the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: flac

Sony Walkman 40th

2019-09-06-image-7

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Walkman, Sony will release a specially branded edition of the NW-A100 Media player. The coolest feature, undoubtedly, is the Cassette Tape UI, a nod to the original Walkman, the TPS-L2. The NW-A105 base model is an Android 9.0 based music player that supports just about every format (including hi-res and flac), and with wifi, bluetooth, USB-C and a stereo mini-jack, it’s nothing short of awesome. Full review when I receive it (first order from eBay was cancelled by seller).

I purchased my first Walkman in the summer of 1981, while living in Germany. For many years, it was a trusted companion, and I still have some of my cassettes from back then. Be sure to check the first link, it contains a video with the story of the creation of the first Walkman. Congratulations, Sony. You did good.

On the web:
Sony Global – WALKMAN 40th anniversary
NW-A100 Walkman® A Series Media player with MP3 and Hi-Res Audio | Sony Asia Pacific

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sansa clip zip


Latest hardware in the fantastic Clip line from Sandisk, the "Zip" adds a 1.1″ full color screen. Identical internals as previous models, so same great sound and plays a wide range of formats. Here's some test data.

On the web:
SanDisk
Anythingbutipod

what roku could be…


Don't get me wrong, the Roku HD, at a mere $59, is almost an instant buy. It's a set-top box for streaming digital video. The box connects to your tv or a/v system and facilitates streaming video from the internet, via wireless or wired ethernet connection. It supports Netflix, Amazon VOD, and soon enough Hulu Plus, plus a zillion other "channels" offering everything from sports, music, movies, etc. Too bad their website doesn't have a comprehensive list.

For streaming audio, there's one channel of particular interest to me: MainSqueeze connects your local Squeezebox Server to the Roku. But here's the caveat: the Roku doen't play some audio formats, including Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC. Talk about a heartbreaker!

Will this change in the future? It just seems like too good of an opportunity for Roku to miss, doesn't it? Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC are free, open standards that do not require any licensing fees. Further, the Roku, at just $59 for the entry model, is so much less expensive than the Squeezebox Touch that you could buy five (5) for the same price – one for nearly every room! Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC support usually sets the audiophile scene/buzz on fire, just as the Sansa Clip did when it added support for those formats. It would also give Roku a leg-up on Apple TV, which will never natively support Ogg-Vorbis nor FLAC.

Write Roku and let them know we want Ogg-Vorbis and FLAC support now!

On the web:
Roku Digital Video Player

sansa clip, part 2

The holidays weren't exactly packed with electronics. Back in November, I had ordered a 4GB Sansa Fuze from Dell. It was on sale for $50, so how could I resist? When it arrived, I gave it to my wife to wrap up for Xmas, still thinking the Fuze with it's MicroSD slot would be a step forward. You know what, it wasn't – I absolutely hated the user interface. Plus, the video feature was a pain; all files had to be converted with Sansa's Windows software before they could play on the device. And what was I going to watch on it anyway? So I sold the Fuze on eBay for $70.

I was still in love with my old Clip; compact, simple and intuitive ui, and great sound (check out this review on Anythingbutipod). A quick search found an 8GB model at Amazon UK (BSP Deals) for GBP36; that's about USD54, the same price for what 4GB models are going for in the US! Fortunately I also have a friend in the UK that could forward the package on to me (thanks Kevin!). Now I'm sitting pretty again with a new Sansa Clip, firmware 02.01.16 which now offers playback of FLAC encoded files, and 8GB of storage. Sweet.

BTW, I did pick up some headphones along the way, Sennheiser CX400. And my old 2GB Clip? I gave it to wife for Xmas so she could listen to music on her soon-to-be-revived morning commute (yeah, cheap-ass I know).

On the web:
Official Sandisk Clip forum
My Sansa Clip part 1

open source audio


Since acquiring a 500GB hard drive, I've set to the task of ripping "some" of my CD collection into digital audio files for use with my Squeezebox and Nuforce Icon amplifier. Fortunately, this coincided with the discovery of the Sansa Clip and two firmware upgrades (the latest V01.01.30A) that provide native playback for Ogg and FLAC files.

Like MP3 and AAC, Ogg is a lossy (compressed) media format; however, unlike MP3 and AAC, it is completely free of patent restrictions and royalties. Music encoded with a "q" value of 6 is similar to a 192kps MP3 file, but smaller in size and better in sound quality. FLAC, another open format, stands for "Free Lossless Audio Codec". A CD ripped into FLAC is 50% smaller than the original WAV source, yet there's no compromise in quality – it is true lossless audio.

Most Linux distributions include the libogg / libvorbis / vorbis-tools software by default. Xiph.org has Ogg codecs for both the Mac and Windows operating systems. FLAC software can be found at its site on Sourceforge.net. Admittedly, hardware support is the drawback; the iPod requires Rockbox firmware to play either format. But I'd like to think of it as another reason to support Slimdevices and Sandisk for doing the right thing!

I use Grip to rip my CDs to FLAC and then force-save metadata tags with EasyTag. Grip can also rip directly into Ogg (I use a "q" value of 6). Two notes: Do not write ID3v2 tags to FLAC files because Oggenc – which converts the files – won't recognize the Flac format. Also, OGG files should be written with ID3v1 tags, with Western ISO-8859-1 character set. First, this insures Oggenc will preserve the metadata during conversion, and secondly the Sansa Clip will be able to play the tracks in the correct order (yes, it has a little bug).

Of course, a 500GB drive has no problem storing hundreds of CDs in the FLAC format. But a little 2GB audio player? Converting all the FLAC files in a single directory to Ogg can be on the command line with Oggenc:

$ find . -name "*.flac" -exec oggenc -q 6 '{}' ;

That's it! No patent restrictions, no royalties, and professional sound quality.

On the Web:
Play Ogg
Vorbis
Xiph.org
FLAC @ Sourceforge