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The earphones bundled with the YP-R1 are a pleasant surprise in that they aren't utterly terrible. Sure, anything listened to through them comes across a little (okay, a lot) muddied and somewhat lacking in presence, but it's a rarity to get something included in the box with a portable player that wouldn't be bested by a couple of paper cups and some string.
Plug in a good set of 'phones and the results are much better. There's a lovely warmth to the output of the YP-R1 and no shortage of low-down detail and high-end clarity. Massive Attack's Teardrop has rarely sounded better on so small a player and on returning to an iPod nano for comparison it came across veritably sterile and lifeless.
I'm not entirely sure that FLAC support is needed on this class of player. In a quiet room, with a good set of headphones it is possible to hear a bit more detail in some music but let's face it, if you care about fidelity you shouldn't be using a player like this to listen to your album collection.
The DNSe 3.0 sound processing is surprisingly good. A huge range of pre-sets are available, as well as an Auto option which, in theory will adjust the player's output to suit whatever is currently playing. It doesn't always work, but when it does it can have a genuinely positive effect. The player's audio upscaler only seemed to do anything when I transcoded a couple of 320kbps MP3 files into 128kbps AAC, a level of degradation to which no-one should subject their music files.
I'm not sure whether the YP-R1 could be said to sound better than an S Series Walkman, which costs about the same. Samsung's player has a slightly richer sound, but Sony's device is slightly more natural in its output so it's more a matter of preference. If you look at the feature set, though, then the YP-R1 is streets ahead. The S Series has a smaller screen, is bulkier, lacks Bluetooth, is made from plastic, not metal and doesn't have anything like the format support of the YP-R1.
The review sample was supplied by SamsungConnect, which is currently bundling a Linx B-Tube, Bluetooth speaker with the player. It's a decent enough wireless speaker for when you don't want to use headphones, but don't expect it to fill a large room, or entertain at a party. However, the YP-R1 can be found for considerably less elsewhere online, so if you don't need a wireless speaker, it's worth shopping around.
Put simply, the YP-R1 is a delight to use. Its touchscreen interface is the best you'll find on a device without an Apple logo, it's attractively and well designed and, importantly, it sounds excellent. Plus, it's almost ridiculously cheap compared to its rivals, especially when you consider how much functionality Samsung has crammed in.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality