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Some genres of music aren't too badly affected. Levees, from Terence Blanchards orchestrated Jazz album, A Tale of God's Will, sounded fine, the subdued acoustic bass and melancholy, muted trumpet tones having no problems cutting through the funereal strings running through the early and latter sections of the piece. There was also some nice detailing in the piano, percussion and brass that come in midway through.
While the vocals in tracks from Ray LaMontagne's Gossip in the Grain suffered from the lack of mid-range clarity, the Samsung still delivered a warm, intimate, no-fuss sound. Bass heavy dance tracks like Justice's Genesis also work well, playing to the YP-U5's strengths, and I didn't get bad results from more poppy material from Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5 or Take That.
Rock tracks, however, particularly those with layered heavy guitars and busy drums, have a tendency to sound messy. It's hard to make out what's going on for large sections of Mastodon's Oblivion, and the thick guitar sounds of The Hold Steady's Sequestered in Memphis have definitely sounded more punchy and urgent. And forget about switching from the Norm or Auto EQ settings to the Rock preset (or, God forbid, Concert Hall) - you'll only make things worse.
It's a shame, because in all other respects the U5 is a very nice player, and a worthy rival to the Sansa Clip (still the thinking man's small format MP3 player of choice). Battery life, at around 20 hours, is very good, and File Format support, with OGG and FLAC now provided, is certainly above average.
Even the pricing is competitive; I can't imagine anyone paying £30 for the 2GB version when the 4GB version is only £8 more, but you're still getting a lot of player for that kind of money. If your tastes run more to pop and dance than rock, then the YP-U5 well worth a look. If, however, you want a great all-rounder that can handle any type of music, then Samsung's latest little wonder falls slightly - just slightly - short of the mark.
A thoughtfully designed micro MP3 player with a lot more bells and whistles than you might expect at the price point. Sound quality isn't exceptional, but if you can live with the weak mid-range then the YP-U5 offers solid value for money.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality