The COWON iAudio 7

A Flash-drive, mini-portable media player that plays nice with Linux.
Firmware Updates

Firmware updates for the iAudio7 are available from the support link at To install one, download it to your desktop and extract it. Plug in the player to a USB port, and drag the firmware to the Root folder of the player. Then, unmount the player, and it will power off. Turn it back on, and it begins to install the firmware update. When it's done, after about 20 seconds, it turns itself off. When you power it back up, you should see the new firmware installed, indicated by the new version number on the boot splash. Firmware updates are a good idea, as the player always is being tweaked by COWON with improvements. However, a firmware update deletes all content on the player prior to the update. So, be sure to have a backup of your content on your computer or an external drive before updating. If you don't think the update is worth the hassle, just don't do it, the player still will run fine.


This, obviously, isn't the only multimedia player that functions with Linux. In fact, COWON's D2 player is a good choice if you want a larger 2.5" screen, but it's also a larger player, so there's a size trade-off. Another player worth considering is the iriver clix, which now can be used as a UMS device, unlike last year's model, so it too can function on Linux. The reason I chose to buy the iAudio 7 is that it had the most bang for the buck, and it slips into my pocket very easily. I have the 8GB version, but the 4GB and 16GB versions give everyone a wide range of choice for personal storage needs, and they're all priced competitively. Not to mention, a 16GB Flash drive player of any sort is rare, though more are coming in the near future. It also gives me some peace of mind, using a player that supports open-source codecs. The best part is not having any DRM restrictions on how I can use the player for my own personal use.

I mentioned my desire to have longer battery life at the start of this article. COWON claims its internal lithium-ion battery will last up to 60 hours on one charge. This claim is based on using it almost exclusively for music playback. Video playback will knock this claim down to about 40 hours per charge. Regardless of how you use it, it's a superior amount of battery power when compared to the competition. It also accounts for why the iAudio 7 is about three times thicker than an iPod Nano, but that's a trade-off I don't mind making. It's still relatively thin, as I measured it to be only .75" thick. The COWON iAudio 7 is a mini-marvel of a media player that also lets you cast your vote in supporting products that function in an open-source environment, and that environment just got more inviting with this player.

Philip Raymond has been using several Linux distros during the last four years. He has worked professionally as a Broadcast Technician for 34 years, the last 23 at WFLD-Fox Television in Chicago. He also is the Webmaster and co-creator of, a Web site focused on the Chicago music scene, past and present. He can be contacted at



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Cowon iAudio7 partition table

Anonymous's picture

Hello guys, I have had this player almost two years. I am noticing that cannot delete files from the drive resulting in running out of disk space. The symptoms when using windows 7 and Slackware Linux 13.0.

I remember way back when this drive was only 3 months old some expert from here suggested I do fsck on the drive then format. I did this in windows. Now in Linux I get the following when look at fdisk list.

Note the Cowon is /dev/sdd

Disk /dev/sdd: 16.5 GB, 16542334976 bytes
64 heads, 32 sectors/track, 15776 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 2048 * 512 = 1048576 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x69737369

This doesn't look like a partition table
Probably you selected the wrong device.

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdd1 ? 912975 995343 84344761 69 Unknown
Partition 1 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sdd2 ? 830821 1743849 934940732+ 73 Unknown
Partition 2 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sdd3 ? 2 2 0 74 Unknown
Partition 3 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sdd4 1409025 1409050 26207+ 0 Empty
Partition 4 does not end on cylinder boundary.

Partition table entries are not in disk order

patch for bug in i7remux leading to buffer overflow

Carl Heinrichs's picture

I downloaded and compiled i7remux 0.1 on Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex successfully with the package 'build-essential' installed. But when running i7remux I got the following error:
*** buffer overflow detected ***: ./i7remux terminated
When I fiddled around with i7remux for the first time in January 2009 I couldn't find a solution on the web. But today I could find a patch for the bug:

diff i7remux-0.1/ i7remux-0.1.mine/
< char id[4];
> char id[5];

The patch can easily applied manually by editing on character in one file of the source code. After another 'make', it's running straight through. Pretty soon I'll try it on Ubuntu Jaunty and Karmic.

Warning: ogg support broken

fresta's picture

Just a word of warning: ogg support is seriously broken on the IAudio 7 player. Most importantly, there is a really annoying noise in the treble when playing some ogg files with bass tones around 100 kHz, see this post at For me it spoils the listening experience completely for about every fourth ogg file in my collection.

Cowon has been aware of it for almost two years now, and done nothing. It's actually a very simple bug and has been fixed on the D2 I think, though several other models from Cowon still suffer from it.

Also, ogg tags parsing is broken in music mode so it is not possible to browse ogg files by artist, album or genre etc. You have to use folder mode.

The IAudio7 definitely has one of the best hardware on the market, the engineers at Cowon has done a good job there. Pity that it should be spoiled by incompetent software programming and lousy support.

vorbis distortion issue fixed

pellgarlic's picture

hi, i just wanted to share some new info with anyone who already owns, or is thinking about getting an iaudio 7 - there is a new firmware release - 1.18 (go here: to get it) - which fixes this particular problem (the vorbis distortion). it was a significant problem for me (as my music collection is predominantly in ogg-vorbis format), but i didnt find out until after i had purchased the player. to be honest, i couldn't find another player which ticked all the boxes for me that the i7 does, so i was pretty peeved, and loathe to start the hunt for an alternative, so i emailed cowon support (as many other people have probably done too) and got a few replies, the last one being a few days ago, saying they were releasing a fix :) i have now downloaded it and tested it, and can confirm that it has resolved the vorbis-distortion-caused-by-low-frequency problem. may i say, on a personal note... "woo-hoo!"

this seems to be my player.

Anonymous's picture

this seems to be my player. there is one feature that i cannot find a in depth documentation over. id like to record dj-sets via line-in and am wondering if there is anything such as a visual meter? i need to see if the signal is to quiet or clipping ...

thanks tim from kt

Synching, Filenames

Amanda's picture

I'm struggling with colons in filenames in a lot of my podcasts. Is there a smart workaround?

And, has anyone sorted out a smart way to automate synching? I'm just lazy on that front.

Finally, I'm kind of getting the hang of navigation through trial and error but has anyone seen a better how-to on using the iAudio 7 interface to find and listen to tracks?


Playlist limitations

JD's picture

Great article, and based on it, I asked "Santa" for one. She obliged, and after just over a week, I agree with you that this is one fantastic device.

But, there's one thing seriously missing: per-folder playlists. Is there any way to make them? The problem is, many CDs are built in a specific order (song sequences, classical pieces with multiple parts, etc). The DPL is REALLY LAME for this - I don't want to rip my CDs, build a playlist for use on my computer, and then have to manually walk through every single one of the pieces, again, and one-by-one, to add them to the DPL playlist. And THEN have to step through the DPL for the "album" I want to play.

Is there any way to build and use better playlists? Mind you, I'm not giving up the fantastic FLAC quality (kills MP3 in it's tracks, especially for harpsichord, organ, and violin) or this device, and I'll suffer through DPL if I really, really have to, but anybody bright enough to build a unit this nice must surely know how to build a per-folder playlist too? And make them loadable along with the FLAC files? PLEASE?

tip for smooth video playback

-=terry=-'s picture

If when you start to play the video you get some stuttering just press pause/play and it should play smooth since now on.


-=terry=-'s picture

The new Avidemux 2.4.3 has a little different interface than the one you use. Here are the same steps you took in Avidemux. Thxs much for this great article, after reading it I end up buying an iAudio7 and I love it.

Within Avidemux:



Encoding mode: Constant Bitrate
Target Bitrate: 384
Al the rest unchecked

Unchecked all the boxes
GOP Size
Min: 2
Max: 66
Max B Frames: 1

Trellis Quantization Unchecked
Quantitation Matrix: may not matter?


Mplayer Resizing:
Source A:R : 4:3
Destination A/R: 4:3
Width: 160
Heigth: 120
Note: if the source is 16:9 ratio then change the
Source A/R: 16.9
Destination A/R: 4:3
Width: 160
Height: 90
In this way the images are not distorted.

Resample fps:
New frame rate: 15
Check Blend


Chennel Mode: Stereo
Bitrate mode: CBR
Quality: 2
Bitrate: 128
Disable reservoir: unchecked

Check Resampling and set it to 44100

be sure add the .avi as extension

command line script

pug2694328's picture

GREAT article and a really nifty little player. I was looking for just this thing for my bike commute and just received my iAudio 7 today. A few comment/questions:

-- It looks like I can only create one FM tuner wake/record item. If I want to record Car Talk on Saturdays from 9-10 am and a different show m-f from 1-130pm, I will have to reset the scheduler once a week to toggle between the two schedules. Am I not getting it or is the FM recording scheduler really this limited? Maybe I'm better off using something on my server to capture the shows? Is there any recommended programs for auto getting new .mp3 files when I plug the usb into my home linux box (I'm using ubuntu with gnome). That could be handy for importing podcasts too I suppose.

-- Your tutorial on converting video to the required format is most welcome, but requires several GUI tools and clickity clicking. Does anyone know of command line tools that can be used to script conversion of files for the iAudio 7?


answers & command line script

tvphil's picture

Sorry it took awhile to respond. To answer your first question, yes (unfortunately), its scheduled FM radio record function is that limited. Its nice they have it, but it looks like it was a development engineer's after-thought as in "we have an alarm function, lets script it to record FM radio too!".It is what it is.At least you can schedule one event for either one time or recurring, but that's it. I use Ubuntu on 4 different computers, 2 32 bit versions, 2 64 bit versions. There are several good podcatchers for Ubuntu, but my favorite is the Ubuntu default player/podcatcher Rhythmbox. As I said in the article, it also catches video podcasts, it just won't play them. With video podcasts, after it downloads them, it will say "failed", because it only recognizes audio file extensions. In fact it doesn't fail catching a video podcast, they will show up in your designated folder. It's just a false warning.

Finally, here's a couple of command line examples for encoding without using Avidemux. However, you still need to follow these with i7 remux, here they are:

$ ffmpeg -i -f avi -g 1 -b 256k -r 12 -s 160x120 -vtag XVID \
-vcodec libxvid -ab 128k -ar 44100 -ac 2 -acodec libmp3lame

$ mencoder -ofps 12 -vf scale=160:120 -ovc xvid -xvidencopts \
bitrate=384:max_bframes=0:max_key_interval=1 \
-oac mp3lame -lameopts cbr -of avi -o

If you use this script to

Anonymous's picture

If you use this script to transcode a VOB file, you may encounter audio-video sync problems. To solve this, add "-async 2" on the ffmpeg line.

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