MP3 Jukebox

NicolasB

Distinguished Member
Bought one of these for my girlfriend's birthday a while back - the 20 GB version. (Note that the price on the page you link to is ex. VAT). The quality is quite impressive, although it's not going to match a good portable CD player, let alone a non-portable HiFi CD player. It has a line output (twin stereo 3.5mm jack-plugs) which definitely produces better results with an amp than the headphone output does.

It does a lot of fancy stuff like adding environmental effects or changing the speed of playback without affecting the pitch, or limiting sudden surges in volume: I can't see much use for this sort of thing, but gf thought it was quite cool.

It will also record direct from CD - it has an optical input - but I would recommend using a PC with (say) Exact Audio Copy and LAME MP3 encoder for best results.

If you want maximum quality recordings then you need to be encoding at 320 kb/s, which means 20 GB will hold about 138 hours (using Creative's rather stingy definition of a gigabyte). This obviously jumps significantly if you want to encode things at 128kb/s. (160 kb/s is considered to be roughly equivalent to a decent cassette deck). You can squeeze even more into it if you use WMA format rather than MP3s, but I don't know what the quality implications are.

If you want to spend that much you should also consider an Apple iPod.

Any other questions?
 
M

Mike Dando

Guest
Cheers for the info.
How does 320 kb/s compare to normal CD quality?

Will have a look at the iPod.
 

NicolasB

Distinguished Member
I think I'm right in saying that an MP3 at 320kb/s is using lossless compression, so (other things being equal) the data itself should be directly equivalent to a CD. However, the integrity of the data is just a starting point. You've then got to worry about jitter (hopefully not that high, as the data is read out of DRAM after being cached off the internal hard disk, but you never know) and the quality of the internal DACs and so on.
 

michaelab

Novice Member
Originally posted by Mike Dando
I was thinking of dumping all of my CDs onto one of these and packing them away in a box. I assume you can connect it to an amp'?
Think again if you want sound quality even remotely close to what you can get with even a budget hifi CD player (ie £2-300).

Perfectly good for portable use though even though it's pretty heavy (cos of the hard drive). If I was getting something like that I'd get an Apple iPod (again strictly for portable use only).

Michael.
 
M

Mike Dando

Guest
Think again if you want sound quality even remotely close to what you can get with even a budget hifi CD player (ie £2-300).
Is the difference really noticable if recordings are done at max rate? I think I'd better get a demo of one of these.
 

michaelab

Novice Member
Yes, the difference really will be noticeable. There are non-portable machines around (eg Terratec Car) which will store CDs on the HD in native (ie 16bit/44.1kHz) format (much better than full rate MP3) and the general opinion of those seems to be that they sound [email protected] compared to a real CD player aswell so god knows what an MP3 portable with no 'hifi' aspirations will sound like.

Michael.
 

tomson

Active Member
If you get an Apple iPod and use Apples iTunes to import your audio you can import as 16bit 48.000kHz AIFF or WAV files.
 

michaelab

Novice Member
Just to re-iterate, there are AFAIK no hard disk/computer style audio devices which have hifi quality sound comparable to even a budget CD player.

The only way to get decent sound out of such a device or a computer is if it has an SPDIF digital out which you can feed into a decent DAC.

Michael
 

NicolasB

Distinguished Member
"Which?" magazine recently did a big group test of various "personal stereos". They marked sound quality on a scale of 1 to 5 (effectively). Nothing in the test scored 5 out of 5. Some CD players costing £100-£150 got 4 out of 5. (Some cheaper CD players scored as low as 1). One or two minidisc players also got 4 out of 5, oddly enough, again most got less. The Creative Labs Jukebox 3 and Apple iPod got 3 out of 5. They gave higher usability marks to the iPod.
 

tomson

Active Member
I was listening to a 10gig iPod through my Hifi a few months ago - songs were at 192kbps( i think) and it didn't sound at all bad. Granted its obviously lower quality than even a budget CD player but thats the price you pay for being able to cram 200 CDs into something the size of a ciggie packet.

At the end of the day let your ears decide - if you can live degraded sound quality then the convenience might be worth it.
 
B

Batts

Guest
Originally posted by NicolasB
I think I'm right in saying that an MP3 at 320kb/s is using lossless compression, so (other things being equal) the data itself should be directly equivalent to a CD.

Not right, MP3 is a lossy compression technique and so can never become lossless, such encoders include Flac, Monkeys etc.
And no comression can exactly equal the original CD, to compress a track some data has to be removed to achieve the smaller file size, these are usually at about 18khz and higher depending on encoder used and bitrate/command line.
True it can 'sound' exactly like the original CD and this is the goal, most people are very happy with LAME encoded MP3's using --alt-preset standard, personally I use MPC at standard setting and Ogg Vorbis q6(both not readily supported on portable units yet,although Ogg is getting some support)
 

DownToTheBone

Novice Member
You can get reasonably good quality sound using MP3. Key to it all is good extraction.
If you use a PC get a good quality CDRW drive and ALWAYS use EAC. Do not use EAC's 'burst mode ' to rip your tracks you end up bypassing most of the functionality of EAC. It maybe faster but stick to the 'secure mode' as this uses any extra functionality supported by your CDRW.
I use Razorlame/LAME for encoding - use version 3.9.2 of the LAME encoder there are some 'issues' with version 3.9.3
I use the --alt-preset extreme settings for LAME as space is not too much of an issue. I usually get around 80-90 tracks per CD.
MP3 will never be equal to 'CD quality'sound its just physically impossible. Great for the car and on the move. If you want CD quality sound get a portable CD player.

DTTB

have a look here for more info ...

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?act=idx
 
B

Batts

Guest
Youy can get more than just 'portable' quality with MP3.
If you use Dibrom's presets you should find the encodings pretty much transparent.
--alt-preset standard or --alt-preset extreme should be ideal for 99% of listeners.
The link you posted to Hydrogen Audio forums is a regular haunt of mine and you'll see I post there,these guys have the most in depth knowledge on the audio compression subject as you'll find anywhere in the world.
 

ch2s

Standard Member
There is a sony minisystem that takes 60CDs and can read MP3s off them, so that's the quivalent of 40GB of mp3s.
 

HMHB

Distinguished Member
Creative are about to bring out an i-pod lookalike which is much smaller than the current Creative offerings. You can probably see it on their web-site if you say that you live in the USA rather than UK - you get more recent products listed then. One adavntage this has over the i-pod (for me) is that you can use WMA as well as MP3 - whereas the i-pod is MP3.
 

kennydies

Active Member
I have purchased the archos Multimedia jukebox, one of the best things I have bought in ages.

It has a screen on the front and you can watch avi files on it. It is really handy as takes the boredom out of train journeys.
 
S

SgtRock

Guest
Check out this is you want to play MP3's via your Hi-Fi and you have a PC :-

http://www.slimdevices.com/

The SliMP3 (Slim-'pE-'thrE) is an MP3 player that streams music over Ethernet from your PC. It features a powerful, easy-to-use, heirarcical browser interface, allowing you to quickly browse through your music collection from the convenience of a remote control. Its large vacuum fluorescent display is bright and readable, and the sound quality is second to none. SliMP3 gives you the convenience of enjoying music in any room of your home - thanks to its small form factor, you easily place it in your stereo cabinet, on a shelf, or even on your bed-side table. Standard RCA outputs let you connect it directly to any stereo receiver. Imagine enjoying your MP3 collection on those big speakers in your living room, away from the distractions of fans and hard drives.

I've got one and it rocks
 

TheDufster

Standard Member
I haven't got a network setup at home, just my PC which is in the study upstairs. I would like to avoid having to run a cable down to where I want to site the SliMP3 - is it relatively easy/cheap to set it up using a wireless network??? Where would I start with this?

Blimey, I think this little gadget might be the answer!
 

Jeff

Well-known Member
Originally posted by michaelab
Just to re-iterate, there are AFAIK no hard disk/computer style audio devices which have hifi quality sound comparable to even a budget CD player.

The only way to get decent sound out of such a device or a computer is if it has an SPDIF digital out which you can feed into a decent DAC.

Michael
I can't believe you got away with a comment like that. There are plenty of high-end PC cards with good DACS. Also SPDIF won't help you with the cheap cards because of resampling and jitter.
 

Steve Bate

Novice Member
Originally posted by michaelab
Just to re-iterate, there are AFAIK no hard disk/computer style audio devices which have hifi quality sound comparable to even a budget CD player.

The only way to get decent sound out of such a device or a computer is if it has an SPDIF digital out which you can feed into a decent DAC.

Michael
Have a search under the username Branxx where he and Charlie Whitehouse compared Branxx's HTPC against Charlies Theta DaViD very close indeed. The Theta is hardly budget level!

Steve
 
S

SgtRock

Guest
Originally posted by TheDufster
I haven't got a network setup at home, just my PC which is in the study upstairs. I would like to avoid having to run a cable down to where I want to site the SliMP3 - is it relatively easy/cheap to set it up using a wireless network??? Where would I start with this?

Blimey, I think this little gadget might be the answer!
It's simple, you either get two access points and switch them to bridging mode or buy one accesspoint and something like a Linksys WPS11 which you plug directly into the SliMP3.

I only run wireless between my access point and the PC running the SliMP3 server software, my main PC connects into the access point via ethernet and so does the ISDN router, no broadband for me :(

If you have any type of broadband / cable you'd do best to connect it to the access point as the SliMP3 can stream internet radio :) but make sure you enable WEP on the access points !

At one time www.ihavetohave.it used to sell wireless stuff too, you can get the SliMP3 from them in the UK.

PM me if you want further help.
 

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