Portable CD player (Walkman-style) with good audio quality?

Discussion in 'rec.audio.pro' started by David Satz, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. David Satz

    David Satz Guest

    This may seem slightly off-topic, or else not.

    I recently misplaced (!) the trusty old Sony Walkman CD player that
    I've used for the past 10+ years. Looking at the newer models, I see
    mostly units that offer powerful anti-skipping circuitry.

    Those circuits buffer the sample data in RAM, and the last I read,
    the Big New Thing was to use data compression on that data so as to
    tolerate nearly constant physical movement (jogging, etc.) without
    raising the cost of the hardware too much.

    I'd like to know whether anyone here can recommend a current-model,
    relatively inexpensive "Walkman"-style CD player that offers high
    quality audio outputs without that sort of data compression. Must
    be small, have a headphone output and be able to run on batteries.
    If there are any sonic special features such as "Mega Bass," they
    need to be fully defeatable.

    Many thanks.
  2. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "David Satz" <DSatz@msn.com> wrote in message
    news:e6a68193.0308261358.6d709e3f@posting.google.com

    > I'd like to know whether anyone here can recommend a current-model,
    > relatively inexpensive "Walkman"-style CD player that offers high
    > quality audio outputs without that sort of data compression. Must
    > be small, have a headphone output and be able to run on batteries.
    > If there are any sonic special features such as "Mega Bass," they
    > need to be fully defeatable.


    Why not cut to the chase and try a Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3? Without
    any kind of data compression it holds the contents of something like 30-50
    CDs. You can also use it for recording like you would use a DAT recorder if
    you can line up some mic preamps.

    One advantage for production folks is that you can load it with tracks you
    are working on, listen to them, carry them around, and download them to any
    USB or Firewire-capable computer someplace else.

    OK, a NJB3 is going to cost maybe three times the price of a mid-end
    portable CD player, but I can pretty well guarantee it will be at least
    three times more fun. If money is a issue, try eBay - right now CL is
    auctioning off some 20 GB refurbs for $179 "buy it now".

    The hot tip for earphones to use with it are Sony EX-70s - another $40. Oh,
    and if you are going to do portable recording or play lots of uncompressed
    wav files, let me recommend getting a second rechargeable battery, which
    neatly fits inside along with the first one. I picked mine up from eCost.com
    for $35.50, delivered.
  3. Rob Adelman

    Rob Adelman Guest

    What if one has a stack of CD's sitting there and just want to grab one
    and play it?

    Arny Krueger wrote:

    > Why not cut to the chase and try a Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3? Without
    > any kind of data compression it holds the contents of something like 30-50
    > CDs. You can also use it for recording like you would use a DAT recorder if
    > you can line up some mic preamps.
    >
    > One advantage for production folks is that you can load it with tracks you
    > are working on, listen to them, carry them around, and download them to any
    > USB or Firewire-capable computer someplace else.
    >
    > OK, a NJB3 is going to cost maybe three times the price of a mid-end
    > portable CD player, but I can pretty well guarantee it will be at least
    > three times more fun. If money is a issue, try eBay - right now CL is
    > auctioning off some 20 GB refurbs for $179 "buy it now".
    >
    > The hot tip for earphones to use with it are Sony EX-70s - another $40. Oh,
    > and if you are going to do portable recording or play lots of uncompressed
    > wav files, let me recommend getting a second rechargeable battery, which
    > neatly fits inside along with the first one. I picked mine up from eCost.com
    > for $35.50, delivered.
    >
    >
  4. I'll probably be proven wrong, but I've never heard of such a thing. Whoever
    told you this is mouthing utter crap.

    You can't compress the disk's data until you get it and have it. And that
    "getting and having" are influenced by the player's skip resistance. Compressing
    it -- which raises the cost of the player for no good reason -- offers no
    advantage.

    I suspect the person was confused by the fact that some Discmans can play CDs
    with MP3 files.

    The better Sony players of the past few years have such powerful skip-resistance
    that you can jump around like an ape, shake the player vigorously, or even slam
    it -- hard! -- onto a mattress -- and it doesn't skip.

    And that's with the skip-resistance circuits TURNED OFF! Yup. The players are
    mechanically skip-resistant. It's amazing.

    Don't turn your nose up a MegaBass. "Good" headphones often sound a bit anemic
    at the low end, and the bass boost helps.

    By the way, ALL Walkman-style CD players are small, have headphone outputs, and
    run on batteries.


    > Those circuits buffer the sample data in RAM, and the last I read,
    > the Big New Thing was to use data compression on that data so
    > as to tolerate nearly constant physical movement (jogging, etc.)
    > without raising the cost of the hardware too much.


    > I'd like to know whether anyone here can recommend a current-model,
    > relatively inexpensive "Walkman"-style CD player that offers high
    > quality audio outputs without that sort of data compression. Must
    > be small, have a headphone output and be able to run on batteries.
    > If there are any sonic special features such as "Mega Bass," they
    > need to be fully defeatable.
  5. NoSpam

    NoSpam Guest

    Hey Arny,

    >>Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3


    Is there a Spdif in on this to use it with an Apogee MiniMe?


    ZZ


    "Arny Krueger" <arnyk@hotpop.com> wrote in message
    news:yoidnXk4lJCPQ9aiXTWJhg@comcast.com...
    > "David Satz" <DSatz@msn.com> wrote in message
    > news:e6a68193.0308261358.6d709e3f@posting.google.com
    >
    > > I'd like to know whether anyone here can recommend a current-model,
    > > relatively inexpensive "Walkman"-style CD player that offers high
    > > quality audio outputs without that sort of data compression. Must
    > > be small, have a headphone output and be able to run on batteries.
    > > If there are any sonic special features such as "Mega Bass," they
    > > need to be fully defeatable.

    >
    > Why not cut to the chase and try a Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3? Without
    > any kind of data compression it holds the contents of something like 30-50
    > CDs. You can also use it for recording like you would use a DAT recorder

    if
    > you can line up some mic preamps.
    >
    > One advantage for production folks is that you can load it with tracks you
    > are working on, listen to them, carry them around, and download them to

    any
    > USB or Firewire-capable computer someplace else.
    >
    > OK, a NJB3 is going to cost maybe three times the price of a mid-end
    > portable CD player, but I can pretty well guarantee it will be at least
    > three times more fun. If money is a issue, try eBay - right now CL is
    > auctioning off some 20 GB refurbs for $179 "buy it now".
    >
    > The hot tip for earphones to use with it are Sony EX-70s - another $40.

    Oh,
    > and if you are going to do portable recording or play lots of uncompressed
    > wav files, let me recommend getting a second rechargeable battery, which
    > neatly fits inside along with the first one. I picked mine up from

    eCost.com
    > for $35.50, delivered.
    >
    >
  6. Les Cargill

    Les Cargill Guest

    David Satz wrote:
    >
    > This may seem slightly off-topic, or else not.
    >
    > I recently misplaced (!) the trusty old Sony Walkman CD player that
    > I've used for the past 10+ years. Looking at the newer models, I see
    > mostly units that offer powerful anti-skipping circuitry.
    >
    > Those circuits buffer the sample data in RAM, and the last I read,
    > the Big New Thing was to use data compression on that data so as to
    > tolerate nearly constant physical movement (jogging, etc.) without
    > raising the cost of the hardware too much.
    >


    Nah. The design most certainly would be more complicated that way,
    and I mean complicated in very likely costly ways. It's
    pretty cheap buffering audio in RAM, which is all them
    skip buffers do. But Sony gets unbeleiveable economy
    of scale...


    > I'd like to know whether anyone here can recommend a current-model,
    > relatively inexpensive "Walkman"-style CD player that offers high
    > quality audio outputs without that sort of data compression. Must
    > be small, have a headphone output and be able to run on batteries.
    > If there are any sonic special features such as "Mega Bass," they
    > need to be fully defeatable.
    >


    Sony's been selling ATRAC enabled Disc(person)s for a while now, but
    I doubt they'd bother with ATRAC just to implement a skip buffer.
    RAM is stupid cheap, now. The ATRAC encoded discs just puts more
    stuff on the disc, for longer running time, ala MP3. Sonys owns
    the IP for it, and no longer has Minidisc to amortize said IP.

    Forever, I kept hearing "new eight-track Discman" on commercials,
    until I saw a print ad. ATRAC sounds a lot like "eight track"...

    All the MegaBass stuff is usually switchable against the
    headphone out, or at least used to be,

    > Many thanks.



    --
    Les Cargill
  7. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "Rob Adelman" <SPAMLESSradelman@mn.rr.com> wrote in message
    news:bigo44$8jsbi$1@ID-75267.news.uni-berlin.de

    > What if one has a stack of CD's sitting there and just want to grab
    > one and play it?


    Rip it on your PC and download it to the NJB3 via firewire. Takes about 5
    minutes.

    Not ideal, but pretty workable. Been doing it.
  8. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "NoSpam" <nospam@spam.com> wrote in message
    news:m1S2b.268604$o%2.122484@sccrnsc02
    > Hey Arny,
    >
    >>> Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3

    >
    > Is there a Spdif in on this to use it with an Apogee MiniMe?


    The NJB3 has a Toslink input - AKA optical SP/DIF.

    Seems like it would be a better fit with this little goodie, which is now
    available, I hear

    http://www.core-sound.com/HighResRecorderNews.html#MIC2496

    Half the price, too!
  9. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "William Sommerwerck" <williams@nwlink.com> wrote in message
    news:vknqd1crm26s8e@corp.supernews.com

    > I'll probably be proven wrong, but I've never heard of such a thing.


    It's a matter of fact that it is easy to find portable CD players that take
    a big performance hit when you turn on the skip resistance. Here are some
    examples:

    http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Sony_D-828k/index.htm

    http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Sony_D-247/index.htm

    http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Pan_SL-S220/index.htm

    Now these tests are a few years old, and new product might perform better.

    > Whoever told you this is mouthing utter crap.


    No comment.
  10. Monroe

    Monroe Guest

    Check this link out. More than you will want to know and straight
    discussion on new and old tech:

    http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/

    I'm pretty satisfied with a Panasonic model (SL-CT570); I believe it
    is discontinued, but I see them popping up new every now and then.
    Reasonable line out's, defeatable feature set. Nice.

    On 26 Aug 2003 14:58:17 -0700, DSatz@msn.com (David Satz) wrote:

    >This may seem slightly off-topic, or else not.
    >
    >I recently misplaced (!) the trusty old Sony Walkman CD player that
    >I've used for the past 10+ years. Looking at the newer models, I see
    >mostly units that offer powerful anti-skipping circuitry.
    >
    >Those circuits buffer the sample data in RAM, and the last I read,
    >the Big New Thing was to use data compression on that data so as to
    >tolerate nearly constant physical movement (jogging, etc.) without
    >raising the cost of the hardware too much.
    >
    >I'd like to know whether anyone here can recommend a current-model,
    >relatively inexpensive "Walkman"-style CD player that offers high
    >quality audio outputs without that sort of data compression. Must
    >be small, have a headphone output and be able to run on batteries.
    >If there are any sonic special features such as "Mega Bass," they
    >need to be fully defeatable.
    >
    >Many thanks.


    --

    Monroe
  11. You misread the post, Arny. That wasn't at all what he was talking about.


    Arny Krueger wrote...

    > William Sommerwerck wrote...


    >> I'll probably be proven wrong, but I've never heard of such a thing.


    > It's a matter of fact that it is easy to find portable CD players that take
    > a big performance hit when you turn on the skip resistance. Here are
    > some examples:


    > http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Sony_D-828k/index.htm


    > http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Sony_D-247/index.htm


    > http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Pan_SL-S220/index.htm


    > Now these tests are a few years old, and new product might perform better.
  12. David Satz

    David Satz Guest

    Arny Krueger <arnyk@hotpop.com> wrote:

    > Why not cut to the chase and try a Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3?


    Thanks, but I really need a CD player, because, well--it's to play CDs.

    --best regards
  13. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "William Sommerwerck" <williams@nwlink.com> wrote in message
    news:vko3j17loaq6b4@corp.supernews.com

    > Arny Krueger wrote...


    >> William Sommerwerck wrote...


    >>>>"David Satz" <DSatz@msn.com> wrote in message
    >>>>news:e6a68193.0308261358.6d709e3f@posting.google.com


    >>>> I'd like to know whether anyone here can recommend a current-model,
    >>>> relatively inexpensive "Walkman"-style CD player that offers high
    >>>> quality audio outputs without that sort of data compression. Must
    >>>> be small, have a headphone output and be able to run on batteries.
    >>>> If there are any sonic special features such as "Mega Bass," they
    >>>> need to be fully defeatable


    >>> I'll probably be proven wrong, but I've never heard of such a thing.


    >> It's a matter of fact that it is easy to find portable CD players
    >> that take a big performance hit when you turn on the skip
    >> resistance. Here are some examples:


    >> http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Sony_D-828k/index.htm


    >> http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Sony_D-247/index.htm


    >> http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Pan_SL-S220/index.htm


    >> Now these tests are a few years old, and new product might perform
    >> better.


    > You misread the post, Arny. That wasn't at all what he was talking
    > about.


    Here's an independent reference that ties what David said, and the evidence
    I presented together:

    http://www.sonysemiconductor.co.uk/pdfs/cxnews/CX17 New Products CXD30
    27R-1.pdf
    Please see paragraph on page one entitled "High-Functionality Memory
    Controller Function"

    "CXD3027R-1 supports DRAM capacities of 4M or 16M bits, and supports
    compression/expansion for handling the stored audio data."

    Modern CD players have up to 60 seconds of shock protection. We all know
    that 60 seconds of 44/16 data is about 10.8 megabytes. However, the
    reference says that CD players are being implemented with no more than 2
    megabytes (16 megabits) of RAM for this purpose. The reference specifically
    says that compression/expansion is used to accomplish this. Figure 2 shows
    this function in a block diagram of the chip and Table 1 documents some
    details of its operation.

    The reduced performance I measured with shock protection turned on, is no
    doubt due to artifacts of the compression/expansion process that Sony (and
    others) document.
  14. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "David Satz" <DSatz@msn.com> wrote in message
    news:e6a68193.0308261855.7b2b1209@posting.google.com
    > Arny Krueger <arnyk@hotpop.com> wrote:


    >> Why not cut to the chase and try a Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3?


    > Thanks, but I really need a CD player, because, well--it's to play
    > CDs.


    The problem there is exactly relates to a point you raised quite
    explicitly - shock resistance and quality compromises.

    I don't know of any CD players that don't use data compression when their
    electronic shock resistance feature is turned on. I don't know of any CD
    players that have shock resistance that is NJB3 perfect, without turning on
    their electronic shock resistance.

    My NJB3 seems to be shock resistant in the extreme without any technical
    compromises. For example I've dropped it several feet onto a carpeted floor
    without it missing a beat. I can't shake it hard enough in my hand to make
    it skip.

    As I pointed out, hard drive players are very convenient and effective means
    to play CDs. OK, it takes a little planning and forethought. I know of no
    way to carry more CD music in less space and play it in more different
    contexts without compromising sound quality.
  15. This Is Weird.

    When the poster said "data compression," I assumed <ahem> that (given what he
    said about loss of sound quality) he meant lossy data compression. I couldn't
    imagine why any company would do such a thing.

    The spec sheet you reference says nothing about the nature of the compression.
    Lossless compression is possible, but I don't see how you could get the
    equivalent of 75% compression (4 bits) without data loss.

    It seems I was wrong about engineers making stupid design decisions that degrade
    the performance of their products for no good reason.

    My current Discman is a D-FJ75TR, and it is 99.999% skip-resistant with the
    G-Shock circuitry turned off. I owned several previous Discmans with
    skip-resistance circuits, but all of them could be easily derailed.


    >> You misread the post, Arny. That wasn't at all what he was talking
    >> about.


    > Here's an independent reference that ties what David said, and the
    > evidence I presented together:


    >

    <http://www.sonysemiconductor.co.uk/pdfs/cxnews/CX17 New Products CXD3027R
    -27R-1.pdf>
    > Please see paragraph on page one entitled "High-Functionality Memory
    > Controller Function"


    > "CXD3027R-1 supports DRAM capacities of 4M or 16M bits, and supports
    > compression/expansion for handling the stored audio data."


    > Modern CD players have up to 60 seconds of shock protection. We all know
    > that 60 seconds of 44/16 data is about 10.8 megabytes. However, the
    > reference says that CD players are being implemented with no more than 2
    > megabytes (16 megabits) of RAM for this purpose. The reference specifically
    > says that compression/expansion is used to accomplish this. Figure 2 shows
    > this function in a block diagram of the chip and Table 1 documents some
    > details of its operation.


    > The reduced performance I measured with shock protection turned on, is no
    > doubt due to artifacts of the compression/expansion process that Sony (and
    > others) document.
  16. Arny Krueger

    Arny Krueger Guest

    "William Sommerwerck" <williams@nwlink.com> wrote in message
    news:vkpae8cg5kv147@corp.supernews.com
    > This Is Weird.
    >
    > When the poster said "data compression," I assumed <ahem> that (given
    > what he said about loss of sound quality) he meant lossy data
    > compression. I couldn't imagine why any company would do such a thing.


    Lossy data compression is exactly what they seem to do.

    > The spec sheet you reference says nothing about the nature of the
    > compression. Lossless compression is possible, but I don't see how
    > you could get the equivalent of 75% compression (4 bits) without data
    > loss.


    They get data loss, pure and simple. That shows up in my performance tests
    as worsened noise and distortion performance. They don't say what coding
    technique they use, but it isn't very transparent.

    > It seems I was wrong about engineers making stupid design decisions
    > that degrade the performance of their products for no good reason.


    The proof of the pudding is consumer acceptance of these products. Less
    critical listeners seem to tolerate them pretty well.

    > My current Discman is a D-FJ75TR, and it is 99.999% skip-resistant
    > with the G-Shock circuitry turned off. I owned several previous
    > Discmans with skip-resistance circuits, but all of them could be
    > easily derailed.


    This begs the question, skip resistant under what kind of severe operational
    conditions.

    Ultimately the CD player versus hard drive player skip resistance comparison
    rests on how the pickup mechanisms are positioned. Optical pickups are
    positioned by electro-optical servo mechanisms which have improved greatly,
    but are still less shock resistant than hard drives. Hard drives use a far
    simpler but more robust scheme based on the pickup assembly being supported
    by a fluidic layer that is inherent in the higher-speed spinning of the
    disk.

    Because of the greater cost and energy use of hard disk players, they also
    have larger cost and power budgets for implementing buffers. For example the
    NJB3 uses a 16 megabyte buffer, while CD players seem to be generally
    limited to 16 megabit buffers, or about 1/8 as much buffering. In MP3 mode
    the 16 megabyte buffer of a NJB3 holds anywhere between 1 and 3 complete
    songs. (!!!) In .wav mode, it holds about 90 seconds of uncompressed audio.

    The technology of MP3 players also allows larger amounts of compression of
    buffered information, since the data compression is not necessarily done in
    real time, and is performed by some more powerful computer someplace else.

    I've seen prototypes of hard drive based players for use in automobiles.
    People are also introducing highly-portable MP3 players based on 1 GB 1.8"
    hard drives. I suspect that this is going to be a trend.
  17. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    In article <bigo44$8jsbi$1@ID-75267.news.uni-berlin.de> SPAMLESSradelman@mn.rr.com writes:

    > What if one has a stack of CD's sitting there and just want to grab one
    > and play it?


    Then one buys what one really wants. Depends on the application.

    When I LISTEN to a CD, I don't do it on my portable player. I do it in
    the living room and put it in the tabletop player. When I'm using my
    portable, I want backgrond music that I'm not going to be devoting
    very much attention to, and it's almost always something (like a
    cross-country flight or a long drive in the car) that's longer than
    one CD's worth of time. I used to carry a portable player and a case
    of CDs on a flight, but now in just a little more time than it takes
    to remove CDs from their jewel cases and insert them in the portable
    sleeve case, I can load them on the Nomad Jukebox (admittedly it
    requires being near the computer and plugging in) and have enough
    music to carry me there and back in one package. And if I remember to
    bring the USB cable with me, if I get a new CD while I'm on a trip, I
    can load it on to the Jukebox from my laptop computer and listen to it
    on the way home.

    I paid $300 for my new 20 GB Jukebox. $179 for a factory refurbished
    (and I assume warranteed) one is a great bargain. I've never run out
    of battery, but if I picked up one of those $33 battiers that Arny
    pointed out, I wouldn't have to carry the wall wart on a trip to
    charge it up before the flight home.



    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  18. Mike Rivers

    Mike Rivers Guest

    In article <m1S2b.268604$o%2.122484@sccrnsc02> nospam@spam.com writes:
    > >>Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3

    >
    > Is there a Spdif in on this to use it with an Apogee MiniMe?


    There's an optical S/PDIF input (but no digital output other than file
    transfer via Firewire or USB. The MiniMe has only a coax S/PDIF so
    you'd need a converter to use them together.






    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers - (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
  19. David Satz

    David Satz Guest

    William Sommerwerck wrote:

    > You can't compress the disk's data until you get it and have it. And that
    > "getting and having" are influenced by the player's skip resistance.
    > Compressing it -- which raises the cost of the player for no good
    > reason -- offers no advantage.


    Hi, Bill. Your first statement is perfectly true, but the players I'm
    talking about have two buffers "in series." The first buffer follows the
    logic of every other CD player ever made, which is what you're defending
    here. But once the usual anti-skip (relocating/splicing) logic has been
    applied and the buffer is full of contiguous, uncompressed samples, its
    contents are compressed and copied into a segment of a second buffer.

    This allows the secondary buffer to hold many seconds' worth of audio.
    The player magically acquires a new specification value, plus the amusing
    ability to continue playing a track from RAM for some time after the disc
    has been stopped or even removed from the player.

    Such players have been around for several years now. I don't want to buy
    one of those unless it's clear that the compression can be turned all the
    way off.

    --Folks, this thread is mimicking that well-known parody of R.A.P.; I asked
    for specific information that I really need, and the 12 responses so far
    have [a] extolled the virtues of HD players over CD players or else they've
    argued about the existence or non-existence of data compression. And
    oh, yes, there's been a bit of name-calling, or nearly so.

    I don't want to diminish the interesting discussion, but strangely I would
    _also_ really like to have some recommendations for a low-cost portable CD
    player that is known to have relatively high-quality audio ... if possible.

    --best regards
  20. >> My current Discman is a D-FJ75TR, and it is 99.999% skip-resistant
    >> with the G-Shock circuitry turned off. I owned several previous
    >> Discmans with skip-resistance circuits, but all of them could be
    >> easily derailed.


    > This begs the question, skip resistant under what kind of severe
    > operational conditions.


    I haven't tried jogging with it, but quite severe, including tossing the unit in
    the air and throwing it -- quite hard -- against a sofa or bed.

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