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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for a top end portable audio player, and wondering whether to go for iPod or a generic MP3-player (such as iAudio X530L or Microsoft's ZUNE).

The iPod gets very good reviews, and the design is aesthetically pleasing. Also it seems easy to buy new music for it via iTunes... Also Apples format for music (AAC) is reportedly better quality than MP3 or WMA.

Worries:
I have a lot of CDs, also tapes and records - will I be forced to rip all these to AAC format ?
Then if I change player, I'll have to rip all these again to MP3 or whatever
Also, I won't be able to use AAC on other devices - e.g. PC, laptop, mobile phone, other flash-based media player....

I think I'd read that its not the case - however I heard it won't play certain TYPES of MP3 ?
 

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zorba said:
I'm looking for a top end portable audio player, and wondering whether to go for iPod or a generic MP3-player (such as iAudio X530L or Microsoft's ZUNE).

The iPod gets very good reviews, and the design is aesthetically pleasing. Also it seems easy to buy new music for it via iTunes... Also Apples format for music (AAC) is reportedly better quality than MP3 or WMA.

Worries:
I have a lot of CDs, also tapes and records - will I be forced to rip all these to AAC format ?
Then if I change player, I'll have to rip all these again to MP3 or whatever
Also, I won't be able to use AAC on other devices - e.g. PC, laptop, mobile phone, other flash-based media player....

I think I'd read that its not the case - however I heard it won't play certain TYPES of MP3 ?
No, you can rip it to whatever you set iTunes to rip to. AAC would be preferred for the iPod.

There is only one type of MP3.

How the iPod works is that you create playlists and then it gets transferred to the iPod, whether if its MP3 or AAC files, and I think WMA is supported now.
 

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I never bothered with the others :eek: hence why i didn't know, but the majority of the time it's the normal MP3 i'm talking about.

Thanks for clarification :)
 

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I have an aging RIO player, it seems to play CBR and VBR MP3 as well as WMA files. I suspect some of the cheap imports may have more limited capability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hiya folks, thanks for your comments.

Back onto this now - looking to commit to a personal player in next few days

couriant - Yeah the Zune is 30G.

Looks like the old iTunes can be a bit tricky. I recall back a week or more ago I tried to install it to see what it was like but it failed - think it said problem with Quicktime - said it wasn't installed I think... (even though it was)

What iTunes does seem to have going for it is the range of songs....
Guys, can iTunes be used to buy and download music to other non-iPod players ?

Best of both worlds might be to go for a non-iPod, and use non-iTunes software...
...but still have ability to use iTunes if can't find the music elsewhere
(maybe only have it installed on one computer, or a Mac)

is this feasible ?
 

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zorba said:
Guys, can iTunes be used to buy and download music to other non-iPod players ?

Best of both worlds might be to go for a non-iPod, and use non-iTunes software...
...but still have ability to use iTunes if can't find the music elsewhere
(maybe only have it installed on one computer, or a Mac)
The only portable players supported by iTunes are iPods.

There is no legal way to directly convert music purchased through iTunes into another file format that can be downloaded to a non-iPod player. There is a legal indirect way by first having iTunes burn the purchased music onto audio CDs and then ripping the CDs into a different file format that is compatible with your particular player. You will loose a bit of audio quality in the process.

Welcome to the world of Digital Rights Management (DRM). :mad: :mad: :mad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks cwwozniak

So just to check my understanding...

Even though iTunes will download MP3s, these MP3s will only play on iPod ?
- because iTunes somehow "brands" these MP3s as "for iPod consumption only" or suchlike

Also, AACs from iTunes will not play on a Zune (or other) player that supports AAC
- because iTunes somehow "brands" these MP3s as "for iPod consumption only" or suchlike

sorry to bother you guys, but I'm after the understanding here :)

teach a man to fish, as they say...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
what I mean is MP3 or AAC tracks BOUGHT from iTunes, and whether they'll play on other players...
(as opposed to ripped from a CD etc, as I can always use another software to rip them)
 

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If you want to avoid the bureaucratic BS of rights-managed music that the iPod and the ten-years-too-late-in-typical-Microshaft-tradition Zune use, then you should look at players in the Creative Zen or SanDisk Sansa series, which let you play (and share) any MP3's... they are basically external hard drives. Copy anything to them, they will play it. Plug them into another computer, and you can copy anything back. They will still play rights-managed music, but they don't tie you so much into the system. I feel like I should add that the fact that a player isn't an iPod doesn't make it "generic."
 

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zorba said:
what I mean is MP3 or AAC tracks BOUGHT from iTunes,
For starters the iTunes store does not sell MP3 files. You can use iTunes to purchase DRM protected AAC files from the iTunes store. These DRM protected AAC files have a filename extension of M4P.

The only file conversion of M4P files you can do in iTunes is to burn audio compilation CDs.

The last time I checked, I iTunes will allow you to rip any Audio CD to MP3 and AAC files. I believe that the non-DRM protected AAC files have a filename extension of M4A.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
sorry cww,

does "DRM protected" mean these AACs won't play on other machines ?

Do you have to tell iTunes which iPod you are using, and iTunes puts some sort of a "stamp" on the AAC file which will only allow that iPod to play the track - is this how it works ?

sorry to be so behind the times :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Eric,

thanks for this

I think the portability of MP3 is very appealing

The 2x things against it (for me) are:

1) loss of audio quality vis-a-vis (in descending order) .WAV, .OGG, .ACC
2) worry that my fave music might only be available on iTunes

I need to do some research as to how much I would notice the quality difference between MP3 and AAC. If its not much (I'm not a stereo-head, and a bit deaf), then I can let that one go. Any idea how one would quantify that ? the difference I mean...

Range of Music ? I might have to still buy the occasional CD, if I can't get the MP3
(also it means I'll always have the original full audio signal available, for when memory capacities increase)

any flaws you guys can see in this thinking ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm doing a full survey of players online right now
- but one that caught my eye last time I looked a few weeks ago was the

iAudio X530L

- anyone out there care to give me their kind assessment ?
 

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zorba said:
does "DRM protected" mean these AACs won't play on other machines?
That is correct if you mean the "other machines" are not iPods. I do not recall the details about how many different installations of iTunes on different computers and how many iPods are allowed to play a purchased file.

zorba said:
Do you have to tell iTunes which iPod you are using, and iTunes puts some sort of a "stamp" on the AAC file which will only allow that iPod to play the track - is this how it works?
I am not sure if the AAC files get tagged to match some kind of electronic hardware serial number of the iPod or if iTunes puts some kind of DRM key file on the iPod to match the DRM key in the AAC files.

BTW, I would suggest you do not even consider getting an iPod until you have a working installation of iTunes running on some computer somewhere. I recall that a new iPod out of the box will not do anything useful until you connect it to a computer and use iTunes to configure it. Apple used to offer a separate program for just configuring an iPod without going through installing iTunes and QuickTime. That is no longer an option as the latest version of the configuration function is only available within iTunes.
 

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zorba said:
The 2x things against it (for me) are:

1) loss of audio quality vis-a-vis (in descending order) .WAV, .OGG, .ACC
2) worry that my fave music might only be available on iTunes
As you probably know, MP3's have various bitrates... they are not necessarily worse. AAC files (which use MPEG-4) do give you better quality for their size, but a 320kbps MP3 is still going to be better than a 192kbps ACC file (except, if I remember correctly, MP3's have a slightly narrower frequency range). I don't know what kind of quality the iTunes store offers, but it's likely you would never notice the difference in any normal listening situation. AAC is a better format, but not necessarily worth giving up the portability.

iTunes does have a lot of music, but so do many other music stores (but without the proprietary format that can only be played in an iPod).
 

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erick295 said:
I don't know what kind of quality the iTunes store offers, but it's likely you would never notice the difference in any normal listening situation.
FYI, from the iTunes store FAQ:

http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/musicstore/songs/

What file format and bit rate do you use?

Purchased songs are encoded using MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, a high-quality format that rivals CD quality. Songs purchased and downloaded from the Store are AAC Protected files and have a bitrate of 128 kilobits per second (kbit/s). The file extension is .m4p.
 
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