Wired: Sound quality is to a certain extent a subjective matter. One listener’s awesome, thundering bass is another listener’s muddy, low-end nightmare. CNET lab guy Eric Franklin put a number of portable music players through a battery of audio tests using an Audio Precision ATS-2 Audio Analyzer to determine which players sound best, based on frequency response deviation, total harmonic distortion and noise (THD+N), signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), maximum power output, and crosstalk.
I’m not surprised that the Creative Zen came out on top, “with a frequency response deviation average under 1.47 dB, a -82.2 dB THD+N average, and a -83.6 dB SNR average.”
Out of all the companies that make MP3 players, Creative is the only one to have been focusing primarily on turning numbers into sound since the early days of the personal computer, with its Soundblaster line of sound cards. The latest version of the Zen is the first flash-based MP3 player to be available in a 32GB version, giving audiophiles another reason to get excited about it.