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Flash- and HDD-based MP3 players


Robot Monkey
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I gave the capacity a lot of thought, but I need something small. That's pretty limiting -- an HDD-based unit isn't small enough and has the added bonus of being jostled on the few occasions that I jog.

 

I think it will hold enough since I intend to fill it with low bit-rate interviews, anyway. When I want music, 10-12 CD capacity is enough for most of my uses.

 

-j

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iRiver is pretty highly regarded. I think you'll do fine with this one.

 

I wouldn't worry about HD based units not being able to withstand jogging. My iPod gets tons of abuse (I run every day). The smaller iPods are not much larger than the iRiver model you're looking at. Of course, there is a price difference.

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Well, the price difference is about $50 - $100, so I suppose I could go the iPod route if I really, really had to. It's nice to to know that you run with your iPod. If it can withstand daily running, it can withstand my occasional and humorous forays into fitness.

 

But iPods don't have line-in recording or FM.

 

-j

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IF you're thinking of going with a harddisk jukebox, the Nomad Zen line of Jukeboxes has an optional wired remote that includes an FM tuner and supports recording off the radio. THe remote is kinda pricey, but the Zen does give you a larger drive than the iPod for less money. I've had mine now for about 6 months and absolutely adore it.

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The iPod has line-in recording coming very soon. It was already accidentally included in the 1.0 version of the latest iPods if you knew where to look. It will be back as soon as Apple has the update out.

 

As far as FM tuners, can't help you there. Chances are that it will appear at some point in the future, but for now I have a little $20 Sony FM radio for those (2) moments I've wanted radio instead of my music library.

 

I've never had a problem jogging with the iPod. I bring it to the gym with me three times a week and haven't had a skip or problem yet. If you get one, check out Marware - they make great iPod cases, including one that allows you to strap it to your arm for workouts.

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I don't want to carry around another device for NPR or Howard Stern, so FM is a requirement. So is recording.

 

I didn't realize how small the latest iPods are -- I fondled Anthony's original model and it seemed a little big. Hmmm. Maybe I should rephrase that.

 

So now I'm lusting after this little beauty: The iHP-120. It's more $$$ (looks like the cheapest online is $370), but daaaa-ym, it has everything I want. And the LCD remote will be nice in the car. It supports that Ogg standard, but I don't know anything about it

 

Since this isn't my money (it's a gift), I'll run it by my brother.

 

Oh yeah, I saw the big RCA A/V Lyra at Circuit City with the largish LCD screen. Nice feature, but, boy is it big!

 

I'm renaming the topic since I'm now talking about HDD-based players, thanks to Camp and Josh's experiences with jostling. Yep, I threadjacked my own topic.

 

-j

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I rip using Exact Audio Copy and LAME using the alt-preset-standard setting, which is a 192kbs variable bit rate, and my mp3's sound great (for mp3's). The variable bit rate gives you a good balance between size and quality, cranking up the amount of data in the more complex bits, dropping the bitrate when it can get away with it. The size will end up roughly the same as a straight 192 kbs rip.

 

All of my experience with Ogg and WMA is converting it back to mp3 format, so I can't speak to either at all.

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Okay, my brother ordered the iHP-120 for my birthday/Christmas present.

 

I intend to rerip my CD's using Travis's scheme of 192kbs VBR into MP3. Is this a good scheme for mainly country music and metal? My audio stuff (audio books and interviews) will be ripped at a much lower bitrate.

 

The player also supports m3u playlists. Is WinAmp the best program for making them?

 

-j

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Welp, I went with the iHP-120 and am in the process of ripping my CDs into MP3's using the alt standard setting you folks recommended. Only a handful of CDs to go (Morphine, Bela Fleck, Lyle Lovett, Dvorak's 9th, and some Pantera) before the important stuff is done.

 

Does anyone here give a damn about pix, thoughts and so on of my fine new device?

 

-j

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Originally posted by Robot Monkey@Dec 4 2003, 04:45 PM

Does anyone here give a damn about pix, thoughts and so on of my fine new device?

I'd like to hear a first hand account of the 120 - I may not be in the market for one at this exact moment (A digital camera is first on the gadgets-to-buy list so no shiny mp3 player for me... for now :)), but I like the looks of them and would be good to have some opinions for the future :D

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The iPod has line-in recording coming very soon. It was already accidentally included in the 1.0 version of the latest iPods if you knew where to look. It will be back as soon as Apple has the update out.

 

The recording software and hardware is out already, but AFAIK it's mono only. Belkin released a microphone for voice recording.

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I am in the market for a HD-based MP3 player too. I have iRiver's SlimX MP3CD player and love it, but I want something I fit in my pocket and still have enough storage for a huge collection. I really like the SlimX's remote and navigation, very user friendly. I assume they kept a lot of the menu system the same for their HD player. Jay, does it support the creation of playlists on the fly? That's something that bugs me about the SlimX, you can only queue up one track in advance.

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No, no on-the-fly playlists; just the queue up the next one. You can make them on a PC and download them (and you don't need drivers with Windows ME, 2000 or XP for this one), but that's it. This wasn't a deal-breaker for me since I don't care to make on the fly playlists. Does the SlimX have a db with genre, album and stuff?

 

-j

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  • 4 months later...

I?m resurrecting this thread because I?m in the market for a DAP. I don?t really know the first thing about digital music and mp3s, but I figure it?s about time. I?m big on music, but I only need portability when I travel, which really isn?t all that often. I?ll visit my Mom or my Dad every so often which usually involves a short plane ride, or a long drive. I always bring a wallet full of CDs to listen to while I?m there. I?m mostly concerned with my honeymoon trip this July. I?ll be on a plane for 5 hours each way and in Hawaii for almost two weeks. I?m going to need some tunes while I?m there.

 

A little about my home rig first. I would call myself an audiophile by any means (can?t afford to be), but I do like music, and I like to teat it with some respect. I have a nice Denon CD changer and a Sony DVD/SACD player hooked up to a Sony DA5ES receiver (it has analog bypass that works pretty well). I have a 200WPC B&K amp for my front two speakers, Energy A5+2. I use the receivers amps for driving the surround speakers. I only listen to music with the front two, unless it?s a multi channel SACD. I also have a Headroom Supreme to dive my Sennheiser HD600 cans (Mostly used at night so as not to disturb the neighbors).

 

As for DAPs, I?m contemplating three different models at the moment. An iPod 20GB, an iPod mini, or the iRiver iHP-120. I like the size of the iPod 20GBG, but the connectivity is lacking. It comes with the cradle, but I?ll either have to buy a firewire card, or the $20 USB cable to connect it to my PC. The iPod mini is great because its small, better designed than the iPod, has better connectivity (I?ll still need to by the $40 cradle to get a stereo line out though) than the iPod, but only has 4GB of storage. Both iPods support AAC which seems to be better than the standard MP3 format. The iRiver has all the connectivity and then some, but no AAC. Opinions? Hey Monkey, where?s that review????????

 

Now on to software. I downloaded iTunes last night, and ripped my first CD. I also bought two songs, just for shits and giggles. As I said, I?m new at this. Oh yeah, I have a Dell running windows XP at home it came with Dell musicmatch software, but it would need to be upgraded for $20. So in ripping my CD I had no idea what bit rate to use, or if I should use VBR. What is the consensus here? Is 192 VBR high enough quality? Are the file sizes to big? And what about AAC? I like the idea and ease of iTunes, but it really is meant to be used with an iPod, so if I go with the iRiver, what software do you recommend for ripping CDs into MP3s?

 

Alright, that hurt my brain. This is a big foray. Thank you all for entertaining my ignorance. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

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As far as the iPod goes, let me answer some of the specific questions.

 

1. You will get a cradle with the iPod, you might need two of them, but maybe not. I don't use my cradle to connect the iPod to the computer, I just use a single cable (in my case FireWire, in yours it sounds like USB2.0). The cradle is permanently stationed at my stereo for using as a line-out source. I just drop the iPod in and play through the stereo.

 

2. You can use AAC, MP3, WAV and AIFF with an iPod (and iTunes) the letter two are uncompressed), you cannot use WMA or Ogg with the iPod. AAC is about as good an audio compression format as you can get, especially at 'normal' bit rates (roughly 128-192), but WMA is just as good.

 

3. The music sold from the iTunes music store is AAC only. AFAIK, the iPod is the only DAP on the market which plays AAC (which is a Dolby format). So in effect, if you buy music from ITMS, you are locked into the iPod. but if you buy an iPod you are not locked into the ITMS, you can buy from any online store that uses MP3 (emusic.com, audiolunchbox.com, bleep.com).

 

I don't plan on having a player other than an iPod, so I have ripped my CDs to AAC. I could have ripped everything to MP3 if I wanted to, and simply used a higher bitrate to get the same sound quality, but I am happy with AAC. However, that does mean that if I wanted to buy a different DAP someday, I'd have to re-rip my music (and stop using the ITMS).

 

I really can't recommend the iPod Mini. I think having lots of space for music is important so that you can put a variety of music on your player. 4GB just isn't enough, IMO. Sure, it's a lot of hours of music, but you will have less to choose from. I say go for the largest player you can afford and dump as much music as you can on to it, that way you have music for every mood you might be in.

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Actually, I did a review with a lot of pics. But I can't find it doing a search. :bang:

 

I'm very, very happy with my iRiver. But let me stress that certain features make it the best choice for me and not necessarily for you. Here are the heavy hitters:

 

1. Backlit LCD remote. I like to stash the DAP in my pants or shirt pocket. Because I'm a fidgeter, I like the full-featured remote to fool with volume, tracks and so on.

 

2. FM radio. When I'm not listening to my music or audiobooks, I like NPR and Howard Stern. I'm not willing to carry around another device for FM.

 

3. Recording. I like to record stuff off NPR for later listening.

 

4. Optical line in and out. I like using optical to hook my iRiver up to my receiver.

 

5. Size. Small enough to fit in a pocket.

 

As to formats, I don't care for AAC. Everything plays MP3's. I've copied stuff off my iRiver onto CDR's and popped it into cars and DVD players for friends. I can't do that that quickly and easily with AAC. MP3's will continue to have wide support for the foreseeable future.

 

The other plus to MP3's is the wide availablility of freeware and low-cost software. If I get fed up with my jukebox software (as I did 3 times), I just switch to the latest and greatest. I went from WMP to MusicMatch to Mediamonkey. Same thing with stuff like encoders, playlist generators and ripping/encoding software: I can find what suits me best.

 

I rip CD's into MP3's using CD-EX with LAME set at alt preset standard. It incorprates VBR and is transparent (or nearly so) to my ears.

 

You have three important considerations:

 

First, your ears. Try different formats using different standards and different tracks. Start low and work up to high. When you find one that your are certain is indistinguishable from CD, you're done. Don't worry about what Robot Monkey uses and any of his claims to a Golden Ear.

 

Second, consider your willingness or desire to tweak. If you don't give a hoot about tweaking and can live with few software choices, I don't think you can go wrong with an iPod. Let me also add that all the extra features on the iRiver necessarily means a more complex interface.

 

Third, features and value. Think about what's important to you and what you're willing to pay for those features. Make a list. iRiver's Ogg Vorbis support is meaningless if you have no desire to use Ogg files.

 

-j

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