Sandisk Clip Sport audiobook problem

It’s even worse than that. I bought the Sport because of the longer battery life and larger screen (the Plus and Zip are so small that either only the current positon in the boook is listed and not the total time or they drop the seconds). I’ve gone through 3 Fuzes, other than each lasting no more than a year, they were great. After that, it’s been a Clip+ and 3 Clip Zips. The Zips have all gone bad in under 1 year. The + is the only solid workhorse in the bunch in terms of longevity.

At least with Audible audiobooks on the Sport, there is a noticeable lag time in play beginning after pressing (5 - 10 seconds initially). The lag increases progressively further into the audiobook so that by 18-20 hours in, the lag is about 45 seconds. I’m told this is a hardware issue and cannot be remedied by a firmware fix.

I prefer a standalone mp3 player for audiobooks as I mostly use it at the gym and using it doens’t drain my phone battery. It’s sad that Sandisk can’t make an inexpensive, functional device, that while a niche market would certainly have customers. A 2-4 Gb Sport size player that had a battery life of 25 hours would be an ideal device for audiobooks.

@jolynn wrote:

You are telling me that the Clip Sport doesn’t work as well as older versions of the Clip. This my eighth Clip believe it my 4 Gen they only last 8 months to a year and I have never had this problem and now you are telling me that I have to download another program and do more work to get a audiobook on my clip sport. Well this may not mean much to you but this is my last Sandisk Product I Will Ever Buy. The main resign I bought the Clips is because they worked with the library audiobook program.

The Clip+ and Clip Zip can still be found and I typically recommend them, including to replace an earlier Clip+ or Zip, absent there being an absolute need for 1 of the features in the Clip Sport (longer battery life; larger screen).  As has been openly discussed here before, the Sport and Jam are not “the latest and greatest” in the Clip line, as a consumer might have expected–they are a "left turn’ in the line.

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I have the Clip Zip, Clip+, and Clip Sport. I also had the original Clip and the Fuze, but gave those away. My Clip+ and Clip Zip have Rockbox on them. Rockbox is an alternative firmware for the player. It give many choices of what is displayed on the screen and how it is displayed, and many settings to customize the player. Unfortunately Rockbox doesn’t support Audible. Rockbox isn’t available for the Clip Sport or Clip Jam.

What are you doing to your players? I have never broken a Sandisk player, except for the clip on one of my Clip+ players. I have been using Sandisk players for 7 years. The Clip+ I bought in Sept 2009 is the one I broke the clip on. Other than that though, it still works fine.

@jk98 wrote:

 

What are you doing to your players? I have never broken a Sandisk player, except for the clip on one of my Clip+ players. I have been using Sandisk players for 7 years. The Clip+ I bought in Sept 2009 is the one I broke the clip on. Other than that though, it still works fine.

One Fuze went bad due to water (actually sweat) damage that fried the screen. The other 2 along with the with the 3 Zips all seem to run into memory issues that freeze the player and require a hard reset followed by a reformat. The time between freezes decreases until it’s not worth the effort anymore. 

The memory issues may be due to corrupt files, and not a player problem. I use a small plastic bag to prevent my Clip players from getting wet. Flash memory will wear out if you write to it too many times, although it seems like flash memory(even the least expensive of decent enough quality) should be good for at least 1,000 writes. I rarely change the music on my players though.

@jk98 wrote:

The memory issues may be due to corrupt files, and not a player problem. I use a small plastic bag to prevent my Clip players from getting wet. Flash memory will wear out if you write to it too many times, although it seems like flash memory(even the least expensive of decent enough quality) should be good for at least 1,000 writes. I rarely change the music on my players though.

With Audiobooks, I writing 2 - 3 times per month (large files, though anywhere from 300 - 600 MB per book). It’s unlikely ot be corrupt files because I’ve alays been about to revert to the Clip+ with the same file and get good performance. While the + is a long term workhorse, I use it mostly as a backup.

I’ve used Clips (Cllip+ and Sport) for audiobooks for years so here is my experience. 

1.  It seems that audiobook parts needed to be loaded on in order for this player to play them in order.  Annoying but true. Such an easy thing to fix but Sansa just never got it.

2.  If you have them in order and it is till mixing them up, make sure you dont have your music shuffle on.  I had one library audiobook stored in my Music folder and went crazy with it playing out of order til I realized I had my shuffle on!   I now make sure I don’t load a library audiobook into my Music Folder.   And I always add them to the player in order. 

3.  The Clip Sport is no good for Audibles Enhanced Mode and I had to reload all my books into Mode 4.  In the Enhanced Mode, it also took forever for a book to come back after pause.  As someone said, it took longer and longer the more you got into the book. It is annoying to have to have your books in multiple parts (unlike the Enhanced mode where they come in one part only). 

Another problem with Enhanced is that my Sport skipped the last few minutes at the end of every book–totally unacceptable!  Sadly, my old Clip+ did take Enhanced mode and I loved it.  Battery life terrible on that old Clip, and why I keep using Sport.

  1. Just wanted to add that I have never had a Clip or Sport break after the first month.   Two didn’t work after a week or so and Amazon sent me new ones immediately–even before they received the broken one back!  I have had numerous Clips and they seemed to last well for me.  Except for the clip part, which inevitably breaks off!

Just wanted to add that the Sport is newer than Clip+,  so why doesn’t it use Audibles Enhanced Mode??? It is a step backwards, IMHO, and really a bummer!!

3300- 600 MB per book? In how many files? What format and bitrate? For spoken word podcasts, I convert them to 32kbps mp3 mono right after I download them to save space. Using a low bitrate also increases battery life. If a speaker is moving while he is talking, listening to it in stereo can give a dizzying feeling. The Clip Sport has a less capable processor than the Clip+, although its power usage is only around 45% of that of the Clip+. The Clip Sport might have trouble with very large files in certain formats.

@jk98 wrote:

3300- 600 MB per book? In how many files? What format and bitrate? For spoken word podcasts, I convert them to 32kbps mp3 mono right after I download them to save space. Using a low bitrate also increases battery life. If a speaker is moving while he is talking, listening to it in stereo can give a dizzying feeling. The Clip Sport has a less capable processor than the Clip+, although its power usage is only around 45% of that of the Clip+. The Clip Sport might have trouble with very large files in certain formats.

Audible Enhanced mode comes in an Audible specific format as a single file that works out to about  28MB per hour. Depending on the narration speed, most books will average around 10 - 15 hours, 7 - 8 hours is on the low end for most novels and it’s not unusual to find audiobooks in the 15 - 24 hours range. The longest I’ve seen is Atlas Shrugged at 62 hours. As such, a 4GB player is more than adequate.

“Audible Enhanced mode comes in an Audible specific format as a single file that works out to about  28MB per hour. Depending on the narration speed, most books will average around 10 - 15 hours, 7 - 8 hours is on the low end for most novels and it’s not unusual to find audiobooks in the 15 - 24 hours range. The longest I’ve seen is Atlas Shrugged at 62 hours. As such, a 4GB player is more than adequate.”

The problem is that the Clip Sport has a rather limited amount of ram, so it is likely to choke on larger files, especially if they are in a format that is more complicated to decode than mp3. I guess Sandisk should have probably said ouright that the player can’t play very large files. Having said that though, the Clip Sport only uses around 45% of the power that the Clip+ and Clip Zip use, so they could make a player with huge battery life that still light and small using the Clip Sport circuitry and a somewhat larger battery than the Clip Sport has. Most people don’t tend to play very huge files. They tend to play mp3 files that are typically 15 minutes or less, or podcasts that might be up to an hour or two, but that are at a low bitrate(perhaps 32kbps?).

@jk98 wrote:

The problem is that the Clip Sport has a rather limited amount of ram, so it is likely to choke on larger files, especially if they are in a format that is more complicated to decode than mp3. I guess Sandisk should have probably said ouright that the player can’t play very large files. Having said that though, the Clip Sport only uses around 45% of the power that the Clip+ and Clip Zip use, so they could make a player with huge battery life that still light and small using the Clip Sport circuitry and a somewhat larger battery than the Clip Sport has. Most people don’t tend to play very huge files. They tend to play mp3 files that are typically 15 minutes or less, or podcasts that might be up to an hour or two, but that are at a low bitrate(perhaps 32kbps?).

Thanks. This is the frist description beyond merely stating “hardware limitations” that actually explains the issue with audiobooks and clearly indicates that a firmware update is unlikely to ever address the problem. It also suggests that the direction Sandisk seems to be going is unlikely to ever consider designing a player that will meet my set of features for the ideal audiobook device.

Rather than blaming Sandisk, you should blame Audible. I don’t know why they need to use such huge files for audiobooks, and why they can’t break up an Audiobook into a number of files. i don’t use audiobooks, but do download podcasts. Many that I download are already at 32kbps, but those that are at a higher bitrate I convert down to 32kbps before putting them on my player. There is no need for high bitrates for spoken word files. For music a bitrate of 256kbps or 320 kbps is recommended. For voice files though, 32kbps mono is fine.

Actually, those “recommended” (from where?) bitrates for music are relatively high and my hunch is that the average person wouldn’t see (hear) much, if any, difference with music ripped at a much lower rate.  Years ago, I tested it out and couldn’t see (hear) a difference starting at a bit less than 192 kbps, for music.  I also recommend ripping using VBR (variable bit rate) with a higher end at the top–it just makes sense to me, for the software to use more data space where it might be needed, and less space where it is not.

Space isn’t really a problem though, except for the internal memory on the Clip Sport, as when using 256kbps or higher bitrate one probably won’t get near the 2,000 file limit. I bought Some Sandisk 32GB class 4 micro SDHC cards recently for around $13 each. As for using variable bitrate mp3 files, I haven’t tested it, however I have a feeling that they may consume more battery power than constant bitrate files around the same sound quality. I also haven’t tested the claim that 192kbps average variable bitrate mp3 files sound as good as 256kbps constant bitrate ones. When I did tests years ago, I had trouble distinguishing between 256kbps mp3 files and 320 kbps ones, so I chose 256kbps. If I was ripping CDs now though, I would use 320kbps since storage space is very cheap now. Even now,not all devices support variable bitrate playback. Years ago when I ripped many CDs I decided to avoid variable bitrate since not all devices support variable bitrate files, and many that did then had plenty of glitches in playing them. I still wonder about battery life differences between playback of constant bitrate and variable bitrate files.

As for hearing differences between files, see how well you do on this test.

http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/09/412271433/audio-quality-quiz-results-you-did-slightly-better-than-guessing-randomly

Yep, took that test years ago and I “flunked” it royally.  Convincing me that a lower (but still good) bitrate was just fine, for me. 

I got 4 out of 6 right, however that was in a quiet room, at relatively high volume, and not really listening to the music, but concentrating just on the high frequencies for any clues of compression. On a portable player, at low volumes, and with portable headphones, especially in a noisy environment using open earphones, I would likely do very poorly on the test. 

I still always wonder, though, how much our brains hear in an overall picture/impression/subconsciously.

@jk98 wrote:

Rather than blaming Sandisk, you should blame Audible. I don’t know why they need to use such huge files for audiobooks, and why they can’t break up an Audiobook into a number of files. i don’t use audiobooks, but do download podcasts. Many that I download are already at 32kbps, but those that are at a higher bitrate I convert down to 32kbps before putting them on my player. There is no need for high bitrates for spoken word files. For music a bitrate of 256kbps or 320 kbps is recommended. For voice files though, 32kbps mono is fine.

I’m not defendng Audible, but want to point out a few aspects where audiobooks are likely to differ from podcasts. Audiobooks do frequently have music at either the beginning and end or sometimes as chapter separaters or for chage of perspective such as point of view. There is also the category of “performance” audiobook where sound effects (gunshots, doors slamming, explosions, etc.) are liberally added. More importantly, for those not familair with audiobooks, they are more than merely spoken words. Narrators will vary pitch, tone, pace with a unique “voice” for each character in the story. Other sounds like screaming, groaning, whistling are also rendered. Really good narrators (this is a definite skill) can even inflect their voice to indicate whether the person is thinking or speaking when “he said” is not inserted. I have no idea how all this would be impacted by reduction to 32 kbps mono. 

As far as multiple files goes, this was standard in the early years when downloads of even 10’s of MB could take hours (I go back to the days of 1200 baud being fast). I much prefer a single file.

The easiest way I always got around file sequence problems was to merge the entire book into one file. Problem solved, I use Free MP3 Joiner and tag all my books in properties as “BOOKS”. I Also normall merge 2 books together so when one ends it starts the next without manipulating the player. This is better when on the bike, hiking, etc. In a novel series I’ll merge books 1&2, then 2&3, etc. switching to the next in line when I get a chance at the completion of the other. This single file also make fast forwarding or rewind very easy, no switching between files when it’s all one. When tagging your books in properties, the only tag I leave is the title, album and duration, wipe everything else to make sure there is nothing extraneous to force it into a different folder. I have a lot more advice for these Sansa Players. Sansa, get rid of the Sport and revive the Zip.

@skeetpick wrote:

I have a lot more advice for these Sansa Players. Sansa, get rid of the Sport and revive the Zip.

I don’t necessarily disagree with you–I’m still waiting for the Uber Clip–but unfortunately, the manufacturer of the chip used in the original Clip thru Zip line killed the chip off, leading to the more, um, limited chip used in the Sport and Jam.   ;(