I loaded a bunch of Lame encoded MP3s at V2 (around 192kbps) and did some listening with my Creative EP630, ATH-CM7Ti, Senn PX100 and HD595. All EQ was turned off.
Overall, I found jazz sounded best on the T9 with its crisp sound and good sense of rhythms. Music feels more open on the T9 than on the Creative ZVM or the iRivers. Subjectively, I think I can tell the difference between 160 kbps from 192 kbps MP3s on the T9. Bass is tight, not muddy and not lacking. Soundstage is expansive. Stereo imaging is good. The gap between tracks is there, not horrendously long, but definitely noticeable.
The T9 seems to be very sensitive to “defects” in MP3 files. I don’t really know how to explain this but I had the following experience. When I loaded a pop track – Carly Simon’s James Bond theme song Nobody Does It Better – there were more than a few glitches, sort of like a skip on a CD player or HD based player. The same file displayed no such problem on the other 3 DAPs I have and was also problem free upon playback in Foobar. After mucking around, I failed to locate the problem, so I re-ripped the track with EAC and reloaded it onto the T9. It seems fine now. I have noticed that a few other tracks are behaving the same way, and I suspect it has to do with clipping and high gain on the tracks. This situation is particularly bad with no EQ (i.e flat / normal mode). After I applied some EQ (I boosted 60Hz by one notch under User defined EQ), these glitches seemed to go away. Initially I thought I had a defective player and even went back to the retailer to exchange for a new one. So if you have alot of crappy sounding or badly ripped music, this player might give you a nasty ride!!
After a second night of use, I found the T9 rather unforgiving on older recordings or over-compressed CDs. I found hiss ing much more prominent on the T9 than any other DAP I’ve used.
How loud does it go?
Volume ranges from 0 to 40. With the EP630, I normally have it between 22 to 26. To achieve the same levels of volume with the EP630, on the H320 I have volume at 20-25 (max is 40), on the iFP-795 volume is at 16-22 (max is 40), and with the Creative ZVM I normally have it between 15-20 (max is 25). The iRivers’ output feels more muscular than either the ZVM or the Samsung T9.
Using my Senn PX100 on the T9, I really had to push the volume up to the 30-35 range, though sound was still clean. I feel the T9 does not have the juice to drive the 595. The CM7Ti was the easiest to drive and was damn loud even at under 20/40 volume levels. Headphone output is rated to be 20mW at 16Ω in the manual.
The T9 has some volume features I have not encountered before. Namely, the player automatically resets the volume to 20 at power up regardless of the volume during the previous session. The user can also set a volume limit if needed.