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What Hi*Fi? Sound & Vision - Ultimate MP3 Guide

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by shadowritten, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. shadowritten

    shadowritten
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    Anyone been as amused as me by this blatent homage to our little white friend with the clickwheel? Bordering on the sychophantic, I'd say! Still, made for an interesting read. Three of the new Sony NW series made it to best buy status. So did the Zen Touch, and deservedly so, IMO.

    Found some of the reviews rather contentious, though. For a publication claiming to put sound quality first, there were a couple of instances where stars were deducted from players that had been praised by the magazine reviewer for their excellent sound quality. And I shan't bother spoiling it for you by revealing which player came out as the best thing since breathing in and out (it starts with an 'i', and it's not iRiver, iBead or iAudio - the last of which didn't even make it into the reviews in brief at the back, while the iBead got a picture review, bizarrely?).

    Any thoughts on this?
     
  2. gerbilly

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    That is probably due to most people thinking the i-pod sounds better and due to AAC being a better recording format than atrac.

    Just because all you Sony fans are on here bleating away doesnt mean it is better. It is a very accurate review of the HD5 , it gives it five out of five but it crIticises the flabby base, something I noticed when listening to the HD3.
     
  3. asherpat

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    shadowritten, i know how you feel, read my thread "ipod fatigue"...
     
  4. HMHB

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    Whilst I don't want to get into an argument about what has the better sound, I do despair sometimes with What HiFi reviews - in fact I don't bother reading it any more ! You always know if they are going to have a group test of anything which is going to win and, like you say, they deduct stars for stupid reasons to justify their choice. This isn't just limited to iPods though with them.
     
  5. shadowritten

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    Do most people think the iPod sounds better? Without wishing to be in any way provocative, gerbilly, I can honestly say I haven't met anyone who thinks this. (Certainly, the bods at CNET didn't think so recently, rating the iPod bottom, the HD5 top in a blind listening test of six players.)

    I have, however, met a lot of iPod owners who've praised the DAP's looks, its interface (particularly the clickwheel and iTunes, both of which I agree are excellent), and its overall dimensions - but said nothing whatsoever about its sound quality. Not even Apple markets the iPod based on what I think is most important for a DAP (i.e. sound quality), prefering instead to use emotive advertising to - very successfully - sell the iPod 'lifestyle', while ignoring altogether the quesion of the unit's sound stage and other known issues such as repeated freezing and poor battery performance.

    This is good marketing indeed. Speaking as an advertising creative working for a major global agency, I'd have advised them to do the same; particularly as I've come across assorted claims on the Internet regarding what some experts consider to be the iPod's technically inferior build quality, circuitary, choice of HDD, etc.

    As to being a Sony fan, this I make no secret of. Why? Personal experience of countless Sony products over many years. Speaking very generally, the Sony goods I've owned have NEVER let me down; I still own Sony headphones that are going strong after 14 years, and a Sony CD Walkman that operates as faultlessly now as it did a decade ago. Only Panasonic products have come close to this consistency of reliability IMO; and while I, like many other apparent 'Sony fanboys' on here do, as you say, 'bleat on' about the HD5/HD3, we're very far from being blind to these products' faults and have made our displeasure known very publically indeed. This at least proves we're not entirely biased.

    My only comment on the review's assessment of the HD5's bass is to say I find it acceptably tight and punchy - more so than Creative's products (of which I'm also a fan), which I acknowledge as having generally better sound quality overall.
     
  6. shadowritten

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    Arguably one of the most riveting reads on this forum, asherpat - thanks for starting it! Have just spent a thoroughly enjoyable hour reading all 7 pages while grinning to myself. And listening to my HD5 :rotfl:
     
  7. extremelydodgy

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    I'm not going to read this until I've finished doing the same thing. But actually lining up the competitors side by side, and using a Sony phone no less to do the listening, I'm struck by the sonic information that's missing from the HD5. It could actually be the worst out of the lot (Apple, iRiver, iAudio, etc) by a small margin. I have noticed some slight differences in the sound between the HD3 and 5, although I have to say I haven't owned the HD3 and 5 together. The HD5 could be worse. Not that sure, but could be.
     
  8. shadowritten

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    So you're planning to run a blind sound test of all the competitors from the CNET experiment, or the top choices in What Hi*Fi? Which Sony cans will you be using? Will you be posting your findings here? I'm particularly keen to know what you make of the iAudio (I'm guessing it's the M3 rather than the M5, right?). Nearly bought one 3 months ago but was put off by the lack of ID3 database searching.

    Many thanks.
     
  9. extremelydodgy

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    I'm using the Sony Qualia 010 to test, but I'll of course run it with more realistic level cans as well.


    The iAudio I have is the X5. It still hasn't got ID3 support, but they are talking about it. How complete it will be is something you and I can only boggle at. At least iAudio seem to be better at writing software than iRiver. Soundwise, the X5 is kind of a swings and roundabouts with the Sony. It has better fundamental sound quality than the Sony and has much better control over the sound in MP3 (or any other codec it supports for that matter) and it has workable support for FLAC lossless encoding. But it's afflicted by (I think) a smaller degree of the same issue that besets the iPod with low impedance phones. It's not as big a potential problem with the iPod as the bass can be majorly boosted on the X5, but a low impedance falloff might introduce some distortion into the signal. I have no problems with phones of 32 ohm-ish and over, and when tested as such it has demonstrably higher sound quality to the HD5.


    The M3's basically the same in terms of sound, just minus the onboard display and USBOTG facility. Movies are pretty sh!te (I would say crap, but that doesn't really describe how crappy ikt is) on the X5 so if you're not into photo and video and can live with remote only operation (not a big wrench IMO as it's the most informative around) the M3 is still worth getting. I prefer the way the M3 looks as well. Very sort of 90's sleek. The X5's hump for the display makes it look rather pants in comparison.


    Some people like folder based organisation, especially classical buffs because so many classical CD's are incorrectly tagged on CDDB. Others may not. I prefer tag based navigation on the whole and search by Album/Artist/Composer, and drag & drop from Explorer isn't really practical for me as I have a large library... part of the reason why I stick with the iPod as my daily player.
     
  10. Pecker

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    The reasoning behind their bias isn't even particularly well hidden.

    In one review they praise a non-Apple product (through gritted teeth, you suspect), then "recommend" it in their summary by saying "Go on, make Bill Gates richer".

    The truth is that entire media-fixation with the i-pod is based largely on a hatred of Microsoft, and they'll do everything possible to put down the best of the competition.

    This What Hi-Fi special shares a lot of its reviews with the latest normal WHF, where they group review a series of 20gb players...well, nearly. They review all 20gb players + a Zen Touch 40GB player. They criticise the Zen Touch for being bulky, but (hidden away in the body of the text), they admit that the Zen Touch 20gb player is less bulky.

    It's also substantially cheaper! The Apple i-pod 20gb is listed at £209, vs the Touch 40gb price of £230. So why didn't they make it a fair fight, and review the 20gb Zen Touch, and admit that the size is far less bulky than the 40gb, and the price means it knocks the spots of the Apple? Anything to do with the fact that, at £180, they'd have no choice but to award the group winner to the Zen rather than the i-pod?

    Doing a group review of the i-pod vs other 20gb players, but only reviewing the 40gb model of its chief rival, then noting it's more expensive & bulkier than the Apple is simply laughable journalism.

    Steve W
     
  11. shadowritten

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    What riled me more than anything else, Pecker, was the page on transferring vinyl LPs to your ... wait for it ... iPod! The process they describe will enable anyone to turn any LP into MP3 (or other format) and then put it onto ANY DAP. But do they make this clear? Do they diddly!!
     
  12. Steven

    Steven
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    Never have trusted mags....I'm convinced they're all biased/paid. Same for videogame mags as well......

    I prefer to read reviews on internet sites, and more importantly forums, primarily this and head hi-fi forums, for user reviews. I find this way is more honest anyway
     
  13. shadowritten

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    As a rule, neither do I. But then, I'm in an industry where we can sometimes influence what goes in mags, etc, so I know how biased or, shall we say, 'swayed' they can be.
     
  14. pjskel

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    Magazines do play both sides of the game, it has to be said.
    On one hand, they are a business, selling advertising space, on the other, they have to appear to be impartial.
    Some of them are nothing more than Press Release regurgitators - which the manufacturers love.
    Others who've more credibility, employ some of the best ears and writers around, but they are still a business. This is were reviewers and manufacturers/distributors get talking at the various trade/public shows and politics can come into play.
    It's hard for a magazine taking £ x,000 a month on advertising from manufacturer X, to be totally honest in the reviews, for fear of losing that income. The big manufacturers have the press by the shorts on this. Equally, a new player or distributor will not be viewed similarly, therefore they can often find their reviews more critically presented. This is the two sides of the game that the magazines play.
    Not all magazines are like that - there are those that let the manufacturer/distributor have their view on the review, but again this is self serving if the man/dis has established a "working relationship" with the reviewer. Often this "working relationship" comes in the form of hanging on to the equipment indefinitely.

    As some of you may know, I write for an online review site, and yes, we get to keep the products, most of the time. But, there's a big difference between earphones at £100 and speakers at £10K+
    Also, the site I write on has no advertising to pay for anything - it has an Amazon affiliation scheme in place, which generates little more than enough to pay for the overheads. Myself and the site owner do it for the love of all things technological. The side perks ain't too bad either, but it's hardly enough to make us say something is brilliant, when the opposite is really the case.
    No one likes to write a negative comment on a product which consumers and manufacturer alike are hoping for great things from, but if a product really isn't up to where it should be compared to its competitors in the marketplace, then we say as much. It's fair for all concerned - the consumers intending to buy, and the manufacturers, so they can fix the issues raised for the next version, if they actually care.
     
  15. shadowritten

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    Really? Are you allowed to post here the URL? Only, I like your style of writing - you're concise, but also sufficiently detailed. As a writer myself, I'd be interested to read some of your reviews, if you can point me in the right direction. Cheers!
     
  16. pjskel

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  17. shadowritten

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    Thanks for the links. Any particular reviews you're especially pleased with?
     
  18. asherpat

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    pjskel,

    i briefy read the piece in your website about the new iPod. Pls take this as a truly neutral question but what do you think is the "bold statement" that you refer to in the "buying an iPod has moved from making a bold statement to being a safe bet"?
     
  19. Steven

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    This is the exact closing sentence of the review for the 'new' iPod 20gb Colour

    However buying an iPod has moved from making a bold statement to being a safe bet, no one will ever take the mick, no one will ever tell you that its a bad MP3 player, but you should consider if you are after middle of the road comfort if so this colour iPod 20gb is for you

    What it means is that, in the past an iPod was bought as a fashion statement. 'Audiophiles' rejected it though, for various reasons. But now, with this latest iteration, Apple are slowly getting to nirvana; hence 'middle of the road'.

    I think thats right, pjskel?
     
  20. pjskel

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    Not guilty - that's written by Lord Percy himself. Mine have "reviewed by" at the bottom of the page.
    At a guess, I'd say what LP was getting at was that previously, buying an iPod was making some sort of statemement. Two fingers up to MS or because the white design was seen as fashionable - and some follow fashion. Now, buying a iPod is done because you know what your getting - Apple is no longer an unknown. The rival computer computer, as some where lead to believe.

    I'll ask LP to join here and post his response to that question.
     
  21. HMHB

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    I'm sure Lord Percy was a member here, but he kept posting links to items for sale on his site !
     
  22. pjskel

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    Apparently he was a member using his LP site signature.
    The reviews have a direct link to Amazon (where applicable) which generates a small commission IF the reader decides to buy. This modest income provides for site upkeep and overheads. It's the best way of keeping it clean and uncluttered for readers unlike a lot of other sites which have plenty of adverts/sponsor links trying to grab your attention.
    As I understand it, if the mods here had been willing to ask him to remove the sig, then it would've been done, but they saw fit to just delete his account and posts without so much as a by your leave.
    A tad heavy-handed if you ask me.
    So, with that said, if you or any one of the other moderators would like me to remove the post on the previous page stating whom I write for, I'll happily oblige.
    It was done not to promote the site or myself, but as a response to another member's post.

    Hopefully what's gone in the past, can remain there rather than brought back to the present.



    *And no John, that's NOT a dig at youself whatsoever - just to make it clear.*
     
  23. HMHB

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    No problem with the odd link here and there, but if I remember correctly it was decided at the time that there were too many links or something like that. I'll look back and see what the problem was as my job is to keep an eye out and report anything that I think might need it.
    No offence taken :)
     
  24. HMHB

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    Ok, I've found the details. There was the link in the sig and virtually every post had a link to the site, so it was easier to delete all 27 posts and get rid of the link in the signature. Stuart did PM him about it.
     
  25. pjskel

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    Well, as far as I'm concerned on this matter, we'll let sleeping dogs lie, and leave it at that.
     
  26. HMHB

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    Indeed, there's no problem with him posting here again.
     

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