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Sony portable CD players with MP3 and ATRAC support
Sebastian Mares
post Aug 18 2006, 13:34
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Hi!

I know that Sony MD units decode ATRAC files without gaps - does the same apply to their portable CD players? Also, are MP3s decoded properly or does Sony apply certain EQ settings to make the tracks sound worse?

Regards,
Sebastian


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edwardar
post Aug 18 2006, 14:06
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QUOTE (Sebastian Mares @ Aug 18 2006, 13:34) *
Hi!

I know that Sony MD units decode ATRAC files without gaps - does the same apply to their portable CD players? Also, are MP3s decoded properly or does Sony apply certain EQ settings to make the tracks sound worse?

Regards,
Sebastian


I've got a Sony D-NE300 - I tried once, but couldn't get ATRAC3plus working (the DRM system tried to tell me that a CD I just ripped was copy protected and it wouldn't burn it as ATRAC3plus). I didn't persevere, but I believe that ATRAC3plus is gapless on these devices.

The ATRAC3plus software is quite restrictive - I noticed you can't burn CDs with some MP3s and some ATRAC3plus, it has to be one or the other.

As for the sound quality of MP3s, they sound fine to me.

Overall, I love my D-NE300, the battery life is fantastic too (85 hours from 2 AAs with ATRAC3plus).
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Egor
post Aug 18 2006, 15:32
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QUOTE (Sebastian Mares @ Aug 18 2006, 19:34) *
I know that Sony MD units decode ATRAC files without gaps - does the same apply to their portable CD players? Also, are MP3s decoded properly or does Sony apply certain EQ settings to make the tracks sound worse?

Hi, while the short time I owned D-NE500 (IIRC) I found that this unit sometimes skips on VBR MP3s. It is well known that MP3 CD players transfer part of an mp3 file to their antishock memory and then stop the CD media rotation. Apparently, the unit couldn't properly calculate when it should start spinning CD again, so there were rare silent pauses. Otherwise MP3 decoding was proper. And of course I didn't even touch ATRAC smile.gif .
If ATRAC decoding is an optional requirement (though I remember you've made recordings with MD recently), you may also have a look at Panasonic CD players, their equipment works flawlessly for me.
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 18 2006, 16:04
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Well, I already have an MP3 player - the iRiver IMP-550. The reason I was looking at the Sonys and ATRAC is that on MiniDiscs, ATRAC is gapless. I also don't have golden ears (not to mention that my left ear is totally deaf) so for me, both formats are OK.


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nyaochi
post Aug 18 2006, 16:39
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I don't own any Sony players, but saw a number of Japanese users reported on the Web that they could enjoy gapless MP3 playback by --nogap option in LAME. Unfortunately, Sony did not support LAME (MP3-Info) tags. I guess the gapless playback of ATRAC3 is implemented in the similar way as --nogap method, i.e., decoding the last frame and first frames seamlessly. As far as I know, Sony does not seem to announce the feature (gapless playback of MP3 files) to the public.

I'm not sure which models support the gapless playback.

Some links to Japanese posts:
http://blog.so-net.ne.jp/brologue/2005-08-29
http://blog.livedoor.jp/orcinus_/archives/50541638.html
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 18 2006, 16:48
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I already tried using --nogap, but it seems that my iRiver also resets the DSP or something.


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Cygnus X1
post Aug 18 2006, 17:44
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I owned a Sony ATRAC3plus/MP3 CD player about 3 years ago, and it most certainly was not gapless. In fact, the gaps lasted well over a second! ATRAC's gaps were in fact even larger than MP3. Whether this has changed in their newer models, I don't know.
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 18 2006, 22:50
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OK, no new player then. tongue.gif I might try one when I am in the city center again.


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Cygnus X1
post Aug 18 2006, 23:07
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By the way, the only Sony players I've been able to verify as being gapless were MiniDisc and their early 128MB flash players. Their CD players, HDD players, and modern flash players (NW-E4**, etc) that I've owned or tried out have NOT been gapless, even with ATRAC.

Even if they were gapless with ATRAC3/ATRAC3plus, I'm not sure you'd want to go that route. SonicStage is a royal pain, even version 4.0, and ATRAC's performance is just as disappointing as it was when I, Guru, and a few other people tested it 2 or 3 years ago. Try the castanets, trumpets, or “waiting” sample at 256 or even 352kbps - very strange performance for such a high bitrate.
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 18 2006, 23:10
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Well, I have some experience with ATRAC since I used a Sharp MD recorder a few years (my dad owns it now after he paid my iRiver biggrin.gif). LP4 served me well at that time.


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Cygnus X1
post Aug 18 2006, 23:16
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I've owned a Hi-MD recorder for a while now, but only use it for archiving old tapes and things to PCM wink.gif

But yes, the gap issue can be annoying. Especially for things like DSOTM and other concept albums, not to mention classical works.
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 19 2006, 00:02
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Most annoying is when listening to Pink Floyd or Jean Michel Jarre.


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Jebus
post Aug 19 2006, 00:52
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Lame's --nogap doesn't work/do anything useful (or at all... can't remember) anymore. If the decoder supports reading the LAME header, it can do gapless without --nogap. If it can't... then you get gaps either way.
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 19 2006, 08:43
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What exactly does it do anyways? Does it move the last samples to the next song if they take up less space than the frame (so that it doesn't have to pad the last frame with zeros)?


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nyaochi
post Aug 19 2006, 12:52
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IIRC, LAME's --nogap option is like encoding the entire stream (e.g., the whole CD) in one big MP3 file and splitting the whole MP3 file into individual tracks at MP3 frame positions nearest (or rounding) to the track boundaries. In addition to this, bit reservoir is flushed at the end of each track so that one can play each track independently. The decoded MP3 files are gapless only if a decoder does not re-initialize the internal state (e.g., information for MDCT overlapping) at the beginning of MP3 files.

When --nogap option was introduced into LAME, there were absolutely no approach for gapless playback. The idea to store encoder delay and padding in MP3-Info header was invented afterwards, and MP3-Info is now supported by a number of software players.
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sapibobo
post Aug 20 2006, 20:24
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I have ATRAC CD Player D-NE20 and it supports gapless playback. I think the gapless capability lies on the palyer, not the codec.

I listened Enigma CD Voyageur and between the track "The Piano" and "Following The Sun" does not cut properly, hence make an annoying stop silence. I think it happened in the recording label when copying those CDs. With ATRAC codec and Seamless Playback option in ATRAC CD Player those songs play smoothly.

I use MP3 CD for the same songs and it still have the silence. And based on my experience WMA is totally useless for gapless playback in my laptop.

ATRAC probably have a minimal 'fraction' for each bits in the song file so the gapless playback is almost perfect, songs played as if it were one. This is really helpful to enjoy tracks from certain musicians such as Enigma, Vangelis, Michel Jarre, etc. who like to harmonious every track transition in an album.
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grenert
post Aug 29 2006, 21:47
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QUOTE (Cygnus X1 @ Aug 18 2006, 14:07) *
By the way, the only Sony players I've been able to verify as being gapless were MiniDisc and their early 128MB flash players. Their CD players, HDD players, and modern flash players (NW-E4**, etc) that I've owned or tried out have NOT been gapless, even with ATRAC.


I've just done some testing with my D-NF430 (very recent Sony ATRAC/MP3 CD player, identical to D-NE330 except a pretty good AM/FM tuner added), D-NE10 (nice top-of-the-line player from a couple years ago), and SonicStage 3.4. Files converted to ATRAC from WAV, MP3 or ATRAC (if transcoding to a different bitrate) do not play back gapless. If I rip directly into the ATRAC bitrate that I want to use for the CD, it is completely gapless on both players. So, it looks like ATRAC CDs are gapless as long as you are using directly ripped files without any conversion.

Hope this helps clarify things.
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maggior
post Aug 31 2006, 21:49
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As has been brought up, how the files are encoded to ATRAC makes a difference. I don't have an ATRAC CD player, but I've used minidisc and now an HD-3.

I use EAC to rip my discs to wav. I then drag the collection of WAV files into SS (I'm using 3.4 now). I then switch to "view all tracks" mode and select the wave files I've just imported. Right click, select the encode option, select my bit rate, and off it goes.

It seems that SS will carry data from one file to the next for the gapless feature. I've noticed that if I encode tracks in the incorrect order, some tracks will have snippets of audio from another track right at the beginning.

I also recall reading that if you import tracks directly from the CD into SS, they won't be gapless.

From experience I know that if you import lossless WMA files through SS, they will not be gapless.

So, to ensure that you are writing gapless data to your CD, rip the source CD to WAV using another program (e.g. EAC) and then import the WAV files using drag-n-drop.


Yeah, SS can be a pain, but it isn't bad once you get used to it. The only reason I put up with the quirks of ATRAC is because of the gapless feature. Otherwise, I'd be using mp3 or some other open format.

For more detailed discussion on SS, ATRAC, etc., go to www.atraclife.com. There are some good active forums there with some knowledgable participants. There may even be some posts about your particular CD player model and its ability to play gapless. I seem to recall reading that the portable CD players will play gapless, but the car stereo decks won't.

Hope some of that helps.

Cheers!

This post has been edited by maggior: Aug 31 2006, 21:51
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maggior
post Aug 31 2006, 22:02
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QUOTE (Cygnus X1 @ Aug 18 2006, 18:07) *
By the way, the only Sony players I've been able to verify as being gapless were MiniDisc and their early 128MB flash players. Their CD players, HDD players, and modern flash players (NW-E4**, etc) that I've owned or tried out have NOT been gapless, even with ATRAC.


I have an MZ-RH910 sony MD player, an NW-HD3 sony 20 GB HDD player, and an NW-E507 1GB flash player and all 3 play gapless with ATRAC. The issue may have been as I stated in another post - how the tracks were imported into the library.

Sadly, these are the only portable gapless options at this point. sad.gif Hopefully this will change.
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vinnie97
post Aug 31 2006, 22:08
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QUOTE
Sadly, these are the only portable gapless options at this point.

Not so. http://www.rockbox.org wink.gif
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saratoga
post Aug 31 2006, 22:43
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QUOTE (maggior @ Aug 31 2006, 14:02) *
QUOTE (Cygnus X1 @ Aug 18 2006, 18:07) *

By the way, the only Sony players I've been able to verify as being gapless were MiniDisc and their early 128MB flash players. Their CD players, HDD players, and modern flash players (NW-E4**, etc) that I've owned or tried out have NOT been gapless, even with ATRAC.


I have an MZ-RH910 sony MD player, an NW-HD3 sony 20 GB HDD player, and an NW-E507 1GB flash player and all 3 play gapless with ATRAC. The issue may have been as I stated in another post - how the tracks were imported into the library.

Sadly, these are the only portable gapless options at this point. sad.gif Hopefully this will change.


All players that support Rockbox are gapless for most common formats (mp3, ogg, flac, etc). Currently that would be the ipod, a few iriver players, the x5, and some more in the pipeline. IMO the options for gapless support have never been better.
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maggior
post Sep 1 2006, 02:00
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But none of the options mentioned are 1)native (require installing custom firmware) or 2) available today.

If there is stuff in the pipeline, I'm eager to see it. I would love a player that supported FLAC with a 60 GB drive (and not an IPod running RockBox).
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vinnie97
post Sep 1 2006, 06:25
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How many years have you been waiting for such a device? After a while, it becomes perpetually unfulfilling and fruitless to wait for some feature that only a niche of users are interested in.
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pika2000
post Sep 1 2006, 07:38
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QUOTE (Sebastian Mares @ Aug 18 2006, 05:34) *
Hi!

I know that Sony MD units decode ATRAC files without gaps - does the same apply to their portable CD players? Also, are MP3s decoded properly or does Sony apply certain EQ settings to make the tracks sound worse?

Regards,
Sebastian

WOW! So many MISinformation here. ANY 2nd gen Sony AtracCD PCDP onwards CAN play AtracCD GAPLESSLY. You have to enable the "seamless" feature though, since it is disabled by default. Only 1st gen AtracCD PCDP and NON-PCDP AtracCD devices that cannot play AtracCD gaplessly (no seamless option).
http://www.atraclife.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=51

I have D-NE9, 1st gen AtracCd PCDP, no gapless.
I have D-NE20, 3rd gen AtracCD PCDP, plays AtracCD gaplessly just fine.
As for non-HiMD/MD devices, I have NW-E3, NW-E99, and NW-E005, all play Atrac gaplessly just fine. Vaio pocket also play Atrac gaplessly (with the firmware update). PSP play Atrac gaplessly.

Downside of the PCDPs is that Sony has yet to enable the ability to create AtracCD from ALL Atrac3+ bitrates. So far, the allowed bitrates are only Atrac3 bitrates (132kbps, 105kbps, 66kbps), and certain Atrac3+ bitrates (256kbps, 64kbps, 48kbps).

This post has been edited by pika2000: Sep 1 2006, 07:43


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