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Old 04-14-2007, 09:09 AM   #1
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MP3 player question

I'm in the market for a MP3 player that attaches to the computer via the USB port. My highest priority for the MP3 player is that it does NOT use proprietary software to organize/move mp3 files (i.e., an example of one I don't want is the iPod which forces you to use iTunes to move/organize files). I would like one that mounts like a hard drive so I can use Windows Explorer to move/organize mp3 files around. An additional feature I would like is that it has large storage capacity of 30-60 GB. I don't care about whether or not it takes pictures or plays movies -- I have plenty of digital devices that do that already.

Does anyone know if such a unit exists? Any pointers, reviews or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-14-2007, 09:33 AM   #2
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iTunes the application is free, and I've been reading that at least 2 labels are talking about offering songs without DRM (digital rights management).

There are other players out there though....Real Networks has something, but I'm not sure if it's proprietary or not.

FWIW, I still have and use the 1st gen iPod. Thing is a tank by today's standards, but she still works, going on 5 years now.
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Old 04-14-2007, 11:23 AM   #3
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I have a Philips and a Sansa. I don't have them with me now, and I'm at the Cherry Blossom Rally, or I'd give you the model numbers. Both connect to the computer by USB, and the mp3 files can be manipulated by Windows Explorer. Just plug and play. If you have Windows XP, proprietary software or drivers usually aren't necessary. The Sansa has a proprietary plug that connects to the player, but the Philips, and most others, have a standard 5 pin connector available at any electronics or big box store. The Sansa is also a radio, and stores picture files that can be viewed on its very small screen. It costs about $40 at Big Lots. The only shortcoming, is that they only have 1 gig of storage.
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Old 04-14-2007, 12:54 PM   #4
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I think you can reformat an IPod with a Windows structure software and run other music organizers other than ITunes to transfer and manage your music. Mediafour had XPlay 2 a while ago. I am sure there are others available. Do a google search for IPod without using ITunes. The Ipod can be enabled to mount as an external drive even with using the ITunes installation.

The IPod can be used with the ITalkPro very inexpensively to record as well, handy little one button on/off accessory.
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Old 04-14-2007, 01:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yukionna
I'm in the market for a MP3 player that attaches to the computer via the USB port. My highest priority for the MP3 player is that it does NOT use proprietary software to organize/move mp3 files (i.e., an example of one I don't want is the iPod which forces you to use iTunes to move/organize files). I would like one that mounts like a hard drive so I can use Windows Explorer to move/organize mp3 files around. An additional feature I would like is that it has large storage capacity of 30-60 GB. I don't care about whether or not it takes pictures or plays movies -- I have plenty of digital devices that do that already.
I'm curious. Why do you so much dislike applications that organize/move files but maintain a liking for proprietary IE software to perform the tasks in less efficient and more rudimentary ways? Whether it be iTunes, the dominant application on DOS or Mac, or some other digital music application, I should think you'd appreciate the features dedicated music applications offer. If your interest is in portable music, why are you limiting your digital format to a 10-year old MP3 format? There are many others that offer superior fidelity and can coexist with MP3.
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Old 04-14-2007, 01:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung
I'm curious. Why do you so much dislike applications that organize/move files but maintain a liking for proprietary IE software to perform the tasks in less efficient and more rudimentary ways?
What is "IE software"? I'm not familar with that term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung
Whether it be iTunes, the dominant application on DOS or Mac, or some other digital music application, I should think you'd appreciate the features dedicated music applications offer.
I can't appreciate what I don't know about. Please elaborate on what these "features" are?

Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung
If your interest is in portable music, why are you limiting your digital format to a 10-year old MP3 format? There are many others that offer superior fidelity and can coexist with MP3.
I didn't realize I was "limiting" myself, as you put it. I thought mp3 was the standard. Please elaborate.

Instead of insinuating things and jumping to conclusions about me, my knowledge and my choices, why not be more constructive and educate me and others who may not know about these topics.
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Old 04-14-2007, 02:14 PM   #7
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Sorry, Yukionna, that I misunderstood your level of understanding of digital audio. It just seemed from your list of wants and desires, that you knew a bit more about the subject matter.

IE is the short-hand name for Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, what I presume you are calling Windows Explorer. Browers are designed for accessing the Internet using various established protocols, but are crude tools, at best, for performing specific tasks that that require much user interaction. There are various digital music-specific applications around of which iTunes is the market leader.

In iTunes, for example, you can organize your collection into playlists. These playlists can even be "smart" when you apply selection criteria to them. Playback can be accomplished by artist, album, or genre if you like. iTunes isn't just for music either. Podcasts, audio books and other digital content can be collected and organized within the application.

MP3 has become a generic name for digital music, but there are at least a half-dozen that are popular and often superior is sound quality. AAC (the audio standard of MPEG-4), AIIF, WAV, OGG are just a couple that come to mind.

Perhaps you might want to learn more on-line. The Apple site at Apple is certainly a good place to start, but Google should turn up many others if you think that Apple is too biased for your taste.

Also, unless you have or expect to have an exceptionally large music collection in your digital player, you might be happier with a smaller and less expensive player than one with 30 to 60 gigabytes.

I don't know where in Massachusetts you live, but there might be an Apple store nearby. It might be worth a visit to learn what all the buzz is about.
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Old 04-14-2007, 03:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung
IE is the short-hand name for Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, what I presume you are calling Windows Explorer.
Thanks for all the information. I can see I have alot to learn. With regards to "IE", I didn't mean the browser, I really did mean to say Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer is the PC's means of browsing files on a hard drive.

I'm in the process of ripping my extensive CD collection into MP3 format and then meticulously organizing the music on my computers hard drive. I have it set up with the high level folder being the name of the artist/band and then I have sub folders for each CD/Album that I'm converting. Inside each CD/Album sub folder, I've carefully filled in all the MP3 file information for each song (where it is missing) which includes the artists name, album name, genre, track #, etc. After reading your post, I'm now wondering out loud if I should be ripping my CD's to a different format than MP3. Any thoughts on that?

My thought on using Windows Explorer was if I could mount the mp3 player like a hard drive, then I could open a Windows Explorer window to drag and drop my albums/songs to the mp3 player in the same organized manner as I have setup on my hard drive. Perhaps I'm over engineering this whole process.

I do like the whole "playlist" idea once my music is on the mp3 player but I just didn't want to deal with the "overhead" of that software to manage the process of moving the music from my hard drive to the mp3 player.
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Old 04-14-2007, 03:06 PM   #9
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If you are doing that my thoughts would be to get the pay for version of Music Match and have the online super tagging of all the info. Save you a lot of time. It will search your computer hard drives for music and organize them acordingly as you are doing manually and no typing required. When you rip your cd collection after you choose your preferences i.e. online tagging, file format, etc., it will be automatic in track and album name and art. I still prefer .mp3 because it's cross platform between Mac and Windows but you could save space and have higher quality for smaller size files using other formats but conversion is also effortless with software. However you choose Windows Media or Mac compatable files. Sorry I am not up on them as my preference is the good ol' mp3 that all my players can read mp3 disks, including the truck and Airstream.
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Old 04-14-2007, 03:08 PM   #10
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IMHO, you are working way, way too hard to accomplish what is simply done as part of the ripping process with iTunes (and perhaps other apps as well).

Please do yourself a favor and download the free iTunes app and rip a CD or two so you can see how easy and compelling this app is. You'll also get most of the cover art too when you're connected to the internet.

If you don't like iTunes, just trash it after the test.
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Old 04-14-2007, 03:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yukionna
I do like the whole "playlist" idea once my music is on the mp3 player but I just didn't want to deal with the "overhead" of that software to manage the process of moving the music from my hard drive to the mp3 player.
Now I am really confused. What "overhead" are you talking about? If you are running out of disk space for an app, you must also be out of space for ripped CDs.
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Old 04-14-2007, 11:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yukionna
I'm in the process of ripping my extensive CD collection into MP3 format and then meticulously organizing the music on my computers hard drive. I have it set up with the high level folder being the name of the artist/band and then I have sub folders for each CD/Album that I'm converting. Inside each CD/Album sub folder, I've carefully filled in all the MP3 file information for each song (where it is missing) which includes the artists name, album name, genre, track #, etc.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing all that work manually if you enjoy it. The directory structure you describe is the one iTunes builds on your hard drive when you rip CDs, if you tell it to keep your library organized. One of the "artists" is a folder named "Compilations." In it are folders for albums that have one or more songs by more than one artist. In that folder are only the songs off that album that have multiple artists. There may be another album folder in the primary artist's folder containing those songs unique to them. For example, if I'm browsing by artist, "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere" shows up as both Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett, and Jimmy Buffett & Alan Jackson.

With only the directory structure, you have to know the artist, album, and song title to find it... or use the OS file search function to find it. With library management software (which saves you a ton of work if you don't enjoy it), be it iTunes or something else, you can browse a list of artists or a list of albums or a list of songs or by genre.

iTunes goes out to the Internet, retrieves and fills in any missing information, and gets album artwork if you set it to... all in the background. So do some other softwares.

With iTunes, you can chose to rip in aac, mp3, aiff, wave, apple lossless at a wide variety of bit rates. I suspect that's at least somewhat true with most ripping software.

Playlists are even better. For example, I have all our boating music in one playlist... Jimmy Buffett, Eric Stone, Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Gordon Lightfoot, etc. and so on with other playlists.

I can put my iPod in hard disk mode and I did that once. After saying, "hmmm... that's interesting," it went back in music player mode.

One question is, is the way you're organizing your music the way other players expect it to be organized for playback with their interface? Will they even playback in the hard disk mode. I don't know... about them or even the iPod. I don't even remember if the way music is organized on the iPod is the same way iTunes organizes it on the hard drive. I don't remember and don't care. I don't need to know. I used to even know how Windows Media Player organized it, but have forgotten that too. It's just not important to me for managing and playing music.

Personally, I prefer ripping in aac format rather than the old mp3. It's technologically better and increasingly more manufacturers are supporting it. It's cross-platform with Windows, unprotected ones playable by Windows Media Player. Remember, even 8 tracks were popular once upon a time. As someone else may've already said, iTunes can convert your mp3s to aac. Or you can leave 'em and play 'em on an iPod. It can also convert unprotected WMA files to aac.
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Old 04-15-2007, 12:53 PM   #13
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You do not have to use itunes with the ipod. there are open source programs.
rockbox is one. rockbox.org
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Old 04-15-2007, 05:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadKingMoe
There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing all that work manually if you enjoy it.
Actually, I don't enjoy it because it is so time consuming. Everyone's responses are great for educating me on everything I didn't know about with regards to this topic!
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