Zune 120 or 6th Gen 120gb Ipod? Sound Qualitywise

I am now seriously considering buying either Ipod 120 gb (6th gen) or Zune 120. Any recommendations as other contenders that can match these two in means of sound quality and capacity are also welcome.

My first and foremost priorities are sound quality and gapless playback capability. I listen to progressive rock mostly and gapless playback is essential for this genre.

I don’t care about video, games, marketplace, radio, wifi, interface etc. So here are my questions that I think will help me determine which one I should get; most of them are about Zune 120 as I know more about Ipod than Zune 120.

  1. Does the gapless playback feature on Zune 120 work perfectly, or does it fail? There were some complaints regarding its not working well; have they fixed it?

  2. I will be able to move all my mp3 files not downloaded from itunes or the zune marketplace into the Ipod or the zune, right? Or do these players only accept strore-bought/downloaded files?

  3. Will I have to pay for any subscription to use these players? I do not intend to buy any files from these stores (I already have enough music on the hdd of my computer and my cd shelves), so will that be a problem?

  4. Will I have to pay for a subscription to be able to download firmware / software updates from these players’ respective websites?

  5. What features can be added to each device via mods or hacks that are not available on the original devices?

  6. I know that the volume on the European 6th gen 120 gb Ipod is capped; I checked one and the volume was pretty low for me. The US version is said to be loud enough for anyone. How is the volume level on the Zune 120 (US version)? If anybody knows the volume levels of both machines in decibels, that would be great.

Lastly; this question is preferably for those who own or have owned both the 6th gen 120 gb Ipod and Zune 120 (or for those who had compared them):

  1. In means of sound quality which one’s better? Or is the difference negligable? (I do not intend to use an amp or anything other than earphones. So please do not include the +amp configuration in the comparison).

Please tell me anything else that you think I should be taking into consideration when making my decision, excluding the facts about the Ipod having far more accessories, the Ipod store having a far bigger database of games, audio and video files for buying and the capability of being able to send files to other Zune users etc…

Thanks in advance.

Regards to all.

well if all your using is some basic headphones and listening to music files… i would find a DAP that supports Rockbox (www.rockbox.org) cause that’s FREE Open-Source Firmware (which is updated alot with bug fixes/performance related stuff etc etc… current stable version is v3.1 which came out Dec 23rd 2008) and does just about everything you would want from the software side of things since it supports more audio formats (.ogg/.flac/.mp3/.ape etc etc :wink: ) than stock firmware does etc.

plus it typically supports large capacity MicroSDHC cards to.

so unless you NEED 120GB of space i would opt for a flash memory based one since there’s no moving parts and they would most likely use less power.(i.e. longer battery life)

me personally i prefer the Sandisk Sansa e200 (v1, v1 is important as v2’s currently dont work with Rockbox) series (i have one myself) cause there cheap (not overpriced like IPOD’s are :wink: ) and work with Rockbox and with the MicroSDHC slot on it you can buy larger capacity.

only issue is since the stock firmware is needed for file transfers (cause Rockbox currently cant do that) and pretty much battery charging to the players stock firmware cant transfer files to it on MicroSD cards larger than 2GB … so you would either need a external card reader to transfer files to it… OR use the Rockbox software itself to transfer files from internal memory to the external memory slot.

but basically i would probably get the Sansa e280 (8GB) and then buy another 8GB (or whatever size you want) MicroSDHC card then you will have 16GB of space… but depending on how picky you are with your sound… with .OGG format (which Rockbox supports) you usually can use really low bitrates (i.e. 45kbps average bit rate) while keeping sound quality close to CD (atleast on your basic headphones i dont think you will notice it to much)… cause using 45kbps average bit rate you can fit ALOT of stuff onto 8GB of storage… but in most cases (unless your really picky or have a great pair of headphones etc) 128kbps would be plenty if all your doing is just listening to it in your basic set of headphones… and even @ 128kbps you could fit alot into 16GB of space.

another good thing about the Sansa e200 series is that it has a ‘user serviceable’ battery (meaning you can replace the battery yourself if it ever dies) unlike IPOD’s etc.

as for your ‘gapless playback’ question… Rockbox does that fine :wink:

as for ‘volume level’s’ … i would say that my player (Sandisk Sansa e250) is definitely not bad and i would say it’s ‘loud enough’ cause i dont think players could get noticeably louder than it for the most part… bottom line though is it’s volume level is good but everyone’s opinions might vary on it since people’s standards vary.

on a side note it took me a while to convert my mp3’s/CD’s to .OGG format and then i used a program called MP3tag (which is free) to put in the tag data so everything is organized properly in Rockbox. (i.e. keep’s it professional :wink: )

p.s. in general im fairly picky on sound quality but like i say with my basic set of headphones on my Sansa e250 (v1) (2GB) player when using .ogg @ 45kbps average bit rate it’s quite close to the CD itself especially considering it’s using such a low bit rate where as the same 45kbps with MP3 sounds quite bad as it’s ‘muffled’… typically speaking .OGG tends to shine at lower bit rates over MP3 (i.e. under 128kbps)

[B]bottom line though… regardless of which player you get i would advice finding one that supports Rockbox (www.rockbox.org) as you wont be disappointed with that Firmware ;)[/B]