Top critical review
81 people found this helpful
Meets its primary goal
on May 22, 2014
This player meets its primary goal of staying in your ears during activity, being rugged, and eliminating the wire entanglements of a separate player and headphones. I cannot verify that it is water proof but it is well constructed and likely will work fine in the rain etc. Plenty of carefully shaped switches and buttons are placed well to easily access functions that can be selected "by feel" since the buttons are accessed without seeing them. One great feature is the voice acknowledgements given though the ear buds when certain functions are selected such as "Play", "Shuffle On", "Shuffle Off" "All Songs", "Next Folder" etc. and a pleasant little beep when it is turned on or off - as well as a green on light that briefly turns red when going off. The paper instructions are nearly worthless and I had to use trial and error to learn that "Shuffle Off" must be selected in order to cycle through the folders. But it is possible to go backward as well as forward through the folders which is a very useful feature. Hookup to the computer and loading music was flawless and typical.
I am a big fan of Sony audio equipment and was therefore willing to pay a bit more for this set. However, the sound quality is at best "good." It is a bit muffled, tends to the Treble side, and has weak bass. I suspect the problem stems from the necessity to place the speakers behind a protective membrane and further from the ear canal. A little more care with the shape and material of the sound canal might have greatly improved the performance. The sound quality is what would be expected from sound that must carry down a plastic passage way and then go through a membrane. The sound quality is also strongly affected by how deeply and well they fit in the ear. A deep fit is required to get much bass and higher volumes improve the quality - to some degree. Compared to my $35 Sansa Clip and $10 Skull ear buds this Sony comes in a distant second. If I had not purchased these with a Sony gift card I might be requesting a refund. But they do meet the primary requirement of an easy to use player that stays put without distractions. It would be interesting to compare several sets from different lots to know if there is any equalizer tweaking that occurs during production.
If I could re-engineer this player I would coat the sound canal to improve the sound clarity as well as put tremendous effort into its shape. I would also add FLAC capability and an FM tuner (the Sansa Clip has both). It would seem to be easy to add an equalizer that could be accessed when the set is connected to the computer as well as pre-setting FM stations and then use the On/Off Lock switch to access them since I see no value in the On/Off Lock switch since the On/Off button is very stiff to press and must be held down to activate. I suspect I will eventually try to attach my Sansa Clip to some "behind the head" phones and attempt to duplicate the convenience of this Sony set.
As I said above, if I had not purchased this set through the Sony site using a gift card that was useable only on their site I might consider returning it for a refund. But - it does meet the primary requirements and there is nothing else that compares to its compactness, fit, and rugged design. Audiophiles will be disappointed with the sound but hose like me who want the wire-free convenience when working around the house or exercising will find it meets most needs. I rated it three stars just so no one will be misled into thinking it has high-quality sound. So sound quality three - functionality five.