Let's get something out of the way. I have always had a soft corner for Creative MP3 players. I've found them to deliver in terms of audio quality and functionality quite consistently. In fact, when I received the M300 to review, I was looking forward to a familiar sound, one that I had grown up with.
The package was simple; the tiny player sat at the centre while two compartments held the user manual, stock earphones, and USB cable. The player is really small with a 1.45" TFT screen, surrounded by touch controls. Honestly, I thought it was a piss-poor design. MP3 players today look slick - even the tiny ones. This one just looked like a single bathroom tile: square, plain, and prehistoric. It reminded me of when I was a young boy trying to make meth in the school lab, a time when I thought baggy pants that dragged on the ground were cool, and sending porn clips to girls was funny. All of these above issues were fixed by my dad and his leather belt. But I digress.
The Creative Zen Style M300 package.
Anyway, I decided to give the player a chance. After all, my first player had been a Creative Zen. After that, I sold out to Steve 'Lucifer 666' Jobs and bought a f00kin iPod, which ended with me tying it to the sole of my shoe and jumping from my first floor balcony. It ended well, fellas - a most satisfying event.
So I threw in my usual set of tracks: a playlist with a nice mix of genres. Adding tracks was a breeze. When you plug the player into your system, it pops up as a drive and all you gotta do is copy-pasta your music into the Music folder (I'm looking at you, Steve Jobs. I'm looking. At. You.)
Results When the first track played, I burst out laughing. The song I played was Daimonos, by legendary Polish Death Metallers Behemoth. Now, this happens to be one of my favourite Metal albums because I've never heard this level of production on a Metal album before - especially the drums. The Zen made it sound like a wedding band playing on the street. It was absolutely horrifying.
At this point, I was extremely puzzled, because I just couldn't believe that Creative would release such an inferior product. I figured it was the earphones that was killing my buzz, so I brought out my mighty Sennheiser cans and gave the player a second chance. The song sounded much better, but it was still far from the kind of quality that MP3 players deliver these days. "Weak and thin" best describes the audio quality of the M300.
I quickly ran it through some of the other tracks (Limp Bizkit, Boards of Canada, Porcupine Tree), but the result was the same. The quality was simply missing. It seemed a bit early, but I had already made up my mind about the player. I couldn't think of one demographic that was suitable for a player as crappy as this. I understand that it's a budget player, but I've heard cheaper Philips players that sounded better.
I was so angry I stabbed it and left it overnight in my cat's litter box.
Let me clarify at this point that I am not trying to sound like those elitist audiophiles who turn vigilante and stab people who listen to MP3s. I'm not even talking like the snobbish audio professional that I really am, awesome at my job and all that. I would never let a friend buy this. I feel a bit bad trashing the product like this, but I'm not even trying here. This is purely the sound of my disappointment.