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Playlists and the Cowon X7

I have been searching for an MP3 player for a great deal of time.  I had a few over my time.  I used to have a Creative CD MP3 player which was a great device, I took it to Europe worked a treat until it come up against a song longer than 8 minutes  This was my first one, I had Walkmans prior to that.  I exchanged this for an iRiver SlimX, this was a great device.  iriver-imp-400-mp3-cd-playerIt was also my first foray into getting a lot of my music collection into digital format, the sound quality was superb and I was more than happy with the fact that it could play songs longer than 8 minutes.

This lasted for sometime, but eventually CDs were not big enough, to fit more music onto a CD I needed to compress it more.  It was pointless to do this when the sound quality was becoming more and more important.

The next device I went to was the Creative Zen X-Fi, being impressed with the X-Fi technology in the sound card by Creative, I felt this was a great option.  32GB of internal flash, WiFi and could use an external SD card, what more is there.

Well this broke, the play and pause button started to get more and more difficult to use and eventually stopped working.  This was outside of the warranty period but the Creative Zen X-Fi2 was released in a touch screen version, which only had a power button and a menu button.

This player, was my favourite of all time.  The interface was cleans, simple to use and the quality was great.  This too was a 32GB internal flash, no WiFi in this device, but it was OK, it was a drain on the battery.Creative_ZenXFi2

But not long ago, I hit a limit, 32GB wasn’t enough.  Now, when this happened the X-Fi3 was released, I thought it seems good that when there are problems with my player there is a new one.  But alas, this X-Fi3 came only in a max of 32GB, pointless.  The X-Fi2 came out in a 64GB flavour but I would possibly be hitting this limit too, so I needed to look at my options.

I threw it out to some friends, people at work.  A few came back and all recommended the iPod.  My wife has had iPods for a while, but she is on her third, since there was hard drive problems in all previous ones.  Did I want to have these problems as well.  Not to mention the terribly application known as iTunes.  I did not want to be tied into that.  I had success with managing my music collection using folders and playlists.  the Zen X-Fi was great, I put files into the Music folder in their Album folders, moved M3U files into the Playlists folder, made sure the paths were correct, since you needed to have \Music\FolderName\SongTitle.mp3 in the playlist.

So, no problematic software to manage or sync, but still provide the quality in audio I was after and had enough space for me to not need to look at upgrading unless it broke.

There were 2, the Cowon X7 160GB and the iPod Classic 160GB.  Well since I didn’t want to be tied down to iTunes and the terrible sound quality of the iPod, then I opted for the X7.

I will say first and foremost the audio quality of the X7 meets or exceeds that of the X-Fi devices I have had previously.  I will not review the X7 here though, I might do that later.  So it met my sound quality check, so now it needed no horrible software to manage things.  Well, there is software which you don’t need to use so Windows Explorer is the one for me.

But this was fine for all of the folders in my music collection.  Copied them into the Music folder and they played, am happy.  Playlists, mmm, that was different, it supports them, but going through forums looking at how it is done, not a lot of people know.  I went to iAudiophile and anythingbutipod, there were many people talking of issues with them, people then having suggestions.  I tried them and none of them worked.

So I gave an couple of thoughts and tried them as well, nothing.  Then I tried one more thing.  You need to download the software Playlist Creator.  Once installed, run the application, Click the Settings button.  Then click the Playlist Details tab.

image Set the options to be the same as this.  You want Relative paths to be the item selected.  Then Click the Extended Information.

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Make sure Write extended information and Readout data from tags (slow) are checked.  Then Click OK.

I copied the folder I wanted into the Music folder on the HDD of the X7, I then set the save location for the playlist to be the same folder the music files were in.

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So you can see above, it is going to save it to E:\Music\Heavy Rain, this is for the playlist for my Heavy Rain soundtrack.  Add the files, using folders.  Then Click Create Playlist making sure it is an m3u file.

CowonX7Once saved, you can now, eject the HDD safely.  Which will shut down X7.  Reboot, and go into the playlists option in the browser.  Low and behold there are playlists that now are available and work.

The Browser function in the X7 seems to just look over the entire system for these files when going into the playlists option.  Since I am using relative paths and the files are sitting in the same folder as the music, it will mean that will just play.

This is the player I have now.  The Cowon X7, this has many flaws, but I find positives more than make up for the flaws.  The flaws can also be worked around.  Simple.

If you are in the market for a new MP3 player do not assume you must by an iPod.  They are common and they are decent enough.  But if you crave that extra quality then spend that little bit more, and this was cheaper than the 160GB classic iPod.  So, take a chance and be different.