Friday, March 25, 2005

The Tungsten TW2 Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 12, 2005

TH Audio VS. Nomad Jukebox 3, and some little known facts about the TH audio system.

A collection of well known facts, and some not quite so well known, for those with questions...

Audio on the TH, VZ, and UX Sony PDAs.

This is going to be a short review of the audio capabilities of the Sony TH-55 pda (It applies to the UX and VZ as well, though not regarding the interface of these other devices).

Firstly, I will say that I am comparing it to my Creative Nomad Jukebox 3. This audio player is top of the line, and doesnt sacrifice quality and capabilities for a smaller size as most of the newer players do. Ill give a quick feature list:
· 20 gb HD (its been out a little while)
· optical and analog line in
· Along with the line in, it has the ability to encode line in to MP3 on the fly
· IR port
· Headphone out w/ remote capabilities
· 2 line out ports for stereo connections
· firewire and USB 1 port
· 2 lithium ion battery bays (only one battery is required for operation)
· WMA, MP3, and WAV support
· Also has the ability to dock with a base station for a stereo system connection.
· Dont forget, 98db rating
In practical terms, its the Humvee (H1, not one of those wanna be H2 cars) of portable audio players. Its the reference player for my test.

My reference song is Missing Person, by Michael W. Smith. It is encoded in MP3 at 44khz, and 128kbps.

My reference headphones are Sony MDR-Q55, around the ear type.

I have already established that the J3 is a great player. It has numerous modes of play w/ its EAX technology, which includes time shifting, an equalizer, and environment modes, even a mode for airplanes. However, I will not be using any of these modes for the test.
After listening to each song on the different devices I have concluded that for listening to MP3s in the unaltered sound state, the TH-55 is as good as or better than my Nomad J3. This doesnt take into account the many EAX modes the Nomad supports, with which it can make just about any song sound good. The TH Audioplayer does have a Bass boost feature, which is a nice addition. This review is on the total audio experience, and the TH is lacking in this regard. Although the sound quality is great, Sony neglected to add an adequate interface to make the TH a good audio contender. The interface is the same as what is found in older Clies, "Audioplayer". The main problem I have with Audioplayer is album support. To use AP, you must have all of your audio files in a folder titled MSAudio, in the programs file. They can be no deeper than directly in that file. The avid programmer who we know as Cliepet has created a workaround for this called "Albumswap". This program swaps album files (prefixed with "Album_") in the programs folder with the MSAudio folder, allowing you to have multiple separate albums. I myself run a modified version of Albumswap that reads files prefixed with "ZALBM_", so that they appear at the end of the file list, and not the beginning. If anyone wants a player with an equalizer and other audio capabilities, there are alternatives, such as the popular Pocket Tunes, or the fairly new Busker player. The unfortunate side effect of all third party players is that they lack the ability to access the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) that is present on the TH, UX, and VZ pdas. None of the companies have tried to reverse engineer the DSP. (This would be required as Sony never released the required programming info) The unfortunate side effect is a detrimental hit on two aspects of the system. Because the DSP is separate from the main processor, and is optimized for media, there is a significant processor hit when using another player, and the battery life is greatly diminished, while using the built in player is said to be able to play continuously for over a day in hold mode.
Note: Albumswap is available at

[Offtopic]If Cliepet is listening, what I think alot of us would like is a simple audio player that has album (and maybe playlist) support built in. The absolute coolest thing would be if it could be skinned, but I wouldnt consider that a necessity. Maybe in the future, a media player could be developed that would allow photo, audio, and video w/in one program, in landscape and portrait. (Im quite greedy regarding Clie functionality)[/Offtopic]

Part 2 (Video on Clie)

Coming Soon.... (To entice, i'm comparing to a P-2000, you all know what that is)