PDA

View Full Version : MP3 players - advice?



Perks
07-22-2008, 01:38 AM
I don't know the first thing about MP3 players. I don't have an iPod. I don't put music on my phone. I have been known to drive in complete silence.

My daughter wants an MP3 player for her birthday.

Now I will demonstrate my ignorance -

-you get an MP3 player(.)

-you can put songs from your CD collection on it via your computer (?)

-you can buy songs on the internet to download onto your player (?)


Anyway, I need advice. She's just a kid, so I don't want to spend a fortune. It seems you can have speakers and/or headphones. Can you buy songs anywhere for any MP3 player or is it only iTUnes for Ipods and blah, blah, blah...

What are the essentials?

Pagey's_Girl
07-22-2008, 03:56 AM
Depends on the brand. I have a Sansa and it allows me to load songs from CDs onto it through Windows Media Player - no special software needed - or to download from the internet. (I usually buy MP3's from Rhapsody or Napster.) I'm very happy with the sound quality.

I'd recommend one that has a flash drive (like a digital camera - uses a memory card) as opposed to a hard drive. The flash drive players can stand up to some pretty rough treatment. I've dropped mine several times hard enough to knock th battery out of the case, and it survived without a problem.

Fraulein
07-22-2008, 04:25 AM
My Sansa died a few months after someone gave it to me as a graduation present. :(

I have an RCA Lyra like this one. It works very well, although the screen does not have color.

http://cdn.overstock.com/images/products/P11030167a.jpg

RCA Lyra product description
(http://www.compuvest.us/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductID=274737)

Medievalist
07-22-2008, 04:55 AM
Get her an iPod Shuffle.

She can "rip" songs from CDs using free iTunes software from Apple.

She can buy MP3s from Amazon, and EMusic, and put them on the Shuffle.

She can buy songs from iTunes in a format called AAC, and put those on her shuffle.

She can use headphones/ear buds or connect it to a boom box or stereo using a cheap cable.

Storm Dream
07-22-2008, 05:32 AM
Samsung. My little 512mb "tic tac box" has survived a hell of a lot of abuse over the years. SanDisk also makes pretty good ones.

You can only use iPods with iTunes, unless you download some kind of program, I think? Everyone around me has them, but I never got into 'em. Some of the SanDisk versions are drag and drop from Windows Explorer; my Samsung has always used Media Player.

Matera the Mad
07-22-2008, 06:19 AM
I would stay away from anything that depends on a bloaty software install -- iTunes in other words. Get something that is more flexible. I don't have one (don't want something stuck in my ears, they don't like that) but I have fooled around with a friend's. It's nice to be able to drag and drop, to get tunes in and out by more than one means, not be stuck in a rigid box.

Yeshanu
07-22-2008, 06:24 AM
I love my iPod shuffle.

'Nuff said.

Medievalist
07-22-2008, 07:06 AM
I don't actually see iTunes as bloated, even on Windows, but if you're buying this for a teen, one of the nice things about iTunes is that you can allocate an "allowance" to an account -- the teen can spend X dollars a month on iTunes, and that's it.

This actually not a bad thing--it's a budget lesson, in some ways.

Perks
07-22-2008, 07:22 AM
Yeah, she's headed for ten, so that's another reason I'm looking at options. These things get awfully expensive.

Matera, I'm also concerned about the 'in the ears' thing. I'm not sure I like this idea. Oh dear.

Thanks for the advice and info, everybody!

maestrowork
07-22-2008, 07:51 AM
Yeah, get her an iPod shuffle -- it's only $79 and you can control what she could put on it. Otherwise, I'd suggest the Nano (it's a bit more expensive) but she could have more control.

Getting songs into the thing is pretty easy with iTune.

benbradley
07-22-2008, 09:57 AM
I've never had one, but ... yeah, I think I'd go for cheap. Even the cheapest models can hold what, some ridiculous amounts, I dunno, 20 or 500 CD's worth of music thesedays. I recall the original Rio ten years ago was $250 and barely held an hour of mp3's (or other compresed file format).

I could do a lecture about file formats, but I don't think it's important, because most players play almost all formats at almost all bitrates (and you don't really have to know about bitrates unless you somehow fill up the player's memory and want to optimize storage). I know about these partly from recording my own audio and compressing it to mp3's to put on the net, and on some things I can hear the difference between 128k mp3's (the "standard" most-common bitrate) and the original (such as on CD),...

...but you don't have to worry about that. Only geeks and audiophiles can hear the difference, and it's just all techie details. Just get the thing, plug in the cable, follow the instructions and go.

Yeah, she's headed for ten, so that's another reason I'm looking at options. These things get awfully expensive.

Matera, I'm also concerned about the 'in the ears' thing. I'm not sure I like this idea. Oh dear.
Now THAT a valid concern. Those little earbuds can sound quite good (I understand the Shure Etonlc models, starting at $99, have excellent sound - I've been wanting to get some of those for a while), even at high volume. And you can ask anyone who has listened to decent quality earphones or headphones for any length of time, it's easy to turn up the volume and make them "sound good" but the volume is usually louder than you think, sometimes much louder. And because they're so small and right AT your ear, it doesn't take much power to make them go loud, and an mp3 player battery can last for hours on a charge running the earbuds at high volume. This has for decades been a "known problem" in recording studios and concerts where musicians and sound engineers often listen through headphones at high volume for long periods of time, but stories of hearing damage from earbuds has also been in the "consumer press" since about a year after the first iPod model came out. Here's a recent article that talks about it as if it were a brand-new phenomenon:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-18532179-details/%27iPods+can+make+you+deaf%27/article.do

ETA: Actually that article is from 2005(!). But I just did add a comment, because I didn't like the tone of the two comments already there. I said basically the same thing I wrote below. We'll see if my comment gets added...

Ignore those two comments at the end of the article questiong why people play them so loudly, or just telling them to turn it down. Even the cheap earbuds that come with these players sound better and "cleaner" than moderatly expensive stereo speakers in the typical home listening environment, and since outside sounds (the dog barking, the delivery truck horn outside) are usually overwhelmed at even moderate volume, your ears really have little clue how loud it really is, as any 'reference' sound for comparison can't be heard at all.

This would be my biggest concern with giving a child one of these, and you can only say something like "keep it turned down" so much before it just becomes nagging and gets ignored (I know, I still remember when I was a child...).


ETA (again): Yes, the site "printed" my comment! :)

Writer2011
07-22-2008, 10:02 AM
I have a Sansa (can't remember which one) but I have been very pleased with it. I download music from Rhapsody to put on it...You have to pay for the service, but well worth it in my opinion.

Ipod shuffles are pretty cool from what I hear.

Maryn
07-22-2008, 04:23 PM
I got a Zune for my birthday and I love it. I strongly second the advice about getting the kind with a flash drive (and shaped like one) rather than a hard drive (flat and wide, shaped more like a deck of cards). Not only can they withstand harsh treatment more easily, but the ability to skip with impact (like walking fast, running, roller blading, being dropped onto a desk or counter on purpose, etc.) does not exist.

Yes, you put the music stored on your computer onto the MP3 player. I haven't yet made any music purchases specifically for the MP3 player (my birthday was only last week), so I can't advise about that, but what I will do, when the time comes, is make purchase of a song or album in MP3 form and put it on my computer for future transfer to the Zune, rather than straight to it. That's perfectly legal and having it on your hard drive means it can be put on the player, burned to a mix CD for your car, or whatever else you want to do with it.

One of the things people like about MP3 players is that it's easy to put new music on it and take off stuff you're tired of. Even large collections get old. Since your daughter is young enough that her music collection probably isn't all that huge, one way to keep your cost down is to get a Zune or other flash-type player with a fairly small capacity. She doesn't need ten thousand songs carried with her at all times, since she'll be home, easily able to change them out as needed. (If she's a long-haul trucker away for a week at a time, forget that last part.)

While the accessories like speakers can expand a player's capabilities, letting it serve as a compact stereo system, if she's got another way to play music other than to her MP3 player's earbuds, that's probably enough.

Maryn, who likes her toys but doesn't share well

Pagey's_Girl
07-22-2008, 04:26 PM
The earbuds can be uncomfortable at first - the original ones with the Sansa were like little tiny headphones that fit into your ear, but the new ones I got last year are the in-the-ear type, and they took some getting used to. They're also noise-cancelling - very, very noise-cancelling. Which is great when I'm trying to ignore the noise around me but not so great when someone's trying to get my attention.... :lol:

sheadakota
07-22-2008, 04:31 PM
Yeah, she's headed for ten, so that's another reason I'm looking at options. These things get awfully expensive.

Matera, I'm also concerned about the 'in the ears' thing. I'm not sure I like this idea. Oh dear.

Thanks for the advice and info, everybody!
I love my i pod shuffle. I got one for myself and call myself very computer illiterate- i have no idea how to download ringtones to my phone (it actually rings) But I had no problems figuring out how to use i-tunes and import my own cds to my library and upload songs from i-tunes (they are only 99 cents each)
The cost is doable as well- onlt 79$- I have a ten year old as well and am thinking of getting her the one that you can play movies on for an upcoming 12 trip we are taking.

Medievalist
07-22-2008, 06:54 PM
Yeah, she's headed for ten, so that's another reason I'm looking at options. These things get awfully expensive.

Matera, I'm also concerned about the 'in the ears' thing. I'm not sure I like this idea. Oh dear.

Thanks for the advice and info, everybody!

The iPod shuffle starts at 49.00 for a 1 gig; that's probably about 500 AAC compressed songs, or around 200-250 mp3s.

You can get 2 gig for 79.00

Apple sells "refurbished" ones, which have a warranty just like the new ones, but are models that were returned and fixed, for slightly less on the Apple store.

Any headphones with a "mini" plug, the kind you'd use on a Walkman, will work just fine.

http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/

Medievalist
07-22-2008, 06:59 PM
This would be my biggest concern with giving a child one of these, and you can only say something like "keep it turned down" so much before it just becomes nagging and gets ignored (I know, I still remember when I was a child...).

There's a setting that won't let the volume go past a point YOU select--but for a kid, I'd get a pair of "sports" headphones--they're tougher, and not expensive--and you might even have a pair sitting around somewhere.

Shadow_Ferret
07-22-2008, 07:56 PM
I'd go with a Sansa.

I'd avoid the whole iPod thing. It's expensive. For the same price you get a 1 or 2 gig iPod you can get an 8 gig Sansa.


I recall the original Rio ten years ago was $250 and barely held an hour of mp3's (or other compresed file format).



I still have my 10 year old Rio. Has a capacity of 128k. Seems "quaint" by today's standards.