I'm an MP3 newb! Someone tell me what to buy! hehe
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radrd

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So uh, suddenly I am interested in building a portable setup for myself. I'm also very lazy, so I'm not using the search, flame away!

I need ultra-portability, as this will be for hiking, biking, and jogging. Small size, no skipping, many hours of use.

I'm thinking I'll probably rip my CDs with EAC/LAME/Whatever to 384 kbps MP3s (Any good resources/downloads for me?). Perhaps leave them in WAV if anyone thinks it will be worth it. Are there any hard-drive based players that play Monkey Audio? I doubt it.

My headphones of choice are the Koss KSC35, and they probably always will be.

I have an R70 mini-disk player that seems to skip (and it shouldn't AFAIK) and can't really power the Koss KSC35s. I dunno, maybe it's a defective, but I've had it so long that it doesn't matter anyway.


Since my mini-disk experiences have been poor, I am looking at hard drive based players. But I've never looked at that them before at all.

What options are there for a player? For right now, my budget is 'unlimited', but I won't be spending $1K on a portable setup
. I want decent sound quality and plenty of hard drive space. People seem to like iPods, can I use them with Windows? I'm not a Mac guy. Anything different for less $ that sounds as good or better?

And, though this is the wrong forum for amps, do you think I will want a portable amp with my KSC35s? Feel free to recommend me an amp while you are at it. Battery life and small size are pluses.

Thanks!
 
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skitlets

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you will not be getting battery life with the gen.3 ipods. they last about 8 hours. the only contending hard drive players are the ipod, rio karma, iriver ihp, creative zen, and dell dj. the iriver easily has the most features, and i relly dont know anything about the zens. i personally just ordered a dell dj today.

edit- for small size, i dont think the zen will fit your bill. its the largest of the listed.
 
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blessingx

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You may want to knock those 384 kbps MP3s down to 320.


Also keep in mind there's Ogg Vorbis and AAC to deal with.

Went from R70 to iPod and am very happy, but as skitlets mentioned, battery life isn't its strong point. Interfacing with Windows is no problem though.

How much space do you need? The Rio Nitrus and new MuVos are nice for size.
 
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radrd

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Quote:

You may want to knock those 384 kbps MP3s down to 320.


LOL. My bad. I got my RAM amounts mixed up with my MP3 bitrates. 320 it is!


Quote:

Also keep in mind there's Ogg Vorbis and AAC to deal with.


Those are just words to me right now. If you have linkage, I'll catch on pretty quick though.

Quote:

How much space do you need?


Size is hard for me to determine. For WAVs, I guess I would need the biggest possible, but if I'm doing 320k MP3s, I don't know how much space I would need (average 4-6 minute length songs). Can someone give me a rough idea how many songs I would get on a 10GB player?

As far as battery life goes, 8 hours of battery life is the absolute minimum. More would be better, but I could handle 8.
 
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Sczervok

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320 kbps mp3 generally have a compression rate of 5:1.

Ogg and Flac are music file types, like mp3, only they are open source, so anyone can get the encoding information.

Ogg is better a low bitrates to save space, while still retaining quality.

Flac is a lossless codec, which means, your Flac files are the same thing as your WAV files... only smaller, and containing ID tags (artist, album, genre, etc).

It is a rule of thumb, to never go exercising with a HDD player, unless you wipe your ass with dollar bills. Players with smaller HDDs, like Nitrus, MuVo 2, and maybe mini iPod, are more resistant to harddrive crashes, so you have to go with one of them if you intend for a decent amount of movement.

Skipping? No need to worry. If you hear a skip on a HDD player, it's probably already screwed... or at least dying already.

CDex is a good CD ripper/mp3 encoder program to start with. you just configure stuff to your needs, pop in a CD, and rip it. One folder for the WAV files, and one for your mp3 files.

dbPowerAMP is a good converter for music file types. You need only download the codec and you can convert your music files to that format.


Compared to other HDD players, the iPod doesn't generally rank that high in sound quality... but if you have smooth white fetish, then it's not that bad. Decent features, good functionality, and really nice size. iPod mini if you want to exercise with it.

Zen Xtra has the best sound. It also has the best capacity/price. And it is also a huge hunk of electronics. It uses a regular laptop harddrive, just imagine holding that in your hand.

iRiver. Kinda unstable, has probably the best music based features, and decent sound. Best customer service all around (if your player doesn't die). It is kinda funky though... which probably isn't a good thing.

Rio Karma. Take iPod's dimensions. Shorten it, fatten it. Karma. It has a sortuva scroll wheel kinda thing... only it's on the side, and it physically rotates. Decent sound, comparable to the iRiver. Contains flac support... which is really nice if you demand that kind of quality.
One major flaw is the failure rate. Best you prepare to return a faulty Karma, and not buy it off some place with no return policies or warranties. Extended warrenty, always. Kinda sucks, cause no one knows why Karma fails so often, but other than that, it's a great player.

MuVo 2. Good luck getting this player. A $200 player that contains a $400, 4 gig microdrive, that can be adapted to be used in other devices, like cameras, other mp3 players, etc. THAT, alone, is all the reason you need to get this player.
Of course, I did witness one day when Creative got these players in stock. They were in stock for 2 hours before selling out again, and posting their usual 'out of stock' button at their online store. (talk about hot)

Nitrus. 4 giger is coming out sometime... supposedly soon, but no word at all yet. Apparently Rio has annouced new products coming out, yet they have not said when they will come out. If you do decide to get this one, wait until the 4 gig verson comes out. You'll save your back from your own knife.

Oh well. I've gotten carried away... as usual...
 
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radrd

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Quote:

Oh well. I've gotten carried away... as usual...


Are you kidding? You just did me a huge service! Thanks very much for that lengthy and extremely informative post. You rock.


Quote:

It is a rule of thumb, to never go exercising with a HDD player, unless you wipe your ass with dollar bills. Players with smaller HDDs, like Nitrus, MuVo 2, and maybe mini iPod, are more resistant to harddrive crashes, so you have to go with one of them if you intend for a decent amount of movement.


Damn. This never even entered into my mind. Are they really prone to crashes? I wish I could wipe my ass with dollar bills.
 
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skitlets

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flash players are guaranteed to not skip. no moving parts, unlike hard drives with rotating platters and heads and wat not. problem is, flash players are small, and max out at 1gig usually, which cost more than hard drive players. i had an irver ifp-watever which had 256 megs on it. nice player, but not enuf room. it hit ebay. if ur a very athletic guy, even the smaller hard drives wouldnt be a smart move. granted, the buffer system reduces the amount of time the hard drive is spinning, but if ur running, which is constant, problems are bound to happen.
 
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3lusiv3

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Do yourself a favour and get an iPod and use iTunes. It works well with Windows and despite the fact that it won't play some file formats it will play high quality MP3 or AAC files perfectly. The iPod has an excellent user interface, is small, light and looks great. The dock has a line out which you can use to play through your stereo. The sound output is of very high quality.

I encode my MP3's in iTunes at the highest bitrate available and they are excellent.
 
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Radrd,

You might want a Muvo2 from Creative. Small, four gigs, over 10 hour battery life itself, optional remote if you need it, great sound quality with the 35's (or anything else you plug into it for that matter). Plus it has a flash drive. so it won't tend to break down during rugged activity.

I prefer the Creative sound over the Rio sound by a great deal, but YMMV.

The Ipod generally comes in behind the Creative products on sound quality, but it's generally on par with the others, depending on what type of sound you prefer.
 
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blessingx

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Run over to the forums at HydrogenAudio to learn more about compression. Also if you want to see a file size comparison see this example, I did awhile back.

Don't have much to add besides what Sczervok has nicely said, except that AAC is generally considered at least equal to Ogg Vorbis with their best encoders, and that the Karmas, Zens, iRivers, and iPods, all have their advantages depending what you're looking for. Also the iPods sound quality is not generally assumed to be less than the others mentioned (or put better, except generally in a repeated over the internet sense, the iPod isn't accepted to be inferior). This gets debated a lot, here and elsewhere. Sometimes as one sounds better than another. Sometimes as one more neutral or dynamic than another. The Zens do have the most measured output though. And the iRiver iHPs have easily the most features including IN/OUTS, etc. Many like this player for a variety of reasons including its remote, if that's important to you.

And there are higher than 320 kb/s MP3s, you just can't play them on any portable.


EDIT: And 3lusiv3, you may want to look to LAME (with EAC or iTunes-LAME depending on OS) over iTunes branched FhG-like encoder, or switch to AAC. Either usually tests over iTunes MP3 encoder. In fact in a recent HA 128 test, iTunes came in last in the MP3 arena. And I'd put 224 AAC over it easily. You may want to do a few tests to see what you prefer.
 
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daveman_84

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I'm convinced that the argument that one player sounds much better than another is rubbish. It's all subjective, and any difference will likely be mere opinion. The quality of your mp3 files and headphones are the real factors. Garbage in, garbage out. I can't imagine one player would sound "a lot" better than another.
 
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slunk007

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Flash-based players are much more suited to your activities, however they are damn expensive and do not have a very large capacity. Running or jogging or biking or whatever with a spinning hard drive can't possibly be GOOD for it. Just something to keep in mind. I have heard of people using their iPods with no problems while doing sports, but as always, YMMV.

320 bitrate mp3's sounds a bit overkill dude. Consider this: you are going to be listening to music while running, biking, commuting... how critical will your listening experience be? Are you going to be able to hear the nuances of a particular track as you are tearing up the mountain on your bike or as you are riding the subway? As long as you can hear the tunes and bob your head and enjoy the music, that's good enough.

If you want CD quality MP3's, a better option would be to use the --alt-preset-standard setting since it uses a variable bit-rate as opposed to a constant bitrate. Basically this means that it changes the bitrate as the complexity of the music changes. The more complex, the higher the bitrate. The higher the bitrate the larger the file. --APS mp3's are quite a bit smaller in size than a standard 320 bitrate mp3, and sound the same. Check out The ChrisMyden.com Guide To Creating Amazing MP3s for more info.

Good luck!
 
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radrd

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Thanks for all the great responses guys.


It's sounding like that Muvo2 might be my best bet, assuming I can actually get a hold of one. I'm also thinking about a digital camera at some point in the near future, so if I don't find myself using it for music, I'll have another use for it.


Any tips on getting a hold of one?


Quote:

320 bitrate mp3's sounds a bit overkill dude. Consider this: you are going to be listening to music while running, biking, commuting... how critical will your listening experience be? Are you going to be able to hear the nuances of a particular track as you are tearing up the mountain on your bike or as you are riding the subway? As long as you can hear the tunes and bob your head and enjoy the music, that's good enough.


Excellent point. It's been a while since I ripped MP3s (obviously
), but now that you mention it, I'll probably go with VBR, especially since I am going to have to look at smaller flash players. No real reason to go with 320 straight, especially considering my headphones aren't going to be Etys or anything too revealing.
 
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Sczervok

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Best sound was meant by best reproduction to the recording... obviously every player has it's own 'fingerprint' (but they are all cloned) so it doesn't matter how clean something sounds, as much as how you like it.

Take beauty for example... although some characteristics may be set as generally 'attractive', there will always be many people out there who don't favor those particular traits, and look for other kinds. (beauty as in sound quality). Many guys, for example, are attracted girls without clothes on. I, on the other hand, am attracted to girls with clothes on rather than in the nude. They look better with clothes on. Yes, I am one freak of a heterosexual guy.
So, if you apply this example to the music area, that would mean I would not be attracted to Nomad Zen's sound, as I would to other players, like iRiver, Rio, and iPod.

Only way to try this out is to test the players yourself... you can usually find some local store with these players, buy them, try them out, and return them. Then buy your favorite player based on that session, somewhere cheap online.

If you're going to go extreme exercising, save your HDD player for street usage, and get some cheapie flash one. You should look at flash based flash drives... like the MuVo (nx, tx), MuVo2 with replaced CF card, Rio Line players, Samsung Line players, etc. Flash drives are nice, because you can stick anything on them... so they double as both something to take for exercising, and transfering files on anything with a USB port.

It doesn't matter the size of the flash player, so much as you have enough for how long you plan to exercise. Usually when you want to go pumping it, you prefer this kind of music as to others. I like very fast paced music when I go running... and I don't usually top out more than 30 minutes of exercising before I'm done. Depending on your encoding rate, you should have a pretty decent reserve of music for exercising.

Unless you're like some psycho 23 mile marathoner...

MuVo regular, MuVo NX, and MuVo TX are the flash drive players of choice in the Creative Line. They look different, and are slightly tweaked compared to each other. You can crap out and get a MuVo regular 64 meg for $60 online somewhere... solely for exercising and file transfer purposes.

MuVo2? Check every day every hour. You got a 3 hour time frame to place an order for a MuVo2 before it sells out.
 
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radrd

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Quote:

and I don't usually top out more than 30 minutes of exercising before I'm done. Depending on your encoding rate, you should have a pretty decent reserve of music for exercising.


Yeah, for jogging I won't need more than ~1 hour of music. For biking it's more like two. But I also like to go on day-long hikes, and that's where I'm going to need a quite a bit more music.

Quote:

MuVo2 with replaced CF card


What does that mean exactly? I shouldn't use it "as is"?
 
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