A Brief Primer on the MP3 Format

The internet has transformed our entertainment options in so many ways. As the sad demise of the last Blockbuster store shows, there is little need for us to physically leave our homes in order to get the latest movie or album. The successful companies like Netflix have developed with the technology, moving on from their postal rental model to streaming directly into our homes. There are still some caveats, the internet hasn’t opened up entertainment equally to everyone. These companies still restrict, block and filter in order to conform to archaic copyright rules and of course, to maximise their own profits. Yet still with a little research anyone can find out how to unblock the US version of Netflix and use their free trial! The same can be said for all the other media companies who operate online, technology exists to access any of them from anywhere in the world, here’s how you can watch the BBC for example.

The formats of the videos transmitted has changed too, although not to the same extent. Most modern devices can handle almost all common video and music formats. The most successful like MP3 are supported pretty much universally.

MP3 allows for CD music tracks to be compressed about 10x into much smaller files that can be downloaded from the internet onto a PC, or ripped from a personal music collection for storage on a PC. This format can only be read by software or hardware that can decode the compressed format. MP3-CD players have this capability built-in. And as the market becomes more and more flooded with these new products, it’s hard to know what you’re looking for. following are some features of MP3 which one should consider before going for one.

Functions and features. These can vary so much from player to player. However, some cool functions include file search (searching for files by filename, only available on ID3 tag-capable players), random and intro play modes, high-speed music search (like ‘seek’, some MP3 decoders can’t do it), fast file and/or directory select, and many others. To each person, the importance of each feature will vary.

ID3 tag support. ID3 is a tag that can be built in to all MP3 songs that contains information about the song, including artist and title. On ID3-compatible MP3-CD players, you have the ability to see what title and artist is singing a song, as well as sort and search by artist and title on many players, which is convenient when you have up to 200 MP3 songs on one CD. All models of the RioVolt, including the budget RioVolt SP90 with 120 Seconds Anti-Skip’, have ID3 tag support, but some, including some of the less expensive like the Koss model, do not.

Battery life. From experience, you will find that battery life is not usually what manufacturers claim, but some products are very inefficient in their battery use. Bear in mind that, if you have to replace batteries every 3 or 4 hours of play, you can be spending quite a hefty chunk of change on the Energizer bunny.

Included accessories. These include: car kit, remote, AC adapter, headphones, etc. Headphones are standard.It is practical to shop around for a good one.Car kits are great too, if you are looking for one. Memorex models often have car kits included, which can be up to a $30 value. Remotes, the little gizmos that are on the headphone wire and can control some primitive features, are handy also, especially if you’re jogging or something and need quick access, but these are usually only standard on high-end models. Don’t worry about it too much. And an AC adapter is almost always standard on any personal CD player, except for more thrifty ones that want to eliminate as many costs as possible. This is good to have, as to not run out those batteries too quickly.

Multiple folder support. This is the ability to organize your songs into directories, and then play them back according to the directories in which they are located. This is great for anyone who solely wants to rip their own albums and put a bunch of albums on to one MP3-CD.

Anti-shock. Most players come with standard 40-second + CD anti-shock and 100-second + MP3-CD anti-shock. The RioVolt SP250 Portable with FM Tuner and 8 Minutes Anti-Skip’ actually has 8 minutes of anti-shock. While some complain of MP3-CD anti-shock not working, it is usually caused by bad MP3 files or files with incompatible bitrates. One should always encode all MP3s at the standard 128kbps.

John SMith is a technology author who covers all aspects of networking and the online entertainment space. He’s also an online entrepreneur and makes a lucrative sideline buying and selling Adidas and Nike gear. If you want to read about how he does this, you can find some information on one of his blogs in this article – Sneaker proxies Explained which covers the intricacies of stealthily buying the latest sneakers!

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