One big plus for the iAudio 9 is its support for gapless playback, the lack of which on other players is a complete deal breaker for me - and I'm sure many of you will agree. Words cannot describe how annoying it is trying to listen to an album such as Muse's The Resistance with pauses between tracks where no pauses should be.
Also useful is the ability to resume tracks where you left off, a must have for audiobooks. I don’t know about you, but I find scrolling for minutes just to get to the chapter I was previously listening to incredibly frustrating.
On the subject of audio books, the iAudio 9 comes with a voucher for one free download from Audible.com, neatly outing the player's support of that service and encouraging its use at the same time. Other online audio book stores are, of course, available.
If you're just looking for a simple, OK-sounding media player then the iAudio 9 may prove overly complicated - the huge array of options can be a little daunting. However, on the plus side, it can produce a level of audio quality that you probably wouldn't expect from such a small player - once you've ignored the flat and anaemic default settings and tweaked it yourself.
Once set up to your preferences, the iAudio 9 has a wonderfully full output, with plenty of punch low down, great mid range presence and excellent high end clarity. Even with the volume way up there's no hint of distortion, but just be careful you don't damage your ears because this player will go very loud.
The Cowon iAudio 9 is not a media player for everyone. While its user interface is intuitive for the most part, the sheer number of options means you'll be navigating a lot and at some point you may will end up lost in a sea of sub menus. Comprehensive audio format support makes up for this to a degree, but the lacklustre output when left un-tweaked might irk the casual listener. Once configured though, it's a lovely sounding, capable player.