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agbagb
2009-07-22, 09:51
Though a bit off-topic for Squeezebox, lots of us have vast FLAC collections that, in addition to running though our various Logitech players, we'd like to be able to use on portable players: few of which support FLAC.

That's for a reason, of course: FLAC file sizes are very large compared to MP3; and many players can't really live up to FLAC quality anyway. And it's also true that there are plenty of easy programs that will do a quick down-covert of FLAC to MP3.

But, as I say, if you've got a massive FLAC collection at home, it's really very convenient to be able to throw a select few albums etc onto a portable player without having to do conversions..... (of course, Controller does a wonderful job - but only up to 50 feet from base!)

So this topic comes up from time to time here in Squeezebox forums. Mr Google produces this useful recent CNet round up:

http://tinyurl.com/ku4yfj

but I'm wondering if members here can throw in their own recent observations and experiences. A general question I have is "do these several players support gapless FLAC playback?". I've got a lot of classical / opera where gapless is really crucial. For example, a buddy told me that a iPod can easily be hacked - with RockBox firmware - to support FLAC - but he *thought* it was not gapless.....

So: thoughts, experiences?

radish
2009-07-22, 10:00
Rio Karma - if you can find one on ebay. 20GB, does FLAC and Vorbis gapless. Probably the best portable ever made, IMHO..

Aurumer
2009-07-22, 10:13
Mostly all Cowon Players support FLAC and are of high quality. I've made some good experiences with an IAudio 7.

CatBus
2009-07-22, 10:20
Rockbox does indeed support gapless playback, AFAICT regardless of the hardware target you install it on.

I have an iAudio X5 myself, with Rockbox firmware. The X5 sounds nice for a portable (it's reputedly one of the best), but not good enough that lossless really makes a difference. If you have the time, you may as well transcode to a lossy format and fit more songs on your player. In addition to this, I also apply some volume normalization since I tend to use my portable in noisy, non-ideal listening environments.

Speaking of which, Rockbox also includes an equalizer which has been a godsend for me. My terrible car stereo can be made listenable.

agbagb
2009-07-22, 10:31
Ahh - I thought RockBox was just an iPod hack, but Mr Google tells me otherwise! Sounds like a clever package, and definitely claims to be gapless for FLAC on all players that it supports.

Next question - more and more I use my smartphone (a Sidekick; MP3 only) for casual music listening, really just for the convenience of only having one thing to carry (even if the audio quality is only so-so). Anyone know of a any smartphone (or phone hack.....) that supports FLAC? Again, I imagine that the only reason for it to do so would be pure convenience, for those with large FLAC collections. Both file size and audio limitations at the player end don't make FLAC attractive as such.

aubuti
2009-07-22, 10:57
Again, I imagine that the only reason for it to do so would be pure convenience, for those with large FLAC collections. Both file size and audio limitations at the player end don't make FLAC attractive as such.
Lossless files also run down the battery a lot more quickly. At least on hard drive-based players, though it might also be true of players with solid state storage. I suggest making an MP3 copy of your FLAC library using flac2mp3.pl, dBpoweramp, or some other tool. The convenience there is that you can fit that many more tracks on the portable player, and you can choose a quality level that corresponds to the sub-optimal output of the player. I don't know which players support gapless MP3 (that has been encoded with a proper version of LAME).

agbagb
2009-07-22, 11:10
That battery issue is of course one to remember.

Agreed that it's better - for all sorts of reasons - to have a duplicate library in MP3 (and indeed I sort-of-have....but it's never quite as up-to-date, in content or organization, as my FLAC library), but FLAC is my first port of call and, as I say, I do believe there's a "market" for FLAC playback on portable devices purely as a service to those whose chief collection is FLAC.

Indeed, a bit of Googling reveals a demand for a "FLACberry"! I guess (I'm no developer.....) that some sort of app is the way to go? Not necessarily integrated into the media player on a smartphone, but something that FLACistas would like to have available.

aubuti
2009-07-22, 11:28
Agreed that it's better - for all sorts of reasons - to have a duplicate library in MP3 (and indeed I sort-of-have....but it's never quite as up-to-date, in content or organization, as my FLAC library),
Then if you haven't used Robin Bowes' flac2mp3.pl script you should definitely check it out. It's great at creating and maintaining an MP3 mirror of a FLAC collection. And when you update your FLAC tags it also has an option to only update the MP3 tags, rather than re-doing the transcode completely.

Theli
2009-07-22, 11:52
Sansa Fuze and Clip both support flac (and replaygain). I was using flac on my Fuze, but it reduced battery life to about 1/3 of what it was with mp3. So I went back to mp3, and besides I still needed mp3 for my car stereo.

agbagb
2009-07-22, 12:25
Then if you haven't used Robin Bowes' flac2mp3.pl script you should definitely check it out. It's great at creating and maintaining an MP3 mirror of a FLAC collection. And when you update your FLAC tags it also has an option to only update the MP3 tags, rather than re-doing the transcode completely.


Thanks for that - I'll surely give it a look.

tommyz
2009-07-23, 00:40
Don't use Cowon - they don't support gapless playback (and probably never will).
Unless you are willing to wait for a working rockbox port...


TommyZ

agbagb
2009-07-23, 05:50
Quote:
Originally Posted by aubuti View Post
Then if you haven't used Robin Bowes' flac2mp3.pl script you should definitely check it out. It's great at creating and maintaining an MP3 mirror of a FLAC collection. And when you update your FLAC tags it also has an option to only update the MP3 tags, rather than re-doing the transcode completely.

Thanks for that - I'll surely give it a look.

___________________

And I did - but running Perl scrips is a step beyond my comfort / disposable time zone.... Is there anything out there with a decent GUI that will do much the same?

aubuti
2009-07-23, 07:04
And I did - but running Perl scrips is a step beyond my comfort / disposable time zone.... Is there anything out there with a decent GUI that will do much the same?
It's actually easier than it looks, but then everyone defines his/her own comfort zone. The batch converter tool in dBpoweramp is excellent, as is the entire dBpoweramp ripping/tagging/encoding package. It would be great for your converting the FLACs you have at present, but I honestly don't know if dBpoweramp will easily do the nice incremental additions that flac2mp3.pl, ie, only transcoding new additions to your FLAC library. Other dBpoweramp aficianados in the forum may be able to advise on this aspect.

dBpoweramp is not free, but I think it's well worth the $36, particularly for its ripping and tagging facility. There is a 30 day free trial so you can check it out (and transcode your current library) before making a commitment. See www.dbpoweramp.com

thurstongarden
2009-07-23, 08:06
Don't use Cowon - they don't support gapless playback (and probably never will).

I bought a Cowon S9 and love it but missed gapless playback.

Lo and behold, the most recent firmware update includes gapless playback!

CatBus
2009-07-23, 08:52
Don't use Cowon - they don't support gapless playback (and probably never will).
Unless you are willing to wait for a working rockbox port...


TommyZ

Only time travellers need to wait. Rockbox has been working on my Cowon player for about four years now.

jimzak
2009-07-25, 12:45
I have had a Cowon X5 30 GB hard drive-based playerfor sometime. It sound good and I found a nice third party case and arm band for the gym. However, the battery runs down quickly playing .flac. Unfortunately I had to have it serviced for a headphone jack that became unstable and that cost $45 plus shipping one way. Now the battery charge life is down to about one use and I'll need to send it in for the $45 battery change.

So I got a Sansa Fuze which is solid state. It's only 8 GB but it takes a 16 GB microSD card to expand it to 24 GB which is nice for .flac and very nice for .mp3. The battery life is much better and the cost of the player is less than the service I've had to pay for the Cowon. The sound is not quite as good but it's smaller and the user interface is better. I have actually transcoded a lot of .flac to .mp3 for the player and have about 1000 songs on it.

Cowon is a nice piece of kit but the battery change issues on all their devices holds me back. If I was going to get another Cowon, I might get the 32 GB O2 flash-based player which accepts expansion SD cards, but I'd have to prepare myself for the inevitable expensive battery change after buying a pretty expensive player.

http://www.amazon.com/Cowon-Video-MP3-Player-White/dp/B001IWN9LQ/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1248550205&sr=8-7

HalleysComet
2009-07-25, 13:53
So I got a Sansa Fuze which is solid state. It's only 8 GB but it takes a 16 GB microSD card to expand it to 24 GB which is nice for .flac and very nice for .mp3. The battery life is much better and the cost of the player is less than the service I've had to pay for the Cowon. The sound is not quite as good but it's smaller and the user interface is better. I have actually transcoded a lot of .flac to .mp3 for the player and have about 1000 songs on it.



Amazingly, the Sansa Clip actually sounds better (IMHO) than the more upmarket Sansa Fuse. I think it uses a better DAC chip. Nothing to it--very small--but sound quality is excellent with decent headphones. The earbuds that come with it are crap. It will play FLAC, but again the battery life is shorter with FLAC. But for a transatlantic trip mine works great!

CatBus
2009-07-25, 20:16
Cowon is a nice piece of kit but the battery change issues on all their devices holds me back.

FYI--if you still have your X5, the Rockbox bootloader supports solid-state drives (the Cowon firmware does not). Replacing the mechanical drive with a solid state drive should help with battery consumption enormously, even if the battery is old and won't take much of a charge. That's certainly my long-term maintenance plan.

RonM
2009-07-26, 16:29
I handle this situation by making use of dbPoweramp's dual rip function -- every ripped CD goes to both a lossless version and a lossy version, done at the time of the rip automatically. Very cool function.

For downloaded files, I keep them in a separate directory and convert these separately.

R.

djfake
2009-07-26, 20:11
Sansa Clip user here. Great support for FLAC, very inexpensive player, and possible the best sound for a portable device.