The Q1’s sound has other things going for it as well. I usually shy away from audio enhancements, but the dynamic upscaler genuinely seems to breathe a little extra life into any more obviously compressed tracks, while the DNSe enhancement mode offers – for once – some listenable EQ and reverb presets and an automatic function that does a decent job of picking the right one for the current track.
Best of all is format support. The Q1 supports MP3 and WMA as you might expect, but also OGG Vorbis and everyone’s favourite lossless format, FLAC. At first I wasn’t sure that the player did play FLAC. Samsung’s literature is slightly unclear on whether all Q1s sold in all territories support the format, and when copying some FLAC files over, Windows threw up a shirty message stating that the files would not play back on my device. Luckily, the Q1 knew better, and my FLAC rips of Doves’ ”Lost Souls” and Outkast’s ”The Love Below” played back without a hitch.
Can you tell the difference between a FLAC file and the 320K MP3 equivalent on the Q1? Well, with the Denon ‘phones you can – just about. It’s easier to pick out the emerging layers of orchestration in Doves’ ”Firebird Suite”, while there’s a presence to the chiming guitar in ”The Man Who Told Everything” that the MP3 version can’t quite match. The question is, would you notice this difference enough to rip all your files to FLAC for the daily commute. Unless you want half the songs or less on your PMP, probably not.
This is a tough call. The YP-Q1 is a strong player – arguably Samsung’s strongest yet – and at £100 for the 16GB version it offers excellent value for money. As a video player or a vehicle for watching downloaded iPlayer material, it’s a stronger contender than either the Sony NWZ-639F or the iPod Nano (though the lack of built-in format support might change your mind).
However, if music was my main priority I’d still opt to pay £15 more, do without FLAC support and get the much better bundled headphones from the Sony, particularly given its smaller form factor and more usable controls. For that reason we’re holding back on a recommendation this time around, but if your priorities are different, then give the Samsung an audition a.s.a.p.
With excellent audio quality and a fine set of features this is Samsung’s finest player yet. However, while the larger screen means the Samsung is a better PMP for video, the Sony NWZ-639F has a slight edge when it comes to audio.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8