Narrow sound.


I bought the Clip+ a month ago, along with these …

They sound much better than the default headphones, and the player’s sound is great. The problem is, the sound is too “narrow”, i feel it coming from inside my head. I remember i had a Dalton (i think) walkman like 17 years ago, the sound comes from everywhere around me (wide, or surround sound i guess).

With the Clip+, i feel the music is behind my eyes somewhere :D. I tried a lot of headphones, a lot of music files, and i even tried my computer speakers, they all sound the same; narrow. The sound is great, but, it’s concentrated in the middle.

Is my player defective please?

Make sure the headphone plug is fully inserted. These players have tight jacks when new. If the plug is not all the way in, the sound will be monophonic with no left and right seperation. If this is not the case, your other player may have had a digital affects mode on it that was activated. The Sansas due not have these “enhanced” modes. They playback the source material without “coloring” the sound.

Message Edited by 14124all on 03-28-2010 04:20 PM

It’s fully inserted. The sound is stereo; some songs have different effects on different channels, and i get them that way on the player.

I guess that’s how the new players are. i remember that walkman having so many options not in any other brand at the time, shame i ruined it :D, even if i didn’t, who uses tapes anymore :P?!

Some old walkmans had a strong surround effect. Maybe you’re still used to that sound *g*

But even the worst headphones won’t narrow the sound more than what it is. Bad mp3 encoding might narrow the sound, but the Sansa plays it as it is. I get wonderful stereo over it.

Maybe it’s als just the type of music you like :wink:

I listen to Metal and Classical. All of my MP3s are 192+ encoded, very high quality. They sound great on my computer, but i guess it’s indeed how i’m used to old sounding headphone music.

The problem is not the player. It might be the earphones or the recordings. Have you tried other headphones? Other recordings? Try using a higher bitrate for encoding.

The problem is that those headphones are the best i’ve got. Tried Creative, and the Clip+ ones, they both have the same issue. The sound is great, and there’s channel separation, but there isn’t that “surround” enhancement i used to get on old portables, or from my computer 4.1 speakers.

Those enhancements are NOT recording related, they’re player/speakers generated. The player can still play a natural sound, but widen the channels a bit, doesn’t affect the quality.

I’ve tried a lot of recordings, reached up to 320 bit-rate. I know that’s not it, because they sound great on my computer.

Maybe headphones aren’t for me, because i enjoy listening to music on my computer much more. Or i should buy headphones that’re a bit more expensive. Any recommendations? Sub 25$ range please.

I’m selling the player anyway, won’t buy an MP3 player again, seems useless to me currently.

Thanks anyway guys.

The sound gets narrow only on portable players and not on desktop? Are you using some kind of 3d-like effects on your computer? If so, you probably just got used to it, and “natural” sound seems flat.

There are 3 solutions (if keeping the Clip is important):

  1. Install Rockbox and boost the Sound settings > Stereo width. You also might want to try Crossfeed.

  2. Get better headphones. Unfortunately, the ones below $50 are mostly terrible, your $25 ones might even have a wiring deffect, making them sound flat.

Ones with acceptable quality start around $70-80, decent ones cost about $100-150. If $25 is not your rock-solid limit, you could read reviews on some of them here, $80 Head-Direct RE0 might be a good budget choice. The $80 Hippo VB are also interesting.

Before to pay any money, go to a store, ask to test some expensive phones & plug into your device to check if they help at all. There migh be something wrong with the output, your head or even the universe.

  1. Slowly decrease the level of the 3d fx you are commonly using. While some of it adds a nice touch, at higher levels it’s not only unnatural, but adds lots of artefacts as well.

Message Edited by notgod on 03-31-2010 06:53 AM

I would try over-the-ear headphones, rather than in-ear phones …

@notgod wrote:

  1. Install Rockbox and boost the Sound settings > Stereo width. You also might want to try Crossfeed.


  1. Get better headphones.


There migh be something wrong with the output, your head or even the universe.

I use a plugin in Winamp to distribute the sound to all my speakers, instead of just 2.

I tried Rockbox, wow, that thing rocks :P. Shame it’s not been completed yet for Clip+. I’m trying to figure-out how to save my settings, and also getting a playlist error everytime i try to play something, but it plays it anyway right after.

It hasn’t widened the music a lot, but i think i’ll need better headphones to get the full effect. The EQ alone is soooooo good, i usually remove most of the bass except the “punching”, and the “drag” bass, but keep the latter minimal, i couldn’t do that with the SanDisk FW, but now i can.

I might keep this player after all, and keep an eye out for Rockbox updates.

By the way, i indeed have a slight problem with my right ear, i think i’m losing my hearing in it slowly, i found the balance option in Rockbox a major help with that problem.

The Rockbox currently works in read-only mode, so it cannot save the settings yet (work in progress).

Probably the most convinient way to save the settings is to grab a simulator, tune it up and export it via Settings > Manage settings > Save .cfg file, replacing the one on your Clip with it.

There are no Clip+ simulator there yet (although you can build one yourself), but the cfg settings are identical to Clip so far.

The stereo width should work, try to play with it more. The Crossfeed (L/R speakers microdelay effect) is good too, but I’m not sure if it’s supported on Clip (can’t test, mine is just being shipped). It adds a very natural sounding effect, especially on older-style hard-pinned media).

I think with the Rockbox soundstage tweaks & better headphones you might want to keep you Clip.

P.S. As it was pointed out, I recommeded only in-ear monitors and forgot to mention earbuds. The $80 Yuin Pk2 is imho probably the best choice in this category. They look rather inexpensive, but sound twice their price.

I know the prices look big, but it is better to to spend a bit more and enjoy the sound than save and torture own brain. Plus, they do last longer, so with the right “expensive” phones you will actually save on a long run. I personally use Westone UM1, (for comfort, I need to wear the phones all day long), and the build quality is unbelievable — the cord still survives the abuse that would kill a dosen of $25 phones already. They use some sort of special kevlar-like coating for cord and rock-hard plastic for shells.

I recommed you visiting a local shop to check the sound & fit, and lurking around head-fi for reviews & deals.

Thanks a lot man. You’ve been of great help :).