Gold: The Ups and Downs
May 4, 2011
Let’s (Not) Go Out To The Movies!
September 23, 2011

Sound Off Pt II:

This Time It’s Personal

Continuing on from our last post about home audio and surround sound systems, we are now going to take a more personal approach to listening to your favorite music as well as looking at some other things you may be able to do.

Portable electronics have come a long way, especially with personal music devices. What started with small transistor radios in the 60’s evolved into the large, barely portable ‘boombox’ of the 80’s and the extremely popular Sony Walkman, which played cassettes and later CDs. Nowadays, if you are looking for personal audio as a way to take your music with you, MP3 players are the way to go…indeed, the newest version of the Sony Walkman is an MP3 player!

So what is an MP3? It stands for MPEG 1(or 2) Layer 3. It’s basically a way to take music or sound and compress it digitally with little loss, depending on the bit rate…so what that all means is you can store music from your CDs or other sources, place them on your computer or MP3 player, and they’ll take up less space as MP3s than they would as normal, uncompressed sound files. MP3 files also give you the ability to balance sound quality to file size, meaning you can choose to get better sound quality from a bigger file, or make the MP3 smaller with somewhat less quality of sound if space is more of a premium. While there are other types of sound and music files, such as Microsoft Windows’ .WMA files, the MP3 format has become the popular standard.

So how much music can these things hold? Most MP3 players will have a capacity in gigabytes (usually shortened to ‘GB’), and a gigabyte is equal to 1024 megabytes, and a good rule-of-thumb is that a minute of music will take up about a megabyte of space. Now, before you start going crazy trying to figure out the math, keep a couple things in mind…First, the space on an MP3 player can’t all be used for music. The system to play the music and keep the folders in order and remember your settings and everything else needs someplace to stay, so an 8GB player may only have 7.2GBs of space for music. Also, when we said that one minute of music will take up about a megabyte of space, that was a very rough guess. Just as we said above, the high the quality of the MP3 file, the more space it’s going to take up. Even with all that in mind, on a typical 8GB player, you can still expect to hold about 120 hours of music!

Without a doubt, the most popular of MP3 players is the iPod brand from Apple. They have pioneered and pretty much standardized what MP3 players are…to the point where most people use the term ‘iPod’ and ‘MP3 player’ interchangeably. From the introduction in October 2001 the 5-gigabyte ipod as ‘a thousand songs in your pocket’ to today’s 160GB models, the iPod has either developed or popularized many innovative features on MP3 players, such as ultra-small size, internet connectivity, and touch screens, not to mention the games and applications that can run on some of their models.

There may be no other type of electronics hardware that comes in a wider variety of shapes and sizes and function than MP3 players. From the ultra-tiny clip models, like the iPod shuffle or the various Sansa Clip-style, to the 160GB iPod classics that can hold months…yes, months…of music. There are a huge amount of crossover products that are designed to do their standard function and be able to play MP3s, too. Most smartphones these days will do this, but it doesn’t stop there…there are running shoes, sunglasses, couches, pillows, teddy bears, bicycles, watches, and even travel coffee mugs…and the list continues to grow every day. Stop by our store today and see if we have that MP3 player that will fitS perfectly where you want to have your music

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