_Musicians Zen Vision:M full review!!
Feb 26, 2006 at 1:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 26

Veggie_Musician

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First, I want to talk about EQ’ing music. A lot of people on these forums are very confused about this and come out with some very ignorant things. One has to remember a portable sound system is not the same as a HiFi in the home.

Why does the EQ or any tone controls just sound so bad on HiFi’s?

Take a power pylon – it’s a 100 miles long from the power station to the city. The amount of electricity the city gets is a bit less than the power station gives out, because the electricity “leaks” from the power cables. If the pylon was 200 miles long even more will be lost! The answer is to keep the pylon as short as possible. Longer the pylon cable, the more resistance there is – and resistance gets converted into heat and EMR loss.

This is the same with HiFi’s. You need to keep the path from source to speakers as short as possible. Adding any tone controls and eq’s just adds more cables and circuits for the electrical info to go thru – resulting in loss of electrical info. On HiFi – EQ’ing is done via resistance, which causes the info (electricity) to be converted to heat. This is NOT the same method used in Portable players!

On a portable mp3 player the EQ is done in the chipset – so having EQ “on” or “off” will not make any difference, as the EQ is always active even if it is set to “off” or “flat”. So if anyone adds a custom EQ, they will not have anymore signal degradation than if it was “off”. Any sound problem caused by EQ’ing is user error choosing an unrealistic EQ setting. Also there is a much shorter line from source to speakers on an MP3 player. The main “info loss” is before the music gets to the player!

I hear so many people claming to be audiophiles on this site – they just read HiFi websites and are brainwashed – they get to the point they cant enjoy the music, because anything else is not audiophile. They think that because its portible the same HiFi rules apply! Some people wont even touch the EQ as they believe something evil will happen! Haha
smily_headphones1.gif
Unfortantly something evil does happen with the eq of the ZEN Vision:M!!!

IMO potable players need a bit of extra bass – because on a HiFi the speakers are bigger and room resonance helps a lot in the bass department.

Now on to Zen Vison:M

How does the ZVM sound? It sounds exactly like a good PC sound card! A little better than my SoundBlaster Live, but on par with the Nforce sound systems and Toshiba laptop I own.

Un-EQ’ed, it sounds better than most mp3 players out there. It sounds very warm and big, but almost too “loud”. However, the bass seems to be a little lacking (even on my UM2’s). Creative have added a “Bass Boost” and an “user EQ” – both can be used at same time. The bass boost seems a bit odd as its mostly upper bass, but with some songs it works very well – others it destroys! The EQ is 5 band -/+ 12 db’s. I found the EQ not that responsive. On my iRiver iFP790 if I put 50hz at 10db the bass melts my brain! Same setting on ZVM is hardly any change. The problem is that once you go over +8db the sound starts to distort. You can use “smart volume” to sort this, but the sound becomes a bit clipped!

If you add “Bass boost” and EQ at same time what you get is unforgivable for a player in this day and age. Have you ever heard one of those £20 hifi systems you can get – turn up volume and mega distortion! That’s what the ZVM sounds like! It’s a bit of a shock considering how good the rest of the sound is! This distortion is audible at any volume so it nothing to do with the amp in the Zen (which is very powerfull if you have non EU firmware) – but the pre-amp in the chipset. It is set too high! If you record music, you want to set the recording volume a bit lower – so if there’s any sudden dynamics it wont distort. If you set it higher you may get a more impressive sound, but at times it will sound clipped. Same with HiFi’s. Good amp’s have a lot of reserve power so that it can cope with sudden dynamics. This is the main problem with the ZVM – its pre amp is too loud – there’s nothing in reserve in case of sudden dynamics. Everything sounds on the wire with the ZVM – congested at times – if only creative lowered the pre amp it would allow the Zen to “breath” more.

Hopefully Creative can fix this in a firmware update – the last one helped a lot!

Apart from the occasional “terrible” sound, the player is impressive - I would like it to have more "deep bass grunt"!– I personally like file-tree navigation better. They video top notch – I watched 2 films back to back yesterday on the train and found the small screen not to be a problem.

The UI is a bit over simplistic. Those wanting tons of menu’s to play with will be disappointed. All the ZVM does is play music, radio and videos. Don’t expect anymore! Other than that, I aggree with the other reviews of this player so no point repeating them - its a high specked player that works well.

There seems to be a few firmware bugs on this player - unless creative fix these with an firmware update - I cannot recemend this player. It could have been the best!
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 5:23 PM Post #6 of 26

Ingo

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yikes.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:13 PM Post #7 of 26

pawdog

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Hey, you left out the part about the thickness. I want to hear about the thickness.
k1000smile.gif


Quote:

All the ZVM does is play music, radio and videos. Don’t expect anymore!


I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. What else would someone expect it to do?
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:25 PM Post #8 of 26

Sweet Spot

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I'm not as technically inclined as Bangraman,(pie charts/frequency graphs etc..) but am definitely passionate about the music I listen to, and what I listen to it on. My wife has promised me a ZVM as soon as we get back from vacation next monday (leaving tom morn), so as soon as I get it, I promise to do a nice long review with lots and lots of macro shots etc.

I'm also attempting to get the MOBO/chipset specs for the guys at ROCKbox, so that we might be able to start a RB port to it as well. Taking apart the body looks to be a bit tricky, but I'll do it if I have to. My only concern at this point is the new iPod which should be coming out soon. Since current iPods are already RB enabled, that may be the only factor which sways me away from the ZVM. Going to have to think that one over. Especially w/the new design on the G6 pod.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:26 PM Post #9 of 26

Sweet Spot

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pawdog
Hey, you left out the part about the thickness. I want to hear about the thickness.
k1000smile.gif




I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. What else would someone expect it to do?



Make a cappuccino ?

Concerning the thickness, IMO, people are sometimes absolutely absurd. Sure, it's thicker than the current gen iPods, but is that really surprising ? To be honest, I've actually played with the ZVM at J&R and have used the current iPod, and have no doubts that the ZVM feels much better in the palm of my hands than the iPod. The iPod feels a bit too flimsy, as if I'm going to drop it all the time, whereas the ZVM rests comfortably with a tad of heft, and isn't so bulky that I'd feel uncomfortable with it in my jacket pocket. Believe me, I HATE bulk...I don't even like carrying a wallet really. (cuz all that kizash really weighs me down...
wink.gif
)
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:30 PM Post #10 of 26

Kirosia

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Sweet Spot
Make a cappuccino ?


If the zen could do that and cook me dinner, I'd def git one.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:46 PM Post #12 of 26

zip22

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Sweet Spot
I'm also attempting to get the MOBO/chipset specs for the guys at ROCKbox, so that we might be able to start a RB port to it as well. Taking apart the body looks to be a bit tricky, but I'll do it if I have to. My only concern at this point is the new iPod which should be coming out soon. Since current iPods are already RB enabled, that may be the only factor which sways me away from the ZVM. Going to have to think that one over. Especially w/the new design on the G6 pod.


http://www.anythingbutipod.com/archi...n-vision-m.php

i think the issue is that the vision:m is MTP. all rockbox players are UMS. i haven't looked into it at all, but thats what i recall from a brief mention on some other forum.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 8:52 PM Post #13 of 26

Sweet Spot

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Thanks, I forgot to make mention of those pics. As far as RB players being all UMS capable, I think that's just a coincidence. Actually, the iPod if I'm not mistaken, is somewhat the same. The ZVM is able to utilize drag/drop if you use XP w/SP2 but the folders you use are specific and the files can only be stored but not played. This is also how the iPod works unless you use iTunes or another piece of SW.

ROCKbox firmware only cares that there's a USB port (I think) and it takes care of the rest, totally independent of how the original firmware handles the hardware. Someone correct me on that if I'm wrong please.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 8:53 PM Post #14 of 26

Sweet Spot

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Veggie_Musician
Rockbox on the ZVM would be sweet - gapless and a pre-amp slider in the EQ would be sweet
smily_headphones1.gif




RB actually utilizes replay gain and has an pre amp adjustment too. Great stuff.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 11:14 PM Post #15 of 26

zip22

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Sweet Spot
Thanks, I forgot to make mention of those pics. As far as RB players being all UMS capable, I think that's just a coincidence. Actually, the iPod if I'm not mistaken, is somewhat the same. The ZVM is able to utilize drag/drop if you use XP w/SP2 but the folders you use are specific and the files can only be stored but not played. This is also how the iPod works unless you use iTunes or another piece of SW.

ROCKbox firmware only cares that there's a USB port (I think) and it takes care of the rest, totally independent of how the original firmware handles the hardware. Someone correct me on that if I'm wrong please.



the ipod is a UMS device. the stock firmware and itunes make the music files hidden and use a database, which is why you can't drag and drop. the ipod shows up on any OS, which i don't think the vision:m does.
 

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