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What Is an MP3 Music Player
How to Buy the Best MP3 Player

Popular MP3 Music Players
What is an MP3 player? An MP3 player is a portable electronic music player. The MP3 player stores, organizes and plays music and audio files. Music files are stored on the MP3 player in a compressed format called MP3. To listen to the music, you either plug in earphones or connect the player to a speaker.

The MP3 music player connects to your computer so that you can move music files from the computer to the MP3 music player memory. Sometimes you'll want to copy thousands of songs and playlists from your computer library to the MP3. The MP3 music player communicates with the computer through a port, either USB, parallel or FireWire. Some players plug directly into the computer while others connect via a cable. Here's more about the MP3 music player.
  1. Features of the MP3 Music Player
  2. How Does the MP3 Music Player Work
  3. More Features of the MP3 Music Player
  4. How to Buy an MP3 Music Player
  5. Memory for the MP3 Music Player
  6. What is the MP3 Music Format
  7. What is the MP4 Digital Music Player
  8. Is MP3 Music Legal
  9. How to Put Music on Your MP3 Music Player

what is an mp3 music playerFeatures of the MP3 Music Player

Assorted Ipod Shuffle MP3 Music Players
Many MP3 music players do a lot more than just play audio files. The MP3 music player is often called a digital audio player, DAP. If the MP3 music player also shows photographs or plays videos, it is called a PMP, portable media player. Hard to believe, but the MP3 music player has only been on the market since 1998. You can get extra features like these:
  • A built-in FM tuner
  • A voice recorder you can use to record a speech or class lecture
  • Storage and screen display for your photos
  • Direct recording in MP3 format from any analog or digital source
  • An equalizer to adjust the sound of the music as it plays
  • Most MP3 music players and DAPs are powered by rechargeable batteries. These batteries are generally proprietary, rather than replaceable.

what is an mp3 music playerHow Does the MP3 Music Player Work

Sandisk Clip MP3 Music Player
The MP3 music players have these common features: a memory storage device, an embedded processor, and an audio Codec microchip. The function of the Codec microchip is to convert compressed sound into analog form that is then played through the speaker jack. The brain of the MP3 music player is a microprocessor used to manage and organize files, to receive the files as input and to display the current song info. The player works by converting MP3 files into standard audio form, and then a soundcard delivers the music into a speaker for listening. Headphones connect to the audio output port for private listening. Every MP3 player interprets music differently, even though they use the same file.

what is an mp3 music playerMore Features of the MP3 Music Player

MP3 Music Player as Headgear
The MP3 music player is designed to fit in your hand or pocket. Its small size varies from 2 inches by 3 inches up to 3 inches by 6 inches, and depends for most part on the storage capacity. The players are lightweight, usually only 4 ounces or less. MP3 digital music players are included in many multiple-function devices. You’ll find MP3 players in cell phones, wristwatches, clocks, sun glasses and caps. There is even a waterproof MP3 player for swimmers that is worn on the head.

You navigate through your music collection using buttons or a touchscreen. The player includes a jack for your headphone, and LCD color display screen to view music information and photos. The audio battery lasts from 10 to 30 hours before it requires recharging or replacing. There is a separate battery for video display. Most players connect to your computer via cable to a USB port. They support both Mac and Windows operating systems.

Note that not every MP3 music player is compatible with older Macintosh computers. Some players might not support the new Windows Vista operating system yet, and some players do not support the Linux Operating System.

Firmware is the internal software that runs the MP3 music player. You’ll want to be able to update it when new functions are added or new file formats are developed. Also check whether or not you will have to install an additional software driver on your computer, or if the player has Plug and Play compatibility. You may also want to consider an MP3 player that lets you add on more memory.

what is an mp3 music playerHow to Buy an MP3 Music Player

Speedo Aquabeat Waterproof
MP3 Music Player
The prices of MP3 music players and PMP portable media players range from $45 to $500. When you buy a player, decide first on your budget. The more memory and features the player has, the more expensive it will be.

Some well known brands of MP3 music players are the Zen series from Creative, the Zune from Microsoft and the popular iPod and iPod Touch from Apple, Inc. Other popular brands of MP3 music players are the Archos, Cowon iriver, Meizu, PSP from Sony, Samsung, Sansa from SanDisk, Walkman from Sony and the Zvue.
  • It goes without saying that you’ll want an MP3 music player with readable screen display and an easy user interface.
  • Do you want a built-in USB connector to plug your player into the computer, or is a cable OK?
  • If you plan to watch lots of videos, choose the largest screen you can afford.
  • Find out if the player is compatible with your computer and operating system.
  • If you use an online music store or an online music subscription service, like iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Rhapsody or Slacker, choose a compatible MP3 music player.
  • Would you like the built-in Bluetooth feature in your MP3 music player, so that you can answer your cell phone through the built-in microphone and earphones? The Samsung P2 and Sony’s new Walkman models have this feature, plus video.
  • Do you need the capability of an MP3 music player that can sync wirelessly to your music library on your computer without the use of a cable? Zune 8GB or the Samsung Yp-U3, and other players, offer this feature.
  • Do you want a built-in web browser for using the Internet? The iPod touch is a high-end portable video and music player with a web browser.
  • Do you want an inexpensive and durable music player to use while jogging or working out? The iPod shuffle or the inexpensive Samsung Yp-U3, or the Creative ZEN Stone Plus might suit you.
  • Newer MP3 music players can use Wi-Fi to download music directly.

what is an mp3 music playerMemory for the MP3 Music Player

MP3 music players are generally categorized by their memory, where they store your library of songs. The players use internal storage, either flash memory or a hard drive. The storage capacity determines how much music the player can hold. And the newer the model, the more capacity it is likely to have, anywhere from 20 to 250 gigabytes of data.

Most contemporary MP3 music players use either flash memory or a hard disk drive, HDD, for storage. However, sometimes you may also see other memory technologies. The CD-MP3 players play conventional CDs and also play MP3 files that have been burned onto CDs. Some older players use a Compact card, a SmartFlash card or a memory stick. Some players use removable flash media called a memory card.

Flash memory is a mechanical solid state device to hold digital audio files internally. Flash memory has many advantages over hard-drive memory. It has no moving parts and requires less battery power. With flash memory, your player is smaller and more durable when dropped. The storage capacity of flash players has been improved, up to 32GB or more. If you need mega-storage for a substantial music library, you can find a hard-disk drive player with more capacity than flash players, but the gap between flash memory and HDD storage capacity is rapidly closing. As the price of flash memory declines and the capacity increases, flash players are becoming the industry standard.

what is an mp3 music playerWhat is the MP3 Music Format

The MP3 music player uses music files coded in the MP3 digital music format. Music must be converted to the MP3 format for the player to use it. In the MP3 music format, digital music is compressed into a small file one-fifth the size of the original or even smaller. Analog music files into MP3 music files are compressed by removing sounds that are inaudible to the human ear. MP3 music format is said to be a “lossy” compression format, because information is lost during compression and cannot be recovered.

MP3 is an extremely popular open source format for audio files. Open source means that the format is free and no one has to pay royalties to use the format. The media player on your computer converts music to MP3 format automatically when you “rip” tracks from an audio CD. Some MP3 music players also support WMA and WAV formats. PMP multimedia players also support MPEG-4 and WMV video formats.

what is an mp3 music playerWhat is the MP4 Digital Music Player

Some off-brand manufacturers describe their PMP players as MP4 players because they can play videos. This is misleading, because there is no MP4 music or audio format. An MP4 player plays standard MP3 music files. MP4 refers to the open standard, license-free software used inside the player. MP4 software supports the usual multimedia like video, photos and music, plus animated graphics. However, video screen resolution may be an unsatisfactory 100x100 pixels or less, and the sound quality of the MP4 player does not measure up.

what is an mp3 music playerIs MP3 Music Legal

Yes, it is legal to create and use MP3 music files for yourself. However, if your MP3 file is made from a copyright-protected audio CD, it is illegal to exchange that file with friends. It is also illegal to share or distribute this file via the Internet. The copyright protects the right of the artist to license and control the use of the material.

There are many online stores like the iTunes Store and Amazon which sell songs and albums for purchase and offer legal music downloads. Other online music services like RealNetworks Rhapsody and Slacker offer legal downloads through a subscription plan.

MP3 files do not have electronic copy protection and can be copied by a computer for your use. Other music formats, AAC and WMA, also known as Advanced Audio Coding and Windows Media Audio, are used for music files, often because they protect Digital Rights. These formats have embedded technology that controls and limits how you use the music. The access control technologiy is used by hardware manufacturers, publishers and copyright holders to protect their digital rights. Digital rights are enforced by an organization of U.S. record companies called the Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA.

AAC, Advanced Audio coding, is the format of Apple's iPhone, iPod and iTunes. All iTunes Store audio files are coded in AAC with digital rights protection. AAC is also used for Sony products, including PlayStation and Sony Walkman.

what is an mp3 music playerHow to Put Music on Your MP3 Music Player

MP3 Music Player in a Frog
The process of putting music on your MP3 music player, filling your player with music tracks from your computer, is called Sync or Synchronizing. To put music on your MP3 music player, use your Media Player software on your computer to install your player. From the menu select Sync, choose the name of your player, and click Set Up Sync on Device. The name of your digital music player and its content show up on your computer screen, just like your Music Library.

Under the Advanced Options menu, you can click Create File Hierarchy. File Hierarchy keeps your tracks in folders grouped by album, so they are easier to find on the player.

To load your MP3 music player, you create a Sync List the same way you created a Playlist and a Burn List. First choose songs and playlists from your library. Then right-click and click Add to Sync List. The Sync List is shown on the screen. When you click the Start Sync button, the music from the Sync List is loaded to your player.

The Sync process adds tracks to your player, but it does not erase or overwrite files already on the player. To delete songs from your player, click on your player name, highlight the unwanted song track and click the Delete key. The track is removed from your player, but, of course, it still remains in your computer Library. And you can highlight various tracks at the same time by holding the Control key while you click the mouse on the track name, and then press the Delete key.

If you turn on automatic synchronization, every track in your library will be loaded to your player one at a time. Automatic Sync loads your player until it is full. You can edit the automatic Sync List before Automatic Sync starts.

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