MP3 Players.

By Team Digit Published Date
17 - Jan - 2008
| Last Updated
17 - Jan - 2008
MP3 Players.
Almost every gadget available today can be used with little or no calibration. But getting your hands dirty with details and feature sets is what separates the boys from the geeks. An MP3 player is no exception. Of course you can simply drag and drop or use a syncing software to transfer your songs. But there are optimisations that you can try out to make music listening a more pleasurable experience.

Sort So You Can Search
Most players display files according to the filename-you will have files called track001.mp3 if that's how your ripping software names them. On Winamp or Windows Media Player, this is not a problem as they identify ID3 tags (bearing artist and album information) and not to mention, the easy navigation. Your MP3 player, even if it recognizes ID3 tags, will display the artist and title, but the sorting may not always be according to the tag. It gets irritating if you are looking for one particular song amongst a 100. A simple solution is to name the tracks with something more descriptive than an uninformative track001!

Setting ID3 tags in Audiograbber

While ripping from your CDs, set the preferences in your ripping software to name the files starting with a word that describes them, like the album or artist name. If your ripping software does not have the option, spend a couple of minutes in renaming the MP3s manually.

Let's briefly take a look at a batch renaming software called CKRename. It gives you a variety of options, like prefixing, suffixing, selective renaming etc. Download it from

Batch renaming in CKRename

When you open CKRename you will see a Windows Explorer like interface to the left. Navigate to the folder whose files you wish to rename. You can change the filenames and extension, introduce numbering for the selected files. Files such as track001.mp3 can be changed to "artist-song name 001.mp3". You can later on rename them to "artist-song name.mp3" if you want to. You will be saved the trouble of typing in the artist's name for every song.

Size vs Quality
In a really nice world, we will choose the best quality for our songs while ripping, in an ideal world we will just save them in the gigantic wave formats. But when we have to only so much space and a lot of songs-we will have to compress them. This holds good not only for MP3 players but any storage media, including hard disks. Most players support playback of MP3s compressed with 32 to 320 kbps. A higher bit rate provides better sound but occupies more space. For pure voice tracks, the basic 32 Kbps is enough to retain clarity. For music files however, compressing to 32 Kbps is criminal! You need 128 Kbps to retain the varied music elements. This will give you a file size of 1 MB per minute approximately. The 'quality' will also depend on the efficiencies of the ripping (encoding) software as well as the player itself. When both of these are good, you might ~ just~ be able to get away with 96 kbps. We recommend 128 Kbps as a minimum however.

Let us now take a look at ripping CDs using a well known free software called Audiograbber. Download it from

Also download the LAME MP3 encoder from the same location and paste the lame_enc.dll in the directory where audiograbber is installed.
When Audiograbber is opened, click on the button that says MP3 and choose the LameEnc DLL encoder. Set the quality settings to 'Joint Stereo' and 'High'. Now by moving the slider, choose the bit rate you want. For an MP3 player, you can start with 192 Kbps and go downwards till 96 Kbps and check the sound quality at every stage. As there is not single rule to choose a particular settings, use your discretion here. However, unless you are crunched for space, do not go below 96 Kbps for music files. Speech only files can be encoded at as low a bit rate of 32 Kbps.

Setting the bitrate
Some ripping and editing software allow you to set a Variable Bit Rate (VBR). This essentially means that the parts of the track which contain less detail are compressed more (meaning lesser bit rate) and the portions that contain more sound elements are compressed less (higher bit rate). The concept is no doubt an optimisation, but it places an overhead on the decoding logic. Some low-end MP3 players maybe sluggish while decoding VBR and your sound quality may actually suffer. If you are unsure of how your player responds to VBR, just choose a constant bit rate as we have explained above.

Wrap a wire around for better FM reception indoors
Storage Media in MP3 Players 
There are three types of storage available for MP3 players - flash memory, micro hard drive and hard drive.
Of these flash memory is most commonly used in low end and mid range MP3 players. Capacities usually range from 128MB to 1GB. Some players like that iPod nano have hit the 4GB mark for flash based MP3 players. Unlike hard drive based devices, MP3 players are not mechanical devices, meaning, they do not contain any moving parts. This makes them an ideal choice for people who are on the move or for those who want to listen to music while working out in the gym. A hard drive based player may skip some parts of the song when it is subjected to movement, like when carried while jogging. Flash memory has a definite number of read / write cycles which is less than that of a good quality hard drive.
Hard disks offer much higher storage space than flash memory, upwards of 20GB. A good quality hard disk will outlast flash memory in the number of read / write cycles that can be performed. On the down side, hard disks are heavier, consume more power and are prone to errors when subjected to movement.
Micro hard disks, as the name suggests are a smaller version of the hard disk. They combine the reliability of hard disks with a relatively light weight and capacity that is higher than flash memory. Owing to the small size, design and fabrication is more expensive than hard drives, resulting in a relatively higher cost per GB.

Clearer FM Radio
Do you remember the stand alone radio sets or two-in-ones which had long aerials for radio reception? Our MP3 players have only a miniature ferrite rod to act as an antenna, or in some cases, they depend on the headphone multitask as antenna. Due to this antenna issue alone, FM reception loses clarity when used indoors or while traveling. This can be solved by wrapping a wire around your MP3 player. While this may mar the aesthetic beauty, you will get clearer reception indoors. If you on the move, keep the player in a pocket such that it touches your body which itself can act as an antenna!

Better (h)earphones
Just as a chain is as strong as its weakest link, the MP3 player can only be as good as its accessories, which in many cases are the earphones. The unassuming earphones pack complex technologies to deliver the best sound to you. A good pair of earphones can easily cost half as much as your MP3 player itself. Unfortunately, due to cost cutting, the earphones that we see on most entry and even on some mid-segment players are just mediocre and simply ruin the sound experience.

Buying tips 
The storage capacity often becomes a constraint especially if don't have the time to transfer fresh songs to the player. The mantra here is simple-bigger the better.
1 GB is better than 512 MB is better than 256 MB.. you get the picture.
Headphone Comfort: Every ear is different and this makes it difficult to make earphones that are comfortable for everyone. If you are investing in a good earphone, comfort is an important factor.
If you plan to use the player as a USB drive to carry data around, the data transfer speed is important. Opt for a player with USB 2.0 connectivity.

Buy a good pair of headphones or earphones and plug it into your player.

Bear in mind two factors while choosing an earphone-the impedance and the maximum power rating of the earphone. The impedance must of the earphone must be equal to the impedance of the player-measured in ? (ohms) most earphones have a rating of 8? The maximum power handling ability, measured in mille Watts must be greater than or equal to that of the player.

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