Jens of Sweden MP-300 Review

The Jens of Sweden MP-300 is a classy player that not only looks good, but also sounds very good
The Jens of Sweden MP-300 is a classy player that not only looks good, but also sounds very good
The Jens of Sweden MP-300 is a classy player that not only looks good, but also sounds very good

Highs

  • Excellent sound quality
  • great software package
  • as refined as you can get

Lows

  • No support for iTunes
  • Napster
  • Ogg Vorbis. Accessories cost extra
Home > Product Reviews > Portable Music Player Reviews > Jens of Sweden MP-300 Review

Summary

There are very few reasons not to like the MP-300 Digital Audio player. It does not promise everything in the world like most other players, but what it does offer, it does extremely well.

There is no support for secure music files from sources like iTunes or Napster, and the player does not support Ogg Vorbis. But these are all features that the majority of users will not use and those of us who do look for those features rarely use them anyways.

The good news is that the Jens of Sweden website seems to be on top of things when it comes to support and firmware or software updates, and that is very important. There are also plenty of add-on accessories for this player including an arm band and upgraded ear buds.

The Jens of Sweden MP-300 is a classy player that not only looks good, but also sounds very good. If you are considering a portable audio player and have been looking in the Digitalway or iRiver camps, we recommend giving the Jens of Sweden MP-300 a serious look over, we think you will be pleasantly surprised.

*Edit 5/5/04: On page 3 of the full review we made an error and stated that you need to install drivers for Mac operating systems. We have been informed that the MP-300 is in fact recognized immediately and does not need any drivers to be installed on Mac OS 9.04 and above. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Introduction

If you have never heard of Jens of Sweden, you are not alone. Based out of Sweden as their name indicates, this portable audio manufacturer claims to be the largest MP3 player brand in their country. After reviewing the MP-300, we have no reason to doubt them. As if they were taking cues from Apple, Jens of Sweden makes a striking impression with the aesthetic design of the MP-300

MP3 players are a dime a dozen, and they all seem to pack every feature imaginable into their little designs. But as we have said time-and-time again, it doesn’t matter what the player can do, if it doesn’t do it well, it’s not worth having. With that in mind, Jens of Sweden seems to concentrate on what matters most; sound and style. Catering more to the audiophile rather than the mass consumer, it is not surprising to find their players missing from the Best Buy’s of the world. Found only in high-end audio stores like Outward Sound, the Jens of Sweden MP-300 carries a price tag that breaks the $200 dollar barrier for a 256MB version of this player.

The Jens of Sweden MP300 measured

Features and Design

We knew as soon as we received the MP-300 that this company was trying to do something different. Packaged in an aluminum cylinder case, the MP-300 immediately gives the impression that this player is something special. The player itself has a white face covered in a thick clear see-through plastic or acrylic covering. The back of the player is a dark grey that matches the aluminum case it comes in. And while the color scheme is not necessarily the best out there, they somehow are able to make it work.

The MP-300 measures in at 3.3 inches in length, a little over 1 inch in width and weighs around 2.6 ounces. Most of the weight can be attributed to the thick acrylic faceplate and the AA battery it uses. Most of the MP-300’s competitors are still using the smaller AAA battery which weighs less, but of course does not give their players as much playing time as the MP-300 boasts. The design element of the MP-300 doesn’t stop with the player itself, and you will find that the included cables and accessories also have the same white or grey color scheme.

While the MP-300 has a built in USB adapter that cleverly slides out with the push of a button, Jens of Sweden also includes a USB extension cord for you to use if you prefer. The MP-300 comes with necklace style ear buds reminiscent of the Digitalway MPIO product line as well as a line-in cable for recording to the player from an external source. Joggers or those looking for a portable audio player to work out may want to purchase the optional carrying case and armband. Other optional accessories include a clip-on in-line remote control and Shure Electronics ear buds which provide even better sound than the stock ear buds.

The icing on the cake with the MP-300 design is the easy to read LCD display that features a light blue backlight. The text on the display is sharp and clear and highlights the overall design accents of the MP-300. ID3 tags are used for song information and the data scrolls right to left in a natural and fluid movement.

Jens of Sweden packs a great list of specifications in the MP-300 also. It can record at 8-256 Kbps and supports the ACG voice recording standard using the line-in accessory or by using an external microphone that plugs into the same input jack on the player. The MP-300 supports playing MP3 files recorded in the 32-320 Kbps bit range as well as variable bit rate, and also Microsoft’s WMA format at 32-192Kbps.

Of course none of those specs matter if the player doesn’t have the power to play them back. Fortunately the MP-300 provides 12 mW of power to each of the channels. One of the coolest features of the MP-300 is that it has an integrated FM transmitter. So if, for example, you put the player next to your car’s radio and tune in between 87.5 and 95.0 on your radio, you can pick up music being transmitted from the MP-300.

Setup and Use

Preparing the MP-300 for use is extremely easy on a Windows XP or Mac 9.04 or above machine. Because the player is recognized as a mass storage device, there is no need to install any drivers. If you do plan on using the player on Windows ME/98 or Linux operating systems, you will need to install the players’ drivers. Unfortunately this could pose as a problem since the drivers, software and manual are found on the player itself and were not provided to us on a separate CD. You can however download the drivers, software and the latest firmware off the company’s Website directly. The manual is well written, detailed and very easy to read. If this player was made by another manufacturer as a lot of players in this market are, there seems to be no indication; the English translation was done very well.

Once you copy over your songs to the MP-300 and store them in their own folder, then using the MP300, you can then browse through your files by the folder name. Songs are organized by their name only and you cannot organize them by artist, album or genre. We found this acceptable however since we are only talking about 256MB of storage here, not 20 GB like some of the larger MP3 jukeboxes. We would of course expect better file categorization from a larger player. Since the MP300 uses a AA battery instead AAA, battery life is longer than what you would expect. The Jens of Sweden website says you can get around 26 hours of playtime. Our tests showed our MP300 lasted for just over 23 hours, still extremely long for a player of this type.

The Jens of Sweden Audio Manager program is pretty powerful, and has most of the features you would expect including a lyrics editor and play list support. So if you want more options than simply dragging the files onto the player like a hard drive we recommend installing the Audio Manager. One of the great things about this software package is the FreeRip software which utilizes the LAME encoding engine. This combination allows you to rip your own songs quickly and with good quality. Play lists need to be created using this program or others such as Winamp, and cannot be created on the player itself.  FreeRip is an excellent program with a small footprint that won’t slow down your computer. However, it does come with spyware in the form of a search bar for your web browser that will install by default if you do not uncheck it in the installation process. This we could have done without. Overall the software package is good and while it doesn’t support secure music files from places such as Apple iTunes or Napster, the included software is intuitive and works well.

The Listening Experience

The MP-300 comes with five equalizer settings that are sure to appeal to most listeners. The difference between the MP-300 and many other players we have reviewed is that the equalizer settings on the MP-300 actually work. Each EQ setting is distinct and works well for their assigned genre. For example, when listening to pop or techno music, the pop EQ setting increases the bass noticeably.

Sound quality is well above average for a player of this type. The included headphones work well and music is crisp, clear and full-sounding. This is no doubt due to the 98dB sensitivity level and the 12mW of power going to each channel. Audiophiles who prefer to use their own ear buds or headphones should be very happy with the performance of the MP-300 so long as their headphones do not require a large amount of power.

The integrated FM tuner works well and we experienced no issues with obtaining a signal. There are 15 presets so you can store your favorite stations in memory. The built-in FM transmitter is a very cool feature and works well as long as you have the MP-300 sitting right next to the receiving radio. We experienced very light fuzz in our tests using the FM transmitter. It is not satellite radio quality by any means, but it is a cool feature that is very usable – especially if you don’t have a cassette adapter or a line-in in your head unit.

Jens of Sweden adds a great feature for those of you who like to listen to music while you sleep:  the MP-300 has a sleep timer so you can set it to turn off after a certain period of time.

Conclusion

There are very few reasons not to like the MP-300 Digital Audio player. It does not promise everything in the world like most other players, but what it does offer, it does extremely well.

There is no support for secure music files from sources like iTunes or Napster, and the player does not support Ogg Vorbis. But these are all features that the majority of users will not use and those of us who do look for those features rarely use them anyways.

The good news is that the Jens of Sweden website seems to be on top of things when it comes to support and firmware or software updates, and that is very important. There are also plenty of add-on accessories for this player including an arm band and upgraded ear buds.

The Jens of Sweden MP-300 is a classy player that not only looks good, but also sounds very good. If you are considering a portable audio player and have been looking in the Digitalway or iRiver camps, we recommend giving the Jens of Sweden MP-300 a serious look over, we think you will be pleasantly surprised.