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Plug in a decent set of replacement earbuds, however, and the limitations of the T7 become a little more apparent. With a set of Denon AH-C751's the bottom end gets a little too strident and boomy, the sound filling out but growing fuzzy at the extremes. Meanwhile at the top end there's a thin line between bright and brittle, and the T7 crosses it too often.
And when you compare the T7 to the cheap-as-cheap Sansa Clip it doesn't fare as well as you might expect. Fire up my colleague Jon Bray's test favourite, Georgie Fame live at the Kentish Town Forum, and it's clear that the Clip copes better with the low frequencies. The keywords are clarity and presence, and the Clip gives you an audibly bigger dose of both, particularly with so many instruments in play at once. Even with something sparser, like Newton Faulkner's cover of Teardrop, the T7 loses out. The song passes muster on the T7 but it never comes alive in the way that it does on the Clip. The tapped out percussion doesn't connect with the same kind of confidence, the acoustic guitar line doesn't seem to cut through the sound in quite the same way, particularly as things get slightly too bombastic towards the end. The T7 is a competent performer, but it's what you'd expect for the price, nothing more.
On the plus side, format support is good with ASF and OGG handled natively on top of the usual WMA and MP3 options. However, at around ten hours of battery life it's down on the Clip and iPod Shuffle in this respect as well. What the T7 has got going for it is capacity - 4GB where the Shuffle maxs out at 2GB (a 4GB Clip has recently surfaced, though) - and at a very reasonable price. All the same, given that this is unlikely to be your main player and that the 2GB Clip is available for £20 less, this isn't a totally convincing argument in the T7's favour. If you need that extra 2GB and the all-in-one convenience of the built-in USB connection, then it's worth putting on your shortlist, but if you simply want a cheap and cheerful lightweight player for everyday use, the Clip would still be our choice.
A perfectly solid Clip-rival let down by poor navigation and reasonable, but not exceptional sound quality. Only worth serious consideration if you find the added capacity essential.
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