Super light, cheap, lossless MP3 player that drives good headphones


#1

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#2

I would be interested if rockbox wasn’t making my now 10 year old sansa pretty awesome. Can’t use SDHC cards but it is doing just fine with a 16GB SD card. But that looks pretty freaking awesome for what it is.

ETA The yellow is really really tempting though.


#3

With all the background noise in cars and all, lossless portable music is futile.


#4

I’d never heard of Rockbox beofre, but have a Sansa clip and my curiosity is piqued. What are the most useful/awesome imrovements Rockbox has added to the device, in your opinion?


#5

besides open source?
the shuffle play was awful… didn’t I hear this 3 times and skip it already in the last hour and I couldn’t put in a sd card greater than 2GB.
rockbox just generates a random playlist of all songs based on your initial pick so no repeats and I can add a bigger sd card.

For the more modern ones like the clip I dunno unless you have the same shuffle play annoyances.


#6

Also, it plays Doom. Mostly it’s just a UI and feature list driven by a user community and not by a marketing department.

I used to run Rockbox on a Gigabeat, which I bought for that sole purpose. I last used it as a nighttime music player for my daughter before replacing it with a chromecast audio. I also ran it on a few Sansas since they were available so cheaply.

These days, I really like bluetooth headphones and not carrying around single-purpose devices. If you’re already using one, though, I’d recommend checking out Rockbox. You can often install it without it necessarily being a permanent decision. (The Sansas dual-booted, if I remember correctly.)


#7

Rockbox is great! What I mostly thank it for, is the ability of managing thousands of files, the Sansa firmware has an artificial limit of something-thousand, and rebuilds the index constantly (It is slow with a huge collection).

But, I already sold/gave away mine (Were a Clip or Zip, either way, had a few), I use my cell phone for music listening now, A2DP bluetooth is a gift from the heavens, or purgatory at least.

Ah, also it gave Vorbis/FLAC support on devices that didn’t have it, and other codecs too.


#8

Mine does.
And doom is kinda meh considering the controls.
I use it for music at work where I don’t keep non work stuff on my work machine or when out doing yardwork and since I haven’t broken down and got a smartphone yet, I like it.


#9

This is how I buy most of my gear; find the most pretentious group of people on the internet and then buy the cheapest thing they don’t hate.


#10

The Gigabeat had a proper cross-type control pad on it, which made it marginally better for Doom. I don’t remember what the fire button was, but it still pretty cool to run something like that on a portable device back then. My second Android phone is what killed the utility for me, as it could handle the functionality better. There was a port of Rockbox for Android that I tried out at some point, but it did not translate well to a touch screen. Weirdly, I had similar experiences when I tried to use ports of PalmOS apps on Android (Datebk5 and HandyShopper) even though they were ostensibly designed with a touch screen in mind.

I thought about bringing this back on topic by wondering if the player featured in this story could run Rockbox, but looking at their site the last stable version was released over three years ago. It looks like there’s still activity on the wiki and code, but that doesn’t seem like the hallmark of a healthy project. :frowning2:


#11

I think the rise of iOS and Android has pretty much killed most reasons for mp3 players and rockbox in general. I imagine the modern ones are just better than my 10 year old beast. Honestly if it had a better shuffle play I probably would not have bothered.


#12

It is true that the outside noise floor tends to hide some fairly egregious sins; but not having to produce a compressed version from your FLAC archive at load time is convenient; especially if you do sometimes use the thing in quiet areas.

Back when storage was expensive, I had some gimcrack collection of scripts that did it automatically for me; but I lost that in a move at some point and now high capacity SDHC cards seem to have established a viable breeding population in my desk, so I can’t be bothered to do anything about it.


#13

It’s unfortunate because MP3 players are unquestionably better devices for what they do; and now that most of the major players have left the market the ones you can still get are either not updated or from OEMs with…questionable…software design and localization skills.

That said, it’s kind of hard to blame them. MP3 player hardware isn’t total black magic; but it’s small enough that things like ‘runs vaguely standard linux, right?’ and ‘MMU?’ can’t be assumed, which makes for some extra heroic porting action vs. just tweaking for the quirks introduced in Yet Another ARM SoC.

(It really takes me back, though: back in the day I had an iRiver IHP-140, 40GB HDD, wired remote with separate screen and control buttons, massive battery life, headphone jack plus mic, line-in, and the option to use optical SPDIF in/outs instead of analog. And it had rockbox support, so FLAC and OGG and DOOM. And this was back in 2003, when the pod people had either 2nd or 3rd gen iPods at the latest. Totally fucking ruled. Alas, they’ve faded into obscurity.)

The more limited hardware means totally insane battery life of course; but unless beating your head against embedded software is something you actively enjoy the cheapest Android widget with an SD slot starts to make a lot of sense(especially if you don’t care about keeping the cameras and radios functioning with your custom firmware, which lowers the bar considerably).


#14

Just make sure your virus scanner of choice is up to date before hooking this (or any other component) up to your computer. A friend of mine got infected by an agptek tablet.


#15

Nother Rockbox fan here, been using it on Sansas since the 200 series. What makes me love it is the way it manages bookmarks for listening to playlists or folders of podcasts or audiobooks. Unlike an ipod or Sansa it will play a folder of 100 files in order, and remember where in the file you were after you come back from another playlist or folder. You can peruse your list of “recent Bookmarks” instead of needing to remember what file or folder you were listening to. Wish the Android port worked well, I’ve not been happy with any audiobook app yet.

Unfortunately the latest Clip can’t run Rockbox for hardware reasons. I need to care for my remaining ones, as they’re useful for times when you don;t want your phone. Particularly the clips, which can be used in a waterproof phone bag that I use for kayaking. The Fuze can’t, since it’s a slide to power up not a button. (I snip the corner of the bag and hot glue the plug cord of cheap headphones through)


#16

Is there a systemic addressing limit that this things out at 64gig? My iPod won’t last forever, and one day I’m going to have to think about replacing it, but I’m used to having about 130g of audio.


#17

And voice recording without the need for carrying around a location-tracker. Sweet.

Dictaphone: Portable Voice Recorder with Noise cancelling 20 hours recording (even more with memory card). You may use it as a memo taker. Speak to it whenever any inspiration comes to your mind.

#18

BIG omission on the AGPtEK specifications: how many milliamps does it output to drive headphones? Can’t find that spec anywhere, and it’s important if you’re using inefficient 'phones like Sennheiser HD560 Ovations as an example.
Re. RockBox - it’s the bomb. I’m bad about tagging my library of MP3’s - the ability to see the folder / file directory structure and play a folder is a godsend. If / when this player has a RockBox port written, and if the milliampere specs are published and they’re good - I’ll buy more than a few.


#19

The last time I checked at Hydrogen Audio their advice was buy the player with the features you want, It will still sound good as long as it didn’t come from a pound shop.

We are a long way past the days when the Rio Karma was the reference player. I’ve still got one somewhere, but I use a Sansa Fuse with Rockbox now.


#20

Got that right. I hang out on an audiobook forum where bookmarking is the most important feature by far, and no one does it half as well as Rockbox IMO.

I also like the ease of pushing the playback speed up 10-20% (with no pitch change) for audiobook listening.

And the ease of switching/modding skins. I have a bright giant print skin with just the file name and play/pause icons for use in the car, a red on black, tiny font, dim light skin for use when I’m listening in bed, and a bells and whistles plus album art skin for every day use.

And the fact that it can be modded so that almost every menu item, and file names, can be voice announced. Eye disease runs in my family so I need to be prepared.

And (at least compared to iOS) it will always accept the biggest sdxc card on the market. 8GB of audiobooks, 10-12GB of storage (see below) and 100+GB of music is pretty nice.

And it’s drag 'n drop for anything with a USB port. I use part of my Sansa for storage of my portable software kit, which I can run right from the player like it was on a memory stick. Suck on that, iOS.

Did I mention that I bought three Sansa Fuzes, and five Clips, back when they were cheap, just so I could have Rockbox-equipped hardware for many years??

Prices on all the discontinued Sansas have doubled or tripled since they were replaced by newer models that cannot be rockboxed. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.