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[archosjukebox6000] My $.02 on sound quality, the player itself, and Archos

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  • Mike Preisinger
    Sound quality… Headphones: I was disappointed with the sound quality when I first listened on the included headphones. The sound is very flat. Using the EQ
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 24, 2000
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      Sound quality…
       
      Headphones:
      I was disappointed with the sound quality when I first listened on the included headphones.  The sound is very flat.  Using the EQ (especially bass) adds a noticeable clipping to pretty much any MP3.   It seems to me that the overall gain on this unit is WAY too high.  Even on quieter MP3s I could not bear to listen to it on anything above 10.  I can’t imagine that anyone with decent hearing could. 
       
      My Car:
      I did manage to get it sounding decent in my car using a cassette adapter.  Initially I hooked up the cassette adapter into the line out on the player.  However, the signal was slightly too strong and was overdriving the heads on the cassette causing a slight, hardly noticeable distortion effect – which also made it sound a little “tinny.”  I put the cassette adapter into the headphone out (ear) and set the volume to 4 and it sounds decent.  I think the key is to NOT use the EQ that is on the player.  They seem to cause the sound to clip & distort slightly – which is subtle but ruins the perceived sound quality.  I chose a flat EQ (0 bass, 0 treble) on the player and used my car stereo’s EQ to liven up the sound.  I’m quite happy with it.  In fact, if there are headphones available with their own in-line EQ, they might sound decent as well. 
       
      This is just speculation, but it seems that the gain is already “maxed out” (normalized) before the signal is amplified for the headphones.  Therefore, whenever you add anything (more bass/treble) the gain exceeds the headroom on the amplification stage and causes clipping. 
       
      My PC Speakers:
      I have an above average set of PC speakers with a subwoofer.  Again, the sound is decent as long as I don’t use the EQ on the player.  I used the line out on this one – going to my sound hardware’s input and then back out to my speakers.  My sound hardware (Event / Echo Layla) has an “auto trimming” which sets the input gain automatically depending on the signal - so I’m not sure if the gain from the line out will cause the slight distortion I mentioned previously when used on standard AUX inputs. 
       
      My Stereo:
      Sorry, lent it to my fiancé.  I’ll post a follow-up as soon as I can get over there and test it.
       
      The player itself…
       
      Pros:
      Very compact, feels very sturdy, easy to navigate (once you get over the learning curve), decent display, excellent battery life, good transfer rate, works as harddrive, large capacity, supports playlists.
       
      Cons:
      Slightly buggy/quirky firmware (V 3.21b), very occasional skipping (sitting still), marginal sound quality achievable without help from external devices (worthless EQ), uncomfortable / poor sounding headphones (my ears are killing me!), annoying audio pop when you turn it on and off. Also, it’s a nit, but I hate the fact that the player displays 3.18 as the firmware on boot up in spite of my actual firmware being 3.21b.
       
      Final Answer:
      It's a keeper.  To me, the goods outweigh the bads (slightly.) 
       
      Reflecting…
      My question is how much of the player is controllable through firmware? – and how many of the AJB6000’s problems are fixable through firmware upgrades?   Can any engineers shed a little light here?  Is it possible that Archos could use a different CODEC in future firmware releases to improve sound?  A lot can be accomplished through software sound processing.  I’ve read of some higher end CD players using software algorithms to process the sound so that you perceive lower pitched tones.  Could Archos use a different algorithm to control EQ? - Or lower the gain in the preamp stage so the EQ doesn’t clip?  I wonder how supportive Archos will be in releasing new firmware, and letting us know what to expect.  It would do wonders for their reputation if someone from their company would have the courage to step up to the firing line and answer some of this community’s questions and concerns.  I guess their true colors will shine in the following weeks.
       
      -Mike
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