The Ultimate Hard Drive Based MP3 Player

I mostly enjoy listening to my music at home. My wife is the only one of us using portable MP3 players on the road regularly. Then one day I decided I want to listen to music while at work!

Plus I had enough of cleaning the battery terminals and repairing the kinked up and internally broken DC wires that powered my wife’s iRiver T-60 from a remote battery pack. So it was time to give her a new MP3 player and myself one too!

First a new MP3 player for my wife. This time it was going to be powered by Li-Ion battery since very few vendors made good seriously high quality digital audio players that were powered by off-the-shelf AA or AAA batteries. Cowon still made an iAudio device powered by those batteries but it had just a small capacity flash drive.

I had always wanted a hard drive based MP3 player before for a long time. Many vendors have made HDD based MP3 players before. Apple and their iPod classic, iRiver of course, Creative too, Microsoft Zune as well and Sony pitched in also. But they have not had that outstanding mark that convinced me to buy one. There was one which outshone others, it was the Rio Karma 20GB HDD digital audio player. This was a high-spec, awesomely designed MP3 player that produced very high quality sound, which was what I valued. Unfortunately it was plagued with manufacturing quality problems with the micro hard drive affecting reliability.

In my search for a new HDD DAP, I was impressed by the Cowon iAudio range of digital audio and media players. Their players produce very high quality sound if not the best.

In March 2011, I settled on a hard drive based COWON X7 160 GB MP3 Player which had all the usual attributes I wanted:

  • 103 hours music playback per battery charge
  • Equalisers
  • 95 dB S/N ratio
  • Supports FLAC, APE, MP3L2 etc. formats

Cowon X7 MP3 player screenshots

View more Cowon X7 Specifications

I am very happy with the sound quality of the Cowon X7 and its capabilities. For pure sound quality, this player is worthy of being connected to a my hifi component system. To enjoy it to the most, I’d also purchased a set of new in-ear monitors to replace the factory-supplied ear buds. Stay tuned for their review in the near future.

Cowon X7 Picture Player

With support for lossless formats such as FLAC, APE, etc. the Cowon X7 sound engine is definitely built for sound production for the serious listeners.

My wife is happy with its extremely long playback time per battery charge. We are both happy!

TIP: When connecting the X7 to your PC, just make sure to copy your media files to the HDD instead of the onboard flash drive, which is reserved for firmware updates only.

…Well there is one problem about the X7 that I found.

Cowon X7 locks up when encountering a foreign ID tag in an MP3 file.
When it gets to play an MP3 file that has an unsupported ID tag, such as an APE tag, the player would lock up and the case heats up. The X7 stays like this until the battery go flat unless you hold the power button in over 10 seconds to turn it off.

The only way is to remove the tag from the MP3 file or remove the MP3 file from the hard drive.

Good news! It appears that Cowon listens to its customer base and have released firmware 2.09 that addresses this and other critical problems. Thanks and Kudos to Cowon!

Useful links:

Cowon X7 forum

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