Why the +1 for Sansa Clip+?
October 25, 2011 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Why is the Sansa Clip+ the pinnacle of MP3 player design and sound quality?

I'm in the market for a non-iPod MP3 player, and I'd like to know why the Sansa Clip+ is regarded so favorably by many of the MeFi community.

Two days ago there was a thread about the 10 year birthday of the iPod. A bit down the thread, there was this comment about an MP3 player that was the "pinnacle of MP3 player design and sound quality", and it links to the Sansa Clip+, a $50ish dollar MP3 player. Several people favorited it, and others chimed in about how much they loved theirs. But I didn't get a clear impression why specifically people liked it so much.

What differentiates this player from the crowd? The UI? MicroSD slot? Build quality? Does the Sansa love go beyond the Clip+ to the Fuze+ and/or Clip Zip?
posted by mcstayinskool to Technology (25 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I've got the fuze and it is great. It is a geeks iPod where you aren't tied to itunes.
posted by koolkat at 7:25 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I have a fuze, too, and it's wonderful.

I've never been an apple-product person, and for a long time was a Linux user, so I've long wanted something with drag and drop USB functionality that didn't force me to use any particular software. Only problem with products like that is that many suffer from poor design, particularly in UI. My fuze is absolutely painless to use, was affordable (I got it refurbed on woot for $40), and reliable, with solid sound quality. It also has a nice feel to it. Many cheap mp3 players feel cheap, but it has a decent weight and quality to it. It's just a nicely designed piece of electronics.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:30 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have one! It does have a good UI (considering its tiny screen), and the MicroSD slot is nice. I think it's sound quality is as good as anything else (though you'll want to get new earphones). The clip is very nice for when you don't have pockets, and the screen is easy to see outdoors. But the battery life is really poor, you can't listen to anything while it's charging, and the screen is REALLY small. It's utilitarian and well-designed, but I don't love it in the same way people love their iPods.

I paid around $30 for a 4GB and added an 8GB MicroSD card. This was a lot cheaper than anything else out there at the time.
posted by miyabo at 7:30 AM on October 25, 2011

Best answer: I don't know about pinnacle of bla bla bla, but I've bought 3 Clip+s (actually the first was a straight Clip) so far and would happily buy another one.

It works with Linux (with a config tweak), Windows and Mac. It's simple: Mount it as a drive, copy stuff to it. It remembers where I was, so stopping and resuming when I'm listening to podcasts is as simple as press and hold the power button. It has good seek capabilities (important for podcast listening).

It sorts files by ID3 tag genre, and has slightly different behaviors for each of those. I wish it would override that behavior if you toss stuff in the PODCAST folder. It does work with Audible, though I've only done that once.

It's compact, does what it's supposed to do, doesn't try to impose things like iTunes on me. It's everything I want in an MP3 player, and nothing that gets in my way.
posted by straw at 7:32 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have the Sansa Clip and the Fuze; the clip is the perfect (in my opinion, based on price, sound, and size/the clip) gym mp3 player. I love that it uses a more generic usb cable than the iphone and fuze, because I often lose these - and can use the same one for my camera, the clip, etc., etc. I love that you can simply drag and drop files onto it, and that it synchs with winamp/whatever, and effortlessly synchs with my library's free digital audiobook checkout - and that it marks the places in chapters, so I can listen to whatever and go back to the audiobook later. It holds all my gym playlists and 5 audiobooks with room to spare. I love that you can relabel files to "podcast" or "audiobook" in winamp/whatever program, and the clip will file them in podcast or audiobook, making it so you can resume the book or podcast at your leisure. It has pretty awesome battery life, and will charge by usb really quickly off of my car's stereo if it runs out of batteries on a trip. I like that the clip is a solid-state drive; I've dropped it and can run with it no problem. I love that I can record voice "notes" to myself on the clip.

I like the Fuze a lot too, it is sleek and sounds good and is also cheap, but I have lost the usb cable and can't use it currently. It is also worth noting that I haven't bothered to get a new usb cable for the Fuze because I just use the clip all the time. In fact, I am not sure where the Fuze is. Also, the Fuze has more synch issues than the clip - I have a harder time getting audiobooks, etc. onto it and the firmware needs updating once and awhile. The program that comes with it to update the firmware is a pain in the ass. That said, it is still pretty great. I always liked that I could store a bunch of files on the Fuze, too.

I think the clip is so fantastic because it is so simple; less to go wrong.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 7:33 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been using my Sansa c240v2 for a few years and I love it more than any ipod I've ever had. What makes it even better is running it with Rockbox.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:36 AM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's a thumbdrive with a headphone port, a slot for a memory card, and a simple, logical interface. Simplicity goes a long way, especially when it comes to pleasing geeks.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:50 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I like it because it doesn't pretend to be anything other than an mp3 player. It doesn't have some crappy touchscreen interface that's useless when I'm wearing woodchopping gloves. It mounts up easily on any PC I connect it to and doesn't try to delete my library. It fits anywhere I want to put it. It does one thing unpretentiously, reliably, and well. It's sturdy and cheap. It's the Honda Civic of mp3 players, while the Ipod would be the Ferrari.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:51 AM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

It's one of the most widely available non-iDevices. I think my old generation Cowon was vastly superior, but it's really hard to find a simple Cowon these days...you certainly can't buy one at RadioShack. Don't buy anything at RadioShack, but you could get the Sansa Clip there if you had a compelling reason to.
posted by anaelith at 7:54 AM on October 25, 2011

Tiny, light, simple, nearly invincible*, clippable (great for the gym), $20 on woot, MicroSDHC, uses standard mini-USB cable, Linux-friendly, minimal UI, can resume my podcasts from where I left off, browse through the filesystem or id3 tags, FM radio.

I use mine almost exclusively for listening to podcasts. I guess if I wanted to listen to music, a larger capacity player with a fancy interface might be nice, but I also have a Fuze and an iPod 5g that never get used.

The Fuze is a quality player (as were the e200s before it), but I prefer the minimalist Clip+ these days. The only good thing about the iPod is its large capacity; it's inferior in every other way that matters to me.

I do miss Rockbox, though. I used it a lot on the e200s. The Clip+ can run Rockbox, but there's no way to "lock" the player, which is prohibitively annoying.

* I did manage to break the clip off of one.. so I bought another on Woot
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:54 AM on October 25, 2011

If it has any downside, it is the size. You have to real careful about making sure you remember where you put it. We still haven't found the one my wife misplaced. I'll sure it will turn up eventually, in a sock drawer or someplace weird like that. Otherwise, it is just a rock solid product that does what it is supposed to do, well.
posted by COD at 8:01 AM on October 25, 2011

The fact that woot often offers sansas for next to nothing may play a role as well.
posted by R a c h e l at 8:38 AM on October 25, 2011

Best answer: Shortly after I got one (after reading the recommendations on MeFi), my wife took to borrowing it. Shortly after that, we got her her own.

It's pretty cheap. It's about as small as it could be without being so small that it'd become inconvenient. It's got a MicroSDHC slot so it's fairly cheap to add 16GB to it. I've found it to hold its charge for a long time. You can interact with it as a simple USB drive, so it's compatible with everything (something I don't take for granted as a Linux user.) Rockbox supports it.

When I finally got a smartphone, I imagined I'd stop carrying the Sansa, because the phone could do everything it could. But I found the extra steps involved on my phone to make the Sansa still worth it.

So what they said -- simple, convenient, cheap, does the job.
posted by Zed at 8:40 AM on October 25, 2011

It's small, inexpensive, utilitarian, and expandable with the microSD slot. I can run Rockbox on it if I want to tweak around with it (you can actually dual-boot Rockbox and the Sansa firmware). The main reason I like the Sansa Clip+, though, is the excellent sound quality. It's apparently due to metal shielding from interference, a design feature lots of manufacturers skimp on.
posted by neckro23 at 8:47 AM on October 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all, I'm convinced. The good podcast support ranks high with me, so that's a big selling point, as is the MicroSD slot. Just ordered an 8GB plus a 16GB microSD card.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:09 AM on October 25, 2011

From a geek standpooint, it is one of the best MP3 players for sound quality and it plays FLAC.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:08 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a pretty great player, and it sounds as good as anything else in its general category. But 'pinnacle of sound quality' is a little further than I'm willing to sign off on. If you want the pinnacle of sound quality, get a headphone amp.
posted by box at 11:10 AM on October 25, 2011

I forgot to even mention that it plays oggs. Then again, I may be the only person who cares about that.
posted by Zed at 11:24 AM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'm the party who referred to it being "the pinnacle" and here's why...


Simple to load, simple to use.

Outstanding sound quality. Seriously.

Feature packed without being cluttered (FM receiver, equalizer, voice recording etc...)

Gorgeous little OLED screen (take that Shuffle!)

In short, it's cheap, durable, dead simple to use, versatile, expandable and sounds great. What more could you possibly want*?

*in a modest capacity PMP.
posted by MikeMc at 12:01 PM on October 25, 2011

When I went shopping for an mp3 player, my mission was to find one that was as simple as having a USB drive with a headphone jack - that's what the Sansa provides. Clean, simple, reliable, absolutely no bullshit whatsoever. The voice record feature proved to be a wonderful, handy bonus and while it'll never produce professional grade recordings it has certainly saved some musical and standup performances I would have otherwise missed. My only complaint about it is that it is so small that losing it is far too easy.
posted by EatTheWeek at 5:33 PM on October 25, 2011

Built in FM tuner!

I just broke the clip off mine, and I miss my older Sansa that ran on a single AAA battery (it got lost in a snowbank forever). But nothing could make me use itunes.
posted by Maarika at 11:49 AM on October 26, 2011

Many reasons for the Clip being the perfect workout player.
$30 new or $22 Refurbished

The "clip" plus the small siz is very convenient on your jacket/jeans
Good sound quality ( 92db signal to noise ratio is very respectable and good way of quantifying what many people say is good sound quality). If you need more details and want to know more details go to Navguy site( WARNING: TECHNICAL)

Relatively "Well built", clip broke off after 2 yrs.. went and got another one
FM radio.. lacking in other similar players
Micro-sd expandable .. can use up to 16 gb
No frills oled screen - Readable in sunlight and doesnt use too much battery
Good Battery life - 15 hrs
Supports many codecs including FLAC and OGG
posted by radsqd at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2011

I have the old e200. It's a workhorse. I bought it refurb, cheap, and it's been dropped, pulled and sweated on for years, no worries. It has a minor bug with the scrollwheel.

As for sound quality, it is NOT the pinnacle, but it's hard to get an objective measure of this. Better headphones help, but I don't want $100 headphones to get wrecked in the gym.
posted by 4midori at 9:27 AM on October 28, 2011

Response by poster: Quick follow-up: I purchased a refurb 8GB Clip+ for $38 and a 16GB microSD for another $20. Loaded it up with music and podcasts, and couldn't be happier with it. Truly amazing to get this level of quality for such a low price.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:47 AM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

> you can't listen to anything while it's charging

You can, as long as you connect it directly to a power outlet instead of a computer. However, only the original firmware is available when the Clip+ is USB powered, meaning no Rockbox (and thus no gapless playback) while charging.

I recently purchased a Clip+ due to my battery issues with my old player and the fact that it can be charged via a non-proprietary interface and still be used while charging was its main selling point.
posted by Bangaioh at 12:46 PM on November 17, 2011

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