Up until recently I've tended to switch audio enhancements off, as I'm not a big fan of unnatural, heavily processed sounds. This year, however, a few players have surprised me, and the Samsung is another where I'm happy to leave them on. Even if you insist on using the mediocre earbuds supplied you'll find the output quite listenable. Connect some better cans - this week I'm using the lovely SoundMagic PL50 earphones and my Grado SR60i headphones - and the YP-Q2 is capable of some truly excellent results.
Looking for Nothing, from Aimee Mann's @#%&*! Smilers is delivered with its thumping, sixties-flavoured bassline, nuanced vocals, discrete strings and warm electric piano and organ sounds all perfectly balanced and wonderfully clear. Public Enemy's By the Time I Get to Arizona is as bass-heavy and brimming with anger as you'd want it, the YP-Q2 packing in the heavy beats, loping bassline and carefully orchestrated samples with real precision.
The more restrained delights of Alison Krauss' folksy bluegrass are handled with just as much grace, finger-picked acoustics cutting through with superb definition and the vocals coming through so clearly that you can hear the intakes of breath between lines. The Q2 also delivered a great performance with Gidon Kremer's take on the tango of Astor Piazolla, plucked double bass and accordion providing a sparse backing for Kremer's mournful violin.
It's always a good sign when I forget what I'm supposed to be doing and spend time running through a player's media library to see what else I've put there and give it a spin. Last night the Q2 kept me up for a couple of hours past bedtime doing just that, and I can't say that about, say, the slightly inferior Creative Zen MX or Samsung's own YP-U5. On top of this excellent performance, the Samsung also wins points for format support (Hello FLAC! Nice to see you OGG!) and excellent battery life - 50 hours for audio, albeit with a rubbish 4 for video.
For me, this is enough to make up for the YP-Q2's rather less impressive efforts with video, and if you want a PMP primarily for audio playback, then it's hard to beat Samsung's latest in terms of value. Unfortunately, that's 'hard', rather than 'impossible'. Looking around, I note that Sony's S-Series Walkmans are currently doing the rounds at very similar or lower prices, for the same capacity, offering equivalent sound quality and better bundled headphones to boot. If you were interested in a great audio/video all-rounder, meanwhile, then the extra cash splashed out on Samsung's own YP-P3 would be money well spent. This leaves the YP-Q2 a thoroughly decent budget PMP - and certainly a better choice than Creative's similar Zen MX - but, for all Samsung's efforts, not a world-beater.
Despite some caveats about video playback and file format support the YP-Q2 is an improvement on the already good YP-Q1, and one of the best budget PMPs around. However, with competition so aggressive at this price point, it's still possible to do slightly better for the money.