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MP3 cd player recommendations?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I just started making mp3's from my cd's with LAME
at 320KB/s. They sound as good as cd's on my
computer. Is there a portable cd player that
plays MP3's nearly as well as a panasonic ct470
plays cd's? I have a Total Airhead, so a line
out is important and a good internal amp is less
so. I don't expect high end CDP performance, but
I would like to find out what the best choices
are.
post #2 of 22
topher,

Have you considered minidisc, especially MDLP (minidisc long play)? Definitely more portable than a MP3CD. I thinking of buying the Sony MZR900DCP which includes a Digital PC Link Kit - an external D/A converter connects between your PC's USB port and the MD recorder's digital input. Compatible with any Jukebox/Player application to record all internet audio formats.

Check this website out:

http://www.minidisct.com/ or

http://www.minidisco.com

Regards - reynman
post #3 of 22
actually, i've never seen anyone reveiew a portable MP3 player with an external headphone amp...

Most reveiws i've seen say that mp3 players are very noisy compared with any portable CD player. This could be caused by the internal hp amp so you may not have this problem with your TA. However, none of those MP3 players seem to be aimed towards the audio-enthusiest market, so i doubt any of them would have decent DAC's or transports.

I think the best bet would be simply burning your mp3's onto CD's as .WAVs... It'll save you lots of money and give you better sound.

btw, i think all Minidisc players have better componants than all MP3 players, and sound better even when playing MP3s. however, they are expensive and not as convenient.

The good digital links do not have any DA converters, they keep the signal in the digital domain the whole time...
post #4 of 22
The two top MP3 cd players these days are the Rio Volt and the Mojo. Both have lineout. I haven't listened to either though, so I can't comment on the sound quality.

Check out http://www.mp3.com - then visit HARDWARE.. they have lots of reviews and a pretty good message board. Also check out http://www.dmusic.com for some good reviews too. You should find what you're looking for.

cheers - gorg
post #5 of 22
>...i think all Minidisc players have better componants than all MP3
>players, and sound better even when playing MP3s. however, they are
>expensive and not as convenient.

How is MD more expensive and less convenient?

Price-wise, when you include the cost of media, MD is MUCH cheaper than any RAM-based MP3 player, and still a bit cheaper than the hard drive-based MP3 players.

Convenience-wise, I prefer MD because it's much smaller than all but the 64 MB MP3 players.

Then there's the fact that at similar bitrates, MD sounds much better than MP3.

The ONLY advantage I've ever found MP3 players to have is transfer rates -- you can simply copy MP3s from a computer to the player as a simple file transfer, whereas for MDs you have to play them in real time. However, the new NetMD functionality announced by Sony will allow you to transfer music to MD as data files like MP3, so when that functionality is available, I see no advantage for MP3.
post #6 of 22
Well said MacDEF,

I own the Creative Labs Jukebox and owned a MZ-R900 (japan model). I should not have returned it, but am thinking of buying the U.S model with the digital link. There are pros and cons to each, but with the advent of Net MD mp3 and mp3/CD players will definitely have competition and may be overtaken by MD.

Regards - reynman
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
I bought the original creative Labs Rio. I found
I had no interest. I couldn't put enough high
quality songs to make it worth while.

I _do_ use my CT470. It sounds better than my PC
cd drive at work. Since I can't fit all my cd's
in a wallet, I think I might want to put 4 cd's
worth of 320 MP3's on a CDR and pack the wallet
with _them_.

But I won't till I hear there is a CDP that sounds
good.

so THANKS, gorgon. I will check out MP3.com/
hardware.
post #8 of 22
You could also get a cdp that supports cd-rw playback. That way you would have the best of both worlds, the any song you want and re-writability of the mp3 cd players and the quality and long battery life of normal cdps.
post #9 of 22
CD's are an incredibly cheap media (way under a dollar in bulk), compared to MD which tends to be more than $2 per disc! And depending on how much music you carry with you a CD/mp3 player is way more portable than a minidisc player. in large cases, MD's take up more space than CD's (a 24 MD case is larger than a 24 CD case). Personally, I carry 48 CD's with me so MD (including MDLP) would be worthless compared to a CD/MP3 player. in 256K bitrate, I could carry 441 minutes of music on an 80 minute CD. If I took ten CD's around with me that would amount to approximately 60 74 minute CD's! The only thing better would be a Treo HD MP3 player or a personal jukebox, since hard drives can carry so much more information in such a small space. (And at $350-$400, the Treo will kick the ass of any MD player on the market, it seems to me.) You only need to give HD players some more time; they'll make MD obsolete. Personally, if I had a choice between MD and a CD/MP3 player, I'd choose the latter. But that's just me, and only because I have such a prodigeous portable system .
post #10 of 22
Quote:
How is MD more expensive and less convenient?

Price-wise, when you include the cost of media, MD is MUCH cheaper than any RAM-based MP3 player, and still a bit cheaper than the hard drive-based MP3 players.

Convenience-wise, I prefer MD because it's much smaller than all but the 64 MB MP3 players.

Then there's the fact that at similar bitrates, MD sounds much better than MP3.

The ONLY advantage I've ever found MP3 players to have is transfer rates -- you can simply copy MP3s from a computer to the player as a simple file transfer, whereas for MDs you have to play them in real time. However, the new NetMD functionality announced by Sony will allow you to transfer music to MD as data files like MP3, so when that functionality is available, I see no advantage for MP3.
Cost of media- no one buys stacks of flash memory cards to hold their music. You only use 1 flash memory card, which is built in the mp3 player. And memory based MP3 players are cheaper than md.

convenience-MD can only record in real time, so it does take a long time to transfer music. Then you have to manually enter in all the track titles, whch will take at least 15 minutes of contantly pushing tiny buttons. And MD's are LARGER than the majority of MP3 players, MUCH heavier, and have many mechanical parts that are prone to skipping/wear and tear.

I've never been a fan of MP3 players, but they do have some positive aspects that md can not match. And everything has its advantages/disadvantages, so i try to be helpful when i give a response.

And you know that net md will be a piece of sh*t. Its designed so that sony can reduce costs by removing the mic preamp (as they have already started doing), ADC, and ATRAC encoders from the md. All your MP3's will have to be converted into ATRAC by your computer, probably taking longer than real time on a slow computer. Then, the whole process will be filled with copy protection schemes, such as automatically disabling the optical output on your soundcard, and requiring you to "check-in" all previously recorded songs before you can record new ones. THese are all features Sony currently uses on its ATRAC memory players...


Neruda- what's uip with the treo? is it ever gonna come to the market??? they haven't changed that site in ages. I wonder if its actually real?

I don't think HD players will be very good in the near future. laptop hard drives simply draw way too much power to be effective portably. And none of the manufacturers have the ability to develop propritary HD technology that is more suitable for audio use. One technology that is interesting is the IBM microdrive, its WAY smaller than laptop HDs (hopefully draws less power, havent seen specs)
post #11 of 22
Neruda wrote:

>CD's are an incredibly cheap media (way under a dollar in bulk),
>compared to MD which tends to be more than $2 per disc!

Actually, you can easily find MDs for $1.30 or less per disk, with each holding 74, 148, or 296 minutes of music (that sounds better than comparable MP3 bitrates).

>And depending on how much music you carry with you a CD/mp3 player is
>way more portable than a minidisc player. in large cases, MD's take
>up more space than CD's (a 24 MD case is larger than a 24 CD case).

LOL, only for someone silly enough to carry their MDs like that Unlike CDs, MDs don't need a case at all. You can throw them around, drop them, scrape them together, and nothing will happen. So 20 MDs are actually quite small. I regularly take my MD player and 15 MDs in the same space I used to need for a CD player alone. That's 74 hours (4440 minutes) of approximately 128k MP3-quality music, or 37 hours (2220 minutes) of better-than-256, or about 20 hours (1110 minutes) of audio better than any MP3 encoder can approach, all in the space occupied by a portable CD player (without room for any CDs ). To me, that's pretty good portability.


>The only thing better would be a Treo HD MP3 player or a personal
>jukebox, since hard drives can carry so much more information in such
>a small space. (And at $350-$400, the Treo will kick the ass of any
>MD player on the market, it seems to me.)

I disagree, on many fronts. MD encoding is better than even the best MP3 encoding, so at comparable bitrates, MD sounds better. MD has much better battery life (I can actually get up to 100 hours on one charge and an AA battery). MD is cheaper for the same amount of media. MD has better shock resistance, and in fact HD storage is prone to drive failure -- I've already heard of people whose HD-based MP3 player has gone south because they dropped or bumped it too hard. MD is much more *truly* portable -- if I want to go to the gym, I can slip my MD player and an extra MD in my back pocket and you can't even tell I'm carrying anything. If I want hours and hours of music, I can bring all the extra MDs I want, in a pretty small space. With a HD-based system, I'm stuck with the big, bulky unit no matter how much or how little music I actually need. I prefer the flexibility of MD, and I personally don't call a CD-based MP3 player with 48 CD's "portable"

But that's all my opinion


Thomas wrote:
>Cost of media- no one buys stacks of flash memory cards to hold their
>music. You only use 1 flash memory card, which is built in the mp3
>player.

Actually, everyone I know with a memory-based MP3 player has bought more memory -- who listens to the same 10 songs over and over? IMHO, without extra memory, RAM-based MP3 players are worthless. 64 or 48MB tops is just not enough. Unless you want to spend all your time changing your playlists.

>convenience-MD can only record in real time, so it does take a long
>time to transfer music.

True, as I mentioned. However, for MP3s, you have to factor in the time to download and transfer, or rip and transfer, so while there is a difference, it's not as big as you might believe. And if you truly don't buy extra memory, you have to factor in the time it takes to erase and re-transfer each time you want to change the music on your player, whereas with MD you copy once, an you have it forever, unless you want to edit. For $1.30 for 74, 148, or 296 minutes of audio (with better sound than 300+, 192, and 96k MP3, respectively).

There's also the fact that MD can record live audio -- something no MP3 units can do.

>Then you have to manually enter in all the track titles, whch will
>take at least 15 minutes of contantly pushing tiny buttons.

Actually, there are units and cables that let you do joint text transfer. And most home decks have some type of keyboard -- heck, my MD recorder let's me hook up any PS/2 keyboard (I bought an extra for $1.99 at Fry's) and title discs. Faster than naming my MP3s on my computer, even.


>And MD's are LARGER than the majority of MP3 players,

Only larger than the smallest RAM-based ones, which have no advantages in terms of battery life, audio quality, or cost.

Real-world example: my MD player is 77mm by 71mm by 12mm. Smaller than two MDs stacked on top of each other, and not much bigger than even the smaller, limited memory, MP3 players.

>MUCH heavier

My MD player is 58 grams. That's less than 2 ounces. If I stick a LiIon battery in it, it weighs 83 grams. How much does your MP3 player weigh?

>and have many mechanical parts that are prone to skipping/wear and
>tear.

Truth is, most of the work done in an MD player is electrical and memory-based. The MD spins up and the laser reads data for a few seconds to fill up the memory buffer. The rest is all done in RAM. Sure, more parts than MP3, but it's safe to say that most people will have moved on or upgraded before their MD player wears out.


>And you know that net md will be a piece of sh*t. Its designed so
>that sony can reduce costs by removing the mic preamp (as they have
>already started doing), ADC, and ATRAC encoders from the md. All your
>MP3's will have to be converted into ATRAC by your computer, probably
>taking longer than real time on a slow computer.

Actually, ATRAC is quite fast. Sony has produced ATRAC MP3-style players for a few years. They work exactly like MP3, except they use ATRAC instead of MP3 encoding (meaning the sound is better, too), and the encoding is much faster than realtime. And it should be, considering that these little MD recorders can do it in realtime

I agree that the copy-protection stuff sounds a bit fishy, and I'm a bit anxious to see if consumers are going to get screwed by it. But more important, IMHO, is the fact that the technology for PC-MD data transfer is there. That's very promising for MD.
post #12 of 22
man, are you the head of marketing at Sony or somthing?

I have always been a big fan of MD technology, and none of the MP3 solutions currently available impress me at all. However, I can't ever say that "I see no advantage for MP3", because that's simply not true.

First of all, there are 3 totally different types of MP3 players; you can't compare MD and MP3 like that because the three types are so different. I consider MD is just another format that fits inbetween CD based and Memory based MP3 players. When you make your comparasons, you only choose the disadvantages of the worst type of player.

HD based- very large storage capacity, relatively expensive, short battery life. I wouldn't consider these true portables, because of the short batter life and HD's which aren't very shock resistant. These players are aimed at people who want a large music collection, to take with them to work, school, etc...

In comparason to MDs. they offer CHEAPER storage, WAY MORE STORAGE density, and more powerful headphone amps. If you sit in one place for a long time, then this is the best solution, better than MD. If you're gonna go jogging, look elsewhere.


CD based MP3- quite comparable to MD- a little cheaper, and much cheaper media and higher data density (700 megs, compared with 120 meg MD, discs not that much larger) However, they are a slightly worse than MD in terms of battery life, antiskip, convenience. These can be used like the HD based players, but can be used portably as well.

Minidisc-Very versitile format- Players are small and well built, with quite good antiskip and storage capacity, and good battery life. However, players are quite expensive. Can be used in a fixed location, but because of less storage capacity, it is not quite as good as HD or CD based MP3 players. Also great for portable use, but not quite as good as memory based MP3 because of moving parts, heavy weight, less reliable, can skip when jogging.
Basically MD is for people that plan to use the player both portably and in a fixed location and is more versitile than any of the MP3 players.

Memory based MP3- intended only for portable use- low storage capacity, low cost, very reliable as there are no moving parts. Great for jogging, not as good as the others for any other use.




Now onto sound qualty. Its pretty hard to compare just the MD encoding and MP3 encoding. MD's have good componants inside, while MP3s are usually played back on crappy soundcards that add lots of distortion (power supply noise, RF/EMI noise, resampling to 48khz, sh*t DACs) And as i said, most MP3 players don't use very good componants in the signal path either. So how can direct comparasons be valid if the componants in the signal path differ so much? I made this comparason with MP3s burned onto CD, and played back on a real cdp. The MD uses Sharp ATRAC 6.0, considered by most to be the best algorithm available in a portable MD.

MP3 does very well on details, instruments have the same "texture" as the original CD. Bass is done very well, can't tell the difference from the original CD. However, it seems very lacking in the upper treble, music is less airy, sounds kinda dead. Soundstage is also weaker.

ATRAC (MD compression) isn't quite as good on details, everything sounds a little softened and "rounded off". On poor, overly bright recordings, this actually makes the music more listenable... sound is also a bit coloured.. However MD preserves the orginal airiness and sounstage very well. I'd say that the ATRAC algoritm allocates more of the data to the upper frequencies, which explains these results.

Overall, MD is much more "musical" sounding and in my opinion, a better represention of the original CD. However, people who prefer details in the mid frequencies over "airyness" and soundstage would probably prefer MP3.

I don't think you can say that MD compression is definately better than MP3, it depends on personal prefference. And i serioulsy doubt that MDs at ~64k/sec (joint stero) is equal to 128kMP3s (full stereo). Every review i've seen has stated that LP4 is totally useless for music, only usable for speach. And keep in mind that ATRAC3 is the next generation compression, comparable to WMA or AAC. MP3 players also support these new formats, and should be at least as good as ATRAC3 in terms of efficiency.
post #13 of 22
I personally think that ATRAC sounds better - if you've heard Type R encoding of ATRAC, well, you would agree.

I just bought an R700DPC - i'll be using it as my main (portable) system. At home, some SR80s will probably go along with a Sony MiniSystem.....

The reason i chose MD is that my music doesn't change often enough to justify the tiny memory of ALL flash players.....

MP3/CD didn't work for me simply because of size - MD is just SOOO much smaller......Neruda - i don't think ANYONE would use those big ol' MD cases - just slip in a jewel case, or even leave them exposed, and u'r set to go.....

Just my 1/2 cent (not two cents - i didn't type enough for two whole cents..... )
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
MP3 players play WMA and AAC? Which ones?

For me, the MD vs MP3 CDP decision is made by the
fact that I already have a cdr drive and a stack
of cdr's waiting to be written to. And friends at
work with compilations of their cd's, who have much
bigger collections than I.

Now days I buy most of my cd's after listening to
a friends cd or his mp3 copy.

But, now I need to look for a CDP that plays MP3's
and can use advanced encoding methods. AND, has
good sound....

On the strong minus side for MD's is "copy
protection". I have been cursing software and
content "protection" caused problems for way to
long to put up with one I can avoid.
post #15 of 22
Topher - the rio violt has upgradeable firmware... meaning as new audio formats come out it will be able to support them... Firmware - 'tis the wave of the future.. woohoo!!!!
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