It's an Mp3 What's the Difference?
'Motion picture experts group layer 3' is too much of a mouthful, so it's no wonder why the abbreviation Mp3 has taken over. In fact, Mp3 has become the shorthand for all the portable music players whether they use that format or not.
Online music stores and most file-sharing networks use Mp3. Every month there are more Mp3 players on the market which definately confuses us. Not only do these devices have so many different features but the file format means that the Mp3 player you choose will dictate where you can buy your digital music. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, use different types of memory and support different formats, they can be brand names or the Chinese look alikes, which in most cases are assembled in the same factory where the name brands are assembled to. However you should choose the player that both meets your needs and suits your personality.
The Mp3 player market covers such a range of shapes, sizes, features, storage capacities, file formates and download services. With such a variety, how can we choose? Hopefully this guide will help you.
An Mp3 player can have heaps of features, but if the design isn't what you were after or you can't work the interface then you won't be able to enjoy it. You'll need to look closely at the Mp3's performance and sound as well as the battery life, especially if you travel or if you have a well developed ear for your music. Be sure you know exactly what your player does and what comes in the box before you buy, for example, some players can be used as recorders, capable of capturing voice or audio from another source, like a CD player. These are handy features for people who want to save interviews, lectures, songs or radio shows to their Mp3 player's memory.
The newer Mp3 players are equipped with USB 2.0 interfaces. This type of connection is fast amd will allow you to transfer up to a song per second however your computer must also have a USB 2.0 port in order for you to take advantage of the faster 2.0 transfer rates. If your PC only has the standard USB, also known as USB 1.1 port, the USB 2.0 player will still work but it will transfer the songs at a slower speed.
It's important to understand the types of Mp3 players available to you before you start checking out specific models. You may see mention of various formats in the advertising of Mp3 players such as WMA, ATRAC3, OGG, or AAC these are different formats but they are still referred to with the Mp3 format.
A common query is about "MB's" and "GB's" and how much music they can store. A "MB" is the abbreviation for megabyte which is a unit for measuring data. A "GB" is the abbreviation for gigabyte which is a larger measurement of data and there are 1024 megabytes in a single gigabyte.
It may be helpful to compare the Mp3 players capacities and look at the storage capacity in hours of Mp3 music at near CD sound quality. If you are purchasing a 128mb - 2hrs, 256mb - 4hrs, 4gb - 66hrs, 20gb-333hrs, 40gb - 666hrs.
Hard drive-based players
If you choose a high-quality palyer you can load every song you've ever bought onto it. These hard drives vary between 10gb Mp3 players to the larger 60gb players like the Apple iPod Video which is a Mp4 player because as well as music files it will play the video files or the 60gb Creative Nomad Zen Mp3 player. Usually these Mp3 players can hold upwards of 15,000 to 17,000 songs. Remember though the hard drives have moving parts, as a result they may jump and skip, so they might not be your first choice if you want to use it when excercising. Most of te Mp3 players you'll find will use rechargable batteries lasting anywhere between 8 to 20 hours per charge. They will usually have more features such as larger screens and are on the whole easier to use.
Micro hard-based players
These models aim to give you the best of both worlds by using minature hard drives(about 2.5cms in diameter) with capacities of up to 6gb. Mp3 players such as the Rio Carbon can't store as much music as a 20gb Creative Zen Touch, but they are a lot lighter in the pocket. They're smaller than the high-capacity players but still hold more tunes than flash-based models with the same price. You get fewer megabytes per dollar than you do with the larger hard drive-based units, including the moving parts that limit physical activity and non removable batteries that eventually wear out and need to be replaced.
The design of the original Mp3 player had no moving parts and is known for their shockproof operation and ultra compact dimensions. Devices range in capacity from32mbs to 2gb. Flashed-cased Mp3 players are tiney. They have no moving parts , so their batteries last longer, and you can jog or even bungee jump with them without causing skipping or damage. Many flash players include lots of features such as voice and line-in recording, but these additions make them a little harder to use. They will have a higher per-megabyte cost.
Mp3 CD players
These look just like portable CD players, except thay can read data CD's filled with digital music. You can burn approximately 150 Mp3 songs (10albums) on one 650mb disc. But if you want to take your CD collection with you then you will be able to as these devices can play the standard CD's as well. These will be the least expensive of all tyoes of Mp3 players and they use incredibly cheap replaceable medica CD-R/RW discs. However they are large and they will skip when moved.
With any Mp3 player, you have to consider where your music is coming from to ensure your device will play your music. You may find the following information useful when thinking about your music compatability.
Usually you will have music on your computer, or CD's, online music stores, subscription based music services, peer2peer networks, (however the sharing of music and movies through the use of file sharing software available on the internet is discouraged due to copyright and security issues) and vinyl records and cassettes.
Music management software is a really important part of using your computer for organising your music. If you're going to rely on the software that comes with your Mp3 player then you should select your Mp3 player very carefully. Software will usually state its requirements and specify what operating system is required as well as howm much memory is needed. Make sure the Mp3 player you buy has the software that will work with your computer.
Music on your computer
If you already have lots of music on your computer then you should choose the Mp3 player that will support the formats that you use already for sorting. If the files are Mp3's, then you'll be OK with any Mp3 player, but some of the rarer formats are supported by only certain devices.
If all of your music is still on CD's, you can buy just about any Mp3 player since you'll first need to convert your discs to Mp3, WMA. OGG, or one of the other formats mentioned earlier. Normally, necessary software is included with the player, but if not, you could try Musicmatch. Musicmatch Jukebox 10 is a powerful and easy way to find and organise your music. You'll use that software to organise your music files, set up your various play lists and transfer music to your device.
Online music stores
If you plan on buying music downloads from an online music store such as iTunes or Music Store or Napster, you'll need to make sure your player will work with the formats offered. Always ensure that the music you purchase is in a format that is supported by your Mp3 player. If you know you're going to buy tunes online, youll first have to select a store you like, then a player that supports the store. Some Mp3 players play normal, unprotected WMA's that you have created from your own CD's but will not play the secure WMA's sold online at music stors like BuyMusic or Musicmatch. Sometimes these restrictions can cause device compatability problems.
Subscription-based music services
If you choose a subscription based music service you can legally download and fill your 40gb iriver with music which is about 10,000 songs. To buy this number of songs using this option is pretty cheap but instead of actually buying the songs you are really renting them.
File sharing networks
Most tunes available on file sharing networks alsocalled peer2peer or P2P networks are already in the mP3 format, so you don't have the file compatability problems but sometimes the audio quality of these files may vary.
Vinyl records or cassettes
If you have to have lots of music on vinyl records or cassettes you can record the music onto the computer and turn the files into a Mp3. Once you've done that you can transfer the music to any Mp3 player. If you wanted to do this you may condisder buying a player that has line-in recording and this will allow you to encode Mp3's directly from your stereo. If your stereo has a digital optical output you can record this way if your Mp3 player has a digital optical input. Having this will maintain the sound quality when you are recording your music. If there's no digital optical output on your stereo then any player with an analogue input is OK as well.
If you like to listen to FM radio then you should look for an Mp3 player that incorporates a tuner. You may find that having a LCD display will be helpful too, especially when you are able to see what track is playing and of course the larger the display the more information can be seen. Also consider one with a backlit LCD as it will make it very easy to find tracks in low light.
If you can look for a Mp3 player with a rechargable battery or an AC adapter included in the box it will help in savingmoney for those batteries. Pay attention to how long you can listen to your Mp3 player between charges because it can vary between the players. Since the flash players need to be synced more often it is easy to recharge them as you sync but flask players with rechargable batteries are usually preferrably.
I hope you have found this guide useful.
Please visit my ebay store for great bagains where I will often have Mp3 players for sale.