Sound Quality: Sansa Fuze vs iPod

Sick of following the trend

Ipod. The name has become the standard in MP3 players. Much like Kleenex to tissue paper, Ipod is now the thing we associate portable music with. Sometimes, we want something different. Sandisk (the company that owns Sansa) delivers with the Sansa Fuze. I would say that it is the direct competitor to the Ipod Nano. It's about the same size and it costs about the same. So why Sansa's Fuze if Apple's Ipod is the standard? Well for one, competition is good. Competition drives prices down and it forces manufacturers to adhere to a higher quality. Another thing I am sick of is following what's "in". Be different people! Don't be a mindless sheep. Let's all do our part and improve our standard of living.

Let's compare them

I have my girlfriend's Ipod Nano right here to compare with my Sansa Fuze! The Ipod Nano is thinner and is slightly longer than the Fuze. The Nano is also slightly lighter than the Fuze. The screen on the Sansa is larger. It looks almost twice as big. The Nano feels very slick and smooth. The Fuze seem to have a glossy coating on the front face and a "rubberized" backside for added grip. It feels good. It doesn't look or feel cheap. Both the Nano and the Fuze are well made and they feel like high quality MP3 Players.

My girlfriend's Nano holds 2 GB of songs. There are no option to add extra storage. My Fuze holds 8 GB of music. I purchased the high end Fuze. They have a standard 4 GB Fuze. My Fuze has a Micro SD slot that I took advantage of and added an 8 GB micro card making for a total of 16 GB or music storage. I believe the highest micro sd card I've seen was 16 GB but that was too expensive for me. The Fuze with the extra card cost me about $130. About $100 for the Fuze and $25 for the card, plus tax of course. Not sure how much the Nano cost as my girlfriend got it for Christmas. I suspect it cost about the same but I could be off.

Sound Quality

I've listened to many MP3 Players. I've experienced Archos, Iriver, Creative Zen, Phillips, and of course, Ipod and Sansa. I can say without a doubt that the Sansa Fuze has the highest sound quality of them all. The Ipod sounds good and their headphones are awesome. I heard that their headphones use rare earth metals and are of high quality and I don't doubt it. It is top of the line. The headphones that came with the Fuze are okay. I wouldn't say they are cheap but they are definitely not as good as the Ipod's headphones. Headphones, however can be replaced. I tell ya, get a good pair of headphones that cover your ear, maybe a Bose, and you will be blown away by the sound quality of the Fuze. The treble is very crisp and the bass thumps well. I listen to my Fuze with my Sony MDR-XB500. It's sounds great!

Side by side pics


I'll tell you straight up that the Fuze wins here. The Fuze can show pics, video(must be converted), and has a microphone in case you need to record... I don't know, your ex-wife admitting she lied in court? Anyway, the feature is there if you need it. To be honest, this is a moot point. I don't really care too much about this. While it's nice to have lots of features, we are reviewing and comparing Mp3 players, not video, sound recorders.

Opened vs Closed

This is what sold me. I love the sound quality of the Fuze but the community is with the Ipod. The problem I have, and always had with Ipods is that it is really locked down. What do I mean by this? Itunes and transfering music. Syncing. If you've ever used an Ipod, you know what I mean. I guess syncing and Itunes help prevent pirated music but that doesn't benefit me, the end user. I want to be able to drag and drop music the my Fuze and I can. I can't do that with the Ipod. At least I don't know how. Either way, I don't want to bother with it. Drag. Drop. And play. That's what I want and that's what I like.

Another thing that hasn't happened yet but might is this incredible open source firmware called "Rockbox". This firmware is an open source project that aims to improve the original. There is one available for the Nano I believe but currently is not available for the Fuze. Hopefully it will be in the near future. Somewhat of a side track but it's good to keep an eye out for. I used to own and old 20 GB Archos and I installed Rockbox onto it and it was amazing. Made the MP3 player 10 times better. If a rockbox is released for the Fuze, it could be a serious player that will be sure to take a huge market share from Apple.

High Resolution
High Resolution

Final Thoughts

I love my Fuze. The firmware can be a little slow sometimes as it does not respond immediately to my actions of the scrollwheel. The Ipod on the other hand is fast all the time. However, I spend most of my time with the Fuze listening to music and not playing around with the interface. I like the interface of the Nano better but it's still crap compared to a rockbox firmware. I believe it is out for the Nano but the Nano is not mine so I can't mod it :( Overall, if you are looking for an alternative in MP3 Players. The Sansa Fuze is great. The Sansa line is great itself. The sound quality is top of the line. They have set a new standard in my opinion. When you listen to this thing, you'll be amazed that you little Fuze only cost you about 90 bucks. Granted my package cost $130 and I have 16 GB of storage! I don't think I will fill that space any time soon. The Nano and its 2 GB of storage caused my girlfriend to ocassionally "replace" and make room for some songs. Set it and forget it. I like that. Oh, and I saw the Fuze for sale at Radioshack and a Target the other day. Check it out. Some Radioshacks have a store model that you can try out. Highly recommended.


My Sansa Fuze is rockboxed! I installed the firmware a few months ago and have been testing it since. Rockbox is still a little buggy but everything was running great. Three things did not work. Video, charging and voice recording. also, sometimes the screen bugs out. I'm somewhat neutral about this rockbox release. It has some nice games but the interface wasn't there for me. I remembered on my first rockboxed archos, I could navigate and play songs without even looking at the mp3 player. With the scroll wheel, it's difficult to fly through the rockbox menu sometimes. Also, sometimes the screen would freeze up for a while. Luckily I am still able to load the original firmware. Just hold left on the wheel while turning on your Sansa! If a stable release is launched, I might give it a serious go. For now, I recommend sticking to the original firmware unless you're bored as hell and want some nice games on the Fuze.

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Do you like the Sansa Fuze? 17 comments

bearclawmedia profile image

bearclawmedia 7 years ago from Mining Planet Earth

Thanks for this man, I just bought me a new Sansa. You are right. Well researched and as always good writing. Happy to still be one of your fans.

Set's All Set profile image

Set's All Set 7 years ago from New England Author

Thanks for the comment bearclaw. I hope you enjoy your sansa. Music is good for the soul!

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

Great research. Apple brands have gravitas that other brands to not. The technology and features are not always superior.

jb 7 years ago

all this is good, but no comparison with the latest iPod (5G). It includes sound recorder, video recorder, has larger screen, very fast interface, games, etc.

of course, its storage is not expandable and the price is higher, but what you pay is what you get.

Set's All Set profile image

Set's All Set 7 years ago from New England Author

JB, I'm comparing the FUZE to the Nano. They are within the price range. I'm sure the latest Ipod has all of that. But it cost almost $300. You can't compare a GTR to a Corolla. BTW, my Fuze has games and sound recorder. If I wanted a digital swiss army knife, I would've gotten a smart phone which I did. The Mytouch 3G.

timili 6 years ago

sansa video converter:an alternative to sansa media converter(SMC)to enjoy video an music on sansa media players, such as sansa fuze, sansa view,etc.

Set's All Set profile image

Set's All Set 6 years ago from New England Author

Ive never used the SMC and I suppose that program would be cool for those on Mac. I used another program on linux that I forgot the name of. Either way, I think watching video on the sansa is nice but kind of a hassle.

Bruce 6 years ago

My Fuze playing mp3 at 320 sounds almost identical to my Denon stereo receiver listening to the CD through good headphones. Not quite the punch but amazingly good.

Set's All Set profile image

Set's All Set 6 years ago from New England Author

Bruce, Yes any audiophile can tell the difference from a high quality amplified receiver, yet appreciate the quality of the fuze. It's simply fantastic for a portable. I am still blown away today at how good it sounds. Thank you for the comment.

Thom 6 years ago

I think the Sansa Fuze is a great little MP3 player, but one aspect that is rarely mentioned is that it doesn't manage large quantities of music very well.

I had 8Gb of music, about 1500 tracks, which was fine, but when I added an 8Gb micro sd card with a further 1500 tracks, things got annoying.

Firstly, it took forever to refresh and delete tracks, and seemed very slow responding to clicks. The bigger problem was that with so many artists and songs, sliding down a list took forever as it didn't speed up at all. If I wanted something beginning with 't' I had to search for about five minutes.

Also, the shuffle feeature only holds about 2000 tracks. Great for cardless users, but I had about 1,000 tracks I hardly ever heard, especially if the artist, track and genre began with letters anywhere after 'r'. Very irritating. It also fails to show album artwork in any form :(

Although I loved the design, size and graphics with the Fuze, I gave in and bought an 80 Gb iPod. I wish I didn't have to, but oh well.

Set's All Set profile image

Set's All Set 6 years ago from New England Author

Grats on the 80gb ipod. I agree with you that the FUZE needs a firmware update in order to fix the sorting issues. Not doing anything on purpose, I've had album art appear on my Fuze so I'm not sure what was wrong on your part. Then again, I never worked on getting album art, some just came with my mp3's. Is your 80 gb ipod equipped with a HDD? That must be much heftier than your Fuze.

Thanks for the comment Thom!

Set's All Set profile image

Set's All Set 6 years ago from New England Author

update: @ Thom. Check your micro sd card. I changed my card to a class 2 and it ran faster. I believe the higher "HC" class cards will work better in terms of speed.

Sadie 5 years ago

I know this article is over a year old, but heck, I'm commenting.

First of the display better on an iPod or Fuze?

Does the Fuze ever "freeze up?"

Have you ever compared the sound quality of a Fuze to an iPod classic 5th generation?

Can you please compare battery life?

Is there any warranty?


Set's All Set profile image

Set's All Set 5 years ago from New England Author

sadie, the display is better on the fuze compared to this iPod. I have never had the fuze freeze up but keep in mind I don't have the never Fuze. Sorry, I have not tried the iPod classic 5th generation. The Fuze has excellent sound quality and many other sites praise it well. I am a casual listener so battery life lasts about a 3 days. I usually recharge it twice a week. The iPod pictured lasts about the same since they are both flash memory based. There is a factory warranty. I don't have the original box but I never had to get it serviced.

Jack 5 years ago

If anyone needs a small portable media player for jogging, cycling, etc, then the Sansa Clip+ is a good alternative as well.

The Fuze+ isn't as great as the Fuze, imo. Plus, if you think Sansa's software sucks, you might want to upgrade to Rockbox. That way you can play more file types, games, etc. Not sure if this works with Fuze , but it works with the Clip+

Reece 4 years ago

This is one of the best comparisons I have seen so fare. I was just choosing between an iPod nano and the Sansa Fuze! And thankfully rockbox is fully stable and functional on the Fuze from when you wrote this. I was stuck between the two, and you just made my decision for me! Thank you so much for the obviously long amount of time into this review and making it worth reading! :)

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