|The best ways to enjoy music
are: (a) live, (b) DVD-video with 5.1 audio stream, (c) DVD-audio disc
on a good home theatre system.
In my personal situation - when I'm almost always 'on the move' between different places here in Australia and around the world, I prefer to have my music in some kind of a 'portable' format. A lot of people do, nowadays. Anywhere you look: on the street, in the train, on the airplane - you'll always see someone wearing earphones. There are three options: (1) portable CD player, (2) some mp3 player like iPod, or (3) minidisc player (my favourite). I must stress beforehand that what is written below is my personal opinion and many people will look at these things differently. I think this is all still valid now, in 2013...
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appears to be the cheapest option and there are many advantages in having
one (like, - just pack up your CDs and go), but...
In comparison with other options CDs are rather bulky. A dozen CDs together with a player take quite a lot of space and are not particularly handy to carry around; also one would look a bit 'out-of-place' today when carrying a CD player in the hand or in a special bag.
It is not a good idea to carry around CDs that will take months and some $$$ to replace (as it is in my case) - so one has to make copies.
Both original CDs and particularly CD-R are quite easily damaged. One scratch or an hour in Australian summer sun could ruin a track or two.
the purpose of this argument any CD player that can also play mp3 is not
discussed (see points above). Also, I personally consider any 'solid-state'
mp3 player with internal memory of less than 1 Gb and no possibility of
its extention just an expensive and useless computer toy. So, let's concentrate
on 'high-end' players like iPod and its clones. Apart from the fact that
these players are very fashionable at the moment there are not too many
positives. One of them (that many people tell me about) is that one's
entire music collection can be stored on one small device. I do agree
but there some disadvantages here too... So, let's discuss this type of
Music quality 1. Not too many mp3 players, even the expensive ones, offer sound enhancements; some kind of bass expansion is more or less standard feature, some players will have several pre-set equaliser settings, but (to the best of my knowledge) only two or three units have a possibility of 3D sound enhancement.
Music quality 2. In order to have an mp3 file to sound more or less like an original CD it should be encoded in a high bit rate (224-320 kb/sec). One can easily hear the difference between typical 128 kb/sec and 'high' 320 kb/sec. Be cautious of ads saying "holds up to 4000 songs" or something similar. I did see an ad where this statement was accompanied by a very small font on the bottom saying that a comparison was made for an average 3-minute song recorded at 56kb/sec. So, effectively, it will hold only about 500 typical-length songs in a near-CD quality.
Loss of data. Mp3 players rarely break but what if yours is lost or stolen..? It would take quite a long time to restore music collection to another unit - particularly the tracks purchased over the Internet.
Price. Good Mp3 players are quite expensive and external memory chips (SD cards, memory sticks, etc) are not cheap either.
Time and knowledge that unit like this requires.
[a] Under reasonable conditions it would take weeks (if not months) to transfer a music collection on something like i-pod, organise it into playlists etc. After spending a day in front of a computer screen that's the last thing I would be looking forward to in the evening.
[b] An average person would have no clue about mp3 encodings or other computer 'wizadry' - he or she just wants to listen to music in a good quality; the complexity of handling certain programs is a 'turn-off' for some people.
MOST IMPORTANT. In my personal opinion, mp3 players promote downloading of illegal mp3 files. My position on this is well known - I personally despise people lurking queitly in the background on different forums, downloading music and keeping it. Not even mentioning those who make a profit out of this... Sure, legal downloading is now widely available, but I do not think the situation has changed much since August 2006 data when illegal mp3 downloads outnumbered the legal ones forty to one... If anything, illegal downloads have increased due to the improvements in Intenet speeds and storage capacity of the players...
is my favourite format, so I may be a bit biased here... Briefly, the
positives are as follows:
Size and durability. Small in size (7.0x6.7x0.5cm), re-recordable and as durable as cassette tapes - MDs have a floppy disk-like protective cover, so drop them on the floor, whatever - does not matter.
Music quality. Good ones sound as a CD - in fact I cannot hear any difference. With 'X-Bass2', 'Hall' 3D enhancement and a pair of 'noise cancellation' headphones my Panasonic MJ59 sounds as good as my home theatre system.
Loss of data. Minidisc units rarely break but if lost or stolen - one can use minidiscs with another unit straight away.
Price. Good minidisc units are not cheap but minidiscs holding about 5 hours of music will only cost you $2-3.
Time and knowledge. All it takes to transfer music from CD to MD is either [a] put the CD into the computer, connect MD recorder and press a button on it - in about 2 minutes you have a copy of the CD on the minidisc (that's what I do), or [b] use a 'shelf' system where transfer is as simple as recording the music on a cassette.
A newer format (Hi-MD) allows people to store not only music but also data on the disc and discs themselves are also much larger in capacity (about 25 hours of music). It may be attractive to some but I do not want to look for a song or an album through numerous playlists as on a mp3 player...