Sonic Blue Rio Volt MP3 Players

Rio Volt

· plays standard audio CDs, plus the CD-R and CD-RW discs you've created on your CD burner · supports popular music formats, including MP3 and WMA, and can be upgraded to emerging standards · electronic shock protection up to 120 seconds · runs up to 15 hours on 2 AA batteries, or plays non-stop using AC adaptor · bundled with Real Networks audio management software and Adaptec CD burning software for use on the PC

User Reviews (19)

Showing 1-10 of 19  
GordoJazz   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 01, 2002]
Strength:

FirmWare, LCD, Navigation in the cd, 8min anti-shock, FM tuner

Weakness:

Load time a little slow. The battery gets can get flat at any time. equalization/Sound not to good

Here in Brazil we don´t have money to spend $700 in a cable, or $5000 in a cd player, so the mp3 player is good and usefull... E uma ae pros brazuca q taum no site: gringo fede mto... gasta $13000 num cabo eh mta forga, tem gente que vive com 4X menos anualmente. Abraço ae pra todos :)

Similar Products Used: KOSS Porta Pro Headphone. It makes a big diference
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
Steve Wiser   Casual Listener [Jun 16, 2001]
Strength:

Flexibility in music format. CD CD-R, MP3, WPA

Weakness:

None observed yet.

Since I am a casual listener I am not a picky as some would be and as some deserve to be so my observations need to be based on this fact. After winning a set of headphones at the Sennheiser site, I needed something to listen to them with so I sprang for the RioVolt. I have yet to receive the phones, the Senn 495s. I expect them in early next week. My listening pleasure runs to light jazz more than anything else. Before the RioVolt, my old CD players were of very little note.

So far the RioVolt sound is good using the earplugs that came with them except maybe a little light in places. Their clarity is find for me. The ability to have both battery and AC power is definitely a plus. The ability to use MP3 files makes this one great player for me. I have a great collection of old music that I would very much like to bring together into one place. Someone suggested that skipping was a problem but I have yet to experience this displeasure.

The feature that probably is most important to me is the one where I can update the firmware and get a new feature set. Right now the latest new feature set makes this player more than it was originally. What more can I ask, to have a player that will evolve with me? I really do not find anything about this player to be bad at this time. If I find something out which I don't like I guess I can come back and do update later.

Similar Products Used: none
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
Daz   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 04, 2002]
Strength:

Decent anti-shock, Resume, backlit display, decent battery life.

Weakness:

Loud mechanical spin-up noises, track loading can be lengthy on older CDs, inefficient display

After deciding I wanted Mp3, I weighed up the pros and cons of solid state and mp3cd. The ability to have 150+ songs on one cd (which costs about 35 pence) is what swayed me, considering that you can get about 34 songs into 128 meg (which costs £60+). Then I had to decide what player to get. There are a lot now, and a few have decent features. I narrowed my choice down to 3. The Expanium (Philips), the Havas imported one, or the riovolt. The price and battery life made my mind up. Price being the dominating factor. The riovolt is outstanding value for money, and is possibly my best purchase of 2001. The backlit display is very useful when you listen to your player in low-light conditions. However, much better use of the LCD display could have been implemented. The 'dancing figures and beat detection' could have been replaced with an exta line of text, reducing the need for the scrolling ID3 tags. Updating the firmware makes navigation very easy, and finding a track takes next to no time. The EQ is actually quite useful, and the ultra bass setting has found a place close to my heart. The remote doesn't feel as flimsy as it has been made out to be, it is just very light. Some of it's functions can be altered in the set-up menus, so it's easy to use. Battery life compared to other mp3 cd players is superb, and beats the pants off my old cd player. Now for the not so good: Loading times are quite long on this unit. When you first switch the unit on, it has to search through the whole cd counting all of the tracks and loading their names into memory so that you can find them. This can take up to 30 seconds (depending on how clean/new the CD is) and is accompanied by some rather loud mechanical noise from the drive as it spins up and down etc. This noise becomes quite common as you listen to the player, as it happens just before the end of each track as it loads the next track into RAM. Skipping tracks and jumping to other tracks can also take a while, but isn't quite so bad with the latest firmware. It would also have been nice to have an LCD display on the remote like on the SP250 enhanced remote (which is incompatible with the SP100). These problems are only tiny compared to the mammoth good of the player. I love it to bits and I would recommend it to anyone who can't afford about 700mb worth of flash memory for their solid state player.

Similar Products Used: Pine MP3CD player, D-Link MP3 CD player, samsung yepp mp3 player, various sony walkmans
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
FATMAN0   Audio Enthusiast [May 10, 2001]
Strength:

Display shows text: filenames or ID3 tags. Remote control.
Decent tone control/equalizer.

Weakness:

Poor battery life. Line Out is not a true line out, but is modified by volume control and equalizer. Volume too low...only 7mw/channel for headphones, and it seems like less. Provided headphones stink. Backlight does not stay on long enough. Skips when used outdoors or for exercise. Does not produce bass (low notes) when they are recorded on MP3/CD (classical music)like the Philips will.

I returned a DLINK and also a CLASSIC mp3/cd player(s).
The DLINK skipped just sitting on the table. The CLASSIC
had very nasty dirty sound. I have a Philips Expanium, and have had for a few months now. I wanted the remote control and text display, so I bought the RIO VOLT and planned on selling the Philips.

1) The sound of the RIO earphone out and line out are inferior to the Philips. The Philips sounds cleaner and louder.

2) The RIO LINE OUT jack is NOT a "true" line out. It is modified by the volume control and the equalizer. It should be fixed volume with no tone control. My headphone amp did prefer the line out over the headphone out, though, as far as driving the headphone amp.

3) The RIO claims 15 hour battery life. Bull. More like 6.
Not impressed at all. The Philips has better battery life by far.

4) Sometimes the RIO would "lock up" and I would have to open and close the case to reset it. I did install the latest firmware. Still did it.

5) Output volume is just too low. The Philips is a bit better, and the DLINK and CLASSIC have much much more power for the headphones than the RIO VOLT.

6) Remote is handy. Liked it. I can be used without the remote.

7) "Hold" switch on main body is a bit cheap.

8) Display and search using the display are nice.

9) Backlight does not stay on long enough. It's a pain
to use in low light situations.

10) Comes with soft case with belthook. Why, I don't know.
It skips like crazy if you use it for any exercise, including walking. Not impressed. Philips better.

In summary. I took the RIO VOLT back and got a refund, and am quite happy keeping my Philips Expanium. When Philips comes out with a version with text and backlight, I will consider that.

And the Philips sounds great with my Airhead headphone amp and Sennheiser HD570's or HD600's. Sounds good without the amp with Sony MDR-7506's.

Similar Products Used: DLINK. CLASSIC. Philips. All 3 are mp3/cd players.
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
Ron   Audio Enthusiast [May 21, 2001]
Strength:

CDR/RW compatability, remote, easily upgradable firmware.

Weakness:

Earbuds, no radio.

STEP ONE: UPDATE THE FIRMWARE TO VERSION 2.0!

After reading the reviews on the Rio Volt, I was a bit apprehensive about buying it. However, compared to the other available units, it seemed the best bet.

Admittedly, out of the box the unit is lacking a little. The earbuds are useless. Their sound is so-so and you have to tape them to your head. With decent earphone, the sound was good, but the EQ left some to be desired. There was long pauses between tracks. I can’t say I had a complaint about the volume level as many others have stated ... quite loud to me if you plug into the earphones jack and not the line out. (If you use the remote, then plug the earphones into the end of the remote.)

With the new 2.0 firmware, there is a TON of fixes, improvements and additions to the unit. The track to track pause is now almost similar to a CD; there is a user-definable EQ mode; you can toggle button beep tones and the backlight; better anti-skip; better CDRW compatibility; the list is enormous.

** Note that as of this writing, the SonicBlue website only listed a link to the 1.13fpdir firmware, yet the readme lists changes up to 2.0. That’s what made me go, hmmmmm. If you look directly on their FTP server, you will see the 2.0 firmware. Also, it’s listed as an official release .. not beta. It appears to be such a new release that they haven’t updated the website yet. **

Get the unit and a decent set of earphones/buds, update the firmware, and enjoy. As far as I’m concerned, you can get a better unit with these features for this price.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Al   Audiophile [Mar 22, 2001]
Strength:

upgradeble, plays mp3's and some windows media, best avail. on the market. really easy to use.

Weakness:

awkward carrying case, longer time between songs, will skip and shut off on bad mp3's. Doesn't reconize mp3 >128k. Really bad earbud headphones.

The next generation of CD Players and MP3 devices are on the market. Even though Napster is moving to a pay service, MP3's are becoming the norm for digital music. Diamond Rio has produces many MP3 players and is now introducing a MP3 CD Player, the Rio Volt. I have this item and I usually get around 170 songs per CD. It's a good replacement for my first generation CD player, which was made in 91. The ear bud headphones are almost useless, they are too large and will not say in your ears. This really isn't much of a jogging or activity cd-player as it could skip between loading songs. It does most of the mp3 into memory. I haven't decided if I should do an in-depth review on this player.

Similar Products Used: other mp3 players.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Brian Cruikshank   Audio Enthusiast [May 09, 2001]
Strength:

Price, upgradeable software

Weakness:

earbuds, no Radio

This is a great player. It does what it says it will do and has audio quality similar to other portables.

It does not skip at all because it only spins the CD only when fetching the MP3 it is going to play. This only lasts a second or two. I think that if you bounce it during this time, the next song might be delayed playing. I do not think this is a big deal. People that are talking about skipping must be using it with regular CDs. That is not the main purpose of this player, so I do not care.

The earbuds supplied were not that great. My inexpensive Koss headphones are significantly better.

I am listening to it now with my Grado SR125 headphones and I am very happy with it. Very clear and very similar to what I have heard with other players. I am only listening at level 7 and it goes to 20. It is hard to believe that people would listen to music past 15, but I think my ears are still pretty good and a lot of people have listened to too many loud concerts.

The bottom of the display is kind of stupid with the dancing people, but I can deal with it. It would be much nicer to have more characters or lines on the display. It has enough characters, but it is minimal.

At every song, I hear the CD spin up and down. This is a little noisier that I would of thought, but not bad.

I look forward to upgrading the firmware tonight. Currently the resume is not set up, but I hear the new firmware takes care of this.

Overall a very nice product!

Similar Products Used: Standard CD portables
Aiwa CD-MP3 car player
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Richard Grost   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 03, 2001]
Strength:

Many nice customizable features, long battery life, Windows Media compatible, Good price

Weakness:

Sound quality, display panel, durability

The features this unit offers is quite apealing. The lock-switch allows you to pack this away in its carrying-pouch while listening, without worrying that a button may be pressed inadvertently. I set the unit for random-play, hit the lock button, throw it in my backpack and ride my bike without concern of it switching modes, or turning off, for example. This player consumes relatively little battery power in the MP3/WMA mode. The disc spins for about 15 seconds, feeding the one to two minute memory buffer and then shuts down. The length of time between spins depends on the bitrate used in the CD-R recording. I use Windows Media 96K to 128K with very good results. MP3 quality isn't quite as good with comparable bit-rates. The sound quality on the RioVolt is mediocre. You are alowed to adjust the bass and treble in user defined mode, but what this unit really lacks is a decent mid-range. Vocals often sound muffled and distant. Rio needs to update this shortcoming in future firmware updates. I use Koss KTX-Pro headphones ($20) and the volume is more than adequate. The control panel could be used more effectively; too much wasted space! The unit could be of more sturdy design, but the price would probably have to be increased considerably, since most of the money probably went into licensing the MP3 and Windows media software. Overall, not a bad device, and the sound quality may not be an issue to most people.

Similar Products Used: 1996 Magnavox portable CD player with DDB
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Russ W   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 26, 2001]
Strength:

everything... too long to list
Sound Quality, when plugged into my Sherwood DD amp and Yamaha NS-200 speakers. Or my £200 Sennheiser HD580 headphones
Build quality excellent everywhere, nice smooth solid flap mechanism, all except the remote control, where it's a bit iffy.

Weakness:

Sound output not that loud if using big headphones.
Sometimes I leave it playing and the batteries go flat... okay so that's not a weakness but it's all I could think of..!

This is about the first decent CD-MP3 player around. There were others before this, but I can't believe some of them didn't even display the track name???!!! How are you supposed to know which track is which out of 150+ songs?

I want to correct the bloke who said it doesn't read >128Kbps MP3s... IT DOES PLAY >128k MP3s!!! I have many at 320k, and also high-quality Variable Bitrate encoded ones, all are fine.
Also, are you guys kidding that you can't hear the compression with 128k files? Put a CD in your computer, and encode it at 192k and to a seperate file at 128k and listen on headphones, not computer speakers. It's VERY obvious. So don't minimize your listening pleasure, you'll enjoy everything a lot more if you use at least 160k, and not use much more space on your CDs.

This is now called a Volt100 or something. There is a 90, which appears to have less memory and no remote contro, and a 250, which had FM Radio, and possibly more memory.

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Monte B.   Audiophile [Dec 27, 2001]
Strength:

11+ Hours mp3 playback(at 128Kbps), ID3 Tag Support, backlit display, wired remote, many many more....

Weakness:

nothing worth mentioning

GOD PEOPLE ARE SUCH NITTPICKERS, I own a true audiophile home entertainment center (no sony..even ES , pioneer,etc..... aka Crap) so I know what music should sound like and for the price and capabilities, this mp3 player sounds GREAT especially after upgrading the headphones (Sennhieser Mx-500, chosen specifficaly for size) and compared to other solid state mp3 players sound quality I think anybody that can tell a difference has a vivid imagination (in my opinion). As far as skipping goes I am farely physical with it and I have yet to make it skip except for one song on one cd that was badly scratched. The display is pretty good but the scrolling ID3 Tags are a bit annoying, the eq is also prety good. Also I have read complaints about the build quality but compared to others I was impressed (especially with the headphone jackand heat plate under the lid).People have also mentioned problem with the volume but I have only experienced that with big headphones. While it is ofcourse not an audiophile product I would recommend it to anybody but remember to upgrade the firmware and get better headphones.

Similar Products Used: Genica, Creative Nomad 2, Original Rio, Phillips Expanium
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 19  

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