This was one of my 1st contributions to this forum. Wow! Seems like such a long time ago.
Since you dug very deeply and dusted it off, I feel an update might be helpful & relevant. Since that time, I have realized that any solution by SanDisk is not going to happen as this player has been discontinued and no further firmware updates will be forthcoming.
Faced with limited options, I have re-ripped most of my own CD’s that I stupidly (at the time) converted into .wma format. For the songs that I had downloaded in this same format, I have found the CD’s in my local library system, borrowed them and re-ripped those too, so at this point approximately 95% of my entire music collection is in .mp3 format and therefore I can take advantage of MP3Gain and have adjusted the db levels all to an acceptable range.
Since that time also, I have upgraded to an e280v2 and a 8GB memory card for my ‘main’ player. On the old v1, I have installed Rockbox, which does have an option to use ReplayGain, a similar solution to MP3Gain. Unfortunately, as JK98 has suggested, this isn’t created on the player. You must run the tracks through the ReplayGain software on your computer to set the playback db levels in the ID3 tags of the track. Then, RB provides an option to use this information in various settings during playback.
Also unfortunately & ironically, Rockbox does not support APEv2 tags, which is what MP3Gain adds to the ID3 tags setting the playback levels. So Rockbox is not the be all, end all to portable player firmware. All those tracks I have run through MP3Gain to level the playback db settings are not recognized by the RB firmware. At least the SanDisk OF does this.
So in looking back on my suggestion, while it sounds attractive, I’ve learned that it is most likely not feasible. Which means the end result is up to you, the owner. For the time being, ripping in .mp3 format at least allows you to control the playback levels with a 3rd-party program, where .wma does not. But if you use Rockbox, it won’t recognize the MP3Gain corrections.
Now Sandisk has added FLAC & Ogg Vorbis codecs to the available formats that the current models will play. I haven’t experimented with these, so a.) I don’t know if there is any sound difference in the format natively, when compared to the overwhelmingly popular .mp3 format and b.) is there any program to adjust or control any differences within the codec.
While these new formats offer superior sound, they also consume a lot more real estate on you player and/or memory card, so while there are some fans of them, probably the .mp3 format’s status at the top of the popularity heap is secure. I think the key to this quandry is to use the same format consistently. And the most controllable one I’ve found so far is .mp3.