How Do MP3 Players Work? Digital Audio Technology Revolutionizes Music Enjoyment

Millions have enjoyed recorded music since 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. Then came radio, records, tapes and CD's. But today's digital audio players are a quantum leap forward in music technology. To understand what makes these music players so revolutionary, let's explore the question, "How do mp3 players work?"

Until recently listening to music recordings involved mechanically moving the media past an interface to pick up an analog signal called a wave-form. This signal of vibrations was amplified and sent to the speakers where we heard it as sounds. When digitized, the wave-form becomes a WAV file. It's a major improvement, but the file is very large and a CD disc is limited to about 80 minutes of music.

So What is an iPod, and How does an iPod work?

Apple's iPod is the best known mp3 player. In answer to the question, How do iPods work, the next two paragraphs really describe how all portable digital music players function.

Software converts the music to a small digital file, usually WAV to mp3, using a codec like MP3 or WMA. The codec compresses the file by discarding sounds inaudible to the human ear. The digital file is stored in the mp3 player's flash or micro-drive memory. Because the file is so small, a player no larger than a deck of cards can hold up to thousands of songs.

For play-back the mp3 player executes several functions. Embedded software reads the file, decompresses the encoding, converts it back to analog, amplifies the signal and sends it to the headphones. And voilá, we have crystal clear sound without the annoying cracks, pops and hisses particularly common to records and tapes.

How We Do MP3 (Player Types, Functions & Features)

Even with a seemingly never-ending stream of new products, there are basically three types of audio devices that work well for audio CD duplication in a portable personal player.

  • Flash Players - the smallest, least expensive, and most reliable. Using solid state memory with embedded software, they have no moving parts, so batteries last longer and skips are eliminated. They have limited memory, but will still hold dozens of songs. Most players have search, shuffle, repeat and other popular features.
  • Micro-Drive Players - the tiny hard drives in these mp3 players have up to 60GB of memory and will hold thousands of tunes. Some also store and display photos. Anti-skip technology helps, but shock or vibration can still cause skips. They typically have more functions and features than flash players.
  • CD MP3 Players - the new generation of portable CD players. Using formats like mp3, WMA and ATRAC, they play (some also burn) CD's that hold 10 to 45 hours of music per disc. They play standard and/or 3" MiniDisc CD's. Standard CD sized units cost less than most mp3 players. MiniDisc player prices are higher but they hold the most music, and they're about the same size as a micro-drive mp3 player. Most play both pre-recorded and CD-R/RW discs. Features are similar to the other players.
  • For more information, see Compare MP3 Players

    MP3 players information from A to Z: player types & features, how they work, accessories,comparisons and more - plus free music download tips and info at A-Z MP3 Players.com, Your Complete A-Z Resource for MP3 Players, Accessories and Information.

    This article may be re-printed in its entirety, with no changes and this resource box included. © 2005 http://www.a-z-mp3-players.com All rights reserved

    In The News:

    FBI Tech Tuesday: Ho, Ho, Ho, Holiday Scams — FBI  Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Meet your new Tech Help Desk  The Washington Post
    Personal tech startup Humane raises $100M  PitchBook News & Analysis

    How to Set Up Simple File Sharing WinXP

    The first step is: Start > My DocumentsSo you have... Read More

    Protect Your PC from Viruses, Worms & Trojans

    Each of the items in the checklist below is part... Read More

    Flow Text Around a Graphic in Microsoft Word

    Flow Text Around a GraphicQuestion: I have inserted a photo... Read More

    Dont Let the Internet Overstimulate Your Mind

    The Internet is an awesome tool, but be careful and... Read More

    Lives With Games Tradition and Industry

    The United States Of America citizen feels that games is... Read More

    Anti-Skip Protection on Mp3 Players

    There have been some questions on anti-skip protection on mp3... Read More

    The Advantages of Portable MP3 Players

    With their solid-state technology, compact size, and abundant memory, portable... Read More

    Basic Computer Maintenance

    One of the most common questions computer users ask is,... Read More

    Make Windows XP Run Faster!

    A friend told me: "My computer startup seems to be... Read More

    Why Build Your Own Computer System

    Have you ever thought about building your own computer system?... Read More

    Cisco Certification: Building Your Own Home Lab, Part I

    CCNAs and CCNA candidates hear it all the time: â??Get... Read More

    Build Your Own Computer

    I'm eighty-one years old and I bought my first computer... Read More

    Internet Explorer Shortcuts for Mouse-o-phobes

    If you're like me, you occasionally find the ubiquitous mouse... Read More

    More Cool Web Tricks

    If you ask most people what frustrates them most about... Read More

    Why There Are Color Differences in Printing from Your PC

    This article describes the basic properties of color, what the... Read More

    Selecting a Personal Digital Assistant

    A Computer in Your HandCarrying around an address book and... Read More

    COOKIES - What Are They!!

    Cookies, not the kind that Mom makes, but the computer... Read More

    Cisco Certification: Building Your Home Lab, Part II

    In the first part of this home lab tutorial, CCNA... Read More

    Your Home is in Your Hands

    I would like to tell you about a magic home.... Read More

    Be Prepared in the Event Computer Disaster Strikes

    ComputersBusinesses and individuals alike have all grown to rely on... Read More

    Five Simple Steps to Speed up Your Computer

    Most people download and save so much information on their... Read More

    Occupational Therapy and PDAs

    Occupational Therapy Made EasierMedical downloads for the pda have improved... Read More

    How to Save an Image in a SQL Server Database?

    Most of the web applications have a lot of images... Read More

    Is Desktop Search Deserving?

    Google, in their march to stay ahead of the pack... Read More

    Taking Advantage of the iPod Experience

    Music lovers have been carrying around radios and other bulky... Read More