Ask the grumpies: What kind of mp3 player should I get?

Rented life asks:

I need to buy an MP3 player (not iPod). What do I get?

Because my DH has recently gone through the mp3 player replacement process, I have asked him.

He settled on a SanDisk Sansa Clip. Why? Because it is small, it is ~$60, and it had relatively good reviews on amazon. More expensive mp3 players had somewhat higher reviews, but not high enough to make the price difference worth it, he felt. They still had problems.

It’s great for audiobooks. If you’re an audiophile, he says it’s probably not high enough quality to get the nuances of the music you’re listening to.  He says it will play the higher quality formats but not well.  But if you’re more of a box wine drinker with your music tastes, you should be fine.

He says this is a satisficing sort of quest. If you’re looking for something cheaper, then maybe this, though the reviews are a little odd so maybe not.

DH also wants to recommend these ear foam tips for putting over your ear buds.  He says they’re totally worth the price even though they wear out every six months or so.  They block more outside noise and they seem to make the sound coming from the mp3 player clearer than other earbud tips he has tried.  But, he notes, you have to get the right size, so get the multi-pack first to determine the right size.

That’s all we got. Grumpy Nation, what’s your favorite mp3 player and why? What hasn’t worked for you?

26 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: What kind of mp3 player should I get?”

  1. NessieMonster Says:

    Seconding the sansa clip. I’ve had one for over a year after a recommend from my best mate. Battery life is great, it’s small and lightweight and the menus make sense. Doesn’t have a full colour screen and doesn’t do cover art but that’s a plus for me, not a minus!
    You can technically increase the size by using a microSD card but amazon reviews said it was a faff so I haven’t tried.

    Before this, I had a second gen ipod nano and before that a Shuffle and I’m very glad I switched. :-)
    Not having to deal with iTunes makes me extremely happy!

  2. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Yup we got my daughter the Clip as well for Christmas. Easy to use and super inexpensive. I think we got it during the Black Friday event where they have deals every day and we paid less than $30 for it so it was awesome.

  3. Thisbe Says:

    I just use an iPod shuffle, I think I am entirely neutral about how much I like it, except it’s vaguely nice that it’s so little. I can also use my phone as an mp3 player although generally I don’t remember to do that. My last iPod lasted me four or five years and this one is two years old, so I guess whenever it breaks I will remember to come back to this post.

    Just out of curiosity, whence the iPod/iTunes dislike? Obviously I use both of those things and I basically can’t be arsed to even think about changing, but that’s because I haven’t experienced any particular annoyance with the system (surprising, since I’m pretty easily annoyed lol).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, #2 wonders why not iPod. I have an iPod that’s from early 2009 and still going strong although getting a little wonky in old age but I still like it. Ditto on the “can’t be arsed to think too much about it” front. I actually got a newer iPod and didn’t like the features as much, so YMMV?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        According to Rented Life: “iPod is overpriced yes but also won’t allow any of my non-iTunes music I’ve collected over the years. I have a hard time paying for something that doesn’t do what I want but does all kinds of stupid stuff instead. I need all my writing music in one spot.”

      • Thisbe Says:

        Huh. I don’t remember ever having any trouble importing whatever music into iTunes, but as previously noted I don’t ever really try very hard at any of this stuff, so probably if I ever I had a problem I just started doing something else instead. Also I guess a few months ago I was trying to help my stepmom with some computer stuff and it seemed like she was having trouble with iTunes that I had never had. Hypotheses: 1) difference in user style 2) iTunes is way more annoying if you’re not running Mac OS – I wouldn’t know, I just run Mac OS 3) both of the above.

      • chacha1 Says:

        I have an iPod classic that the DH bought me a looooong time ago. Have never had the slightest difficulty importing tracks that I’ve ripped from CDs or downloaded from, e.g., Amazon. I never use it as a “portable” with earbuds or ‘phones (hate both) – it lives in the car or is docked to a shelf stereo – and I don’t listen to audiobooks or podcasts so I can’t recommend it for those purposes (based on No Knowledge). But for music it seems completely acceptable. We listen to a broad range of music (from Argentine Tango to Leonard Cohen to big-band swing) on road trips and there’s not much that doesn’t come through. My only issue is volume equalization, and probably I could fix that if I cared enough. :-)

    • rented life Says:

      I don’t mind iTunes, especially since many people I like release right to there now and I DON’T care for amazon’s version of this. (total pain to use). But I have some music that wasn’t from there (illegal or was recorded by family musicians so not a “normal” situation) and iTunes won’t recognize it for anything. Given that I use the music for my writing (and am rarely free to write on the computer at first go anymore) being able to listen to that is a big deal. I have music divided into so many places right now and it it’s helpful.

      I can NOT swallow the price tag of an ipod of any kind. I had a max of $100 to spend (given to me as a gift). Spending more than that seems frivolous. (I am not good at spending money on myself.) I’ve had this money since before my kid was born (so a year and a half) and haven’t been able to add to it (our one and only computer died and that NEEDED to be replaced. I work from home.) but my old MP3 player was being weird. The buttons were doing all kinds of fun bizarre things–volume moving up or down, not responding to change songs, or responding too enthusiastically and skipping many songs. You never really knew what you’d hear!

      • Leah Says:

        You might have a format issue with the other music. Look at the extensions. iTunes recognizes a huge amount of extensions, but perhaps . . .

        Anything mp3, m4a, wmv, etc should import fine into iTunes.

        I understand the price tag part of an ipod. For any reading who want an ipod at a lower price, check out the refurbished options.

  4. Edie W Says:

    I have a Sony Walkman player (because my husband is one of those hardcore anti-Apple people). I’ve had it for years and it still works great. I do have to admit that loading music onto it isn’t quite as easy as the iTunes –> iPod process, but it’s easy enough with RealPlayer.

  5. OMDG Says:

    Thanks for this! Was contemplating an iPod because of the success of the iPad, but iTunes seems really annoying, so I’ll go with the Sansa after all.

  6. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Why would anyone buy a dedicated music player when you can just use your smartphone that you already own?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Well, my DH doesn’t have a smartphone, and even if he did, the sansa clip is small enough that he can put it on his shirt while walking a sleepy baby, doing yardwork, etc.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        That makes sense. But how can you survive as a professional without a smart phone? Isn’t your DH in a computer-related area?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Why would he need a smart phone when he’s always on his computer (which has Skype)? Smart phones are sort of the opposite of techie technology– they’re very much for non-tech people to do WYSIWYG stuff.

        We will get smart phones eventually but haven’t had time to price them out and figure what we want. We haven’t needed them enough to make that a priority. The only reason we’re thinking about getting them now is that the monthly price has come down to about our non-smart phone monthly cost and it would be nice to be able to look restaurants up on yelp when we travel.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        I love being able to do my jobbe from anywhere. I can read documents, plan action, and communicate with my students and post-docs and collaborators and colleagues while *anywhere*: bars, beaches, restaurants, long walks, bathtub, gym, etc.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Unfortunately the smartphone is not yet smart enough to be able to do the work that DH needs to do. For me, I love not being able to check the internet from time to time and being able to get away from students and colleagues. I also prefer having a real keyboard for writing. (Collaborators can text or phone me if it’s important.)

    • rented life Says:

      You must have much more space on your phone than I do. I bought what I could afford 3 years ago and it was the lowest amount of space. It’s fun. I can’t update, I’ve deleted most of my apps, etc. It doesn’t have nearly enough space for how much music I have. Plus there’s the whole when I have my phone I end up doing work. I need that disconnect.

      • Leah Says:

        Ugh, I have the space issue. I have an 8 gig iphone I bought 3 years ago. I’m hoping to upgrade this summer, but I haven’t had time to price out phone plans. I’m still on a family plan with my parents but planning on bailing out of that to do a plan with my husband. I definitely want more space — apps have gotten so much bigger. I’m always downloading my pictures, deleting texts/data/apps, etc to make more room.

  7. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    My whole professional world is in my pocket.

  8. rented life Says:

    I bought the Sony Walkman. I did look at the Sansa clip extensively–for many of the reasons DH said. And my last one was a Sansa and held up to the abuse it took until this year. But I’ve also found that over the years of using the Sansa I was figuring out what I really wanted (the sansa was a gift). Playlists are super important, and the ease of setting them up are important. Turns out no one does this very well, at least according to all the reviews. But the Clip had fewer options than their older models–looks like they’re moving more toward sports people than anyone else. And I am not a wine box music listener. (Nor can I do audio books. partway through I stop listening and my mind wanders. Not the same as being able to just turn back a page or two.) The Walkman seemed to have the closest to what I imagined without the price tag/being out of my budget. Now I just need more time to load everything on there. I’ve started!

    While nearly every review said to just use your phone, at the end of the day I am TIRED of being tied to my phone. I always have it on me and it = work because it’s often the only way I can do work. (Thank you LO.) The ipod would have been similar. The shuffle wouldn’t do what I needed but the more expensive ones had all this crap that would be like carrying my phone. Simple technology is a relief sometimes. :)

    Oh, your DH is right about the ear buds. Luckily I didn’t need to worry about them–I was given some a few years ago but hadn’t used it. Love it.

    • Leah Says:

      I wish apple still sold more classic ipods that just played music. I’ve been hanging on to my super old nano just for that reason — when I go for a run/to the gym, I just want my music and nothing else.

    • chacha1 Says:

      My DH has some music on his smartphone (which he uses all day every day for his business; it works for him because what he principally needs is communication and scheduling. He’s not a programmer). But it’s not a really great music player and in my observation gets glitchy to have it set, say, in the car to play music through the Bluetooth and then a call comes in … no.

      I have a phone that could be smart but I refuse to pay for all the extra gadgets when I’m on a computer all day long next to a hardline phone. My cell does voice calls (no voice mail) and text only, for less than $13/mo; it’s perfect. You can buy a lot of iPods (or whatever) if you are not spending $70+ on phone service every month. :-)

  9. debtfreekid Says:

    I had the Sansa Clip too which worked great until I put a bad memory card in it, which fried it. Couldn’t prevent it, since the card looked fine. I now use a Sony Walkman player that came with it’s own little speakers. It was under $100 in 2011 and has 8 gb storage. I ripped all my favourite CDs and moved them onto this, then sold the CDs. I love that it’s drag and drop. I also have an ipod touch that I share with my son, but I despise itunes.


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