First of all I have a confession to make. My model is actually a D-E400, not the D-E441 as the category is for. Still, what's a little 4 and 1 between friends?? I bought it quite a long time ago (2 years) and at the time it cost me a whopping £100. A similar model costs only £49 now. That’s a fair drop in price in just two years, but I guess that’s the price we all pay for technology. Now for the same price you can buy the top of the range model, but the thing is that in the last 3 years portable CD players have moved from being hi-tech cool gear to just bog standard and things like Mini-discs and MP3 players have become the gear to be seen with. They are still extremely useful, however, they have just lost that 'wow' factor they once had. On a side note I think the next popular device will be MP3 CD players, which are like normal portable CD players but play MP3 CD's allowing you to store 200-300 songs on one disc!! Anyway, getting back to the D-E400. It is the standard Sony Silver colour they use for CD players and size wise it is pretty much the same size as portable CD players. After all with CD players you're limited as to how small you can make it by the physical size of a CD. It's roughly the size of a CD with a small display tagged on the front, and about 1 inch thick. It doesn't look chunky but I have now got used to a mini disc player and it is quite bulky in comparison. You certainly couldn't put it in your pocket (unless you have a massive pocket). On the specs front it is surprisingly basic considering how much I spent on it. It has ESP2 (well squared, but tell me how to that on Dooyoo without using ^2 which will confuse everyone), a 1bit DAC, AVLS (Auto Volume Limiter System) and Groove sound. Unlike other manufacturers Sony don't seem to quote a time for their anti-shock protection, instead they just give it a name. Given my overly fiddly nature I decided to cond
uct a small experiment to determine how long it would last for. By placing a pen in the relevant hole I fooled the player in to thinking that the lid was closed, when in reality it was open. After starting the CD playing and leaving it for a while I removed the CD from the player. Because the ESP2 stores the music in a buffer before playing it the music kept on playing, but only for around 10 seconds. This isn't as good as some players which offer 20 seconds or more, but it is sufficient for day to use, or for use in cars. Jogging is the only activity that I found renders the device useless. What the 1bit DAC does is something I'm not sure about exactly, but it has something to do with the sound. All I know is that this CD player sounds very, very good. It is much clearer than my mini disc player and it is the opinion of my sound quality obsessed friend that it sounds better than the new Sony players. The Groove sound systems does make a distinct difference (as you can turn it on and off) and this is enhanced by the great Groove headphones which have extra smaller speakers to produce a better sound quality. They are my favourite headphones and I use them for everything, I was quite upset when I temporarily lost them as they cost £20 to buy separately. I'm not very good at describing the sound of music but it sounds good, clear and sharp. Surprisingly the bass is pretty good (due to the Groove system), not in the way shake the room way big speakers do, more in a shape your inner ear to shreds way. Actually you need not worry about ear damage as this (and all Sony models) feature AVLS which limits the sound to a level which is safe for your eyes. The problem is that when sounds (big bass loud sounds) go over this limit they become distorted, although this only occurs when using the Mega Bass feature. It has all the standard CD player features, such as skipping, programmable and random play modes. There is also a useful intro fea
ture which plays the first ten seconds of each track so you can find that song you like. The sound control is via a small dial, and the machine can be locked by a flicking a small switch (to stop buttons being pressed by accident). It takes two standard AA batteries to run this machine, although you could use an AC adapter (but it didn't come with the CD player). I managed to plug in my Mini Disc AC adapter and it worked, although I was expecting smoke and sparks to start flying. The batteries last about 12 hours, although if you turn off the ESP2 then you eek them out a little longer. Looking back I may as well have spent a few more pounds on a rechargeable model as I would have saved a fortune in batteries in the long run. My model came with a normal analogue line out but all the new models should feature digital, optical outs. I can also vouch for the players sturdiness. It has survived 3 years of constant use, often not in the most friendly environment. It has been dropped, banged and scratched and even survived being left outside overnight. It may look a little worn and battered but it still plays as well as ever. Top notch for build quality in my opinion. So there you have it, the Discman D-E400. You probably can't buy it anymore but I like it, and the new models (look for the cheapest one) are so similar all they have done is change the name. For stuff like this you can't beat Sony, except on price. You can get another similar model by Bush for £35 compared with the £49 for the newest Sony model. Still, Sony still rock and I would advise you to pay that little extra.