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Author Topic: Please help me find a cell phone for playback  (Read 5103 times)

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Offline dyneq

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Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« on: December 23, 2013, 01:53:25 PM »
OK, right up front: I'm not a cell phone guy, but I listen to music almost constantly (commute and at work). I don't travel much and really only use my older flip phone when necessary (road trips or meeting up with friends). I use voice and occasionally an IM here and there and use T-Mobile prepaid with no data. I just don't need to be able to be online all the time, etc with a smart phone.

For music, I use an older Sansa Fuze 8GB with a 16GB MicroSD card running Rockbox. I love it, but the battery is beginning to go.

Rather than charging/maintaining 2 devices, I'd like to meld them together functionally for simplicity's sake. A new(ish) cell that accepts MicroSD seems like the smartest way to go. It seems like if I want MicroSD, I need to be looking at Android or Win8 phones. Those of you who are using these currently, what apps do you use to listen? I use Foobar2000 to manage my collection of ogg, mp3 and mp4 files, so I really want to find a way to be able to play them all. I did try sticking my memory card in an older dumb phone, but it couldn't play ogg or mp4, so I'm pretty sure I'll need an app-based solution here.

Also, I'm fine with buying something used/obsolete if it meets all of my qualifications. I'd love to hear about what solutions you guys are using and the pros/cons.

Thanks!
John

Offline Phil Zone

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2013, 03:01:56 PM »
I have and use the Motorola razor which is android it's a great phone, nice size and very solid build. The speaker is bad, but all phone speakers are, the jack is good, not overly powerful but has enough to get it done.it has a micro sd port up to 32gb. I like it a lot. The reason I chose it was the size was small in comparison and I like that a lot.  Good luck and if you have an questions about it let me know, ill answer what I can.
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Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2013, 03:32:21 PM »
That looks like a nice phone, but it would be overkill since I won't have a data plan to take advantage of the extra features (I just use my laptop/desktop at home and work for my Internet needs). I was hoping to find something smaller and lightweight to carry my music and not need to carry 2 devices around, but I think that may be impossible if I want to use an Android or Win8 app for playing back all my audio formats. I realize that I'm looking for something that most people don't want :) but I'm thinking there must be something out there that could meet my simple needs. I have been doing some searching around and there do seem to be cheaper Android phones that could work. Here are a couple of examples:

T-Mobile Concord: http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-phone/T-Mobile-Concord-No-Annual-Contract-Refurbished
T-Mobile Prism: http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-phone/T-Mobile-Prism-Grey-Prepaid

I did see in an older thread that some people like the GoneMAD Music Player app for playback. What app do you use?

Offline Phil Zone

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2013, 05:47:43 PM »
I use Winamp for an app to play music on my phone, it's very relable and easy to use, but there are tons of apps that are put there to use, especially on the android market.
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Offline jlykos

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2013, 06:26:22 AM »
I just bought a new phone and researched the living hell out of this issue. The LG G2 received some of the best reviews for sound quality, but it is locked to 32 GB and only around 20 GB of that is usable for storage. It's also a bit too physically large for what I want. I went with an unlocked 64 GB iPhone 5s which also received excellent reviews for sound quality. I use the new Onkyo HF player to play FLAC and it's great for this purpose. Onkyo HF allows me to play 24/192 or DSD files straight out of the iPhone to a compliant DAC and use the iPhone as a transport. Really cool stuff.
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Offline kindms

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2013, 09:44:05 AM »
I just bought a new phone and researched the living hell out of this issue. The LG G2 received some of the best reviews for sound quality, but it is locked to 32 GB and only around 20 GB of that is usable for storage. It's also a bit too physically large for what I want. I went with an unlocked 64 GB iPhone 5s which also received excellent reviews for sound quality. I use the new Onkyo HF player to play FLAC and it's great for this purpose. Onkyo HF allows me to play 24/192 or DSD files straight out of the iPhone to a compliant DAC and use the iPhone as a transport. Really cool stuff.

Damn thanks for the heads up on that player. I too have a 64 GB iphone 5s but was unaware of the app. That direct out via USB kit is an awesome feature.

The the poster perhaps if you dont want a data plan etc it might make more sense to get an ipod. You get all the apps and function without the data plan. You can still use it to make calls over wifi if thats your thing (using a VOIP provider). Its a lot cheaper as well. Work got me the phone so I was like sure but the ipod i had prior did everything that my iphone does except make cell calls. I have a voip carrier on my ipod, use it to RDP to my desktop at work over the VPN etc. I did consolidate to the iphone but the ipod still gets used at home etc. If you have internet from one of the bigger cable companies you can generally get wifi in most areas.
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Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2013, 12:15:05 PM »
I did read about that USB capability (also available on some Android devices), but a headphone port would be good enough for my noisy listening environments (car and work). After a lot of research, I'm realizing that it's not easy to find audio testing for cell phones. Here are several links for anyone who is interested in this thread:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/iphone-5/audio-quality.htm

http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/02/iphone-vs-rivals-audio-tests/

http://www.head-fi.org/t/662095/best-smartphone-for-audiophile

I do need true cell phone capability for when I'm not able to be on wifi (like road trips). Since I'm not a smart phone power user and I'm not going to use a monthly plan, I'm not going to invest in anything expensive or using the latest screen and features, etc. I'm just looking for something with decent battery life and support for Ogg Vorbis.

Thanks for sharing your findings and helping me out!

Offline JackoRoses

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2013, 03:01:34 PM »
I only put this out there Since you have an old flip phone; if you don't mind going old, I would look at the older nokias.
pro and cons for sure but
CON= the symbian platform isn't developed anymore.
CON = small screen compared to today
Pro = apps are still available
CON = no support anywhere and apps still can cost money
CON = graphics are dated but will play video, no flash though
Pro = phones can be bought fairly cheaply. (under 50)
Pro= Some have wifi and will play flacs. Load up a 16/32gb micro sd card (flac isn't supported natively but there are apps available) mpthrees obviously work though
Pro = buy a throwaway sim with pay as you go for long trips.
Pro = They also have metal cases if it matters to you. I prefer them myself.
CON = for whatever reason they use a 2.5 mm jack so you need to have an adapter...
Kind of a big CON really since it's one more thing you need to remember... with a cable dangling from the side it isn't something you want to move unless necessary.
Pro = if your car radio supports bluetooth you could go that route as well. (not sure on BT specs so you should check)
PRO = Battery life isn't too bad either.. batteries are cheap to replace now.
CON? = bayonet style charging plug some may or may not like that. I prefer usb or a flat pin connector.
Probably the biggest PRO though is they can almost do everything todays phones can do at a 1/3 of price. and it will do everything you probably want it to and more.
CON = ITS OLD

Be diligent and do your research. I look at like this, for an mp3 player they can't be beat for all the features and they cost less or the same as a dedicated mp3 player.


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Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2013, 12:11:17 AM »
Can you recommend any particular models? Can they play ogg format? Can they play gaplessly? I searched and found almost 175 Symbian models and I don't know much about the platform.

Since I started this thread, I put my MicroSD card in to an older (2011), budget Android phone to test things out. I listened to some tracks on headphones using the default 'Music' app, and it sounded good and played my oggs fine, but not gaplessly. I installed the GoneMAD player app because it was recommended in another thread from this sub-forum and it was able to play tracks gaplessly. I'll try out Winamp too (although I was never a big fan of the Windows application). Are there any other Android users out there who can recommend other apps that play gaplessly?

Offline JackoRoses

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2013, 11:00:25 AM »
I think the latest symbian is 9.3 so any phone that supports that. e71/72 I think and some n-series.
But if you have an old android phone, and it plays music the way you want, well there ya go..
Was not aware you had an android already or I wouldn't of replied.
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Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2013, 11:10:14 AM »
Sorry, I made that  confusing...I don't currently have an Android phone; I just borrowed one to test my music files on. I still have an old flip phone.

One of the cons to the now obsolete Nokia/Symbian platform is that I don't have a way to test if it will work before I buy.

I appreciate your suggestions/ideas!
John

Offline jagraham

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2013, 01:15:12 PM »
I'm also looking for something alone these lines. Purchasing something used for around 70-100 USD. I'd like FLAC capability but I'm trying to see how much it's really worth factoring in. The issue is that I already have a Sansa Clip+ with up to 32GB microSD memory. Plenty of FLAC playback there, but I would like something easier to use than the Sansa since it's so small.
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Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2013, 08:24:10 PM »
OK, so for posterity (and for anyone who is interested), I have spent a lot of time researching this and have recently found some good info.

The best site I have found for discovering the audio performance of phones is http://www.gsmarena.com/. If they do a full review, they use Rightmark audio analyzer using the following setup and settings:

http://www.gsmarena.com/latest_features-review-171p2.php

Unfortunately, they don't list all of the audio test results in one place. You need to search for your phone and go to the specifications page. If it's been tested, you'll see an entry at the bottom labeled 'Audio Quality'. Click on the value in the column to the right to read the full set of results!

By going through their reviews, I was able to discover which phones delivered the best audio quality. Note that not all phones get tested for sound quality, so I'm only commenting on what is available that I've checked out. Here is what I've learned:

If you have an iphone, you're basically all set as Apple uses great audio hardware (especially the 4).

However, if you're interested in Android phones, then you will want to find a phone which uses a good audio chip. Wolfson made chips seem to deliver the best quality (specifically the WM8994, WM1811 and WM5102, but there are probably others). There is a kernel patch which can deliver even better audio performance from these chips by tapping in to their full potential at the hardware level. If you're not in to hacking android kernels, the patch is available in the form of an app called Voodoo Sound:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.projectvoodoo.controlapp&hl=en

He lists all the known devices with the supported chips on that page, but this is a free app and you can use it first to see if you have supported hardware. He also has a pay app with more features (it says that if it doesn't work on your hardware, you can contact him for a refund):

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.projectvoodoo.controlappdonate&hl=en

If any of you have one of the supported devices, and you decide to try the app, please check it out and let me know what you think. I'll add more to this thread as I learn more.

Offline dnsacks

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2013, 02:43:52 PM »
on thought for the OP, see if you can track down a used iPhone 4.  You can use it as a "phone only" by adding a sim card and not buying a data plan (you may be surprised by how cheap this can be).  It will, however, let you use all of its smartphone features whenever you want and to access the internet whenever you can access a wifi network --

It also will play apple lossless format files at resolutions of up to 24bit/48k -- I've set up foobar 2000 so that it will batch convert whatever I want into 24/48 with a single click. 

I've been happy with the sound of my old iPhone 4 and new iPhone 5 via headphones and have actually started loading my new one with 256k m4a files, as I honestly can't tell the difference in challenging listening environments and I like the greater diversity/quantity of music I can carry around with me that way. 

Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2013, 06:47:08 PM »
I did consider going the apple route, but I'm looking for an OS with native ogg vorbis support and I'm not a fan of itunes (I know you don't have to use it for everything, but you will eventually need to install it). Thanks for the suggestion!

I decided to try an android device with the Wolfson WM8994: http://www.wolfsonmicro.com/products/audio_hubs/WM8994/ and a 32GB MicroSD card. Once I have it all set up with Voodoo Sound, I'll post back with my impressions.

Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2014, 02:20:16 PM »
I wanted to report back: I ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy S (SGH-T959) which has 16GB internal and put in a 32GB card. With the Voodoo Sound Plus app, it does sound great. It's not as small or light as I was looking for, but it's still pocketable.

What are you guys who have Android using for players? I have tested a few that say that they are gapless, but aren't on this device. GoneMAD works and is pretty nice. I don't typically use EQ or need fancy skins, etc., just looking for a basic, gapless player.

Offline Jammin72

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2014, 01:55:33 PM »
I wanted to report back: I ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy S (SGH-T959) which has 16GB internal and put in a 32GB card. With the Voodoo Sound Plus app, it does sound great. It's not as small or light as I was looking for, but it's still pocketable.

What are you guys who have Android using for players? I have tested a few that say that they are gapless, but aren't on this device. GoneMAD works and is pretty nice. I don't typically use EQ or need fancy skins, etc., just looking for a basic, gapless player.

PowerAmp works well for gapless playback and gives you a lot of sound tweaking ability include pre-gain which is nice for getting those lower output live recordings up to a decent level for higher impedance headphones.

Yes, but what do you HEAR?

Offline dyneq

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Re: Please help me find a cell phone for playback
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2014, 06:32:59 PM »
That is one of the players I installed for testing. I played with it today and I like it so far. Thanks for the recommendation.

 

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