Actually, this isn't an MP3 player. But more on that later
I resurrected my ancient iPod 5.5G by installing RockBox on it, and damn how awesome it was. The sound quality got a hefty upgrade; finally no more disgusting clipping. The last.fm support is another bonus, also fuck yes crossfade. But it turns out that the HDD was dying, and I didn't feel like cracking it open to install an SSD right now. What do?
I noticed how the NWZ-S540 series, more specifically the NWZ-S544 (8gb version) was on sale. After some quick googlan it turned out that it was rather rad. Deciding to give it a shot, here's my first impression.
As I mentioned, this does NOT deserve the name "mp3 player". Its support of mp3 tags is real flaky, with a maxlength of 32 characters and very limited unicode support. No japanese characters for you.
That said, it does everything regarding .m4a (mp4 etc) completely fine. Tags appear correctly, furthermore the percieved quality is higher than .mp3 at any rate.
The equalizer on the NWZ-S540 series is wonky. I mean that in it really buttfucks the sound in ways you wouldn't imagine. I seem to have found the two best configs after a fair bit of tweaking however.
General purpose listening, open headset: +1 +0 +0 +0 +1 +0
Noisy environments and/or tracks with low bass: +2 +2 +1 +0 +1 +1
Due to the blasted frenchmen and their stupid legislations, all european versions have limited volume. This is fixed by setting the region/keyboard/language/EVERYTHING on your computer to US English, and updating to firmware v1.1 from the murrican sony.com.
Works fine on the NWZ-S545, albeit only timeless. The device stores the playcount of each song, and this happens as soon as playback starts. So if you hammer the "next track" button, everything you flip through will be scrobbled as "listened". Anyhow, to scrobble you'll need the excellent QTScrobbler. I shed a tear when I saw the very same app I used for my RockBox'd iPod could be used for my new PMP as well.
I tried putting the device in MSC mode, suspecting this might fix my issues with ID3 tags. I've known MTP to be the problem on other players (Samsung YP-P2), but alas, this was not the case here. The walkman itself is to blame; there is no politically correct way to get ID3v2.2 tags working on the S540. Just stick to mp4 for this device.
That's basically what I had to say. Long page is long.