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Hercules
2007-05-06, 01:18
My old iRiver H120 MP3 player (which I have rockboxed to run FLAC) is on its last legs - the screen is badly cracked, and something in the headphone socket is a little loose as it crackles a bit - and I am looking to replace it.

Increasingly, my music is in FLAC format. I'm not sure I can be bothered to manage two music libraries - i.e. one in FLAC, and then another transcoded into MP3 - so am looking for a player that works well with FLAC. I realise I won't notice the difference between a good MP3 and FLAC when I'm out and about, but as I say, managing two libraries strikes me as unnecessary chore :-)

So, does anyone have any recommendations for a good MP3 player that supports FLAC? At the moment, I quite like the look of the Cowon iAudio X5, and can't really see any viable competitors... Perhaps, though, I have missed some other players?

peter
2007-05-06, 02:27
Hercules wrote:
> My old iRiver H120 MP3 player (which I have rockboxed to run FLAC) is on
> its last legs - the screen is badly cracked, and something in the
> headphone socket is a little loose as it crackles a bit - and I am
> looking to replace it.
>
> Increasingly, my music is in FLAC format. I'm not sure I can be
> bothered to manage two music libraries - i.e. one in FLAC, and then
> another transcoded into MP3 - so am looking for a player that works
> well with FLAC. I realise I won't notice the difference between a good
> MP3 and FLAC when I'm out and about, but as I say, managing two
> libraries strikes me as unnecessary chore :-)
>
> So, does anyone have any recommendations for a good MP3 player that
> supports FLAC? At the moment, I quite like the look of the Cowon iAudio
> X5, and can't really see any viable competitors... Perhaps, though, I
> have missed some other players?
>
Perhaps the Rockbox version for iPods is ready for prime time?

I would choose the transcode option, fairly easy to automate.

Regards,
Peter

tamanaco
2007-05-06, 07:06
At the moment, I quite like the look of the Cowon iAudio X5, and can't really see any viable competitors... Perhaps, though, I have missed some other players?

I bought the Cowon D2 and UE super.fi 5 IEMs. The D2 does not have the built-in capacity of the X5, but if you don't mind carrying some extra SDHC cards; storage capacity is not an issue. newegg had Transcend 8GB SDHC cards for $59.99, but they raised the price recently. I bought two of these SDHC cards to hold my Jazz and World Music libraries. The built-in memory holds those songs that I can not live without and all my gym mixes. With all hard-drive based players there are issues of wear/tear (reliability), noise and battery life (high power consumption) because the of the moving parts of the hard drive. Hard-drive based player are not very practical either... if you want to use them while performing physically challenging activities like exercising at gym, biking or hicking. Before the D2 I had a Rio Karma that sounded just as good as the D2, but it was hard-drive based and it died a while ago after giving me some headaches. I also had a Frontier Labs Nex II CF-based that I recently lost. I had the Nex II for over 5 years and it never failed me. To me it is obvious that the future of the portable DAP market is with Flash Memory. When Apple came out with the first Nano with 2GB Flash... the hard-drive based "6GB" mini, for all intended purposes, ceased to exist. The nano is very practical, but the sound quality and flexibility is not there. Not to mention that you won't catch me dead carrying one of those things.

The D2 supports FLAC, but I find that for portable DAPs a high quality lossy format is the way to go. Lossless FLAC just takes too much space. I convert a subset of my FLAC 1.1.4 library that I use for my SB3 to MP3s using dBpwowerAMP batch converter with the latest Lame encoder VBR -V 2 new "standard". With the batch converter of dBpowerAMP R12 Reference I select all the tracks I want to convert from my FLAC library to MP3s click convert and walk away. The folder structure and all my tags (including embedded album art), are converted without a hitch. For those FLAC albums for which dBpowerAMP ripper fails to find the album art, I use MP3TAG 2.8 which supports the new tags supported by FLAC 1.1.4. Since I have a large world music library, Album Art is very impotant to me. It is hard to search for the name albums/songs that I want to hear, but whose name I can not spell or understand. MP3s with embedded album art work great with the D2.

The Cowon D2 is not fully cooked yet and is not open source, but its firmware gets updated frequently with new features and bug fixes. The Cowon/iAudio community at iAudiophile.net is very helpful and is frequented by technically skilled folks just like in this user group. The D2 has a color high resolution touch screen interface, it has a small form factor, supports many file formats including video, is flash-based and the sounds quality compares to that of the X5. You can read about other features here http://www.cowonamerica.com/products/cowon/d2/ Don't take my word for it… do a little research. I always thought of the X5 as the best replacement for my Rio Karma, but once I lost my Nex II... I found that the Cowon D2 was the perfect replacement for both.

jeffmeh
2007-05-06, 11:43
My son has a Cowon iAudio X5L, which is basically the X5 with a larger battery and much better battery life. I recently purchased the Cowon D2. I like both of them, although we really do not do much with video on either.

Tamanaco is correct that if you are going to be using it during exercise, or otherwise jostling it around, then you are much better off with a flash drive-based player. If you will not, then you should probably go with a hard drive-based player where you can get much more capacity.

I transcode all of the FLACs to mp3 with Robin Bowe's flac2mp3 script. It really is not that difficult, and for a flash player with limited storage you will get much more music onto the player.

The X5 supports Rockbox, but I do not believe the D2 does at this time.

JJZolx
2007-05-06, 11:57
My old iRiver H120 MP3 player (which I have rockboxed to run FLAC) is on its last legs - the screen is badly cracked, and something in the headphone socket is a little loose as it crackles a bit - and I am looking to replace it.

Increasingly, my music is in FLAC format. I'm not sure I can be bothered to manage two music libraries - i.e. one in FLAC, and then another transcoded into MP3 - so am looking for a player that works well with FLAC. I realise I won't notice the difference between a good MP3 and FLAC when I'm out and about, but as I say, managing two libraries strikes me as unnecessary chore :-)

So, does anyone have any recommendations for a good MP3 player that supports FLAC? At the moment, I quite like the look of the Cowon iAudio X5, and can't really see any viable competitors... Perhaps, though, I have missed some other players?

IMO the better approach by far is to keep an mp3 library, for a couple of reasons:

- Lossless files tend to eat up battery life on portables due to the increased disc access.

- Mp3s will load much faster onto the portable.

- You'll have a lot more flexibility in selecting a portable player, since only a handful of players support flac and/or rockbox.

It's actually quite easy to manage. The first time you mirror the library it may take several days to convert everything, but after that you just schedule a script to run each night. The script should be smart enough to examine file modification times so that it will only transcode new/changed files and should take just a few minutes to update the mirror.

Balthazar_B
2007-05-06, 13:57
I do understand what you said about two music libraries, but I've decided that's the way to go after much experimentation. In my case, I got an 80GB iPod (only easily portable thing that could come close to accommodating most of my music collection in M4A format), did a batch transcoding job to copy all the FLACs I had to a mirrored M4A library, and now when I get a CD, I use REACT2 to simultaneously rip FLAC and M4A tracks. Why an iPod over a Creative, Cowon or other device? Major reason: I wanted to take my collection in the car and use my HU to control the music, and for better or worse Apple pretty much has that integration available in a way others do not. And in general the iPod accessories market is larger (and therefore more competitive) than what is available for other devices.

Heartily agree with the other posters on using something other than lossless on a portable device for all the reasons stated. In terms of the iPod, I found AAC (M4A) format slightly better in listening quality (at a given bitrate) than either VBR or CBR Lame-encoded MP3.