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on March 31, 2010
Things to consider good:

1. Sound quality is amazing. I have some Skull Candy buds that are about $15 or so, and they do the trick.

2. Plays almost any format. This will handle FLAC, APE, OGG and the lossless stuff.

3. It is a touch player. I was used to having buttons so it took a bit for me to get used to the touch screen. There's the ability to adjust the sensitivity, but i left it on 3 because well, i'm clutzy.

4. There's a nice little screen for showing album art. I am obsessive about the tagging of my music, and so I was thrilled to see the pretty pictures.

5. It's a bit strange how to use the interface because there's no buttons. The 'quick setup' manual won't really explain to you about putting things on shuffle, repeat, setting of equalizer, etc. The little CD that comes with it has a PDF manual which explains all this stuff. I would suggest that you read it at least a little bit before you start fiddling around.

6. It's drag and drop which was why I got my first Cowon, why I got this one, and why I will always get one from now on. Most of the MP3 players make you use their software in order to load up the player. This makes me crazy. I will put MY music onto MY player any way I wish thank you very much.

7. The little CD I mentioned before also comes with JetAudio software if you want to use it. I messed with it, and it's a decent program, but i have Media Jukebox and didn't want to switch. And yay, I didn't have to! You can sync this with other media players such as Windows Media Player, Winamp. You should NOT try to mess with this thing with iTunes. iTunes encodes their songs with funky DRM stuff that makes some of them play, some of them don't. With JetAudio you can convert the files so that they will play on here, but that seems like a lot of work just to hear your music.

8. I have experienced excellent battery life with this. The only time it went really low was when I was lazy and left it in the car. It got cold which will suck the battery. I'd say charge time is about 2 hours from it being dead. They warn you that this type of battery works best when you DON'T let it go dead.

Things to consider not so good:

1. I haven't bothered to put any video on here, and I probably never will. 8GB fills up a lot faster than you think. Additionally, this is a tiny screen. For album art fine, for movies no way. If you want a multimedia type thing like that you should get a bigger player. Cowon does have the S9 which is their super fancy player.

2. The volume is not as loud as I'd like. I mean it's loud, but only when you turn it all the way up. The highest volume is 40 and at the gym I have it on 38.

3. The ear buds that come with this are quite terrible (like the ear buds that come with everything). As I said before, I have some skull candy ones and they are fine. Don't think that you need some $250 sennheisers or something.

4. Nitpicky thing A) I wish the year was displayed on the MP3 tag. Nitpicky thing B) The display will only show JPG. NO other photo formats. Neither of these things are close to being dealbreakers, but still, these features would've been nice.

Overall I love this player and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone. Its pluses far outweigh the minuses. This is the second Cowon I have owned, and I'm every bit as pleased with this one. My first one was the U5 which i loved, but after a year a smash on the floor was the end. So I got this one which is similar but improved. A great, basic player for those of us who need great sound but don't want or need all the extra multimedia type stuff.
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on July 1, 2010
After researching for the best "bang-for-the-buck" audio player, I may have found it in the Cowon iaudio9. Video, radio, recording etc. were not a high priority - just good audio and the Cowon delivers with a WOW factor. The software is a little hinky and there is a learning curve; however, can be synced with Windows Media Player. The equalizer is over the top and you can tweak to about any sound you want. I agree with most of the reviews and upgrade the earphones. A huge bonus factor is using the unit as the auxiliary input for late model car radios and surround sound receivers - go to Radio Shack and get wired up. Be sure and not leave the player in a hot car as it may fry the unit. Simply `killer' audio for the money.
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on November 4, 2010
In my opinion, Cowon is the undisputed king of DAP's (digital audio players) in terms of sound quality, in the same way that Apple is the king of interface and design. Cowon players have traditionally been quite clunky in terms of physical design and digital interface. Cowon used to be 5 stars in sound quality and 2-3 stars for design and interface. The iaudio 9 is a big step forward for Cowon.

The same great sound quality that we have come to expect from cowon is still front and center. That is why you would buy this device over others. It is neither the cheapest, best looking, or easiest to use of what is out there. If sound quality is not at the top of your list in a DAP, then do not buy the iaudio 9. You can get a cheaper, easier to use player elsewhere. If sound quality is your first priority, then cowon is your brand, and the iaudio 9 is a great choice. There are no sound quality differences between cowon's current line up, so don't think that spending less is going to hurt the sound. The iaudio 9 is cowon's cheapest current gen player. Based on the quality of sound it provides, it is also quite a bargain. You get a huge number of presets (bbe viva 2 is the best in my opinion) and 4 custom user profiles. This means you can fiddle with all the sound enhancement options the iaudio 9 provides and save 4 different profiles.

Sound quality is what cowon has always done, but now cowon can brag about design as well. The iaudio 9 is big step up in terms of design from the old iaudio 7. Thin and black is a winning combination for most electronics and this holds true for the iaudio 9. The screen feels nice and the body is a quality plastic. No you aren't getting a nicer metal exterior, but you also get a device that literally weights almost nothing. There are certainly better looking players out there, but cowon has definitely modernized its design as opposed to the hideous iaudio 7.

The biggest let down for the iaudio 9 is the user interface. The touch controls are not intuitive and the menus hide many useful options. You can get away with not reading the manual if all you want is to just get music playing, but I have had to open up the manual after a while just to make sure I was seeing all the options/menus that are available. My advise would be to just read the manual. It's not long and it will ensure you aren't missing anything this device has to offer. That said, music/podcast/audiobooks are organized well, and you even get the option to browse by folders which is quite nice. Once you find out how to set bookmarks and favorites (and actually find where those get stored) the iaudio 9 is great for podcast and audio books.

In conclusion:
If sound quality is not your highest priority when buying a DAP, then do not buy a cowon product. If sound quality is your highest priority, then buy a cowon player. If you have a tight budget, get the iaudio 9. If you don't like touch screens, but don't mind touch controls get the iaudio 9. If you want cowon's smallest current gen player that still has a screen, get the iaudio 9. In short the interface is the device's low point. The design is just fine, not spectacular, but very acceptable. The sound quality is superb. Sound is why you would buy this product, because it makes up for the other short comings. I got used to the iaudio 9's interface after a while, but I could never get used to crap sound quality from an ipod, and that is why I now own the iaudio 9. Nuf' said.
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on March 26, 2010
Cowon audio quality is far beyond any other players I've owned. Features for the price point are great, The iAudio 9 is highly customizeable compared to other brands in the $100-$150 range. I highly reccomend the Cowon iAudio 9.
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on June 17, 2011
This review is for any runner thinking of getting the iaudoio9. The sound out of the Cowon iAudio 9 is the best sound I have ever heard from any other mp3 players. If it wasn't for the sound I would have given the iaudio 9 two stars. The sound is the best part of it. Now,I'm gonna start on the poorly constructed UI of the iaudio9. On the right side of the iaudio9 you have the menu button and on the left you have the volume buttons. The buttons are on the lower half of the player. It would have been better if Cowon just put the volume buttons along with the menu button on the right side and on the higher half of the player so the user could just use the thumb to do everything. The bad thing about having the volume buttons on the left side is the user has to use the middle and ring finger's to press the volume buttons. I had the iaudio9 for a little more than two weeks and I'm still trying to get used to the UI. Also, the volume buttons are together and shaped the same which makes it hard to know what volume button you're pressing if you are a runner. It's better held upside down, I'm not kidding.

As a runner I like to keep my mind clear and not have any distractions. With the iaudio 9 touchpad, if you put it in your pocket there's a good chance that iaudio9 will pause,stop,rewind,fast forward, skip, or do the most annoying thing, it will do the AB repeat thing. With any unintentional grace or touch on the iaudi9 touchpad something will happen. It doesn't matter if you lower the touch sensitivity. With my Sansa Fuze I would just put it in my pocket and run. And if I wanted to skip a song I just press the skip button with out having to take it out and looking at it. With the iaudio9 almost every time you do something you gotta look at the player.

Some other things:The battery seems to last ten hours. The Speaker is not that loud. If you have headphones that has a mic is likely the iaudio 9 won't work with them. Sound is superb. Portable and light to carry around.
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on January 2, 2010
update review (11/23/2011)
i want to provide an update to the review i produced 2 yrs ago.

the on/off key and the volume control keys failed after 10 months. Cowon sent a refurbished replacement free of charge as part of the 1 yr warranty coverage.
the replacement unit worked well for 12 months then the LCD screen blacked out. Cowon quoted a repair fee of $77+tax.
a brand new unit cost $116 on Amazon.com, i decided not to repair the unit.

caution: this unit may have an average life of 2 yrs.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

the iAudio 9 has excellent audio quality, durable product design. i have been using this device since 2008

Likes:
1. great audio quality with 30 pre-set equalizer settings, from rock to jazz, club to rap. user can also create their own setting to add dimension. (important: to get the best audio quality, i use Shure SE215 or SE435 earbuds (see my review on these earbuds)

2. light weight and comfortable. i9 is slim, about 40 gram (1.4 ounces), extremely light, very comfortable to carry and manage. great for travel, for running. i use this for my daily workout routine.

3. easy function keys and user interface. i9 applies the same COWON design. keys are easy to see and manipulate. you can adjust the sensitiveness of the keys to your touch. some reviewers stated that i9 keys "needs some learning to adjust to". this is subjective. i personally find the function keys easy to understand, to operate.

Dislikes
1. battery. playing WMA music, volume at 3/4 max, i9 delivers 8 hours of non stop music. (COWON advertises 29 hours). this is weak. although recharging is relatively fast. you can recharge to full in 20 minutes from the PC USB port.

2. USB cable and USB jack. i9 uses a tiny USB jack unique to the device, smaller than the generic USB connector. user has to carry one more cable when travel.

3. earbud. extremely poor earbud, one of those $5 earbud at your local discount shop. if you are audiophile, you will need a high quality earbud to appreciate the i9 audio quality. i personally recommend Shure SE 2xx series which may cost you $90.

my conclusion:
this is one of the BEST MP3 players in the market although over priced when you add the cost of a quality earbud. however, to be fair, i would take this over Apple's iPod as i9 has better audio quality.
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on January 19, 2012
I've had quite a few MP3 players in the past 15 years (sony, creative, MPIO, etc..). Though I don't consider myself a real audiophile, I'm always looking for the best possible "affordable" sound. MP3 players is one of the few items where you can get high quality sound without spending thousands when into open stage systems. For this last acquisition, I did a huge research trying to find the best possible mp3 and came up with this unit. I currently have an iPod touch also and though it has good overall sound thanks to its Wolfson DAC, the sound is rather flat and somehow "colorless". Korean-made mp3 players are known for their sound quality. The iAUDIO 9 is a very nice piece of sound system, specially if you consider the money value. I won't go into details about general features, just say it is very simple to use (no instructions needed), very thin and lightweight (I do not feel it at all when walking or running with it). Now, sound-wise, the system comes preloeaded with Jet 3.0 software that will allow you to improve/repair/ low quality mp3 songs. High quality files will also benefit from this and you can play around for quite a while to look for better sounds. The included customizable 5-band equalizer can change your songs in virtually infinite ways. You can use the preset equalizer modes or make and use your own custom presets. You can indeed have up to 4 custom presets. In addition to that, you can actually filter some specific wavelengths to further polish the sound. This will allow you to certainly fit the sound you will be looking for if you spend the time.

Overall this is a very good MP3 system that has great potential in a very small and portable design. If you are just looking for an affordable MP3 system and you mainly care about sound quality, you won't go wrong with this one. COWON has now released iAUDIO10 which is essentially the SAME unit sound-wise but with more features. The only possible way I can think of to improve further the quality of the sound would be to add a high end DAC to the unit, as it's been done with any of the HiFiMan portable players, but they are costly and bulky. The reason why I did not give it 5 stars has been always the same: the lack of digital output to hook it up to high end audio systems (but that's just me as it happens).
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on September 11, 2011
I got an iAudio 9 because before I had an iAudio 7 and it was the best player I ever had. My Cowon iAudio 7 had a great (tested by me, at relatively high volume, playing .ogg files) 44+ hour battery life! It also had great sound quality, even at highest volume. Read my review on it, if you can still find the thing on amazon.

Unfortunately the latest version 9 is not so good.

The Cowon iAudio 9 has a much shorter battery life, less than half that of its predecessor. Its maximum volume output through headphones is less than that of the iAudio 7, it won't automatically resume playback when you turn it on like the iAudio 7 would and its slick looking screen is much thinner and much easier to crack (cracked mine just having it in my pocket, behind my billfold) where I could sit on my iAudio 7 without harming it at all.

Three stars for good (if not quite so loud) sound quality, gapless playback and being able to play .ogg files. It won't be getting those other two stars that the iAudio 7 got. Cowon needs to go back to what works. And I need to find a new player.
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on October 30, 2010
Outstanding sound quality. For some unknown reason all these manufacturers seem to skimp on the earbuds (maybe they need to be broken in?) but after listening for 1 minute I grabbed my cheap Sny earbuds which cost fifteen bucks and was amazed. It was like actually sitting in front of the band. I have owned very high end Klipsch sound equipment (before I had kids...) and the sound from this, with the new earbuds, is almost identical. It has a million different sound settings so you can find one that you like without going into the EQ unless you really want to. In fact I haven't even looked at the EQ because one of the pre-sets sounds just the way I want it. Definitely audiophile quality with different earbuds.

I could knock the rating down due to the earbud quality and the fact that the volume buttons are not in a very ergonomic location, and there is no belt clip, but it sounds awesome, plays FLAC files, has great software (rips from CD to FLAC very quickly). I just want to play music and hear it the way it is supposed to sound and not have to be subject to the mighty manufacturers and their formats and software.

Pros-
Sound quality - great bass clear mid/treble
Like the touch slider
Screen quality
Format support (FLAC, XvID)
Great sound at volume (before Sny buds distort)
Tons of pre-sets
Good software
Software not actually needed to use
Can be used as a flash drive if needed

Cons-
Earbuds
No belt clip
Volume buttons location
Earbuds
Small screen (not really a con but it is a small unit)
Software can be confusing at first
Earbuds
Maybe does not play through headphones while charging?
Earbuds
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on March 20, 2012
I was in the market for a (relatively) inexpensive audio+ video player for kicking around in the car, working out, and mowing the lawn. As opposed to risking my Android phone and running down the battery too much. First I purchased the Sansa Fuse + before returning it for this Cowon. I am very happy with this unit.

Pros -
- Sound quality is great - significantly better than all other devices I have/had. Including ipod classic/mini/itouch, ipad, Galaxy S2, Droid X, kindle fire etc.. Audio buffs will really like the customizable EQ.
- Nice compact size, super light (but doesn't feel cheap. It is plastic, not metal, but feels and looks well built)
- Handles podcasts well enough- although it does not have a separate menu list which would be nice.
- Control interface is good - straightforward and has audible feedback.
- Video playback is pretty good for a mini. Bright and good viewing angles.

Cons -
- does not support AAC (m4a) audio or m4v video.
- has a proprietary cable for charging/data. It looks like a standard mini usb but it is not. This is really pretty sad - but Amazon does sell extra cables cheap enough.
- no memory card slot for expansion. (not a big deal for me since I have the other devices for that)

Ultimately, I am very satisfied with this product. While it has it's limitations, and is actually a bit more expensive than devices with similar features - the execution of the design is great.
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