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Sandisk Sansa Fuze - Quick Review

AV Cables

marsilians

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I just picked up this player about 2 weeks ago and use it mainly for outdoor activities. You can read a lot of reviews on this by googling. So I wont go there. I will just lay out what I think about the player and the sound quality.

iPods are notoriously bad for sound reproduction in my opinion. So I have been using other players from Creative, Sony and now Sandisk players.

This player has probably one of the best playback qualities so far. The closest one being Cowon D2. I have paired this with a Sennheiser PX100 and listen to it in noisy environment - outside and in gym.

I have also added an 8 GB micro SD card for a total of 16GB capacity.

I use it primarily for music though it supports video (I cant stand to watch video on such players), radio (excellent AM/FM quality), audio recorder (a plus for me when I want to record something off the radio such as an announcement or song info).

The firmware upload was very easy and the latest one supports ogg and flac formats seamlessly.

I have loaded classic rock, electric blues and psychedelic songs (my exercise genres) in flac and ogg format songs, all ripped in stereo mode from CDs and DVD-A's with best quality via media monkey. The onboard DAC has stood well and its definitely non fatiguing.

I have also tried to listen to some jazz, blues and fusion music off of CDs and ripped flacs via my BitHead amp (HeadRoom Total BitHead @ HeadRoom) and through my AKG 501 headphones and the sound was surprisingly decent. (the bitheads are warm amps and pair very well with the Xonar Essence audio card). I have also use the amp/player in my car mp3 player (connected via USB) and the sound quality is quite good.

The biggest pain in the neck was having Vista recognize this device. There are no. of posts around Vista having issues with this. I had initial issues and did the following steps to get around:

1. Set the Fuze to be recognized as an MTP device in settings.
2. Upgraded the latest firmware on the Fuze
3. Upgraded to the latest update for media player.

Steps 1, 2 still did not recognize but after step 3 its been pretty smooth for transferring music via MediaMonkey. media player also recognizes it now but I dont use it due to limited qualities and sub par ripping features/capabilities.

All in all I am happy with the buy.
 

gobble

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Thanks I've been considering it ever since I heard it now plays flac with new firmware.

Did you plug it in to your regular hi-fi amp and listen on speakers? Is the DAC really that good that I can drop the idea of building an htpc with asus Xonar?

TIA
 

marsilians

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Thanks I've been considering it ever since I heard it now plays flac with new firmware.

Did you plug it in to your regular hi-fi amp and listen on speakers? Is the DAC really that good that I can drop the idea of building an htpc with asus Xonar?

TIA

I wouldn't go as far to say it replaces HTPC esp. with an essence or DX2. But the sound output is very very good for such a small sized player esp. if you have a decent pair of headphones. I will try later today to play via analogue and USB inputs to let you know how it sounds as I haven't tried that yet.

I also like the micro sd card expansion and did not notice any jitter when playing off of it even while jogging outside (I am not lean by any measure).
 

gobble

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I wouldn't go as far to say it replaces HTPC esp. with an essence or DX2. But the sound output is very very good for such a small sized player esp. if you have a decent pair of headphones. I will try later today to play via analogue and USB inputs to let you know how it sounds as I haven't tried that yet.

I also like the micro sd card expansion and did not notice any jitter when playing off of it even while jogging outside (I am not lean by any measure).

If you can replay the same tracks via CD and sandisk on your hi-fi and post a comparision it will be great!

TIA
Regards
 

marsilians

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Here are my observations when playing via an AVR.

- First off, Oppo does not support the hardware/firmware, so you cannot connect this via USB to the 980. My sony connects well and plays but the Sandisk just does not. Oppo support also confirmed they will not support as its an active (self powered) device and their specifications only state a passive connection via USB. This is the first time I have not been impressed by Oppo's reasoning. Hopefully its the last.

- So I connected the player via a Y cable to 3 processors amongst myself and friends. Yamaha 863, Outlaw Pre-pro 990 (with Adcom GFA 7607 amp) and Music hall Mambo. These were connected to Martin Logan Ascent, Dynaudio 72 & Audio Engine A2.

They were listened to in analog only mode (no DSP) except with the mambo ofcourse.
The music quality is just excellent from this device. I am very impressed by the quality for a music player. Its not close to a dedicated CD player - there should be no such expectations. but the output is matching the Oppo played via USB. I bought a mp3 CD from national market and transferred onto a USB stick to play via the Oppo, and also listened via headphones on the Fuze as well as play it via the analog inputs. Could not make much of a difference at all.

One thing to caution is that you have to raise your inputs onto the player and the receivers quite a bit to get loud sound (75 db) but I guess these would not be for lengthy sessions.

So bottom line, for parties, background music or just a chill out session, the fuze with an AVR or a pre- would be a good choice WITH GOOD QUALITY MUSIC.

Hope this helps
 
Last edited:

linenthu

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There are differences between firmwares & hardware revisions.....that's why I asked .....According to me 01.01.15p is the best firmware...
 

linenthu

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There are actually two HW revisions I've never seen a Rev 2 Fuze in India.....I listened to my cousin's when I was out of India... At that time I was using my 1GB shuffle so never cared about that thing.... soon after my purchase things are different... The default gain setting in the 01.01.15p (pacific firmware) is the one that is responsible for the quality....in the latest 01.01.26 ( this one is not region specific) the gain settings are set to default values... you have to calibrate it manually after updating....
 

linenthu

New Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
76
Points
0
Location
Chennai
I just picked up this player about 2 weeks ago and use it mainly for outdoor activities. You can read a lot of reviews on this by googling. So I wont go there. I will just lay out what I think about the player and the sound quality.

iPods are notoriously bad for sound reproduction in my opinion. So I have been using other players from Creative, Sony and now Sandisk players.

This player has probably one of the best playback qualities so far. The closest one being Cowon D2. I have paired this with a Sennheiser PX100 and listen to it in noisy environment - outside and in gym.

I have also added an 8 GB micro SD card for a total of 16GB capacity.

I use it primarily for music though it supports video (I cant stand to watch video on such players), radio (excellent AM/FM quality), audio recorder (a plus for me when I want to record something off the radio such as an announcement or song info).

The firmware upload was very easy and the latest one supports ogg and flac formats seamlessly.

Ogg is a container and it'll be better if you call it vorbis ...
 
Last edited:

gobble

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There are actually two HW revisions I've never seen a Rev 2 Fuze in India.....I listened to my cousin's when I was out of India... At that time I was using my 1GB shuffle so never cared about that thing.... soon after my purchase things are different... The default gain setting in the 01.01.15p (pacific firmware) is the one that is responsible for the quality....in the latest 01.01.26 ( this one is not region specific) the gain settings are set to default values... you have to calibrate it manually after updating....

Does the 10.01.15p support flac playback? Or is it only the latest firmware?
Is it easy to simply download the firmware and burn it? Is there a linux ubuntu utility to do this?
I am going pick this up this week if you guys can advice.


TIA
 

linenthu

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Yes but if your tracks are with replay gain information you don't have to downgrade to 01.01.15 ... There's a firmware updater utility available on web and its only for Windows... it'll download the firmware directly to the Fuze ...you can also do this manually.. for this you have to connect the player in MSC mode... in Ubuntu if you're familiar with the command line just mount the Fuze and move the .bin to the root directory of the Fuze(before that get root permissions using sudo -i and change the .bin file permission to 777) then unmount it ( remember to change the USB mode to MSC before moving it) you can also do this in GUI ... Just move or copy the .bin file to the root directory.(same applies to windows).. ... its simple and fast...the firmware upgrade will start soon after you disconnect the data transfer cable..there'll be a screen displaying the upgrade progress..then it'll turn off....thats it :yahoo:
 
Last edited:

marsilians

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There are actually two HW revisions I've never seen a Rev 2 Fuze in India.....I listened to my cousin's when I was out of India... At that time I was using my 1GB shuffle so never cared about that thing.... soon after my purchase things are different... The default gain setting in the 01.01.15p (pacific firmware) is the one that is responsible for the quality....in the latest 01.01.26 ( this one is not region specific) the gain settings are set to default values... you have to calibrate it manually after updating....

Maybe I am missing something here. How is replay gain related to getting better sound quality?
 

linenthu

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The perceived loudness of a compressed file is variable like most of the audio cds.... Audio cds are mastered like that in order to maintain the mood and theme of the music...in audio cds it is not noticeable due to other sounds backing up the track...In compressed audio this difference is more because some frequencies are permanently removed...by calibrating the replay gain its possible to achieve constant volume...but calibrating a lossy file is useless according to me... Cos you'll be noticing the missing things at constant perceived loudness....Do this and listen...compress a file at 128 Kbps 48000Hz and play without adjusting the Replay again....now calibrate your mp3 with a target lets take 89 dB or 88 dB....You'll surely notice the decreased quality .. Now try the same thing with a lossless format
 

marsilians

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Messages
2,642
Points
83
Location
117.192.87.109
The perceived loudness of a compressed file is variable like most of the audio cds.... Audio cds are mastered like that in order to maintain the mood and theme of the music...in audio cds it is not noticeable due to other sounds backing up the track...In compressed audio this difference is more because some frequencies are permanently removed...by calibrating the replay gain its possible to achieve constant volume...but calibrating a lossy file is useless according to me... Cos you'll be noticing the missing things at constant perceived loudness....Do this and listen...compress a file at 128 Kbps 48000Hz and play without adjusting the Replay again....now calibrate your mp3 with a target lets take 89 dB or 88 dB....You'll surely notice the decreased quality .. Now try the same thing with a lossless format

I read what you are saying but its still not convincing that RG affects sound quality. Also if thsi is the only reason to go with one firware version or another, i don't believe there is much to gain for me. Also this is a moot point as I noted in my original post that I bought thsi for Flac playback of rips from original CDs. From that perspective, I think I am getting the best out of this device though i did have to set the DSP to "pop" for better reproduction even for the likes of Ten years After, Stevie Wonder and Humble Pie!
 
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