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Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB) review



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Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB)
  • Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB)
  • Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB)
  • Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB)
  • Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB)
  • Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB)
  • Cowon iAudio 9 (16GB)
  • iAudio S9 16GB MP3 Player - Titanium


Our Score:


We described the predecessor to the iAudio 9 - the inspiringly named iAudio 7 - as being like your funny uncle. A bit quirky, entirely likeable, but you wouldn't really want to be seen in public with him, especially not with your friends. The iAudio 9 is still similar in many respects, but now that uncle has put on a suit, dropped the corny jokes and could probably just about make it through dinner without telling your partner about that incident with the jelly and a trampoline on your 12th birthday you swore should never be mentioned again. In short, it's a definite improvement.

The iAudio 9's dimensions of 43mm x 95mm x 8.6mm and 40g weight leave it fated to comparison to Apple's iPod nano. In figures the iAudio 9 is slightly larger and heavier, but in the hand or pocket the difference is literally unnoticeable. However, with an 8GB iAudio 9 costing £99 and a 16GB model priced at £120, the Cowon player is notably cheaper than equivalent capacity iPod nanos - and these numbers do matter.

The overall design is an unsurprising evolution from the iAudio 7. The matt black finish verges on bland, but I quite like its functional look and I imagine the other colours will look similarly tasteful. For certain, this player feels more 'grown up' than an iPod nano; neither form nor function have taken priority here and it just works.

The player's top half of the front is filled by a 2in, 240 x 320 pixel display, while the bottom half is a capacitive sensor san the indentations of the previous model. The controls are context sensitive, but with a little common sense it's easy to guess what each will do in a given screen. When navigating menus, for example, it’s pretty obvious that a swipe of the navigation bar will scroll up or down while on the now playing screen the same action will pilot through the current track.

Because of the sheer number of options available on the iAudio 9 some sub menus are buried a little. To help, you can press and hold controls to access shortcuts. In the now playing screen, for example, pressing and holding play/pause gives quick access to the equaliser and playbacks settings (repeat options, shuffle and speed).

This capacitive control surface is backed up by a volume rocker on the left edge, plus a menu button, and combined hold and power two-way switch on the right. Sliding this down and holding it turns the player on or off, a quick flick down turns the display and touch-sensitive controls on or off, and locking the slider up puts the controls on hold.

Usefully the iAudio 9 gives you a couple of options as to how restrictive that hold mode is. Either it can disable all controls, both physical and touch-sensitive, or it can disable everything except the left rocker-button and the menu button - the former then working either as a forwards/back or volume control and the latter becoming a play/pause control instead.


December 10, 2009, 10:09 pm

I've been looking out for a 16GB player to replace my G3 4GB Nano, as while it's going strong isn't going to last forever and I could do with the extra storage.

This player looks nice and I'd love to avoid paying the Apple Tax but there are some deal breakers that most players seem to have.

- Gapless playback is a must. This is 2009 for goodness sake

- Compilations should be searchable as such, not as an infuriating list of artists that clog up your browsing experience. Does anyone apart from Apple get this right? Incedentally the iPod software is a genuine pleasure to use. This is the level other manufacturers should aspire to instead of interfaces that look like they were programmed ten years ago (I'm looking at you Sony!).

- It must Scrobble. If Apple can manage to integrate it into the iPod then why not everyone else? Even the Shuffle I use at the Gym Scrobbles. I want stats. STAT!

Although the sound quality in the Cowon and Sony players is said to be better than the iPods, will I really notice with my Sony earbuds whilst on the Tube? I doubt it. I like my Nano and get on with iTunes which works just fine on my Athlon X2 / Win 7 PC. I'd like a bit more choice than just an iPod Nano or an iPod Touch.


December 11, 2009, 1:24 pm

Well, the iAudio 9 does do gapless playback, as the review mentioned.

I just wish it had more space. I'd love to replace my 30GB iPod (running Rockbox) but it's almost full, and although I could probably trim down my music to 16GB worth that I actually want to listen to on the go, I'd rather not have to take the time for it - just as I'd rather not take the time to re-encode everything in a format the stupider players can understand (the vast majority of my music is in Ogg Vorbis).

Still, this looks like a wonderful little device overall. I will definitely be considering it.


December 11, 2009, 7:42 pm


I think you'd find that the i9 does playback OGG.


December 18, 2009, 9:11 am

TR, Please review the Creative Zen XFi2 player. If possible please do a video review for it as well. Thanks.

Erland Sommarskog

January 2, 2010, 8:56 pm

I've just recently entered the world of MP3 players after having put my entire colletion on MP3.

I was excited to read that the iAudio9 has gapless playback, the cheapie I bought has not.

But there are other deal breakers, the review does not cover. If I plug in the iAudio9 into my computer, will it appear as a harddrive? I've gathered that Apple's iPod does not, but this is an absolute must for me.

Assuming that I can use it as a harddrive, can I then tell iAudio9 to play folder by folder, and have it to skip a folder, if I don't want to play that album right now?

Erland Sommarskog

January 3, 2010, 12:47 am

Found the manual at http://www.cowonglobal.com/..., and, yes, it will appear as a disk. As for my second

question, it seems that I can tell it to play a folder and all its subfolders.

Looks promising!

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