Alas, sound quality is not as strong as the rest of the package, and in this key area, the Meizu fails to match the iPod nano, and lags far behind superior products such as the Sony NWZ-A829 and the Creative Zen. Its biggest problem is that it simply lacks punch. I fired up Simple Kid's excellent Staring At The Sun and hooked up my reference Grado headphones and the result was thin, insipid music with very little bassline and slightly muddy details.
Next, I moved to Biffy Clyro's Love Has A Diameter and found a similar lack of dynamics. Listen to the same track on an iPod nano and the drums leap out at you; here they sound flat and slightly muffled, as if the life has been sucked out of them. Thinking this may have been an issue with the large and demanding headphones I'd just plugged in, I tried a pair of Denon's £140 AH-C751 earphones instead, but the result was the same - the Mini was sorely disappointing.
Kings of Convenience's quieter acoustic style of music really hammered this home. There's simply a lack of atmospherics, airiness and musical information that's there in spades with the likes of the Sony, Creative and iPod nano. I even played around with the EQ and "Spatializer" settings to see if that would fix the problem. Interestingly there are presets for different types of headphones, included, and these did seem to improve the dynamic range of the player, but no amount of fiddling could eradicate the cotton wool sound, or add the detail that seemed to be missing.
I've never seen a flash-based player match the iPod's touch-sensitive interface in terms of sheer pick up and playability as the Meizu Mini Player SL does. Its controls are simply superb, and it looks wonderful too.
Not only that, but it's slim and sleek, boasts a great screen, has impressive file format support and is pretty cheap for a player of this capacity. But, alas, sound quality is a big disappointment. It's flat, fluffy and far behind the competition.