the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: Sansa

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

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

sansa clip

If you've read my book, you'll learn (at the very end) that I'm not a very big fan of the ipod or mp3 players in general. The iPod has destroyed music in two ways: it has hearkened the advent of lossy music, while secondly, the ubiquity of music has cheapened the listening experience to a mere fashion statement. Okay, enough of the soap opera; digital music is indeed a novel approach to the storage of music.

I recently purchased a 500GB hard drive (WD Green Power) with the hopes of digitizing some of my collection for use with my Squeezebox and the DAC of my Nuforce Icon. While I have "acquired" a lot of music in the MP3 format, I wanted to use either FLAC or OGG Vorbis (q=6) for ripping my CD collection. This presented one conundrum: Rockbox aside, where am I going to find a portable player that handles these formats?

Best Buy. $39.00 for the 2GB Sansa Clip. What's cool about the Clip? The latest firmware (1.01.29) supports OGG Vorbis decoding. The player also ranks highly for sound quality. Yes, it's incredibly small in size, maybe even too small, but the display is bright, with a menu for easy navigation. I know that 2GB isn't a lot of storage, but I have two needs for a digital music player: First, to plug into the old Sansui/Bose system I have in my garage, when we barbecue and hang out in the back yard, and second, on the occasion that I take some form of public transportation. So 2GB is actually a fair amount of music: almost 40 albums at q=6 for OGG Vorbis.

Now the rub: like all stereos… er, sound systems, they're only as good as the speakers, or in this case, the earphones. Stay tuned…

On the web:
Sansa Clip Official Sandisk page
AnythingbutIpod Sansa Clip disassembled