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Mushkin MP3/WMA/Voice Recorder V2 128MB Mushkin MP3/WMA/Voice Recorder V2 128MB: Whether it's listening to MP3s or recording top secret conversations, Mushkin's player can handle both.
Date: November 26, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

Using iRock earbud headphones the sound quality changed dramatically over the supplied earbud-phones. Classic seems to be the best all round EQ setting, although I found the midrange to be strong on all settings forcing a more 'mono' sound to the vocals from the Jazz setting. Jazz is also very 'tinny' or high. There is a slight high frequency clicking noise upon a low bass beat although this is only really noticeable at high volumes. It makes it seem like the sound is awful, but it’s not bad overall, and folks who like a strong midrange will enjoy the sound. I prefer the emphasis to be on the high and low so I keep looking for the 'LOUD' button that is common on car stereos. VBR encoded MP3's displayed the ticking more than CBR encoded MP3's, although the reason for this is to do with the fact that a maximum of 256kbps MP3's are supported and the majority of VBR encoded MP3's I have are between 128 and 320. Sub bass was obviously lacking but is common on units such as this.

The tracks I loaded onto the player to test with were: Baby D, Pure – 50 Cent, In Da Club – Anastacia, Sick and Tired (Jason Nevins Remix) – Coors, Dreams – Dido, White Flag – Evanescence, Bring me to Life – Jamiroquai, Cosmic Girl – Prince, Seven – The Two Towers Soundtrack, The Ride of the Rohirrim – Usher, Yeah – War of the Worlds, Eve of the War - Guns’n’Roses, Live and Let Die.

I figured these should give a broad spectrum of tastes and styles for the player to output.

War of the Worlds, Eve of the War - sounded very good, enjoyed listening to that immensely with the Classic EQ setting.

Usher, Yeah - was ok but the luck of sub bass was distracting/off putting at times, again Classic was the EQ of choice and the lack of sub bass was expected. I want to make it clear here, Sub bass was lacking, bass itself was not, although the supplied earphones were unable to reproduce bass enough to support this kind of track. Swapping for a set of standard Headphones with 1” drivers and the bass was there but the extra size of the drivers reduced the overall volume output by over half. However, maximum volume itself is pretty damn high, painfully so with earbud phones; this means that many folks will be happy with the maximum volume using larger headphones.

Evanescence, Bring me to Life - Despite a weak low end from the unit, this song and Guns’n’Roses was very acceptable.

Coors, Dreams - Another nice sounding track.

Dido, White Flag - This was a VBR 192-320 encoded track and produced the aforementioned ticking on a regular basis throughout the song. When I re-encoded the song to 192 CBR the sound was much better and reproduced very well indeed, providing nice clear vocals.

The Two Towers, The Ride of the Rohirrim - This track, like Eve of the War sounds very nice indeed. The player outputs a very nice sound for classical sounding instruments and tracks.

The main weak points here are the lack of sub bass (which is not surprising at all, I've yet to hear any unit this small produce decent sub bass) and the maximum bitrate for MP3s and WMAs being quite low. Both are usable rates but I would have liked to have seen both higher. Strings, Pipes and other Classical instruments output very well, as do most vocals, so unless you are a devout trance or rap fan, you should enjoy the sound reproduction.

Battery life is good for about 500 recharges according to the manual, and with any Li-ON battery you can ensure good battery life by charging for a good uninterrupted few hours until a full charge is reached. Also try to make sure that the unit is fully discharged before recharging, and the initial charge should be a good few hours. A full charge on the battery seems to be good for around 14 hours which is very nice, and 4 hours more than the conservative statement of 10 hours made in the specifications, although of course YMMV.

Being USB 1.1, transfer times are going to be slow although I found them to be slower than expected. This is really only an issue when you want to load up and listen in a hurry, but frankly this is USB 1.1 and will be slow. If lightning fast transfers are on your list of priorities, then you shouldn't be looking at a USB 1.1 player in the first place. Near to 120mb took 8 minutes 41 seconds in comparison to the DiskOnKey Flash Drive which took around 2 minutes 45 seconds for the same files. Obviously that is a big difference in what should essentially be similar times.

Voice recording is achieved simply by pressing the REC-A/B button underneath the unit when not playing a song. Voices can be recorded quite clearly from about 6 feet away but further than this and you will get a lot of white noise reducing the clarity of the speaker. If you are looking to this player to record lectures, unless the speaker happens to be really loud or you are in the front row, you're probably better off getting a dedicated recorder. With no option to use a third party microphone, there is also nothing you can do to extend the range. However, close voices are clear enough, and use as a Dictaphone will be fine.

Final Words

The , is not without its issues but overall is a very capable player. It suffers slightly from low maximum bitrates on the supported music formats, and this is especially noticeable when using VBR encoded tracks by a continuous ticking noise in the background. It also has a lack of sub bass (but not bass itself) which is common in this kind of player. The Blue backlit LCD display was off center with the facia, and I would hope this is just my sample. The earphones supplied are another item which could do with attention and if you are serious about your music and considering this player, factor in the cost of some decent earphones to the overall price (which in my opinion is pretty good). There is also the odd little control quirk but nothing you can't live with and learn from the manual.

So that's the bad of it, does it have any redeeming features? Most definitely. I like the music display with its easy to read and info plentiful screen, and am happy to see that it will display full track names even if it has to scroll them. The EQ settings are a must on any player like this as not everyone is the same, nor is all music. It's also good to see that you can delete individual tracks or format the memory from the player itself without having to load the device into Windows, which if you use the unit as a voice recorder and need the extra room while away from your PC is going to be a must have feature. I like the Switch Controller although this is a common feature on this kind of player. And of course there is the Li-ON rechargeable battery, negating the need to keep spending money on regular batteries (assuming you don't use rechargeables). This is a double edged sword of course, since should the battery run out while you're on the move, you won't get the unit going again until you recharge it from a USB port for a few hours. I've recharged a few times now and have got about 14 hours of music between recharges although the manual states 10 hours so don't take my results as gospel. The voice recording is ok; although for recording voices you will need to be practically on top of the person speaking, so if you are in the back row of a lecture hall, forget it.

Folks who enjoy classical music, the majority of pop music, and even most rock music will be happy with the sound. If rap or trance music with pounding bass lines is your staple musical diet, you had better look elsewhere.

Pros: Rechargeable Li-ON battery, Switch controller, Voice recording, Blue backlit LCD with plenty of info displayed, MP3 and WMA, Very loud, EQ settings, Auto off, Nice reproduction of classical, strings, pipes and vocals, Included USB extension cable and neck strap.

Cons: Off center LCD, Low maximum bitrates – ticking noise for VBR tracks, Earphones need replacing, Slow transfers

Bottom Line: MP3 players like this are very common, but what isn't so common is the rechargeable battery negating the need for regular purchases of standard batteries. If this is a feature you could use, then you will be happy with this player.

If you have questions or comments on this review, feel free to post them in our Forums.

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