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Latest Crop of MP3 Players

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the still-very-cool dept.

Music 172

Anonymous Coward writes "A couple of interesting new MP3 portables were announced this week. The first one is Bantam's BA1000 that has near-identical size and weight dimensions to the iPod, but offers a number of features the older Apple doesn't like the ability to record from an internal FM radio. Choosing to offer the player in only 2GB and 5GB capacities, it looks like it is shooting to be the first sub $200 portable utilizing Toshiba's petite 1.8" drives. The other player announced was Samsung's Yepp YP-55, which claims to be the first Surround Sound MP3 flash portable. Using SRS Labs' surround sound simulator, the unit comes in 128MB and 258MB units. also offers an older, but nicely explained article on how this technology works using only two headphones to replace six speakers."

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1st post? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768480)

Never thought that would happen! :)

YOU DID IT!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768708)

You are TEH Champion!!

258 MB? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768482)

258 MB? That's new. I want one now.

Re:258 MB? (1)

texnologos (585883) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769101)

How about 512Megs ? 195TC

Re:258 MB? (1)

SirDaShadow (603846) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769245)

That would be 516MB you idiot ;-)

the register has an article on the samsung too (5, Interesting)

spiny (87740) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768485)

it's about time the flash memory players got some extra storage, i'm not prepared to splash out on a neat mp3 player that can only hold one album at a decent bit rate. according to the article, they won't be getting to the UK for a while yet though ...

Re:the register has an article on the samsung too (1)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768634)

A lot of mp3s are ripped by audiophiles at high bitrates (224 kbps or above), but you can get programs that can reduce the bitrate on the fly (DB Power Amp [] . 224 kbps is overkill if you are listening on a pair of cheap headphones.

Re:the register has an article on the samsung too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5769269)

get better headphones

What about Frontier Labs? (5, Informative)

zonix (592337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768491)

... Surround Sound MP3 flash portable

Come on, geeez!!! :-)

On a more interesting note, Frontier Labs [] recently released their new MP3 player, the NEX IA. From the site:

Supports multiple formats (MP3 and WMATM) and emerging formats such as Ogg Vorbis through firmware upgrades.

It's almost official then, go OGG! Can't wait!


Re:What about Frontier Labs? (1)

Simon Lyngshede (623138) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768546)

That's kinda cool. I don't think ogg can be ignored much longer. MP3Pro migth be better quality than ogg, but you can't beat the price tag of ogg (Actually Im not sure about the quality bit, haven't tested it). For people like myself, it doesn't make much sense to buy a portable mp3 player, not without ogg support. When I rip my cds I always use ogg. Im not saying that mp3 isn't good, I just don't want to pay for an encoder. Not even sure I can buy an mp3 encoder that will work under Linux, I might be wrong.

Of cause the big question is: "When we get ogg support in every new portable player, are we then going to bitch about not having Flac support ?"

Yeah we most likely going to aren't we :-)

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (5, Informative)

ahaning (108463) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768590)

I'd just like to point out, since I was confused about this once, as well, that OGG is just a containter format and Vorbis is the audio codec. You could just as well have an ogg file with mp3 data inside.

AVI is also a container format. Thus, you'll see lots of different codecs inside. These days, some incarnation of Divx is what people put in AVIs.

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (3, Funny)

Old Uncle Bill (574524) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768613)

Withdrawal before climax is very ineffective and those who try this are usually called "parents."

I don't think there's much worry about that on this board....

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (1)

deragon (112986) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768917)

I read on other slashdot stories that ogg vorbis is marginally better than MP3. But I cannot tell the difference.

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768991)

Click, click, whop, sssssssssssssssssssss

Hear that, that is the sound of zealots igniting thier flamethrowers.

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (2, Interesting)

tuffy (10202) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769235)

I read on other slashdot stories that ogg vorbis is marginally better than MP3. But I cannot tell the difference.

The audio quality difference between Vorbis and MP3 is marginal, though not insignificant. The biggest differences are that Vorbis is an open specification, isn't patent encumbered, the reference encoder/decoder is open sourced so anyone can use them and it doesn't require hackish ID3 tags to store song metadata.

In short, vorbis is a little better quality-wise, but has plenty of other niceties to distinguish itself from the defacto-but-imperfect MP3 format.

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (2, Informative)

sketerpot (454020) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768943)

Not even sure I can buy an mp3 encoder that will work under Linux, I might be wrong.

I don't know if you can buy an mp3 encoder that works under linux either---but I know you can download LAME [] , which will do the trick nicely. And yes, Flac support would be very nice.

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (1)

SirDaShadow (603846) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769263)

MP3Pro migth be better quality than ogg, but you can't beat the price tag of ogg (Actually Im not sure about the quality bit, haven't tested it).

Gotta give it to you, you are being honest. You don't see that very often around here...Do a blind test with both mp3pro and ogg at the same bitrate and you will realize how much Ogg beats the crap out of mp3pro...

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (1)

rabidcow (209019) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768709)

But will they offer a flash upgrade for the older ones? (like my NEX II)

I'd check their website, but it doesn't work on Mozilla. :(

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (2, Informative)

llin (54970) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769023)

It's not on their website, but via emailed, I was informed the OGG code was being worked on and would be available for the II and the ia.

Having my NEX II conveniently disassembled right now, it looks like it's using a TI TMS320VC5416 [] (C54xx series) 16-Bit 144-pin Fixed-Point DSP with Boundary Scan.

A quick Ogg search shows that someone was working on porting the Tremor code to the TI C54s last year [] . Interesting stuff.

BTW, I'm been using Mozilla v1.3+ (currently running a 1.4b build) and the site hasn't been giving me any problems.

Re:What about Frontier Labs? (2, Informative)

llin (54970) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768979)

I just pre-ordered my NEX ia a few days ago (it doesn't ship for a few more days; $130 + s/h for a NEX ia + 128MB CF [] ) - my NEX II served me well for two years and just recently died. One neat feature is that it does do 64kbps MP3 recording w/ an internal mic. I was originally looking for a decent MP3 recorder, but unfortunately, one doesn't exist (the only ones that have level meters for example are $1000+ bulky pro units).

Anyway, I posted some research on my blog [] which might be of interest:

My old NEX II [] MP3 player just recently died on me. I started taking it apart, and it looks like I might be able to do some soldering to possibly get it working, but chances are slim (approximately corresponding to my soldering skills). It looks like the new NEX ia [] is coming out though, with voice/FM recording, better firmware, and possible Ogg Vorbis support, among other things. I sent an email to see what the recording quality is (hopefully with line-in capabilities), and to see if some slightly annoying NEX II bugs have been fixed.

From correspondence w/ Frontier Labs [] :

  • improvements: multiple folder support, alphabetical song listing, more buffering, improved shuffle (but no m3u support, so you'll want to keep your CopyNex [] handy - see also: FATSort [] , PlaylistExpander [] )
  • Ogg Vorbis is actually being worked on, for the NEX II's as well as the NEX ia and will be released as a firmware upgrade
  • 64Kbps recording (can record at higher bitrates, but no selection mechanism in the firmware right now)
  • No (recording) level-meter
  • No line-in, the only external input is the built-in voice recording microphone
  • Can play back MP3 files at the same time as recording

Perception Digital has a PD-095-01 Portable MP3 player [] which has a can record from an internal mic, FM, or a line-in at 13Kbps voice or 48-320kbps MP3 [] (!). That's pretty frickin' awesome. It's a little bit on the chunkier side, and only accepts SmartMedia, no Compact Flash though. Still, tempting, if I could find some user reviews...

The e.Digital Odyssey 300 [] (SmartMedia) looks interesting, although it also looks like it's no longer available [] . [the Mpio DMB+ [] looks like the same thing]

Also, PoGo! Products has their RipFlash line of Recordable Digital Audio Players [] (the TRIO [] is one w/ mic and line in, but is not memory expandable). Uses SD/MMC... (CNet RipFlash DX review [] )

See Also:'s Portable Recorders with Uploading Facilities [] list.

Places to buy: e.Digital Odyseey 300 [] , PoGo! RipFlash Trio [] , Perception Digital Hercules [] (PD-095-01), NEX + accessories []

in other news, (0)

shawnywany (664241) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768494)

the RIAA is up in arms over the invention of a 2 terabyte mp3 player. Hail technology!

Re:in other news, (2, Interesting)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768532)

And, as a result, I'm curious as to wether or not we'll ever see said mp3 player [and if so, in what way will it be crippled?]

Btw -- How on earth can someone have 2 terabyte[s] of non-pirated music files? "Fair Use"? [at that point, why not get a cd player?] Concerts? Where, exactly, do these come from?

Re:in other news, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5769099)

I recently finished a cataloguing a classical CD collection for a friend. He has over 2500 CDs. Uncompressed, that is about 2TB. Of course, even with lossless compression (I doubt he'd want it any other way), its going to be a lot less, but once you start considering higher samplerate/multichannel audio (such as DVD-Audio), the figure can get very high very quickly.

2 Gig 2 Small (5, Informative)

malia8888 (646496) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768496)

It is amazing how fast I filled up my own iPod with 5 Gigs of sound. Go for the player with the largest capacity one can afford. In this case size really matters.

Re:2 Gig 2 Small (1)

zonix (592337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768522)

In this case size really matters.

[geek babble filter off]
And i makes up for what people might be lacking in size in other departments. A reasonable substitute, I'd say. :-)
[geek babble filter on]


Re:2 Gig 2 Small (2, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768538)

hmmm, yes, indeed, i can just imagine geeks hanging out bragging to teenage girls how they can simultaneously carry all of Christina's and Britney's albums with them at the same time...should make for an almost-guarantueed pick-up line ;-)

Re:2 Gig 2 Small (1)

zonix (592337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768604)

Heh, and I can image the geek saying to the girl: "Hey baby, wanna se my unit?".

Ripped off from Butthead - shameless, I know. :-)


Re:2 Gig 2 Small (2, Insightful)

n3k5 (606163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768662)

It is amazing how fast I filled up my own iPod with 5 Gigs of sound.
That's nothing remarkable, it's got FireWire, it's meant to be filled up fast, see? The iPod it meant to be a peripheral for your Mac/PC, one on which you put music for your next week in the office or your vacation. When you're back, you can fill it with something else. It's not meant to store your entire music collection; it would be silly to do that, because you could loose your entire collection after dropping it on the floor just once, or if it accidentially comes near a strong magnet or it's stolen or ... you get the idea.

On the other hand, 2 GB really isn't that big. At a reasonably high quality bit rate, it stores music for, what, 50 hours? More than enough for a weekend trip, but for a vacation of two weeks, hmm... rather give me 5 GB.

Primary storage (3)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768844)

I agree that such a portable shouldn't be the primary storage device for a music collection. However, having my entire collection on hand at any time kicks ass. At the moment, my entire collection fits in 14 GB. For awhile to come, there will be portable players that can hold it. Of course, being able to afford such a handy player is another thing altogether. I would have a use for a 5 GB player even though it can't hold everything. The flash players seems like a waste of time and money to me. There is a convienience factor as well. Little players have to be filled up all the time. I'd rather only hook the player up to my desktop when I've made significant additions to my music collection. I'm thinking more in terms of syncing the player to the main archive rather picking out new tunes for it all the time.

If they aren't meant to hold the entire collection then they should be. Not for primary storage or even a backup, you're right about that. It is a matter of convienience. If I have to change out whats on it all the time, the player becomes a PITA. Bring on the big hard drives!

Re:2 Gig 2 Small (1)

KJE (640748) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768930)

Go for the player with the largest capacity one can afford.

I totally agree with you here. I was out shopping for an iPod in February and all that I could find in all of Montreal was a 5gig PC version or 20gig Mac version. (i know, i know, i could have just reformated it) The 20giger was a bit pricey, but it has turned out to be such a huge help. Not only can I fit absolutely all my music on there, but when my PowerBook needed a little reformat after a bad OS update, having the iPod made backups a breeze.

blah (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768509)

Yet another HDD unit. I went through three Creative Jukebox Zens before I gave up on them. The idea is awesome, but I'd want to hear some 'torture-test' stories (like, you know, using it while walking...) from some I-Pod owners before I shell out another $300 USD for something that's about as durable as a lightbulb.

Re:blah (5, Informative)

PhoenixK7 (244984) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768544)

While walking, I've never had it skip once. In fact I use it to listen to music while walking between classes, work, home, etc.. Running it does OK, though you may need to pause every 20 mins or so (length of skip protection) for it to buffer up more tracks. I haven't had it skip on me while jogging though.

So far battery life has been good (especially with the latest firmware), transfers are speedy, the interface is simple and elegant. I really haven't had any trouble with it :)

This is with a 10 GB iPod I purchased in January.

Re:blah (2, Informative)

js62 (609777) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768586)

My ipod is a year and a half old. I use it mostly on long runs and bike rides. Never had a problem with it other than it doesn't have a long battery life below 40 deg F.

The iPod is durable (2, Informative)

jadriaen (560723) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768600)

I'd want to hear some 'torture-test' stories (like, you know, using it while walking...) from some I-Pod owners
Well, my first generation 5 GB iPod still works fine, after one year and a half. No complaints whatsoever. I use my iPod while cycling, walking, sitting on the bus. I've put them in a Xtrememac case [] (the 5 Gig model does not come with a case, the others do). The most extreme situations my iPod has been through (besides of residing in my pants-pocket while cycling), is falling of the table sometimes. It needs the case, I suppose, but it came out just fine. So if you ask about the durability, I think you're quite safe with an iPod.

From a happy iPodder.

admit it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768872)

You bought from the Xtrememac site because of all the hot [] chicks [] (ignore the guy) they have on their pages :)

Re:blah (1)

kmo (203708) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768723)

The idea is awesome, but I'd want to hear some 'torture-test' stories (like, you know, using it while walking...) from some I-Pod owners before I shell out another $300 USD for something that's about as durable as a lightbulb.

I use one of the older 10 gig iPods while walking all the time -- usually while using a case that will attach to my belt, but sometimes in a pocket. The newer ones have a wired remote with buttons for play/pause, preve/next, volume up/down.

Re:blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768742)

theipod works. And it takes a beating.

Next Gen (3, Interesting)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768514)

It seems to me that the amount of storage has now developed into overkill for music files. I would love to see companies incorporate colour screens that could provide the ability for video to be displayed since the storage is already there.

Of course with colour screen cell phones taking off the prices should drop to the point that this will be a natural progression in the next generation of players. I'm backing that may be a showpiece at the next macworld.

Cheap Web Site Hosting []

Re:Next Gen (2, Informative)

spike hay (534165) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768575)

I would love to see companies incorporate colour screens that could provide the ability for video to be displayed since the storage is already there.

Try this. [] It holds 20 gigs, and has a small color screen for displaying divx. Only $359. Not a bad deal, considering the price of the iPod.

Re:Next Gen (2, Informative)

NightWhistler (542034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769010)

A friend of mine had one of those for testing, and we messed around with it a bit...

The DivX playback is pretty decent (at least on tv, the tiny screen sucks), but the abillity to record is really dissapointing. An old beat-up VCR delivers better quality.

Also, i found it pretty heavy to carry around in your pocket for MP3 playback.

Just my 2 (euro)cents. ;-)

Re:Next Gen (1)

mobets (101759) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768643)

And what kind of video are you planning on playing on that tiny little screen? I admint it would be kind of a novalyt, and maybe neat for a little while, but that would eventualy wear off. Then you are left with something totaly useless that you paid an extra hundred dollars for.

Re:Next Gen (0)

rgonsalves (656276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768735)

It seems to me that the amount of storage has now developed into overkill for music files.

Um, I don't think so...

When you have 90+ gigs of music like I do then 20 on a portable player seems like a good fit. But that's why there are different HDD sizes, to fit everyone's needs. -RPG

Re:Next Gen (1)

wadam (563519) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768744)

I thought that hard drive mp3 players with lots of storage was overkill too until I bought my Archos Jukebox Multimedia. It took me all of a week to fill the thing up. It just goes to show that you never know how much music you have until you start systematically ripping your CDs.


Re:Next Gen (3, Funny)

Blondie-Wan (559212) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768811)

Yes, of course - we might as well irk both the RIAA and the MPAA at the same time, for efficiency's sake... ;)

The most important question... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768517)

Yes, but does it run Linux?

Neuros Player Soon... (5, Informative)

SWroclawski (95770) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768518)

All I know is tha the Neuros [] upgrade will be out soon that will let me use it in GNU/Linux *and* be the first portable hardware player that can do Ogg Vorbis, and in the future, Ogg Speex and FLAC.

I've waited years for these features, and soon my wait will be over.

If there were another player with the same features out now, I'd buy that.

Oh, and the Neuros will also let you record from FM and has a low-range FM broadcast so you can use it in your car.

- Serge Wroclawski

Re:Neuros Player Soon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768898)

Are any of those FM broadcasters any good? I know of the iRock [] and it's pretty lousy. C Crane, who makes good components, has one [] that is rather large and expensive. I haven't tried it so I can't comment on its performance.

Wouldn't it be better if you just connected it directly [] to the car stereo?

Re:Neuros Player Soon... (2, Informative)

SWroclawski (95770) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768951)

I've tried one in my apartment. I had a lot of interference from nearby equipment and couldn't use it. It's really designed for a car, and it's probably okay for that. Put the player on the dashboard, it only would have to transmit a small distance to the reciever.

Exciting! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768526)

Latest Crop of MP3 Players
Im gonna plant my Rio right now and see what I get!

Re:Exciting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768716)


Lies! Death to the infidels! (5, Funny)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768530)

There is no such thing as MP3s. I triple guarantee you, nobody is violating any copyrights on KaZaA, never! The RIAA are a gang of international criminals and mercenaries! They will be welcomed with DDoS attacks and shoes! The all of the lying RIAA infidels will be slaughtered, most of them!

Re: Lies! Death to the infidels! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768631)

The moderators are using tactics I can only describe as ... crackfiendish and st00pid. All day long we post here and they mod us down there. But in the end they will comit suicide on the walls of slashdot. I tell you teh simple truth, which anyone can plainly see!

Price Matters (1)

saden1 (581102) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768535)

I'm in the market for MP3 and even though i can afford an iPod is simply refuse to based on principle. They are really overpriced. I have been waiting for a player that was in GIG or 2 range and if Bantam's 2 GIG drive is around the $120 price range I'll be the first to buy it.

All these new mp3 players are great and all... (2, Insightful)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768543)

but do they support unicode?

You don't need that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768548)

Re:All these new mp3 players are great and all... (1)

saden1 (581102) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768551)

The UN is working to make sure of that!

Re:All these new mp3 players are great and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768638)

And do they allow direct microphone recording, minidisk-style?

10 hours or bust. (2, Interesting)

gabebear (251933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768552)

As far as using it just to play music 5 gigs would be enough(I use mine for other stuff so 5 gigs would be weak), but do I get to keep my 10hour battery? I am an 10gig iPod owner and the battery is the MOST important feature to me!!!

Colour me confused (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768554)

Ok, I've read the explanation of "3D" (surround sound) audio, and I still can't figure out from that why stereo by itself doesn't automatically have the same effect. I mean, if it's a case of waves hitting the ears at slightly different times, surely the same will be true of the microphones recording the audio?

Can someone who knows why please post an explanation. I'm totally baffled by it all, I have to assume it's true because my surround sound speaker system sounds massively different to my old stereo systems, but I just don't understand the technology.

Re:Colour me confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768583)

afaik it's aural location, mostly. it's not just sound waves hitting your ears at different time intervals, but their vector in relation to you as well.

A properly executed surround sound system will have speakers located in front, behind, and flanking. This is obviously of limited use for music. However, in movies where you're supposed to hear someone sneaking up behind the protagonist, aural location can be very useful.

Re:Colour me confused (1)

26199 (577806) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768616)

Two microphones will work -- if they happen to place the two microphones inside ear-shaped sound absorbers the right distance apart.

Since they don't, they're losing information -- a stereo recording won't tell you which direction things come from. (Not in a way the human brain can figure out, if at all).

So by starting with a surround sound recording and using that information to build the stereo version, you're doing what could've been done in the first place, but wasn't... adding directional information in a human-decodable format.

Probably :-)

Re:Colour me confused (1)

n3k5 (606163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768688)

Two microphones will work -- if they happen to place the two microphones inside ear-shaped sound absorbers the right distance apart.
This actually produces results that are interesting, but still far from the real thing, because you're still losing lots of important information [] .

Re:Colour me confused (2, Informative)

Ignominious Cow Herd (540061) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768632)

Your head is constantly moving. Even a tiny little bit. Your ears and brain are very sensitive to this and can easily tell whether sounds are in front of you or behind you. This is why surround sound is better than stereo and why normally headphones are not as good (the sounds always move with your head).

How they simulate this with 2 speakers would probably entail simulating these movements with the sound itself, but I'm not sure.

The reason you cannot usually tell the direction that Bass comes from (and why the location of your subwoofer is not important) is that the sound wave is bigger than your head and hits both ears more or less at the same time. You need your head as a baffle to separate sounds a bit so you can at least tell left from right. Sounds from one side have to reflect off of something else and hit the opposite ear a little later. Add the small head movements and you get front/back differentaition.

Re:Colour me confused (1)

James Lewis (641198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768966)

No way bass waves are bigger than your head ROFL! How the hell would they fit in your ear if they were? Besides, it is also well known that it is hard to tell which direction a high pitched sound is comming from. Please, PLEASE do not answer someone's question when you don't know the answer. I found this bit of information about how the inner ear works with respect to sound frequency:
The basilar membrane is flexible enough to move with the pressure of the sound source. It is very narrow at the beginning of the cochlea and becomes three to four times wider at the apex or helicotrema . A wave form with a high frequency will only affect the initial part of the basilar membrane, which is stiffer than the final segment that responds to low frequencies.

The displacement of the basilar membrane induced by a sound source creates an envelope within the membrane which associates the frequency of the sound with the shape of the membrane.

At a mechanical level, measurements of the basilar membrane can be made similar to a wave frequency spectrum.

Place theory holds that high frequency sounds cause movement of the basilar membrane near the base or beginning of the cochlea, while sound sources lower in frequency create displacements of the basilar membrane closer to its apex.
So... I'm just GUESSING here (something you should of said) but MAYBE those sections that detect the high and low frequencies are not as responsive and so aren't as good for directional sound. I would be interesting in having someone who REALLY KNOWS answer this question though, because it is interesting.

Re:Colour me confused (0)

trolleri (621160) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769251)

Well we know that sound travels at about 340m/s.
If we take a bas wave at 20Hz, e.g 20 oscillations per second, we see that each wave is 340/20 = 17 meters.

regarding the interpretion of high/low directional data; I think it's easier to hear were from high pitched sounds come from, more then low ones, due to the fact that high pitched sounds easily gets absorbed by the surrounding. I'm not sure about that one. It probably has alot to do with the shape of our ears and that our brains do different things with the sound - depending of its pitch. Someone fill up here!

How is question "insightful"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5769175)

(offtopic so AC) - much as I'm grateful for the karma (well, actually I suspect I'm still at 50 and I assume the cap is still in place), why has this been modded as "insightful"? It's just a question, I seriously don't understand the mechanisms going on here.

Underrated or interesting probably works (assuming you agree with those), insightful really doesn't seem relevent...

Surround (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768559)

LMFAO how are you going to get surround sound with headphones? I thought headphones are the best way to get the sound since after all we only have 2 ears on the side of our head and get the sound pumped right in while cancelling most outside noise out. This is also precisely the reason I won't move on to SACD or DVD-A because when I'm jogging outside, I could care less if my audio is 16/44 or 24/92, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, LOL!

Re:Surround (1)

brain159 (113897) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768609)

umm, by your logic, how can we have surround sound at all given that we only have TWO EARS?

(warning: above question is rhetorical - any attempt to answer it will be treated as an act of Iraqi Information Minister)

That is a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768910)

The ears are at least 100 miles away. Our troops will destroy them.

Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf
Information Minister of Iraq []

Re:Surround (1)

panurge (573432) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768650)

I share your confusion/disbelief.

When using external loudspeakers, it's obvious why you can't get true stereo with only 2 (crosstalk plus the speakers are point sources instad of the whole field) but this is not true of headphones.

But then I don't understand surround sound either. If anything, the problem should get worse because now you have crosstalk from a number of speakers. I haven't read an explanation of the different surround sounds that I understand, and I did sensory psychology as part of my first degree so I'm presumably not a complete idiot (?)

The issue of motion of the sound source as you turn your head is different. I can see how multiple speakers could give the illusion of that, whereas with headphones as you turn your head the orchestra moves with you. But I don't see any evidence of one of those neat little vibrating arm rate gyros on headphones which would in theory make it possible to rotate the sound field.

Of course, there's also the question of how important it really is to achieve this absolute spatial fidelity. The sets of "Audiophiles" and "musicians" may not be completely disjoint, but I've never yet met anyone in the insersection. And we're talking MP3 players, which are lossy.

Re:Surround (4, Interesting)

oscillateur (410978) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769080)

There are in fact ways to have a sort of 3D perception of sound using only 2 speakers.

The room acoustics research team [] at the IRCAM [] works on this. Their spatialisateur [] application allows you to use many different speakers configurations to enhance the spatial perception of a given piece, and using 2 speakers is an option. This is based on lots of psycho-acoustic research etc., and it works.

It's more intended for concerts and things like that rather than mp3 players, but the technolgy exists.

Sound & sound perception are far more complicated and full of surprises than one may think first...

And btw, 16/24 and 24/92 refer to the bitrate and samplerate (in khz) of recorded audio, a completely different subject.

Roll your own... (5, Interesting)

c_oflynn (649487) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768573)

Its also possible to make your own if you want support for any format.

If you just want MP3, well thats easy. There are lots of sites on the web, here is one [] .

For Ogg there is an entire decoder-on-a-chip thingy, see this project [] . Or you could probably just use a software version if you got some sort of RISC chip or whatnot (need to be fairly fast)

Not enough space on your device? (1)

Bilange (237074) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768582)

You could of course sacrifice some sound quality but I would get a vorbis decoding player. Vorbis sounds nice at 64kbps and at this bitrate it sounds like a LAME mp3 encoded at 128kbps. Just try it if you are septic:

Re:Not enough space on your device? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768782)

If you find that you are septic, consult a physician immediately.

Re:Not enough space on your device? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768867)

Very Funny

(-1 Redundant)

RTFA (4, Insightful)

sh4de (93527) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768584) also offers an older, but nicely explained
article [] on how this technology works using only two headphones to replace six speakers.

Um, no. The article doesn't explain how to "replace six speakers" with two. It describes a WinAmp plugin for "virtual speaker placement", whatever that is.

Personally, I've found that all these "virtual" thingies are market-droid speak, snake oil at their very best. If your recording has two channels (assuming no multichannel encoding), a correctly configured stereo pair is the best option.

Real multichannel records may give you true 3D sound, if you have the decoder, amp, and speakers to do it. However, the linked article describes an "improvement" to a system that's ill-suited for high fidelity playback in the first place.

Why anybody would want to distort the sound even further from what it is after MP3/Ogg encoding, since you can get better results with a decent amp (budget models from NAD [] are very nice), and a pair of high quality speakers.


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768639)

Did you use the cut-up machine, or is the potemkin flame generator back online?

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768677)

Well... actually 3D audio with 2 speakers by a simple push of a button is a question of base distance setting - a very old trick, which does give an "enhanced" experience but has of course very little to do with 3D - it's only a mere result of a short caluclation. It's in the same box of tricks as for example the dynamic compander (like Dolby's) - or "Dynamic Bass Boost" in other words etc.. btw: iriver should be on the list of "cool" Ogg supporting audio gadgets.

Googie Go? (2, Interesting)

nickos (91443) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768588)

Check this out. [] The small Danish company that's designed it needs your input on which product to make next, so if you like the look of it, make sure you vote for it on the site.

FM Radio in Headphones makes iPod best still ... (3, Informative)

adzoox (615327) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768589)

I really think if you want an FM radio you should buy some that are integrated into the headphones. You can practically pay for a set if you sell the iPod headphones on eBay [] . Sony makes these [] and Radio Shack makes and sells several as well. (Headphones with built in tuner, some for AM FM TV Weather that also have line out)

The iPod has yet to be beaten in my opinion, when comparing features the iPod's firewire interface (slower in theory, but not real world tests than USB 2.0), Amazingly simple integration and hard drive DATA capability are excluded. Plus they have great quality and have an INSANE number of support products and now battery [] & hard drive replacement services on the cheap.

I would hold off on any MP# purchase to see if the newest iPods will be compatible with a new Apple Music service possibly later this month.

I fully expect the new iPods to surpass anything on the market with a twist (as the the current ones do) for another year upon introduction.

Re:FM Radio in Headphones makes iPod best still .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768702)

Yeah, except your idea doesn't support recording FM radio.

Not really .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768803)

That would be a lot more difficult to do in even the most simple of interfaces. (Missing large portions of the song before activation, potential quality issues)

Panasonic also makes some compact FM. line in, recording headphones as well. To me, better to have one item that does something well and enhance it. Most Mp3 players that are all in one gizmos are just plain confusing.

Part of the iPod's attraction is simplicity, with it's processor and firmware + interface it could be a 1000 different things (even a gameboy/MAME player) - but it's beauty lies in ease of use and quality.

Headphones, bah, you're missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768729)

If the FM is in your headphones, you can't exactly rip MP3s off the air, can you?

Personally, though, I'm more interested in recording from the line-in. Now and then I take an expensive, week-long class with a lot of lecture time. I record onto minicassettes but those are a hassle, and I tend to lose them...I'd much rather record MP3s on a big hard drive, copy to my computer soon as I get back and everything's nicely cataloged and digital, ready for enhancement to make up for crappy recording conditions.

Price comparison vs iPod? (2, Informative)

CorporatePunk (624429) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768599)

the only price i could find for the new line of bantam players was the 5gb model for $329 (granted, the product is not for sale yet, so this is probably not set in stone), while a 5gb iPod will only cost you $300. If they introduced this new line of players to compete with the iPod, which was pretty obviously their intent, wouldnt they think that it is a good idea to price their products competitively? They add some new features, and promise some more in future models, but what makes this device a better buy than a similarly sized iPod, which has been proven to be a great product?

So how does 3D audio work? (4, Insightful)

n3k5 (606163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768636)

quote from the last link in the article:
Using a technique similar to that employed in 3D movies - the speakers target each ear individually the way colored 3D glasses target each eye - 3D audio promises to deliver 360 directional sound. It does this by mimicking how the ears distingish sound to create that fore to aft perception.
This is a superb comparison, I've been looking for years for such an analogy. Technology that simulates surround sound in a stereo setup, like this, works about as good as coloured glasses work for viewing stereoscopic colour footage: you get an idea of the desired effect, but it's way off the real thing.

Humans (and other animals as well) use several different clues to localise spatial sound, let's have a look at them: Firstly, there's the time difference: signals that are off center arrive earlier at one ear and later at the other. We can't consciously perceive such minimal time intervals, but out brain is hardwired to perceive the difference between the two signals. Electronic circuits can fake this effect, as long as the listener doesn't move eir head. Secondly, the sound is filtered by the head and the auricles, again differently for each ear if the source is off center and differently for sounds that come from different directions in general. Electronic circuits (and also microphones mounted inside artificial heads) can approximate this effect, but each individual has a different head and different ears and would require a recording tailored to em specifically for this to work perfectly. There actually is equipment that tailors spatial sounds to one headphone wearing individual after having measured eir head's characteristics with little microphones places inside eir auditory canals, near the ear drums. This works rather well, but again can't compensate for movements of the head. If you want to use speakers instead of headphones, the situation is much, much worse. And thirdly, that head movement I mentioned twice above: humans actually do that on purpose and unconsciously twist and tilt their heads around a little when localising sounds, thus making use of the slight changes in the filtering that occurs because of the head and the auricles. So far, there's no technique that takes that into account.

As you can see, that expensive new hardware that Dolby is rolling out now, the Pro Logic II Virtual Speaker [] encoder, absolutely cannot produce the same effect as any ordinary 4.1, 5.1 or 6.1 setup. It may spice up a movie you watch on your TV, but you wouldn't even rely on that when you're playing Quake and want to hear enemies coming from behind. And that's expensive, high end stuff. A 'surround sound simulator' in a lowly MP3 player delivers even less. I haven't tried the one mentioned above, but I guess there's no way it could make music sound 'more immersive' or '3d-like'.

What's even worse, we're talking about music here. The best way to play music back is, without the slightest doubt, exactly the way it is intended to sound, the way it was recorded onto the CD or whatever medium. All those fancy DSP functions you find in all kinds of (mediocre) stereo equipment are nothing but useless features that exist for the sole purpose to have more features than the competition; it's pure dupery. You can alter sound by adding reverb or applying weird equalisation or whatnot, but arguing this alteration would be an improvement to each and every track is very, very stupid; don't fall for that.

the best $500 dollar walkman still is... (1)

snuffdiddy23 (620624) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768645)

the ipod

the only one with a li-polymer battery. a better buffer for HDD players and a cool design.

everyone wants to be like the iPod and i wonder where they will be in a year. with the iPod you know you are going to get updates and not be left out to dry on it. the others will not sell like the iPod and don't have the pull that apple does to improve them. MP3 encoding on unit is cool, but how useful will that be? i have not recorded a FM radio stream since 1988.

i see more models and different brands as being a bad plan if you want to update them. they are all mostly upgradeable, but how many are going to get many updates, and how many are going to be overshadowed and ignored by a new model to compete with the new iPod a year down the road.

you end up stuck a $500 walkman that an antique with a battery life that makes it hardly a portable anymore and a salty taste in your mouth. i would stick to the iPod, as they are sexy, reliable and supported by a company that is pretty good for not leaving their hardware owners out to dry prematurely.

Re:the best $500 dollar walkman still is... (2, Insightful)

nojd (592850) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768934)

supported by a company that is pretty good for not leaving their hardware owners out to dry prematurely.

Cough cough *Newton*, cough...

In other news (1)

anno1a (575426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768675)

In other news iRiver released their newest flash based mp3 player, the iFP-300... The Craft [] []. The player is flashable, and probably capable of Ogg Vorbis support (don't ask... Please... It's very strange). It comes in a sleek design too :)

Vote for Ogg Vorbis in the Philips survey! (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768740)

Philips is accepting applications for beta testers for their new mp3 jukebox. 50 units will be given free to beta testers. To qualify, all you need is to answer a survey, where you GET TO TELL THEM HOW IMPORTANT OGG SUPPORT IS TO YOU! So let's fill them up with Ogg Vorbis votes. Apply [] for the beta test now!

Re:Vote for Ogg Vorbis in the Philips survey! (1)

tuffy (10202) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769148)

Ogg Vorbis support is important to me, that's why I bought a Neuros [] . When other companies follow suit, I'll consider giving them my cash. But, in the meantime I have a player to replace my aging Rio 300 and I couldn't be happier.

What I want in an MP3 player... (1)

Neologic (48268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768785)

I want a player I can use while working out, so that elimates most of the hard disk based players.
But all the flash memory types have such small amounts of memory. 128 or 256mb?
I rip all my CD's at 256kps, which means most albums are about 120mb.
Only being able to carry 1 or 2 albums is pitiful; I want more variety and selection.
Why not a gig of memory instead? Or even half a gig?
How long will it take until something like this comes out?

Re:What I want in an MP3 player... (1)

FooBarney (253298) | more than 11 years ago | (#5768962)

iPod has a great flash memory buffer (32Mb? check the specs) ... you can shake the hell out of it and it still plays.

I've heard great things from people using it as a workout player.

Re:What I want in an MP3 player... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5769124)

I have the same problem - try iRiver. They have just launched a 512MB player. 5T C

Last I looked this was a special offer ~$329 at

Does it have Tabbed browsing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5768907)

I CANNOT use this unless it has tabs!

Beware AAA battery players... (2, Insightful)

rmdyer (267137) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769002)

As devices get smaller, manufacturers have a tendency to start using smaller batteries. The unfortunate side effect of this is...

a. The batteries last no time at all.
b. The bud earphones can't be driven with enough current to get the volume you might want.
c. Switching on anything marked "turbo" bass will eat those batteries even faster.
d. Leaving the device off for a few weeks may actually drain the battery anyway if the device uses some kind of static memory storage.

I recently purchased a cheap ordinary AM/FM stereo portable from Emerson with 10 station memory (model HR2001). The device uses 2 AAA batteries. The max volume is poor, and when it is turned off for more than 2 weeks at a time, the batteries are totally drained from storing the stations in memory.

When I read about that yepp device I cringed. Who in their "right mind" would buy such a thing. I loath any portable device that uses less than 2 AA size cells. There's just not enought juice to run the circuitry and audio amplifier.

The conspiracy is that now the battery companies are owned by the portable manufacturers, so like the Lexmark printers and printer cartridges, you are getting suckered into a recurring cost business model.

And yes, the 3D "surround sound" audio from "bud" earphones is a joke, a marketing gimmick, the wool is being pulled over your eyes. It's just like the tube amplifier mobos, if a company can market to just the right segment of the population that can be sold to, they will. You are being used! Don't fall for it. Take some engineering and physics classes! Think for yourself! Don't let someone else think for you!!!

Just my 2 cents.

exclusive agreement? (4, Interesting)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769003)

The iPod is like 18 months old. I'm a little puzzled as to why we haven't seen more devices based on the 1.8" drive (which are now down to about $99 retail for the 5 gig model, so why does an iPod still cost $299?).

In short, there isn't any competition, and I'm wondering why. Did Apple have some exclusive agreement that says no one else can use the drives? If typical price/performance curve for the PC industry had followed, I should be able to buy an iPod 'clone' for $150 (half the price of the Mac version) by now. Unless something fishy is going on...

The Bantam is worthless. (1)

Patik (584959) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769011)

It's only 2GB or 5GB, and it'll cost a little less than $300? How about a Nomad Zen, which is just a little bigger [] than the iPod, but has 20GB, firewire/USB2.0, and runs only about $220.

Another iPod competitor (1)

tliet (167733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769013)

So, this is the Nth time I read there's competition coming up for the iPod.

While it's nice to know the iPod is being used as a standard everything else is measured against, it still isn't really passed over by any other MP3 player out there. Despite the roaring headlines [] for the last 18 months.

That's pretty sad for the whole industry isn't it? Or does it say something about Apple being 2 years ahead of everybody else?

When Apple came out with the iPod I really couldn't see why they would enter an industry already carved out. Now I believe they can enter a whole lot more industries if they have their house in order.

Headphones and surround sound (1)

rabtech (223758) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769048)

You only have two ears. It is entirely possible to simulate full surround sound with nothing more than a pair of headphones and a properly mastered track.

The issue is whether or not a theater wishes to issue headphones to all its patrons. The problem becomes that two speakers cannot accurately reproduce the stereo field, and certainly not for many people listening at once. Same thing with a home theater... are you going to have all your family members don headphones? I think not.

Plus the fact that DVDs are usually mastered such that the 2-channel track is nothing more than plain stereo and is not designed to reproduce surround sound with headphones. The only way to get the surround sound feel as it was meant to be heard is to have a receiver and system capable of using the Dolby Digital or DTS track.

FM Radio Recording and MP3 Legality (2, Interesting)

pazu13 (663695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5769299)

The placement of an FM Radio recorder on an MP3 player must be giving the music industry some kind of headache. While it is one thing to call some bootlegged Avril (or artist of choice...) mp3 illegal, if you recorded it and placed it on the player then it most certainly is not. And while it's impossible to tell if an mp3 on a player was ripped from a CD or downloaded, it seems like this radio recorder makes the issue even more complicated. Imagine, for example, having one of those babies in your living room and just continuously downloading all the music you hear and burning it to CD. I would assume that's perfectly legal (seeing as how taping the radio is), and can't be stopped. Hmm... free distribution of recorded-from-radio CD-Rs, anyone?
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