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New HD5 - ongoing review

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by DavidNZ, Oct 21, 2005.

  1. DavidNZ

    DavidNZ
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    *apologies for cross-posting: this also appears @ atraclife.com*

    After months and months of looking and watching, I bought an HD5 this morning. It was NZ$550 (not too bad) and I've got it charging at the moment. Time enough to write about some initial thoughts (and this will be ongoing as I use it).

    First, I've always preferred ATRAC and Sony's MD players. I've an N710 minidisc recorder, and absolutely love it, particularly the sound. About five months ago, I couldn't stand 'not knowing' and picked up a 6GB Ipod Mini. It lasted all of 7 hours in my hands. The sound quality was absolutely awful, in my opinion. I tried numerous codecs and bitrates for it, but reasoned that file quality couldn't help the lacklustre audio circuitry of the Ipod. I did head-to-head comparisons with my N710 and the Ipod just couldn't hold a candle. So, I gave it to my wife, and she's tickled pink (and not at all an audiophile). I should also point out that I use a pair of Shure e4c canalphones that I picked up in June. Before that I had been using a pair of Sennheiser PX200 headphones.

    Anyway, have studied the new Walkman announcements here on the forums (and on others) and just didn't see the likelihood that, here in NZ, we'll see them anytime soon. Having said, it's probably fair to say that we do get some Japanese stuff before North America, but not a huge amount. I had been watching the discussions around the Net re: the HD5, cracking buttons, flimsy USB cover, problems with Sonic Stage, etc. I used Sonic Stage back when it was on version 2.3, but once I realised the optical recordings direct to the MD from my stereo were simple and, more importantly, reminded me of a time when I used to make mixed cassette tapes (I'm an 80s child), I immediately ditched SS.

    Before I bought the HD5 this morning, I installed SS3.2 and imported a few CDs in preparation for the eventual purchase. Importing went smoothly and the program itself seemed stable enough. I'm running a little IBM X40 ultraportable with a 1.2Ghz Centrino and 512MB of RAM. It's a pretty barebones machine - running mostly Office programs and a few specialised programmes (for statistics), but I generally keep it fairly clean when it comes to software.

    Convinced that SS would run well enough on my X40, I went out and picked up the HD5 (Black). Brought it home and started charging it. I immediately noticed the incredibly flimsy USB cover. In fact, it looks as if only one of 'guides' to the cover is actually working. Not sure if this is a concern or not, but it's clear I'm going to have to treat this *very* gently. I understand the design rationale behind the cover, but wonder really whether it could have been reinforced somehow.

    More to come once charging is complete and I start moving some songs over. That will, of course, be the real test.
     
  2. bailey35mm

    bailey35mm
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    I've had my HD5 for a couple of months now. I can tell you that the seemingly flimsy cover actually is quite tough, just keep it closed when you don't have the usb connected. One piece of advice, get a good case for it, I use a translucent silicon case. The HD5 can scratch easily, and the case provided with the unit helps little and may even cause scratches.

    So far my unit has been flawless. I initially used SS3.1, as that is what came with the unit (I'm am American living in Japan, hence that is were I bought it). SS3.1 simply would crash my computer with every use. I decided to give SS3.2 a try, and other than the fact that it is a memory hog, it works fine. I personally like iTunes better, but SS is good enough since I now have nearly all of my music loaded now.
     
  3. JoachimF

    JoachimF
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    bailey35mm: Where did you find that translucent silicon case for the HD5?
     
  4. DavidNZ

    DavidNZ
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    Update: so far so good. I found out the hard way that you can't really transfer that well if the unit is connected to the computer via a USB hub (even a USB2 hub). No major problems with transfering, although some CDs that feature extra 'software' or videos sometimes had trouble in SS, but I can't really blame SS for that.

    Next step is to print out the manual and really get a feel for playlists and then read through this and other forum to find out:

    1. Does a playlist created in SS transfer over to the unit? If so, are the songs in the playlist transfered (thus you have two copies of the song on the unit itself)?

    2. Bookmarks - gotta read up on them.

    3. Firmware 1.2 - gotta read up on that as well.

    4. I don't want my music library on my laptop hard drive, so need to find out how others have removed it but, if need be, moved it back if they needed to reinitialise their unit for whatever reason.

    5. Time to read the manual (have gotten by so far): seems to only play 1 track on repeat (even though repeat is "off" and 'normal playback' set).

    My wife had a listen and admitted it's *heaps* better than her iPoo. Personally, i think the sound quality is absolutely spot-on.

    Yeesh. I've got a lot of transfering to do (no mp3s, just lots of CDs).

    Good idea re: a case. May have to look into that.
     
  5. JoachimF

    JoachimF
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    I bought the player yesterday and mine was already firmware 1.2 (to check: hold the search-menu button in till you get to the menu, click your way to options->go to initalize system, insert external power then choose update firmware, and it will tell you which firmware it currently is and give you an option to cancel)
    I don't know much about the other stuff, but for cases check out: www.vajacases.com and www.vajachoise.com . Great looking cases and it seems they offer good protection as well. I'm considering buying one with my name on it. =)
     
  6. bailey35mm

    bailey35mm
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    I got my case at Bic Camera next to Nagoya Station. So if you are in Japan, try Bic.
     
  7. Sasso

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    1. In the HD5 songs in playlists will only be transferred once. So if its already there it will just make a link to it instead of doubling up.

    2. Bookmarks are limited, just adding single tracks. Nothing good like the iPod. No playlisting like in SS. Hopefully on the a3000 there will be.

    3. Apparently just fixes a freezing problem. I updated it out of the box, never had trouble.

    4. If you use ss3.2 you can choose to take off copy protection so any atrac tracks can be backed up normally like mp3s, so when you need them again re import them into SS.

    5. Explain the problem in more detail. Is it anything like this: http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230136


    If you look around there is alot of threads discussing the HD5 in depth (that may be buried in the forum so use search). Usually started by shadowitten, he starts some interesting threads.

    I agree about the sound quality, And it would be a good idea to get a case or you'll destroy it eventually.
     
  8. Castar

    Castar
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    I bought my case from Noreve two days ago but I think it's very practical and good-looking. Waiting for it in Japan... will let you know if it's good!
     
  9. DavidNZ

    DavidNZ
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    Another update:

    Well, i found out the hard way that you really should have the AC adapter plugged in whilst doing a transfer. For a while this morning, I serious thought I hosed my computer. The HD5 wasn't being recognised, and what's worse: my little 1.8" portable HDD wasn't being recognised from the same USB port. First I thought it was a hardware issue, but some selective re-booting and swapping around (i.e., removing the USB hub completely when importing CDs and transfering to the HD5), plus a re-read of the quick set up guide for the HD5 confirmed that, basically, I should be reading the f*cking manual (i.e., use the mains when transfering to the HD5). So, the bottom line for me it seems to to basically have my portable CD drive in one USB port (my ultraportable X40 doesn't have an optical drive) and the HD5 directly in the other port. No USB hubs to be used. Seems to work that way.

    More on the sound quality. As I said above, very impressed. Not unlike MD at all. However, there is a hiss when you use sensitive cans. With my Shure e4c canalphones, you can certainly hear the hiss at low volumes, and even the spinning up of the hard drive when selecting tracks. I have to say, this is disappointing to some extent as there was never a hiss when using MD. I guess, to some extent, it's a trade-off. So, when I was reading other posts around the net that some people could not hear a hiss, I'm convinced it's because their headphones are just not sensitive enough (or their ears aren't).

    Importing CDs is bloody boring. This will take me months as I just don't have the patience to sit and do my entire collection at once. Have done the playlist thing in SS and transfered to the unit - that's pretty sweet. Don't think i'll be using the bookmarks in the HD5. The problem I was having with a track repeating wasn't a problem at all. Turns out I transfered the same CD twice. Yeah, real smart.

    Thanks for the links for cases. Definitely the next step.
     

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