Overall, sound quality is pretty decent. There's little we could complain about on the whole. The SA9345's tone is similar to that of the new iPod classic -- it's not quite got the bass oomph of, say, a Sony player, but only hardcore critics will find reason to complain. Aphex Twin's psychedelic Windowlicker sounded excellent through our Denon AH-C700 earphones. The song's critical bright highs sounded as they should.
Green Day's Whatshername exploded with the same power and studio-increased gain that the iPod has. Bass is clear and mids are well reproduced. A set of preset EQ options are available and make a noticeable and effective difference on sound quality, though personal preference will take over here. The SRS WOW option throws up the volume of the bass well, but added severe distortion to the track in question, and took away a vast amount of audio definition.
One interesting point to note is that the player's maximum volume is quite low. This isn't to say it's quiet -- it's simply lower than that of many other players. This is good news for parents concerned about the potential damage to their kids' ears.
Battery life is rated at 20 hours for audio or two hours for video. Our tests will determine whether this is accurate so check back soon for our results.
There's no question that the Philips SA9345 is a well-designed player with nicely implemented features. The problem is that for £129, there aren't enough of them. With competing players like the iPod with beautiful artwork and video integration, or Cowon's iAudio D2 with its SD card, touchscreen and vast audio codec support, the SA9345 just doesn't bring anything strikingly new to the market.
Still, if you anti-iPoders just want a simple, attractive and good-sounding audio player and can afford a premium, don't overlook this new offering from Philips.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday