A personal blog about Jiu Jitsu, anime, and whatever else comes out of my brain

Rockbox on the Shanling Q1

I recently installed Rockbox on my Shanling Q1 DAP. To elaborate, a DAP (Digital Audio Player) would be a portable device that mainly plays music like an iPod and Rockbox is software that's kinda like the Linux of DAPs. It is free / open source software and supports a lot of different players (including old iPods). After getting everything setup I have some thoughts on both the Q1 and Rockbox.

Thoughts on the Shanling Q1

My opinion on the Shanling Q1 itself is mixed mostly due to the MTouch OS software that it runs, but there are many positives to the device! The Q1 uses a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and up to a 2TB Micro SD card (though the music library is apparently limited to 20,000 songs). It supports audio formats from MP3 to DSD so you should be good to go with whatever you throw on it. As far as Bluetooth goes it is at version 4.2.

The device's default touch screen interface is fairly clunky and while it's simple to figure out it is also very easy to click on the wrong action. The main difficulty is in selecting specific songs / albums / artists. This is especially true if you have a decent size library of songs like I do.

The look of the Q1 hardware is pretty cute and it does come in several different colours depending on your preference (I have the red one). Although I feel that the Q1's interface is not easy to use, the MTouch OS it runs is full of features. The vast majority of these features will not be needed or used my many people, but they are there for any hardcore enthusiasts.

In terms of how the device sounds I have no other DAPs to compare it to. Listening to my Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones through the Q1 does seem to sound better than plugging the headphones directly into my laptop.

Thoughts on using Rockbox with the Shanling Q1

Installing the Rockbox firmware onto the Q1 is fairly straightforward. Once Rockbox is installed, booting into the original firmware is simple as well. All you have to do is hold down the previous button while turning on the device.

Once everything is setup there is good and bad about Rockbox on the Shanling Q1. Even with the stock firmware's problems I would recommend sticking with it at least for now. Currently Rockbox has a tough go of things on the Q1 (the port is listed as being unstable on the Rockbox website).

One of the good things is that Rockbox makes it easy to sync (most of) my library of 11133 songs (at the time of writing) using Rhythmbox. I say most of because after syncing 10636 songs it appears to hit certain files and not be able to add them. Not sure why!

More serious issues with Rockbox on the Q1 are its lack of support for Bluetooth and how the interface is based around using buttons instead of a touch screen. When running on a device with the Q1's form factor having navigation be button based isn't the end of the world, but it's not especially easy to navigate.

Rockbox's interface may look dated to some it does have a certain charm and can be themed. Honestly Rockbox is an impressive effort and any shortcomings are clearly advertised on its website. It just isn't the best fit for a touch screen focused DAP like the Q1 at this time.

Closing Thoughts

I just wish there were more smartphones available that came with a microSD card slot. That would make things a lot easier! To me there aren't any DAPs out there (as far as I know) that seem all that appealing. Many of them are outrageously expensive or run outdated version of Android with no hope of receiving major updates. Maybe a company will come along one day and a great DAP will be made for a reasonable price!

Thanks for reading!

This work by Thomas Lloyd is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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