Which MP3 player has the best sound quality?

Created by Forte on March 15, 2012, 6:33 p.m.
  • I am not happy with the sound quality of my iPod Touch.  Am am looking for an MP3 player with better sound quality.  I was going to purchase a Zune HD, but before I do I want to make sure I am getting the best audio quality.  My friend swears by his Creative ZEN X-Fi 2.

    Sony Walkman, Creative ZEN, Microsoft Zune or other?  All I care about is audio quality.
  • @Forte: If that is all you care about I'd got for something from Cowon. Now, before you did that, you'll also need an audiophile headset and make sure you have your music in a lossless format at least.
  • @Guibone said:
    @Forte: If that is all you care about I'd got for something from Cowon. Now, before you did that, you'll also need an audiophile headset and make sure you have your music in a lossless format at least.
    As long as you still listen to mp3s the ipod should do just fine, now if you would tell us what headset is being used and it would be even better if you could tell us which part of the sound quality is lacking? We might be of a bit more help.
  • I would make sure to try something else first before purchasing to make sure that you personally can hear the difference in sound quality between the iPod touch and another device. 
  • Cowon devices usually come loaded with an equalizer, which the Zune lacks.
  • @JoMate said:
    As long as you still listen to mp3s the ipod should do just fine
    I am comparing it to my desktop sound card.  Listening to audio on my PC's high end sound then listening to it on my iPod is really jaring because the iPod is so inferior.

    @Guibone said: 
     Cowon
    Going to try to find one and test it for a week.  Looks like the Audiophile's media player.  Just what I was looking for.
  • I second the Cowon recommendation. iPods sound like garbage compared to these. Listening to music on iPods is the equivalent of playing Xbox 360 with composite cables.

  • I have a Creative Zen X-Fi and the equalizer options are pretty deep. I can't say much more than that, though. There is some supposed "X-Fi" technology in there, like with Creative's X-Fi sound cards, but i'm not sure if it's all that great. Basically, i'm the wrong guy to ask, but I think it sounds fine. 
  • if you're trying to save money, all you need is better headphones and higher quality codecs.  Or, at least, give that a shot first.  The iPod supports AIFF, WAV, and ALAC for a reason. 
  • @Rallier: Not at all, in fact iPods are sort of infamous for sounding terrible. See AnythingButiPod for a good rundown.

    @Forte: You're comparing headphones to headphones, right? i.e. it sounds fine when you plug your headphones into your sound card but terrible when you plug into your iPod? As long as that's the case, then you should look at that site I posted, but I'll throw my hat in with Cowon, as well.

    Since it got me thinking, what headphones are you using?
  • @Mirado: 2 pairs. Koss PortaPros when jogging. Sennheiser HD 598s in my apartment.

  • @Forte
    I think what you are encountering here is the need for an amplifier, cause those high end cans just need some extra power (which your soundcard can deliver but your ipod not) to sound good. I have the same "problem" with my ipod and my akg hd242's they sound fine when plugged in my laptop but on my ipod there just isn't enough power put out to drive them properly.
  • @Forte: The 598s are a fine set but, as you've found out, they'll really bring out the flaws in a weak player like an iPod. To be honest, any MP3 player is going to be inadequate when compared to your desktop's ability to drive headphones, although you'll notice some improvement.
  • @Guibone
    Hell No, don't even think about getting any MP3 player from Cowon!! Yes the sound quality is superb...HOWEVER, and this is the DEALBREAKER
    You have to be a damn computer engineer to get your music on the device, the device does not intuitively locate your music files and sync them. Everything is a headache with any of the Cowon's. They are not user friendly. You can not make a playlist. Then, if that isn't enough of a turn off, the touch screen S U C K S. When trying to scroll thru your songs, the device thinks you've selected a particular song when you are trying to scroll!! So guess what?! You have to start back at "A" and try again. I tell you what, it's like having a pretty girlfriend that has 6 kids, a crazy x husband and $50k credit card debt. Some things are better left alone. Now if Cowon made a device with tactile buttons, that would automatically sync with wmp, and the ability to make PLAYLISTS, then we would have a propper device. But it aint here yet compadres.
  • @Hawk1111: I think I'd prefer something that sounds good and controls bad then the reverse. You can always deal with bad controls and syncing but you can never fix bad audio quality.
     

    I tell you what, it's like having a pretty girlfriend that has 6 kids, a crazy x husband and $50k credit card debt. Some things are better left alone.

    Truer words never spoken.
  • @Hawk1111 said:
    You have to be a damn computer engineer to get your music on the device
    Qualified.
  • I use a Sansa Clip+ running Rockbox with a FiiO E5 and Klipsch X1's for my portable audio, sounds great!
  • My HTC surround 7, which is a phone has simply amazing sound, far better than my Zune or an IPod. Mix it with great headphones and it is just awesome.
  • Sony players generally sound pretty good as well.

  • I went with the Cowon.

  • @Forte: Good to hear. Which model did you pick?

  • Used S9 8GB. Much better FLAC playback and surprising Linux support. Looking good so far.


  • Which player is good for playing music in car ? when i play music from my sansa the sound quality is not good.