Thursday, 9 April 2015

Getting the best sound for the Dollar

If you hadn't noticed, things over the last 18 months have been changing when it comes to portable digital audio players (D.A.P's) with many people using that Swiss knife of a device, the Smartphone, to play music from while searching the mobile net and texting.
Thing is it's not really designed to get the best sound from your recordings even if an increasing number do better quality lossless files while at the other end of the scale people like Astell and Kern sell very high quality dedicated players from approx £700 upwards and players like the much talked about Pono somewhere in the middle.
Really cheap players are either very limited in terms of capacity and file types or are comprised by cheap electronics when it comes to the sound.
The enterprising Chinese company Fiio launched toward the end of last year a cheaper player from the much liked X3 (a newer version of which is out soon) for around $100 and recently I got one discounted to GBP89.00 (the UK is expensive for electronics).
The first shocking thing to say is it has no internal memory but as micro sd cards are so cheap at around £21 for 64Gb's and may have some from your older player, it's no problem and this play takes upto 128Gb cards which is quite something when it comes to capacity.
Unlike the original X3, this player uses a scroll wheel with a centre okay button for selecting things such as your music, formatting to FAT32 cards over 32Gb, engaging gapless playback for albums where tracks run seamlessly into each other and so on.
Unlike the X3, the player can't be used to output files directly via a computer to a stereo and the battery capacity is a bit less but is appreciably cheaper.
What it does do is play everyday 'lossy' downloads from the likes of Amazon, 7digital and iTunes Store as well as the higher quality lossless (Flac) ones INCLUDING 24 bit better than cd quality ones of which a increasing amount  of new and older recordings are being made available to buy.
Because this player has the option of either using its own high quality headphone circuit or a dedicated line output for a high quality stereo, such files can be fully enjoyed at home and on the move.
It takes around 2 hours to charge the battery using a 1 Amp or higher USB charger ready to set up ready for use from new using the supplied lead.
I find it an easy to use player use although you need to 'index' the card every time you change it for another to use things such as searching by artist, song or playlist.
While it's quality isn't quite as high as the X3 using headphones, it is a lot clearer with better fine details and dynamics  from anything around this price point bettering the various Sansa Clip models and smartphones.
If you're looking for a cheap upgrade for player with more potential for memory expansion, better sound and the ability to use higher quality downloads it can be recommended. 

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