Clip+ vs. Clip: 1. General sound quality, 2. Radio reception

I just got a Clip+ yesterday to replace my regular Clip and I’m in two minds about it.

I love the new Clip+ features, the solid, quality build and all the improvements to the UI and menus.

However, there are two things that I’m disappointed with:

1. The sound quality of the Clip+ compared to the regular Clip seems considerably less clear and crisp. I can hear much more detail in the sound of the regular Clip, and the Clip+ is less enjoyable to listen to.

 

2. The FM radio has much worse reception on the Clip+. For example, my favourite station Radio 4 (don’t laugh) 92.7 FM can be clearly picked up on the old Clip on 92.60, 92.65, 92.70, 92.75 and 92.80. The Clip+ struggles to tune in to the station on 9.65. This is similar for all radio channels.

 

Anyone else have any thoughts on the Clip+ sound quality? Is it something that might be changed with new firmware or is it set in stone? Also, anyone else having patchy performance from their radio function (from all the Clip+ reviews I was actually expecting better reception)?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of the Clip brand. These are amazing devices, but I really don’t know what to do. Do I stick with the Clip+ and hope for improved firmware? I’ve got the old Clip on eBay at the moment and don’t really know whether to cancel the auction and return the Clip+ to the online store or not (although I’m not sure on what grounds they’d accept it).

I don’t use the radio so I can’t comment on that, but sound quality wise I don’t hear much of a difference tbh

I wonder if it is your particular Clip+.  I had been under the impression that the sound technology for the Clip+ is the same as that in the Clip, but perhaps I am wrong.

The most detail I could find when I was looking at reviews of the Clip+ was this from anythingbutipod.com:

 

"Sound Quality

Sound quality was the Clip 1’s forte, very straight forward and clean and one of my favorite in terms of sound quality. Comparing the original Clip to some of Cowon’s players it tended to be more analytical, more precise, less on the warm side. Not one being better than the other, but being more of a preference. The Clip+ has moved to a bit warmer signature closer to what you might find on the Cowon S9. In my opinion this is an improvement. Regardless to your preference you will find that the Clip Plus is one of the best sounding MP3 players on the market."

All other reviews seemed to just gloss over the sound quality and kind of inferred that it was the same as in the original Clip.

All reviews tended to think the FM radio was better though too.

In terms of radio, the majority of the reviews are not from the UK (I’m assuming you are on the basis of the Radio 4 thing), that may make a difference, but I’m unsure.

I didn’t read that ABI quote as glossing over the sound quality.  Comparing it to an S9 is certainly praise.

You’re correct. I’m from UK. I’ve tested the Clip and Clip+ side by side with the same pair of headphones in the same location at the same time of day, weather conditions, etc.; so as far as FM reception is concerned it’s definitely the new device that’s not as good and not some other factor. Trouble is, it’s not just a little quibble for me - the stations I can pick up on the Clip+ are pretty unlistenable with loads of static and dropouts.

As for the general sound quality, I think you may have misunderstood a bit. I said that other reviews than the ABI one tended to gloss over sound quality. Sorry if that wsn’t clear.

I’m no great audiophile, so I’m not sure what terms to use in describing the sound. I can tell the Clip plays songs a little slower than normal, but out on the go that isn’t an issue for me. The clean sound and ability to easily separate the instruments and vocals, and to pick out detail is more important to me. I really like the way the old Clip makes music sound.

The Clip+ seems somewhat fuzzier but with slightly more bass. It almost reminds me of the difference between listening to something with closed back headphones compared to open back ones.

If I were you and could get my hands on another Clip+, I’d try a second unit out–this all could be a single unit issue.

It’s hard to get great radio performance with so much digital mayhem happening a few millimeters from the receiver.  Plus, the antenna is the headphone shield wire.

Yet somehow, the crazy wee beastie seems to pull FM signals out of the aether, doesn’t it?  I would suspect the new device in your case.  Can you borrow another Clip+ for comparison?  It might simply be your unit.

Between all of my Sansas, the e200 (version 2) is the undisputed radio champion, with good selectivity and sensitivity.  I’ll have a listen with the Clip+.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy:

As for the radio reception, you could argue that the clip+ has tighter filtering for adjacent station rejection, so that adjacent stations don’t break in to what you are listening to. 

My clip+ picks up Radio 4 on 92.95, 93.00, 93.05, 93.10MHz.

Thanks for the replies so far guys.

I can’t get hold of another Clip+. I don’t know anyone who owns one. I don’t know anyone who owns a regular Clip. Also, after reading around a bit I don’t think these are the kinds of issues that get better with newer firmware.

So it’s a question as to whether I try and return the Clip+ for a refund and hold on to my normal Clip or not. I’m just worried about whether I’ll be able to get refunded for an opened/used product. I suppose I’ve a chance if it isn’t fit for the purpose of listening to the radio, when other devices I have tested are (including a couple of old, sub £3, autoscan radios).

@ataribaby wrote:

You’re correct. I’m from UK. I’ve tested the Clip and Clip+ side by side with the same pair of headphones in the same location at the same time of day, weather conditions, etc. […]

 

I’m no great audiophile, so I’m not sure what terms to use in describing the sound. I can tell the Clip plays songs a little slower than normal, but out on the go that isn’t an issue for me. The clean sound and ability to easily separate the instruments and vocals, and to pick out detail is more important to me. I really like the way the old Clip makes music sound.

 

The Clip+ seems somewhat fuzzier but with slightly more bass. It almost reminds me of the difference between listening to something with closed back headphones compared to open back ones.

Probably you’ve checked this already, but perhaps the difference could be down to EQ settings (I prefer my Clip’s EQ set to Jazz).

Do you Clip and Clip+ have the same EQ setting?

Or are the EQ configurations different between the Clip and Clip+ ?

I’m bumping this back up because I’m bummed out.

I had problems with my Fuze–MicroSD slot stopped working–so I got the Clip + under the impression that it had the same processor as the Clip, which is supposedly the same as the Fuze. It just came today. For a moment I was pretty excited.

It is DEFINITELY not the Fuze sound, which was beautifully spacious and balanced. By comparison, the Clip + has an  exaggerated midrange (which some players use to bring out vocals in noisy places), weak bass and a squashed soundstage. 

I’m plugging the same headphones into the same song at the same volume, and getting more and more disappointed. 

Whoever the reviewers are that are claiming the Clip + has fabulous sound are, to use the technical term,  idiots. Maybe the Clip was better–I don’t know–but this is a serious drop in sound quality. 

I never needed Custom EQ on the Fuze. I’ll try it on the Clip + --some bass boost and midrange taming–but I don’t expect much improvement. 

I know that this sounds silly, but do make sure the headphones are in all the way–this is a constant issue with new Clips (a tite headphone jack).

The headphone jack is not the problem.

I’m familiar with this from the Fuze. And by now I have done a lot of back-and-forth with headphones in and out. The Clip + definitely has a different sound signature. And it is considerably inferior. 

Luckily, I got mine from a place that actually accepts returns. It’s going back. What a disappointment. 

I was looking forward to having such a tiny player. But I am not going to trade a modest reduction in size for decent sound. Especially when SanDisk has actually delivered good sound quality with the Fuze. The price difference between a Clip+ and a Fuze is under $20 and after hearing the difference through my own Shure IEM headphones, I think it’s well worth paying a few dollars more to have my music sound like music. 

Bye bye Clip + . Maybe the original Clip was better, but the lack of capacity was a deal-breaker there. And if the old Clip was better, then SanDisk should just be ashamed of itself for reducing sound quality.

Potential Clip + buyers, beware. 

Message Edited by Crescendo on 12-16-2009 07:32 PM

Just curious if you have tried checking where the Equalizer setting is at?  It may be on one of the settings that take some of the treble out.  Try going to the following -->  SETTINGS  -> MUSIC OPTIONS  ->  MUSIC EQ -> AND THEN TRYING ONE OF THE OTHER STANDARD EQUALIZER SETTING.

I have a Clip+ and think it’s unbelievable for the size… but then again I haven’t tried any of the other MP3 players.

The EQ was on Normal right out of the box. I tried all the other EQ settings, which muffle various frequencies or (Dance) pump up the bass,  and also tried playing with the Custom EQ to lower the overdone midrange and raise the bass a bit. It was still vastly inferior to the Fuze.

I compared by playing the same files on each player at the same volume–Maxwell’s new album, which has very natural instrument sounds, and some other music–and plugging the headphones (Shure E4, excellent IEMs) back and forth between the units. 

Yes, it’s a marvel to have a player this tiny. But the Fuze isn’t much bigger, and the hype for the original Clip was that it sounded as good as the Fuze and didn’t bother with video (which is not well implemented on the Fuze anyway).  I wasn’t interested in the Clip for its lack of capacity, so I haven’t listened to one. But if the hype for the Clip was correct, then SanDisc should be calling this the Clip Minus. 

If this is your only mp3 player then you don’t have a basis for comparison. I do, and for SanDisk the Clip Plus is a step backward in sound quality. 

Crescendo wrote:

 

It is DEFINITELY not the Fuze sound, which was beautifully spacious and balanced. By comparison, the Clip + has an  exaggerated midrange (which some players use to bring out vocals in noisy places), weak bass and a squashed soundstage. 

 

Methinks someone is simply jumping on the “Let’s bash the Clip+” bandwagon and copying & pasting someone else’s thoughts from another thread.

whatchamacallit wrote:

 If it were physically defective it would certainly have shown some other symptoms besides an exaggerated midrange and a collapsed soundstage. 

 

Tapeworm wrote:


Crescendo wrote:

 

It is DEFINITELY not the Fuze sound, which was beautifully spacious and balanced. By comparison, the Clip + has an  exaggerated midrange (which some players use to bring out vocals in noisy places), weak bass and a squashed soundstage. 

 


Methinks someone is simply jumping on the “Let’s bash the Clip+” bandwagon and copying & pasting someone else’s thoughts from another thread.

 


whatchamacallit wrote:

 If it were physically defective it would certainly have shown some other symptoms besides an exaggerated midrange and a collapsed soundstage. 

 


So we have another Negative Nellie? :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t know how the OP got on in the end but I’ve just received my Clip+ 8GB and I find the same difference in sound quality.

Where the original had clear “layers” of sound, the + seems a bit more congested and as a result, there is slightly less detail.

I tested this with both Clips playing the same tracks, using a flat eq, and by swapping the headphones between the two as they were playing.

I compared the Fuze V1 to the Clip+ yesterday, and I could see what they mean, on the Fuze V1 it is more Crisp and Spread-Out, on the Clip+, it is slightly more pushed together and bassy. You could call it warmer. It is not as bad as they make it, it all depends on your personal preference. I prefer the Fuze V1. As far as I know, the difference should exist in the V1 and V2 of the Clip and Fuze, too, since the V2s use the same chip as the Clip+.