Sansa Clip 8GB & Cowon iAudio U5 Tests [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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11-21-2009, 10:48 PM
Used RMAA.

Soundcard used is an Emu 1212m.

Headphone simulation was done with a Y-splitter, with one end going to the Emu and the other to the headphone. I don't know if that's the correct way to do it.

I also did tests using a Koss in-line volume control to add resistance or buffer between the headphones and the digital audio players' digitally attenuating jacks with the digital volume at max. This use of a volume control greatly reduces the current necessary.

The Sansa has the higher current headphone jack under normal circumstances, though it lacks the Cowon's voltage reserves for extremely low sensitivity headphones. It is flat at any load.

The Cowon has better inherent DAC capability, line out loading, and when a volume control is in line and the digital volume at max. Without the extra resistance, it appears to roll off the bass below 100hz with a total of 3-3.5dB down at 20hz. Sound EQ and other plentiful enhancements cannot help that.

Separation and IMD improves on both when that volume control is in the path of the headphone.

I'm not sure what the THD sweep tests mean when the Sansa shows such high distortion. This doesn't show up in the other tests, just the final graph. Perhaps this is a sign of subtle clipping?

Overall, both sound more liquid and less cold than the Apple iPod Nano 2nd Generation 4GB that went through the wash. Not bad for around $90 total shipped for the two.

11-21-2009, 11:41 PM
I got courageous and decided to try the ER4S without the volume control at full volume. I hope that doesn't damage them. The numbers look good. Noise and dynamics at 90 on the Cowon and 88 dBA on the Sansa. Separation is around -63 on both, with Cowon having better separation in the mids and the Sansa in the frequency extremes. There is only a -0.5dB reduction on the Cowon at 20hz and 20khz, now. IMD is quite good, though not as low as just into a line input, with the Sansa having a slight edge.

Overall the U5 performed much better with the Ety than I expected considering how the KTX4 and earbuds loaded it. I should mention that in all the tests, the Sansa’s stereo phase alignment was about 10 degrees worse. Tonally, I find the U5 a touch smoother with the ER4S and no volume control, while I find the Sansa a bit more liquid with all the other earbuds and headphones. Clearly any subjective comparison using headphones below 100ohm directly into the U5 is unfair, though.

11-22-2009, 05:05 PM

11-22-2009, 05:13 PM
And here are the first nine again.

08-19-2011, 09:32 AM
I was told the in-line volume attenuation after the jack was a very bad idea, so that was only a brief experiment.

harley .guy07
09-15-2011, 09:57 PM
Well it is good to see that the sansa clip is a good player especially for the price and so is the Cowon. I actually did not know to much about the Cowon before buying my clip but so far I have been more than impressed with the clip for what it does for the price and the fact that it is so small and plays almost every file type(or at least the ones I care about) out there. I just ordered new cans and a portable headphone amp for it so I am waiting for them to come in and I will see what that will do.

11-08-2011, 08:13 PM
I've been interested in the cowon for awhile now. Thanks for the data.

04-11-2012, 07:57 PM
you should take out the attenuator/resistor which will eschew the results in favour of frequency response signal/noise ratio and maybe a few other things. Typically, you should have nothing but naked signal between the y-splitter, the headphones and the amp. Also, if any attenuator is in the cable of the line to the emu, there will be problems reading the output.

04-26-2012, 10:28 PM
good, thanks for sharing with us.

really very good

JoeE SP9
04-28-2012, 02:08 PM
So harley .guy07; how did it go with new cans and a headphone amp? I'm asking because I bought a Sansa 4GB ClipZip and a pair of Grado SR-60's. Wondering if I should look into a headphone amp.

I also splurged with a 32GB Micro SD card. I'm using only FLAC files.

I'm putting favorite songs on it. No need to do my entire collection. A couple hundred songs will do.