Your Key to Endless, Free, CD-Quality Tunes
Envision this: a palm-sized device that enables you to quickly download for free your favorite
music and then play it back whenever you want without skipping a beat (literally, you won't skip
a beat because MP3 players don't have any moving parts). From garage bands to major recording artists,
it's all at your fingertips. It's MP3.
MP3 players catalog
MP3 players and portable audio devices reviews
Tons of Titles and Artists
Log on to Internet sites distributing MP3 recordings and you will be exposed to tens of thousands of
recordings from thousands of artists. Selections range from unknown garage bands to mega-stars. Loads of
audio books are available, too. There's something for everyone.
Some MP3 recordings are free for the taking (singles promoting a whole album, a new artist's work, or a
star's special recording). Some of it is for sale (whole albums, hard-to-find classics, audio books, etc).
And much of it is available for sampling. Many artists choose to distribute their work through MP3 sites
because it allows them to record without any involvement from music promoters and sell directly to the
public without paying royalties (the same reasons big-time record labels aren't too happy with the popularity of the MP3 format).
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Download It All
Millions have downloaded MP3 recordings from the Internet. And experts predict the number to double
in the near future now that portable MP3 players are available. It's all so simple. All you need is
a computer, a connection to the Internet and a Web browser (i.e., Netscape or
To download MP3 recordings to your computer hard drive, you'll need the free software (freeware) available at any of the many Internet sites distributing MP3 recordings (see below, "Where Can I Find MP3 Recordings?").
After you install the software (it only takes a couple minutes), you will be able to download a three-minute song with a 56.6 modem in less than eight minutes.
Another type of software lets you convert music from CDs to the MP3 format and save them to your computer
(see below, "Can I Record My Own?"). Once they're on your hard drive, they're like any computer file.
But unless you have a portable player, you will be stuck listening to your favorite books and music through
your computer speakers.
To take your tunes on the road, simply connect a portable MP3 player to your computer's parallel port and
use the on-screen drag-and-drop controls to create your own portable recording mix. Better MP3 player/recorders allow you to download as much as
one hour of music or four hours of audio books (record even more with additional plug-in memory units). This memory is re-writeable, too which means you can erase and re-record as many times
as you like without any loss of sound quality.
Take It Bungie Jumping
A portable MP3 player is like a Walkman or MiniDisc player, only much lighter and smaller. Most are as small
as a cassette tape and weigh only about as much as a candy bar. They'll easily fit in the palm of your hand or inconspicuously in a shirt pocket.
Take one anywhere, and don't worry about skips or scratches. These players have the ultimate in shockproof technology: no moving parts. Take it jogging or bungie jumping. You won't miss a beat.
High-quality headphones are included. And better-quality player/recorders can go for as long as 10 to 12 hours before you will need to
recharge or replace the one or two AA batteries that provide all the power.
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- Power Source: Some models are powered by a single AA battery, some use two.
- Size: Most models are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand or inconspicuously in a shirt pocket.
- Memory: Most players come with at least 32MB of memory built-in (enough to
record as much as 60 minutes of music or 16 hours of audio books), and many offer the
ability to dramatically increase that with simple plug-in memory units.
- Software Included: The "MP3-player" software for downloading MP3 recordings from the
Internet to a computer is available for free from any of the Internet sites that distribute MP3
recordings. The software necessary for uploading your own CDs to a computer in an MP3 format is
included with some models and also available on the Internet for about $20.
- LCD Screen: This built-in feature displays music title information.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Does It Sound?
These are high-quality digital recordings, just like CDs. You won't be able to tell the difference between the original CD and an MP3 recording.
Where Can I Find MP3 Recordings?
You will find tens of thousands of recordings from thousands of artists on a number of popular Internet
distribution sites (mp3.com, goodnoise.com and musicmatch.com, to name a few).
Some of the recordings are free for the taking (singles promoting a whole album, a new artist's work
or a star's special recording). Some you have to buy (whole albums, hard-to-find
classics, audio books, etc). And many of the recordings you can sample before you decide if you want them or not.
Can I Record My Own?
Yes. The software necessary to upload your personal CDs as MP3 files to your computer comes with some
portable players and is also available for about $20 on the Internet.
Is This Legal?
Yes. Downloading MP3 files from legitimate Internet distribution sites is completely legal (even the free stuff).
Uploading your personal CDs to your computer in an MP3 format is completely legal, too. It's illegal, however,
to share your MP3 files recorded from your CDs with others without the "explicit permission" of the copyright holder.
What Is MP3?
Basically, MP3 is a technology that allows large audio files to be compressed to 1/12th their original
size so they're easy to download and convenient to store on your computer like Zip compression files. It's an
open-standard format, which means no one group controls the technology. MP3 stands for MPEG-1, layer 3. MPEG stands
for Moving Pictures Experts Group, a committee that is part of the International Standards Organization.
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A book that has been read out loud (often by the author) and recorded.
Analog recordings (like cassette tapes) use wavy electrical signals, which are sensitive to any interference. Digital recordings use binary signals that flash "on" or "off." There's little chance for interference with digital signals. And less interference means the music will be cleaner and crisper.
An on-screen user interface that allows the user to move an object or icon into another in order to initiate a process.
A computer's main data storage device.
MB of Memory
MB stands for megabyte, a common measurement of computer storage equaling 1,048,576 bytes. Also known as a "meg."
MiniDiscs offer high-quality digital sound equal to that of a CD. They hold the same amount of information as a CD, yet they're almost half the size and less prone to skipping when bumped. MiniDiscs come prerecorded with music, just like CDs, or unlike CDs blank for digital recording. They will not work in a CD player. They require a special MiniDisc player/recorder unit.
These are digital music and voice recordings that have been super compressed to 1/12th their original size using MP3 technology (MPEG-1, layer 3), the same type of compression technology used to create MiniDiscs. They're like computer files (with a .mp3 extension) and can be played back on a computer or an MP3 player.
These are Internet sites that distribute MP3 music and voice recordings.
A software that gives access to, and navigation tools for, the World Wide Web or Internet.
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