SONY D-777. You can find it used.
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I have a Sony MiniDisc player (MZR500) and also a RIO Volt.
Either will do compressed or noncompressed.
The mini-disc with 80 minute discs using the 2X ATRAC (160 minutes) compression is a higher quality than MP3 or WMA at even high bit rates (+128)IMHO.
You do not have to use this option, however.
The 2x option on minidisc is also almost indistinguishable from CD's.
I do have decent headphones (K0SS 35's) and would highly recommend a mini-disc player over any portable format out there. The size and sound quality are great.
I have heard the hard drive based players and for pure storage they are great, but size is generally bigger.
Recent threads on this board have discussed the pros and cons of downloaded music and the impending death of CD's. Having just received an Apple iPod, I have had an "ear-opening" experience, which leads me to the conclusion that CD's are here to stay if anyone with compassion for an artist's vision has a say. I say this because there is a silent gap between each track of an album when played back on an iPod. This means that classical music, or any music recorded with seamless segues between tracks becomes butchered when played back on an iPod! Imagine listening to "Dark Side of the Moon" or "La Traviata" with gaps between the tracks. I thought the days of carrying my CD player on airplanes was over, but now I have to wonder. And, my God, why would anyone download an album from Apple's music service when what you're hearing isn't the way the album was mixed? The iPod is a great piece of portable electronic gear, in my opinion, because of the convenience and sound quality, but the "Gap" issue is unforgiveable. Anyone know of a fix? Apple are you listening?
Found a solution to the iPod gap problem, though it's not ideal. Essentially, using iTunes you select all the tracks on a CD that are supposed to play seamlessly and then select the iTunes "Join CD Tracks" feature before importing. iTunes then imports the selected tracks as one file. Once you've joined the tracks together, however, you can't skip ahead or back from track to track; you're left only the scroll option. See the instructions at
I have a minidisk deck and portables for about 5 years, and AFAIK they always compress audio, at least with ATRAC3 for 80min, which is yet tolerable, but it's still MP3-kind of... Don't really use them anymore... IPOD might be the best, I don't know if its DAC any better then in a good portable CDPs. However, you at least eliminate poor optical reading mechanism of portables, so assuming you've done very good audio extraction, you can get some better quality.
In my version 4 of iTunes, the No Gap feature is only selectable as a Burning option. The No Gap feature still results in gaps between tracks when they are downloaded to the iPod. As I posted earlier, in my experience the only work around to the iPod gaps is to select "Join CD Tracks" in the Advanced section of the iTunes menu.
How about that ultra-sweet-awesome backpack boombox they have at sears? Its the ultimate in portable audio, everyone will like you! suddenly velvet ropes will part, your appointment book will be full, opportunities will arise, doors will open, and you will get a new sence of self worth.
either that or people will label you as a "Tool" and you will feel like an idiot.
why not just go buy a good walkman and good set of headphones?
I've been hearing alot about the Rio Karma played, which is 20 gb, does not insert gaps between tracks, has a very fast access to tracks, and can be obtained for $264. It has a digital equalizer that you can customize or not use at all, and is supposed to sound better than the Ipod. Anyone have any experience with this?