Mp3 Player Sound Quality

  Alf58 00:06 21 Sep 2006

Apart from headphones what else determines sound quality in an MP3 player? I have a fairly cheap MP3 player but it does a job. I'm considering getting some Senhouser (spelling wrong I know)headphones but wondering if the they would improve the sound quality enough to justify the expense.

  sean-278262 00:13 21 Sep 2006

I love this question the answer is it depends. What format is your music. What is the player. A set of Senns would do you a great deal if you can hear imprefections in sound and your audio is of low bit rate. Therefore if you have 128kbps mp3 it will mean your headphones may show up the low quality. I myself have sony ex71s and can hear the imperfections all the way to 192 and beyond on many songs. So really it is a matter of try before you buy. Maplins are a good place to go to as they often stock a large range of phones.

I would never spend more than 1/4 of the price of the player on headphones as a personal choice.

Ideally you need to try them before you buy.

  Alf58 22:29 21 Sep 2006

Thanks for your reply. Yes the bitrate is in the main 128 kbps. The payer is a Technika which I purchased from Tesco 3 months ago. Its got a recharagable battery and in ear headphones. I only use it for the gymn so am not wanting to spend hundreds. What you say makes a lot of sense.

What about this: a person has an Ipod (or some other top brand) with Sen headphones and also a Technika like mine also with Sen headphones. The same track is played on each machine at 128 kbps. Would there be any difference in the sound quality?

  skidzy 22:40 21 Sep 2006

I recently bought some new inear headphones made by KOSS,got to say.....absolutely superb :-))) click here

Hope this helps.

  sean-278262 22:47 21 Sep 2006

Koss plugs, spark plugs and a few others in the range get some pretty good reviews but not everyone will like them. IEMs (in ear headphones) are quite good in general. However in the situation you suggest about the ipod someone like me will pick out the problems from the off. The average user will see a small difference in sound but unless you are an audio guru it isnt worth spending more than 20 - 40 on a set. A trip to maplins would be advised. You should be able to try all the phones on offer and will give you an idea to what you are to expect depending on what you pay. They wont charge you and often will advise you quite well on some things.

  Totally-braindead 22:53 21 Sep 2006

I too bought a cheapo MP3 player, does me fine. Did replace the headphones with a cheap pair of Sony ones. Not the best quality I know but a vast improvement over the set I got with it.

  Alf58 23:59 21 Sep 2006

Creature of the Night,

From your replies am I right in thinking that the electronics within an expensive MP3 player and a cheap Mp3 player reproduce sound exactly the same so the only variation in sound quality comes from the bitrate and the headphones?

If this is true, why spend hundreds on an Ipod or suchlike when you get same sound from cheapo withe good headfphones? The only other reason for spending a lot might be that an expensive machine may last longer because better quality componants are used?

  sean-278262 00:18 22 Sep 2006

No not exactly true however the bit rate and quality of the rip and the headphones are the biggest factors.

ipod = hype and the must have accessory. 99% of the people that I speak to think that mp3 player is what the ipod is and could not name anything else. It is actually a DAP as it is a digital audio player not just playing one codec aka Mp3.

In general the quality is determined by 100s of things. Basically a short version of what happens.

Data on the drive - sound processor chip - headphone or line out port - attached cable - headphone or output source.

Resistance is a major factor in quality. I could be here all day explaining and probably most of tomorrow to. However for a cheap player like yours the best thing you can do is get good VDB lame 3.98 mp3 files of a bit rate you cannot determine they are mp3 files from and a reasonable set of headphones.

In the DAP world iPods are not the best for sound quality. In comparison my iRiver or a Cowon iaudio player will usually beat an ipod for sound reproduction however Apple have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years.


"From your replies am I right in thinking that the electronics within an expensive MP3 player and a cheap Mp3 player reproduce sound exactly the same so the only variation in sound quality comes from the bitrate and the headphones?"

In responce to this more directly after rereading it. The electronics are basically the same between my £400 iriver and your one however it is also the quality of the parts. Similar to how my computer now is better than my first one was.

  Alf58 00:23 22 Sep 2006

Thank you for your reply. It was both interesting and informative.

  sean-278262 00:29 22 Sep 2006

Your welcome. Incase you had not noticed it happens to be an area where I am very interested. If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

Also what Senns are you looking at. The MX500s are pretty decent for the price.

  Stuartli 00:48 22 Sep 2006

I bought this MP3 player from 7DayShop about six mohths ago:

click here

It cost £12.99 at the time, but I had several Secure Digital and MMC cards so thought it would possibly be a useful addition to my audio equipment collection.

As a hi-fi enthusiast I have to declare that I was pleasantly surprised at MP3s' sound quality through the supplied headphones - what's more it will also double up as a memory card reader/writer if the two I have ever pack up...:-)

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