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Best Value Portable Music Player With Bluetooth?

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As the title says, I need a bluetooth capable player for working out, to be paired with bluetooth headphones. These are needed to provide me with musical entertainment during my four times a week, one hour sessions walking in a pool at my local club. Anything under $200.00 would fit the bill. 

 

Any recommendations would be appreciated. Supporting FLAC would be ideal, with, hopefully enough sd card expansion to provide room for a decent workout listening library. 

 

Thanks for any help.

 

JC

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A bit of additional research seems to indicate that I should be waiting for Bluetooth 5 enabled players (which don't exist yet outside of a few very new highest end phones), and headphones. Supposedly a significant number of players "should" be available by the end of the year. 

 

Looks like three or four months, at least,  of silent working out in the pool. 

 

JC

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Your cellphone??  Assuming, of course, that you have one.  

 

A bunch of <$50 players on Amazon.  Pick the highest rated one with a lot of reviews.  

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On 9/19/2018 at 7:02 AM, TubeLover said:

As the title says, I need a bluetooth capable player for working out, to be paired with bluetooth headphones. These are needed to provide me with musical entertainment during my four times a week, one hour sessions walking in a pool at my local club. Anything under $200.00 would fit the bill. 

 

Any recommendations would be appreciated. Supporting FLAC would be ideal, with, hopefully enough sd card expansion to provide room for a decent workout listening library. 

 

Thanks for any help.

 

JC

The tiny Shanling M0 is amazingly good. It weighs 40 grams, supports sending Bluetooth in aptx and ldac. It handles all hi res file formats including FLAC, and has a micro sd card slot.

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13 hours ago, jcbenten said:

Your cellphone??  Assuming, of course, that you have one.  

 

A bunch of <$50 players on Amazon.  Pick the highest rated one with a lot of reviews.  

Cellphones don't get a signal in the pool area where I work out. And, not sure I would want to risk one lying in the open when I can be quite a ways away.

 

JC

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13 hours ago, Richard Dale said:

The tiny Shanling M0 is amazingly good. It weighs 40 grams, supports sending Bluetooth in aptx and ldac. It handles all hi res file formats including FLAC, and has a micro sd card slot.

Thanks Richard, the Shanling sounds like it just might be a really good option. Not to mention I'm hardly over-investing at that price if the Bluetooth 5 players coming out later on really are that much better.

 

JC

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On 9/21/2018 at 1:08 AM, TubeLover said:

Thanks Richard, the Shanling sounds like it just might be a really good option. Not to mention I'm hardly over-investing at that price if the Bluetooth 5 players coming out later on really are that much better.

 

JC

Just read another review of the Shanling and the writer noted that the max range he experienced was 45 feet. That might be cutting it too close when I'm walking in the pool. :(

 

JC

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JC,
back to your mobile,  bluetooth isn't dependend on mobile signals, so you could carry it in a waterproof bag for mobile phones on your arm ... could fit the Shanling as well ...
Cheers, Tom

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9 hours ago, DuckToller said:

JC,
back to your mobile,  bluetooth isn't dependend on mobile signals, so you could carry it in a waterproof bag for mobile phones on your arm ... could fit the Shanling as well ...
Cheers, Tom

Great idea Tom. That really helps simplify things. Thanks.

 

JC

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On 9/23/2018 at 4:27 PM, DuckToller said:

JC,
back to your mobile,  bluetooth isn't dependend on mobile signals, so you could carry it in a waterproof bag for mobile phones on your arm ... could fit the Shanling as well ...
Cheers, Tom

Found what appears to be a high quality one. Since it has water sealed connections for the headphone cable too, I'm wondering if I could skip the whole Bluetooth thing, and have much better audio while using a pair of standard heaphones? 

 

https://express.google.com/u/0/product/12632686511692414744_17452866283796766940_1060504?utm_source=google_shopping&amp;utm_medium=tu_cu&amp;utm_content=eid-lsjeuxoeqt,eid-ygcnqnyulq&amp;gtim=CPWu6r3K7773BRDn3Nqc29e8y94BGIDUlhkiA1VTRCiQtp_eBTCY3UA&amp;utm_campaign=1060504&amp;gclid=EAIaIQobChMIs4nP987y3QIVCdbACh1YpgMjEAQYBCABEgK16PD_BwE

 

JC

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JC,

as Google Express is US-only, your link does not open correctly on browsers outside the US.
Let's assume that is the perfect match, bluetooth might not be necessary, yet you have to consider the comfort without cabling, especially in a wet environment during sports. If you are looking for a closed design for affordable price, you may  have a peek at the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
Good luck & cheers

Tom

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Tom,

 

 

Sorry the link won't work outside the US, I wasn't aware of the limitation. Here is what I was referring to:

 

100% Waterproof Armband for Smartphones & Iphones by H2O Audio

 
L5unhlvawGeCnNUjy8E-T0gyDn3hfX6FOrkhYuw4

 

Our Waterproof Armband will protect your Smart Our water proof Armband will protect your phone  while you swim, surf or paddle. LatchTight locking closure and SealTight headphone connector provide a secure seal up to 12ft/3.6m underwater. 

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And Tom, this system will not be used for water sports, but for keeping me sane while I spend a hour in a pool four days a week walking in the water for aerobic exercise. That said, yes, an arm band type case and cables running up to the headphones may not be as comfortable during this activity as I would like. I'm just more and more frustrated as I research things further. Bluetooth "should" be the answer but is, more and more, appearing not to be.

 

In just the last day, I've read two reviews of portable digital music players whose bluetooth transmitted music started cutting out at a distance of less than six feet, and two bluetooth headphones that did not work beyond fifteen feet from a player (one was only ten feet). So, Bluetooth gear is not living up to what its rated to perform. And my other option is the one noted above that may simply not be comfortable enough while walking quickly and forcefully through water that starts out midway between my waist and chest, and deepens to the top of my shoulders.

 

There may not be a really viable answer to me getting decent sound while in the pool, which is frustrating and more. It gets beyond dead boring doing continuous laps in complete silence for an hour at a time. And, given the fact that due to knees that gave out and required major surgeries after many decades of football, baseball, tennis, hockey and racquetball, this activity is my only real long term exercise option. :(

 

JC

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JC,

I feel your desperation!
Pushing water for an hour might need some effort for noise cancellation from the HP's.
I use bluetooth usually just in my car, where I find that playing FLAC and HR-files (on Hiby Audio Player for Android) on the car audio system sounds much better over bluetooth, than playing MP3 via USB. Same occurs when using the JBL FLIP 3 from my son.

Having your BT device on arm's length shouldn't display the findings of these reviews, I would think. BT is, on my ears, capable to significantly reproduce the differences in source quality, maybe not to the highest quality, but with most portable devices at consumer friendly prices you may also find limitations with the DAC and the analog output section, so perfection might not to be archieved easily.

Alternatively, for use with cabled HP's you may consider a used (like this -> 173579120212) Pono Player, which sports an Ayre Acoustics DAC. You might not get nearer to your vision of purest sound in semi-warm water during your workout, for that price.

Going all digital, I'd second the phone/BT HP solution for the start to limit unnecessary invest. Going up in spending always exist as an option. Finally, you get what you pay for ...
I wish you the best possible recovery from your health conditions and keep us posted about your watermusic playlist 😉
Cheers, Tom

Edited by DuckToller
Prepositions, spelling faults, comma .. ;-)

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On 9/20/2018 at 10:36 AM, Richard Dale said:

Shanling M0 is amazingly good. It weighs 40 grams, supports sending Bluetooth in aptx and ldac

I did not know it supported LDAC.  Thx for the tip! 

 

Hiby R3 also supports it, but is a bit above his price point. 

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15 hours ago, DuckToller said:

JC,

I feel your desperation!
Pushing water for an hour might need some effort for noise cancellation from the HP's.
I use bluetooth usually just in my car, where I find that playing FLAC and HR-files (on Hiby Audio Player for Android) on the car audio system sounds much better over bluetooth, than playing MP3 via USB. Same occurs when using the JBL FLIP 3 from my son.

Having your BT device on arm's length shouldn't display the findings of these reviews, I would think. BT is, on my ears, capable to significantly reproduce the differences in source quality, maybe not to the highest quality, but with most portable devices at consumer friendly prices you may also find limitations with the DAC and the analog output section, so perfection might not to be archieved easily.

Alternatively, for use with cabled HP's you may consider a used (like this -> 173579120212) Pono Player, which sports an Ayre Acoustics DAC. You might not get nearer to your vision of purest sound in semi-warm water during your workout, for that price.

Going all digital, I'd second the phone/BT HP solution for the start to limit unnecessary invest. Going up in spending always exist as an option. Finally, you get what you pay for ...
I wish you the best possible recovery from your health conditions and keep us posted about your watermusic playlist 😉
Cheers, Tom

Tom,

 

Interesting suggestion on the Pono. I had some exposire to that player not long after their release and was extremely impressed with the sound. I had completely forgotten about it as an option when I started research on my pool walking music needs simply because I was focused on bluetooth  players and headphones. A part of me would really like to pick up a Pono player, but two things are constraining me at the moment. First, it's been pretty widely reported, and know, that the Pono player really needs balanced headphones to perform optimally. And the number of balanced headphones is not large, plus they tend to be pretty expensive. And having headphones converted to balanced operation is also expensive. 

 

Secondly, as I was walking my hour in the pool today, I realized that I might learn to live with a portable player in the arm band on my arm, and the headphone cables running up to my ear while walking through the water, but it would also be far less restrictive and enjoyable if I could make the bluetooth option work. However, as noted before, I'm not sure thats possible given what seem to be the distance imitations of bluetooth players and headphones, in the real world. And, balancing that, I know the audio quality would be far better with a wired headphone and player solution. I've just not found a clear path to a decision yet.

 

JC

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After far too much time researching and resultant frustration with Bluetooth standards, and what, apparently they mean in the real world, it became apparent that I simply could not expect any available bluetooth portable music player and headphones to work for the distances my activity required. After more research following that decision, and a lot of pondering, I finally made a decision and closed the deal tonight.

 

Thanks to everyone for their input, especially you Tom. You led me back to where I should have been. I was always extremely impressed  with the sound of the Pono player, and wanted one, I simply didn't have the need for a portable music player before. While some people are asking ridiculous prices since they are no longer available from Pono, I found a great deal from a top rated seller on EBay for a mere $150.00 (with free shipping) on a brand new one. Considering that some people are asking more than the $400.00 original sale price, that's a steal, as far  as I'm concerned. 

 

Then, despite the fact that reviewers and owners keep pushing the idea that it only really performs well with balanced headphones, I was able to get some info right from THE expert, my old headphone and Head-Fi buddy Tyll Hertsens who pioneered headphone education, promotion and sales worldwide back when he owned Headroom. He had done extensive testing and a full review of the Pono back in 2015, and provided a list of the headphones he specifically recommended for the Pono. I was able to get one of his top choices, the NAD Viso HP50 (normally $299.99) new, from a top rated Canadian seller on EBay for a mere $138.00, shipped. 

 

I'll be using these in the waterproof arm pouch I linked up above. Will it be a perfect world, no, Bluetooth would have been a lot easier if it had been workable. But, for now, it wasn't. I'm sure I will get by just fine with the solution I chose, and have pretty great sound given the circumstances. And it didn't cost all that much at all. 

 

JC

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10 hours ago, TubeLover said:

After far too much time researching and resultant frustration with Bluetooth standards, and what, apparently they mean in the real world, it became apparent that I simply could not expect any available bluetooth portable music player and headphones to work for the distances my activity required. After more research following that decision, and a lot of pondering, I finally made a decision and closed the deal tonight.

 

Thanks to everyone for their input, especially you Tom. You led me back to where I should have been. I was always extremely impressed  with the sound of the Pono player, and wanted one, I simply didn't have the need for a portable music player before. While some people are asking ridiculous prices since they are no longer available from Pono, I found a great deal from a top rated seller on EBay for a mere $150.00 (with free shipping) on a brand new one. Considering that some people are asking more than the $400.00 original sale price, that's a steal, as far  as I'm concerned. 

 

Then, despite the fact that reviewers and owners keep pushing the idea that it only really performs well with balanced headphones, I was able to get some info right from THE expert, my old headphone and Head-Fi buddy Tyll Hertsens who pioneered headphone education, promotion and sales worldwide back when he owned Headroom. He had done extensive testing and a full review of the Pono back in 2015, and provided a list of the headphones he specifically recommended for the Pono. I was able to get one of his top choices, the NAD Viso HP50 (normally $299.99) new, from a top rated Canadian seller on EBay for a mere $138.00, shipped. 

 

I'll be using these in the waterproof arm pouch I linked up above. Will it be a perfect world, no, Bluetooth would have been a lot easier if it had been workable. But, for now, it wasn't. I'm sure I will get by just fine with the solution I chose, and have pretty great sound given the circumstances. And it didn't cost all that much at all. 

 

JC

 JC,
fingers crossed  you'll get the items without flaws ...
Let us know, if you will get into rhapsody about the sq (solely when walking in the pool, for sure)
And dont forget the playlist 😉
Cheers, Tom
Last thought: Could the Pono as well be used to improve the sound inside your new car?

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On 10/11/2018 at 12:02 AM, TubeLover said:

And having headphones converted to balanced operation is also expensive. 

For cans that have only one connection, it can be, yep.  But for IEMS, or cans that have a connection to each channel, not so much.  I've worked with him twice now and David (proprietor / master craftsman) is very responsive and does outstanding work.  

 

For those who aren't regular IEM users, the best practice when buying a cable is to buy it terminated with 2.5mm 4 pole balanced.  Once you have that, you use adapters for SE output or other balanced outputs.  Personally, I don't use plug type adapters, but cable adapters so as to not put too much strain on the jack.  

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12 hours ago, DuckToller said:

 JC,
fingers crossed  you'll get the items without flaws ...
Let us know, if you will get into rhapsody about the sq (solely when walking in the pool, for sure)
And dont forget the playlist 😉
Cheers, Tom
Last thought: Could the Pono as well be used to improve the sound inside your new car?

The Pono is a brand new, sealed package, so I expect no issues, same with the headphones. Both are from 100% rated sellers also. 

 

Interesting thought on whether the Pono could be utilized in the new car. I'll look into that! Thanks.

 

JC

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JC,

Are you walking now, as imagined, with some Watermusik from Händel, visualizing fireworks at the pool's horizon? More importantly, does your new gear fulfil your expectations?

Curious,  Tom

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