I know that most of music loving people keep an mp3 player with them in all places… If not at least the cell phone packed with music and earphones in the pocket…
But have you ever wondered how can you get the best sound of what you have or does it even provide enough quality to the emitted music ?
Have you ever wondered if your Ipod is giving you the ultimate music quality ? Or can an mp3 player with less memory provide you with better sound ?
Have you ever asked your self why is there preset equalizers for music like “Rock” , “Jazz” and others and not always custom equalizer ?
I have personally tried many music players, read about most enhancement features and explored and tested all possible music playback settings. I will now tell you some of the things I know and I think you should know too. Some of what I will be explaining in the few lines to come is scientific some is purely related to people’s taste and other things are pure facts.
I will explain some facts and somethings to look for when you want to buy a music player.
First there are three types of common music players today :
1) Shuffle player with no display and generally no or limited equalizer settings. Shuffle did not gain much popularity for the simple reason that it is impossible to listen to the track you want to.Its all random. Shuffle usually have small memory 1 – 2 gb.
2) Player with display screen and standard equalizer settings or WOW /SRS technology. ( which I will explain in few moments depends on your reading speed). For me this type of players is the best choice for any fan of music and anyone that wants the best quality of sound. Memory is usually 1- 8 gb.
3) Ipod Nano / Touch… Ipod provides the best in terms of storage , functionality and style. Memory is 4- 1000 gb.
P.S. : Mp4s are not considered music players for the simple reason that the sound they produce is not decent enough to talk about especially what is found in the Lebanese market.
Before talking about the portable music players , let me briefly explain what is an Equalizer, how does it work and what is SRS WOW ?
Equalizer is already available in windows media player as in any other music player and most of portable music players.
SRS WOW is although available in windows media player but not in all portable music players.
You can explore it on the software for a better understanding of the changes it makes. I advise you to plug in earphones or headphones while listening to music (choice of earphones and headphones will be discussed in another article for it alone is a broad topic).
Sound is a physical phenomenon that occurs when a pressure impulse is created in a medium like air (also in liquids, solids, other gases and plasma). We all know that sound does not propagate in space because it is a mechanical wave propagation that requires a material medium. Humans are capable of hearing a limited range of frequencies which is considered to be between 20 hz ( as 20 impulse per second ) to 20 000 hz. It is although currently known and proven that with age our hearing capability diminishes and frequency limit tends to 15 khz.
To relate in a simple way music to sound frequencies we can state that low frequencies are what we call bass and high frequencies are what we call treble (that is not totally exact as music is not simple frequencies there are allot of different factors that give an instrument vibrating at the same frequency a different “Sound”)
The equalizer you see below is available in windows media player. You can see frequency values at the bottom of the picture. Increasing the level of a chosen frequency will increase the “volume ” of that frequency alone (and some of the neighboring frequencies). The frequency volume control is what we call gain.
In most sound systems and simple music players you will have the option to increase bass in general thus increasing the gain of frequencies between 20 hz and 250 hz and increasing the gain of treble thus adding “volume ” to frequencies between 2000 hz (2 khz) and 20 000 hz.
Over adding a gain to a certain frequency will induce noise in the sound and making the music listening experience unpleasant (Some expensive sound cards maintain clean sound on maximum gain ).That is the reason why presets are there for the listener to choose from, custom equalizer is not easy to use for an inexperienced listener (well it wont make a difference for him as for sure he will not notice any noise).
Most portable music players do not include custom equalizer and if they do most of them result in noise in case of custom equalizer.
SRS WOW is although available in windows media player but not in all portable music players. SRS does not stand for sex reassignment surgery! It stands for sound retrieval system. SRS is a relatively new technology developed to enhance music and add an environment effect and a spacial effect to music. SRS is mainly used to mimic 5.1 surround by using 2 speakers ( which are for the portable music player the earphones ). Stereo sound initially developed for two speaker sound systems was a trial to make sound systems more realistic with different sounds emitted from left or right. After extensive research it was found that to mimic a 3D sound ( like in a live concert ) with all reverb effect a minimum of three speakers in the front were needed and two in the back which was then called 5.1 surround.
Unable to use 5.1 earphones ! 😛 SRS was developed resulting in a great sound experience.
Although SRS is available in windows media player , it does not have the same quality as SRS hardware. Windows media player can only give you a hint of what SRS is.
Some modern music media player have SRS included in their hardware and software. Some of these player are few Samsung “YEP” series, some iRiver portable players and Korean MobiBlu.
Apple has recently realised the importance of SRS effect in portable music players and cooperated with SRS labs to produce the new i-WOW hardware plug in that can be attached to I-pods. i-WOW currently costs 59.99$ and if successful it is estimated to rise in price.
While MobiBlu mp3 player costs 120$ with SRS built in but with a limited memory of 2gb.