Top critical review
Great sound & interface; poor handling of metatags
September 26, 2018
My Sansa Clip Plus (one of many over the years) is finally on its last legs, so I’ve been looking for a comparable replacement. Which of the dozens of cheap Chinese knockoffs should I choose? Agptek seemed to have a lot of models, so I picked this one.
To my ears, the Agptek A50S seems to have comparable sound quality to my Sansa Clip. It’s also louder. Using my Sony MDR-V6 headphones, it has the same volume with the control at 50% as the Sansa does at almost 90%. The interface and buttons are fairly intuitive and the color screen displays album art, although it’s pretty crappy and low resolution. The Agptek A50S also has a
ton of extras if you want them – Bluetooth, FM radio (and recording), voice recorder, pedometer, stop watch, alarm, calendar, photo viewer, and a cool “screensaver” that can display an analog or digital clock. But honestly, I would trade all of those features for better handling of mp3 metadata.
I guess I’m just spoiled from years of using Sansa players, which read and displayed tag information completely and faithfully, just as it would be displayed in iTunes or Windows Media Player on a desktop computer. These new Chinese players do not. I borrowed a friend’s Klangtop (looks just like an Agptek player) and it was just as wonky as this device. On the Sansa player, all tag information for album title and song title were displayed in all modes, and the track order was followed. Track order tags are not read by this player. If the filename does not have a number at the beginning (01, 02, 03, etc.), track order will default to alphabetical order. So if you want to listen to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” you will start with “Any Colour You Like” and finish with “Us and Them.” Browsing (scrolling) through tracks in any mode on the Agptek (album, genre, artist), you will only see the file name, not the track title as tagged. With the Sansa players, you always saw the exact track title as tagged while browsing in any mode other than folder mode. When it comes to album titles, this player only reads a few characters into the name. So two albums with similar names – say Beethoven Symphony No. 3 and Beethoven Symphony No. 5 – will have all of the tracks thrown together and commingled. So you’d listen to the first movement of one symphony and then the first movement of the other symphony, and so on and so forth. Fortunately, there is a workaround for this problem – play the tracks from their folders in the folder mode. Finally, the Agptek player truncates long file, track, and album names instead of scrolling to show the complete name as the Sansa players did. The fact that Sansa players read all metadata is probably the reason why those players took so long to refresh their data after updates, whereas the Agptek does it in a few seconds.
Maybe I’m the only one bothered by this sketchy metadata compliance. I’ve read lots of reviews of these new cheap players, and nobody complains about this issue. If anyone has found another player that reads and displays tag info as well as the Sansa Clip, I’d love to hear about it in a comment.