Topic: Making the Switch to Digital Music
Date Written: March 18, 2004
Written By: Webmaster Christopher Beley

     This article is for the person who wants to or is interested in switching from their old CD, tape, etc player to some sort of digital player. As you may have noticed, there are so many different types of digital media to choose from, and I am hoping by the end of this article I may be able to solve most, if not all of the confusion you may have.

     In general, digital media players have some great advantages. First of all, most of the time you can store a large sum of music, in a small space. Unlike CD players where there are only 80 minutes of music on a disk. Additionally the CDs and CD players themselves are bulky. Next, is the ability to organize and title your music, so you can see what song is playing on the device itself. Yet another advantage is that if you ever download music off the internet (legally of course;-), you will save a lot of CDs, since you can write and rewrite directly onto the player itself. Finally, digital media players are just plain cool;-)

     Oh, the all popular MiniDisc format! Wait a second, you say you have never heard of this format?! Well, you have been missing out! MiniDisc players use, what do you know....MiniDiscs;-) Each of these MiniDiscs can store about 80 minutes in SP mode, 2 hours in LP2 mode, and 5 hours in LP4 mode using a format called Atrac3. However, there is a big disadvantage to the Atrac3 format. When you use any of the LP modes there will be a downgrade in quality, because of the conversion between formats. Additionally, if you want to have more music on one disk, you are going to have to sacrifice sound quality for space.

     With all these problems with sound quality, you are probably thinking, "Why in the world would I get this format?" Well, for the person looking to not spend a lot and wants to be able to carry a decent amount of music with him or her self, MiniDiscs are for you. Through MiniDisc players themselves may cost just as much as most solid state memory players, the media is a lot cheaper.  MiniDiscs cost around $2 a disk, while a solid state memory card costs around $40. However, if you have a little more money to spend, want to carry large amounts of music, or want something super small, I would read on...

     Ahhhh, the all popular MP3 player (that isn't hard drive bassed)! MP3 players are not perfect however...

     The first good thing about MP3 players is that they greatly vary in size, offering lot's of choices for you (the consumer). There are MP3 players the size of your finger to the size of your whole hand. Also, since you don't have to convert your music to any special format, you won't get any downgrade in quality.
The first major con is that memory cards are expensive. You are going to want at least a 64MB card, and that is going to run you around $40. Secondly, you won't be able to store that much music on a 64MB card (maybe around 4 or 5 hours at a medium quality), unless you want to spend the money on a 1gig card, which is going to cost you around $400!

     These, in my opinion are the best, but the most expensive. They store music on hard drives, however, this does cause a few annoyances

     Since hard drives have moving parts, they are sometimes skip, unlike solid state memory MP3 players which have no moving parts. However most of them have very good skip protection.  The other thing is that a lot of times the hard drive based MP3 players are bigger, and if you do want a hard drive based MP3 player that is small, you are going to have a even deeper hole in your pocket.

     The major advantage hard drive based MP3 players have over the other digital music players is storage. While you can get a 1 gig card for your solid state memory music players, a hard drive player can have anywhere from 5 gigs to 20gigs of space. Additionally, you can hack an Ipod and some other hard drive based players to have yet more memory. You would go about this by replacing the hard drive in the player with one with more memory. So what does this all mean? It means you can have your entire music collection in your pocket wherever you go. You have to admit that is pretty cool.  The second advantage is that a lot of the hard drive based players allow you to use them as a portable hard drive. This means you can keep backups of all your files and listen to your music all on the same device!

     Well, I hope that this article has helped give you a better understanding about the different digital music devices. And that concludes my article, until next time...

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