MP3? MD? I'm Clueless

G'day all,

I travel a lot, and just finished dragging my Panasonic portable CD player, Headroom Airhead amp, Grado 60's, and a dozen CD's with me all over Asia. Heavy, bulky...what a pain, there has to be an easier way to enjoy tunes on the road.

While in Hong Kong I perused the MP3, MD, and iPod players but I honestly don't have a clue how these formats compare. What are the most obvious differences? What sounds best? Can I copy CD tracks on to these, or do I have to download compressed files? How do you program these miniature wonders? Which format is the most cost effective, sounds best, and is easiest to use? Thanks to all who take the time to educate me. Best, Jeff

p.s. I'm not Clueless, he already hangs here. I should have said I don't have the foggiest
You can't go wrong with an iPod. MP3 refers to various data compression formats used to reduce the size of music files. Typically people would convert a 16 bit/44.1kHz CD into an MP3 file in order to quickly transmit music over the internet, burn it on an MP3 CD or to port it over to a portatble MP3 player. The conversion process is flexible and allows the user to select from several different MP3 sampling rates with higher rates producing better fidelity. Nearly all MP3 players require an external computer or CD player in order to produce the MP3 files.

There are several archived threads on iPod here on Audiogon. Apple uses something call AAC data compression which is technically different than MP3, but accomplishes the same thing. One of the advantages of the iPod is that you don't have to use compresses song files. It will play back full format CDs. The larger 40Gb version can hold nearly 1,000 songs at full resolution.
Go to and download itunes, put a cd in your computer and click import, it will transfer compressed MP3 files to your computer, you can set the size/quality in the preferences 128k is standard, 190k is better, 320k higher quality... Also check out the Music store, you can click on a song to hear a sample and then buy it for $ .99 or the whole "CD" for $9.99. Then with an ipod, just plug it in to a usb or firewire port and it will sync all of the songs in itunes to your ipod assuming it has the capacity.

Do I have to pay to download the music I'd like on the iPod, or can I upload my own cd's on it?
You can rip your own CDs via a computer (Apple or Windows) into an iPod.
Jeff- I can't compare the other formats, but I have been using a minidisk player w/Etymotic ER6s at the gym. The player is smaller than a deck of cards and about 1/2 the size of an ipod. I have been using a 4:1 compression scheme thats built in, the allows about 320 minutes on each mini-disk. Sound quality is quite acceptable and with the Etys weighing just a few oz.,its a VERY portable set-up. You can record digital to digital or directly from the analog outs on your CDP.

As a frequent traveler myself, I can tell you nothing beats the iPod! I am still using a 20Gb version and can fit the majority of my music in my shirt pocket and even have simple games to play on it! I compressed all my CD's @192kbps (now using AAC instead of MP3) and with good headphones, the player sounds more than adequate for use in planes/airports/trains....and given the 10 hour battery life, I don't need to worry about batteries on any but the longest trips. My iPod currently has 3465 songs, 9.6 days of continuous music on it!!!! Tough to beat when you consider how long you can be stuck in an airport!! With the iPod I always have something to listen to, and it fits in my shirt pocket!!!
If you get an iPod and are going to do some serious traveling, then you need to consider the following accessories - a battery pack and a protective case.
Swampy, I tried some Etys a few years ago, for whatever reason they didn't fit in my ears well at all. I'm okay with the SR60's they fold flat and can fit in my laptop bag easily enough. The MD players look interesting but I need something that will last a dozen hours without swapping media.

I did some research on the iPod, seems like the answer to my gypsy ways. I took a peek at Ebay and such, any pointers on where to get the best price? I would need a case to protect it since it would be sharing space with a bunch of other stuff I have to carry around with me. Thanks guys, this has been educational and informative.