MP3 Players – Past, Present and Future
What is the MP3 format?
MP3 is a format which reduces the size of music files to roughly 1 tenth of a normal CD file; its does this primarily by cutting out frequencies the human ear cannot hear. The sound quality suffers when such a compression in file size is made, but many listeners think this is a worthwhile cost to pay to have greater accessibility to their music collection. The MP3 format was made popular on the internet since the small size of its files made downloading tunes easier.
The first MP3 player, the MPMan F10, was created by South Korean company SaeHan Information Systems in 1997 and could hold 32 Meg (about ¾ of a CD). This has vastly improved over the years as MP3’s popularity increased. Mp3 players are now firmly in the mainstream with landmark products such as the iPod, and Mp3 players on the market today are capable of holding 160 gigabytes, holding literally hundreds of albums and videos.
As a result of so much music on your Mp3 player, finding a tune can be problematic, so programmes and techniques have sprung up to help you listen to the music you love. Many people use iTunes or a media library tool such as mediamonkey to organise their tracks into play-lists. Also you can “tag” you music so if you are looking for certain genres, such as rock, jazz or classical, you can quickly and easily browse through the appropriate tunes. Tags are limited only by your imagination; some people label their music by concepts such as emotion, colour or location.
A problem with so many Mp3s may be they play at varying volumes due to coming from lots of different sources, causing you to change the volume continuously whilst listening to your tunes; for this online tools such as MP3Gain.net will help normalise (make same volume) your music collection.
Putting MP3’s on your player
If you’re looking for new MP3’s there are lots of sites around that will help you find your next favourite tune; the classic MP3.com has reviews and options for you to buy; the new site Seeqpod.com is a great tool to search, download and listen to MP3s on the web. Last.fm is also a great place to search for new music you like by typing in your favourite artists and browsing through tunes it thinks are similar.
You can also convert your old records and CDs to MP3’s so you can listen to them on the move, there are various tools available for this including the entirely online resource at Media-Convert.
MP3 Player Accessories
It’s worth upgrading your headphones when you buy an MP3 Player; the ones packaged with most players are of poor quality. It’s also worth buying or considering batteries when selecting your Mp3 player; some manage a pitiful 8 hours but with large capacity, whilst others could last 20 hours plus; perfect for travellers.
Companies have started thinking of ideas of using MP3 players other than a traditional player; MP3 players are now appearing in washing machines and guitar shaped toys to help shape your air guitar fantasies, also more integration with mobile phones and personal organisers such as the hotly tipped iPhone.
Have Mp3s Changed How we Listen to Music?
We now as a consumer of music have more access to different music than we have ever had before; almost anyone can make music and upload it for the world to listen to. As such we have exposure to a lot more new music these days if desired; before the internet and Mp3s the only way this would have been through the radio. Listening habits have changed; less people now listen to albums in sequence; “random” play-lists exist scanning through the entire music library and “tags” exist for your tunes which help play all those tracks in your collection that are in a particular style.
As such the focus of selling tunes has moved more to buying individual tracks rather than buying albums. Even the process of buying albums has changed; across the country CD shops are closing down as more and more people buy their music online. iTunes passed its 3 billionth download in the summer of 2007 and the rate of downloads is increasing.
More people these days listen to music of less quality; the music industry peaked at the advent of CDs in reaching the limit of human perception; CDs essentially cannot be improved upon. Paradoxically, the growth area of music formats now are those which are actually inferior to the formats of the past; although only Hi-Fi freaks with expensive gear may be the only ones able to tell the difference between a high bit-rate MP3 and a CD track.
At the moment mp3 players are moving to flash drives rather than hard drives to store their information, this promises smaller, faster and quieter operation for future Mp3 players. Looking further ahead, Mp3 players may eventually merge and become more integrated with all media so that one device will play your music, your video, be a digital camera and enable internet surfing on the move. The music quality should increase until it re approaches that of CDs. Voice recognition software should make it easier to interface with your music, with Bluetooth facilities meaning you’ll be able to interface with your PC and other users quickly; there is talk of a peer-to-peer network appearing using just the players themselves connected wirelessly. Batteries may become a thing of the past as power consumption decreases and solar power is all that’s needed to keep you with music all the time.