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Old 02-22-2007, 22:16   #1
stereophile
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Default U3 vs D2 - Audiophiles - Sound Quality?

Which unit puts out the best sound quality?

I'm trying to find the best flash-based mp3 player currently available.

It looks like the U3 and D2 are top contenders. Which is best for sound -- are they the same in the audio department?

Are there any other brands or models out there that I should be considering for high quality flash-based mp3 players?
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Old 02-23-2007, 06:27   #2
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You could look at the Samsung YP-Z5. It's a very good flash player in terms of sound, probably better by a small margin than anything else out there in terms of its ability to deliver a clean audio signal. Unfortunately it won't do lossless, but feed it high-bitrate Oggs and you've got a great setup. Control-wise probably better than touchscreen of the D2 in terms of speed of access to your music (as would say a non touchscreen Cowon, Creative, etc) but takes getting used to. You might hate it in the shops as a tryout but having got used to it I think it works quite well. I really like the nice touches in the user interface too and the battery life is very respectable.

The current iPod Nano is almost a dead ringer to the D2 in terms of sound quality. You can't beat the Nano for third-party support. When compared FLAC vs ALAC, the two exhibit virtually identical SNR under same listening conditions, near-identical frequency response (almost flat, but not quite with a >1db falloff at 40hz) with a very slight edge going to the Nano in the bass, and the Nano is also a tad cleaner on all other specs and wider stereo imaging. I could be quite happy with either in terms of sound quality. The Cowons however has the edge for people who aren't audiophiles in that you can slap on those Jetaudio effects which kills sound quality but increases entertainment factor - but with the Nano you don't get the option.

The D2 is a great geek toy, something that the Nano and the Z5 can't claim to be. It's expandable and it's got a whole host of other features. The truth is that most players from the leading companies sound pretty similar in terms of quality these days and anyone who makes claim to vastly superior sound quality of one make or another is a total nerd who probably has never used the makes they disparage. I think you should look at other features than sound and make up your mind on those factors.
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Old 02-23-2007, 07:46   #3
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eh no. I've owned a Nano, Shuffle, 5g, Zen M and V. and the D2 blows away them all, although the Creative's come close the Ipod's don't. No EQ and a weaker amp, means it does not drive full size Headphones like the 76mw amp does in the D2. The fullness of sound I'm hearing in the D2 I have not heard replicated on any other player, well Maybe on the Cowon A2 that I also Own.
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:05   #4
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What scarpad said.

Just looking at SNR and frequeny response is not enough.

The iPod is an audiophile device, as long as you use an external headphone amp. The built in amp does not cut it.

I am using full size DJ headphones (AKG-81) with my D2 and the sound is huge. Try doing that with an iPod. Not pretty (yes, I have tried).

I have lost my U3, so can't do a direct comparison, but the D2 seems quite a bit more powerful. I've even started to listening to a bit of techno, just for the punch on the bass.
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:57   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flacattack View Post
What scarpad said.

Just looking at SNR and frequeny response is not enough.

The iPod is an audiophile device, as long as you use an external headphone amp. The built in amp does not cut it.

I am using full size DJ headphones (AKG-81) with my D2 and the sound is huge. Try doing that with an iPod. Not pretty (yes, I have tried).

I have lost my U3, so can't do a direct comparison, but the D2 seems quite a bit more powerful. I've even started to listening to a bit of techno, just for the punch on the bass.
I think I have those AKG headphone around somewhere I'll have to give them a try. I mean there are alot of instanced where you have to use Earbuds, but When I don't I use full size Cans and the D2 can just handle it. Even TV shows sound alot nicer with the D2
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Old 02-23-2007, 13:20   #6
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I use the Sennheiser HD25-1 and the Ultimate Ears UE-10 as my portables, so not exactly a stranger to decent headgear. I also have my ear tested.

I have a bit of this, a bit of that, all at the same time, I'm interested in this type of device but given the hype over features which frequently don't deliver or are flat-out misleading, I'm far more jaded about players in general. It takes something standout to impress me sound-wise, and so far in the last year there has not really been any major takers. The only sources which make me sit up at first were those which alter the tone of the sound so that you can't get a flat sound out of it for testing, or like Cowon where it comes with all the 'enhancement' crap enabled as standard so the rice-boy contingent will go 'oh wow, that's quality man!'.

The Samsung was just the one which made me go 'hey, that's different' in terms of SQ (and it is better than the Creative). But even that's not what I would call a huge difference.

The thing is really, that comment about the nerds and reality aside, to many people the source you believe is the best, is the best. It's what keeps much of the deluded corners of audiophilia alive. So enjoy whatever you get.

Last edited by goatherder; 02-23-2007 at 13:23..
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Old 02-23-2007, 13:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goatherder View Post

all the 'enhancement' crap enabled as standard so the rice-boy contingent will go 'oh wow, that's quality man!'.
Coming back with a racial Slur why to make a point. What a rube.
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Old 02-23-2007, 13:48   #8
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I've listened to many mp3 players and the audio quality I get from my Cowon is the best...and I listen to Jazz with eq set to flat, bbe set to 0, bass set to 0.
Another thing don't let anyone tell you the ipod's have good sound quality because this is not true...I don't care what the audio "stats" are...you take the same mp3 from your Cowon and run that mp3 through itunes onto an ipod and if you say that the sound quality is better on the ipod than on the Cowon I think your gonna need your ears checked.
But don't listen to me, I think the best thing to do is to find out for yourself.
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Old 02-23-2007, 13:59   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarpad View Post
Coming back with a racial Slur why to make a point. What a rube.
Apologies, it's not meant as a racial slur - there are 'rice boys' for all corners of the planet. I'm referring to the mentality of 'badoooooooooooooooom' 20000w bass rumblers. Sorry if that caused any offense on a racial level. It is meant to cause offense on an audio level :p
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Old 02-23-2007, 15:30   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goatherder View Post
I use the Sennheiser HD25-1 and the Ultimate Ears UE-10 as my portables, so not exactly a stranger to decent headgear. I also have my ear tested.
Hi! I see you have great Ears. So you can compare the soud of D2 with other "popular" players. Can you tell us, what players sounds alike?

And try to explain, please, what you do not like in the sound of D2?
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Old 02-23-2007, 17:06   #11
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i've found the quality is great. the enhancements are a good thing, at least in my opinion, as long as they aren't set too high. True, once they go too high, it begins to sound extremely processed, but I like them in general. I believe that's basically what X-Fi does, and I've heard nothing but good things about that.


If you don't mind paying an insane amount of money for a good sounding player, check out the Kenwood players.
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Old 02-24-2007, 09:23   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Break View Post
Hi! I see you have great Ears. So you can compare the soud of D2 with other "popular" players. Can you tell us, what players sounds alike?

And try to explain, please, what you do not like in the sound of D2?
Hi! I see you're not very Specific in your post. Can you name, some players maybe?

And try to read, please, my first post to see what I think about the D2's sound.
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Old 02-24-2007, 11:42   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goatherder View Post
Can you name, some players maybe?
Different Creatives (starting from Micro Photo)
Sandisk E200
Ipod Video (with and without rockbox)
U3, X5(L)
etc.

I know that RMAA of D2 s better then the U3 but less then the X5L. (from imp3)
What do you think about this?

Quote:
And try to read, please, my first post to see what I think about the D2's sound.
You say that SQ is nearly equal to Nano? It's poor..
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Old 02-24-2007, 12:49   #14
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Where did you get the idea that the Nano's SQ is poor? It's pretty decent. As is the D2.

Would you like to link to some of those RMAA results?
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Old 02-24-2007, 15:28   #15
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Quote:
Would you like to link to some of those RMAA results?
COWON D2

http://www.imp3.net/article/article.php?articleid=11614

RMAA starts from page 7

Last edited by Break; 02-24-2007 at 15:55..
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