One of my photos

Wired For Sound

August 29th, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Music · No Comments · Life, Music

Following my false alarm when I thought my iRiver had died, I did actually take the plunge and I invested in a Creative Zen.  I use the word ‘invested’ with fingers crossed, in the hope it will turn out to be as good a buy as the iRiver was.

Quite often with gadgets they turn out to be over-priced toys: once you have scratched the geek-itch and bought them you don’t use them enough to justify the cost, but the iRiver was different.  I used it nearly every day for a couple of hours on my commute over several years, and even now I put it on at night to run through a playlist to help me to sleep.  Through all that time I never felt the need to get a newer machine, and it turned out to be one of my best buys ever, but unfortunately it does have a hard drive in it so it would not survive many bike trips, not with all the potholes, kerbs and bumps I go over, so I had to get something else.

The Creative looked like a good bet.  It is all flash memory, so no moving parts; this makes it less susceptible to bumps and knocks and better for power usage.  It is also smaller , lighter, and generally easier to tote around. On top of that, the model I bought has more than 50%  more storage space on it, is capable of playing movies and pictures (not that I want to, but you never know) and is cheaper than the iRiver was nearly five years ago.

After a month or so of use it has proved to be very good so far.  The menus are easy to work. I can create playlists in the supplied software, so no need to hunt around for third-party freeware, and the various random options are handy.  Its a tiny thing, but ended up bulkier when I got a case for it to protect against weather and bumps

Obviously the headphones were crap.  They always are.  That is not a slight on their sound quality, which might be great for all I know, they are just not comfortable for me.  Instead of the supplied headphones I used my old Koss Spark Plug earphones.

The Spark Plugs look strange but they are fantastic and just as much a sound investment as the iRiver itself.  Before getting them I used Sony MDR-EX17 earphones which havea lovely sound but cost at least fifteen quid and do not last long – the cables fray far too quickly.  That is what eventually happened with the Koss ‘phones this week and when I went on to Amazon to get some replacements I had a pleasant surprise: it told me that I had purchased that item in March 2006.

I had not realised I had them that long.  Its a bummer that they broke, but when they sound so good, last for more than two years and only cost a few quid its not a bad deal.  I was more than happy to get another pair, until I noticed that Amazon don’t supply them direct any more; they come from another supplier so that, although they only cost £4.40 there is a £4.50 delivery charge on top.

Personally I think they are still worth it at £8.90 but I didn’t like the principle of paying more for delivery than for the product so I decided to try some Creative earphones for £7.99 with free postage.  They will match the player and they have the same earbud design as the Sonys – hopefully a better cable design though.

If they turn out to be not so great I can always go for another set of Spark Plugs.

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