Sansa Clip Zip Review and How To

Created: February 20, 2013
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Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out 5 stars)

Recording time

The Sansa Clip Zip manual sort of misleads you to believe that you can only record FM radio or Voice for 5 minutes to 2 hours. However, this is not the case. You can set the duration for 5 minutes to 2 hours or you can leave the duration off and record for longer than 2 hours.

I just used the Sansa Clip Zip 4GB to record a circuit assembly that is broadcast over FM radio. Some of the sessions last about 2 hours and 30 minutes and the Sansa Clip Zip 4GB recorded it fine. One day of the assembly is about 5 hours of audio and takes about 1.6GB of space on the internal memory. NOTE: You can only record to the internal memory. You can't record to the Micro SD card without changing the firmware to Rockbox. However, I have not tried Rockbox on my Clip Zip yet.

Recording size

One day of the circuit assembly took about 1.4GB (640MB WAV for morning and 840MB WAV for afternoon session). So you could record a full two day assembly (2.8GB) on the Clip Zip 4GB! (Make sure you delete the included music and podcasts first.) To record a 3 day convention you would want to copy each days files to a laptop and delete them from the Clip Zip to make sure you have enough recording space.


The battery was down to 44% after one day of recording (5 hours), even after making sure to turn off the Sansa Clip Zip during the afternoon lunch break and after the program ended to conserve battery power. So you would want to charge the Clip Zip each night. When the battery meter at the top right corner of the screen stops moving then you know that it is done charging. Takes a few hours. Also, if you are not plugged into a computer's USB port then you can see the percentage of battery power left by going to the main menu and then Settings -> System Settings -> Info and scroll down to Power:

How to record FM radio broadcast

From the main menu scroll left and right using the |<< and >>| buttons until you come to radio and then press the middle button which is the "select" button. Choose the correct FM channel by using the left and right buttons. Then when you are ready to record select the down button which is the "options" button and looks like: . Use that same down button to scroll to Recording. Then press the middle button. And press the middle button again on Record Now. It will keep recording until you press the middle button again. If you want to make sure that you don't accidently press the middle button and stop the recording then you can lock the screen by quickly pressing the top button which is located above the screen on the top of the device. NOTE: To record FM radio make sure that you keep the headphones plugged in because it helps with reception and you can listen at the beginning to make sure you are on the correct station.

Convert WAV to MP3

The Sansa Clip Zip only records in WAV format which is a very large file. The quality of the FM radio recording from the device is great, but the filesize is about 850MB for 2.5 hours of recording. You will want to copy the WAV files from My Computer\Sansa Clip Zip 4GB\Internal Memory\Record\FM to your computer. There are a number of programs that you can use to convert the WAV files into MP3.

  1. CDex
    It is a little confusing to use. But here are a few tips:
    1. To find out the output folder click on Options -> Settings -> Filenames and click on the button next to WAV -> MP3.
    2. To convert the files you can drag and drop them into the main window or you can click on Convert -> Convert WAV files to compressed audio files. Press the button to find the folder with the wav files.

    One of the nice features of CDex is it gives you a countdown of how many minutes the conversion will take. It takes about 15 minutes to convert a 2 hour audio file.
  2. FreeRIP
    FreeRIP is also a little confusing to use. It starts in ripper mode which is to take a CD full of music and put on your computer.
    1. To change to convert mode click on View -> Converter.
    2. Then you can drag and drop the wav files into the main window or you can find the files by clicking on File -> Add files to convert.... Find the folder and click on the files.
    3. The default output location is to your desktop but you can change it by clicking on File -> Settings -> Options -> Output.
    4. Then click on Rip -> Convert Selected tracks to MP3.
    FreeRIP also takes about 15 minutes to convert a 2 hour audio file from wav to mp3.
  3. koyotesoft Free MP3 WMA Converter
    DO NOT use this software. It tries to install adware, toolbars, search engines and Torch browser and change all your internet settings. It loads things on your PC even if you uncheck about 5 boxes of things it has the option to install.

After converting to MP3 a 2 hour audio file should be about 130MB instead of 640MB.

Create iTunes AudioBook

I find iTunes annoying, but I like to make iTunes audiobooks out of the files to save on my iPhone. The nice thing about audiobooks is you can tell them to save your spot so that it takes off where you left off even if you listen to music in between. So here is a step by step how to of converting the wav files into AAC audiobooks using iTunes:

  1. In iTunes import the folder where your wav files are by clicking on File -> Add folder to library.... Locate the folder and then click on OK.
  2. Now for the hard part. Finding the files in iTunes. You can use the search box in the top right corner with the magnifying glass and type in the name of the files. If you changed the name of the files use that. If you didn't change the name then start typing in the name of the file which is a radio station. For 93.7 start with a 0 and type in 093 that should display the files. For 103.7 start typing 103.
  3. Now click once on the first file so that it is highlighted, now hold the SHIFT key on your keyboard and while holding it click on the last file of the recordings. Now all the recordings should be highlighted.
  4. To convert the files to a smaller AAC version, while the files are highlighted click on Advanced -> Create AAC Version. You will see a grey copy of the first file with "Incomplete" next to it. If you click on the new song then you will see that iTunes is converting it. It is a lot quicker than converting to MP3. It only takes about 5 minutes to convert a 2 hour WAV file to AAC. After conversion the AAC file is about 100MB instead of 640MB. To figure out which file is which in iTunes you may want to right click on the title bar where it says "Name" and then select Size. Now you can see which ones are big WAV files and which ones are smaller AAC files. Right click on the bigger wav files and select Delete. It won't delete the original file, but it will remove the file from iTunes so it is less confusing.
  5. Now we want to combine the converted files into an Audiobook:
    1. First click on the first file to highlight it and then hold down the SHIFT key and while holding the shift key click on the last file of the recordings.
    2. With all the recordings highlighted, Right click on one of the files and click on Get Info. ITunes will warning you that you are editing multiple files. Click OK.
    3. Click on Options and then next to Media Kind select Audiobook from the dropdown list.
      Next to Part of a compilation select Yes.
      Next to Remember position select Yes.
      If you want to skip the recordings when shuffling music then next to Skip When Shuffling select Yes.
    4. Click OK and the recordings will disappear from the list. Now to find the recordings, in the left hand column in iTunes click on Books and then in the right hand column scroll down until you find Audiobooks. The compilation will probably be called Unknow Album with Unknown Author. You can change the name by clicking on it once. Then click on it again and it should be highlighted. Start typing in a name like "2013 Circuit Assembly". Then click on Unknown Author and you can change it to something like "Circuit Assembly".
    5. Now if your iPod or iPhone is attached to the computer via USB you can then drag the new audiobook to your iPod/iPhone in the left hand column and the audiobook will be transferred to the device.
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User Comments

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1. Posted By: laredo - - January 21, 2014, 3:10 pm
Thank you bro. I'm going to try this out. Getting ready for the Dist Conv in July.