Choose the wrong mp3 player and
whole performance could suffer in more
ways than you think
There are now dozens
of manufacturers producing mp3
players and the task of choosing the right player is daunting
to say the least! However, it gets easier when you realise that
players produced by many of the smaller manufacturers are quite
awkward to use, difficult to navigate and often poorly built,
so that helps narrow things down quite a bit.
Without wishing to
be unkind or detrimental to any of the smaller mp3 player manufacturers
out there, at the time of writing this article, in our opinion,
there are really only three brands of player that the serious
singer/musician should consider: The Creative
Jukebox, Microsoft Zune and the Apple iPod.
The Creative Jukebox
The Creative Jukebox, like the iPod comes in various models and
hard disk sizes and is backed by Creative's years of being at
the forefront of computer sound technology (Creative soundblaster
cards have been popular with PC users for many years because of
their high qulaity and reasonable pricing - and rightly so). Any
of the Creative Jukebox models will guarantee you good reliability
combined with great sound quality and price.
The Microsoft Zune
A late entry in to the hard disk based mp3 player market, the
Microsft Zune benefits from a good size screen and navigation
and since it is backed by Microsoft, you can guarantee it'll do
exactly waht it says on the tin so to speak. It may be a bit pricey,
but at the end of the day quality costs money...
The Apple iPod
The Apple iPod also comes in various models and hard disk sizes.
Unless you are an 80 year old soldier who lives in the jungle
and still thinks World War Two is still on-going, you'll have
heard the name iPod. The iPod is, without doubt, the most popular
digital music player ever invented - Apple sell millions of these
units every year and hi-fi shops frequently run out of stocks
of iPods (see Sensational
iPod website for a more in-depth discussion of using an iPod
for playing backing tracks).
Which is best?
So, we've established that the ipod is the best selling player
in the world...but is it the best? Well, the answer to that is
The iPod is streets ahead of all other digital music players currently
available. It is solidly built and reliable and when it comes
to ease of use, nothing can beat Apple products...and the iPod
doesn't disappoint. I've never come across a small portable player
that is as easy to use as the iPod and if you are a gigging singer
or musician who wants to use a small portable player on stage,
there is nothing better than an iPod. The iPod has a circular
touch wheel which makes scrolling through the list of songs on
its hard drive real quick and a breeze to do.
One of the problems
I've found with other mp3 players (including the Creative Jukebox)
is that while one song is playing, scrolling through the track
listings is really slow. However, if no songs are playing, the
opposite is true - they react quite quickly to scrolling through
the track list. This suggests that the processors in these other
players are using most of their resources to play the current
song, so all other functions are slowed up, but as soon as the
song is finished playing, the machine can devote all it's resources
to finding the next track and so quickens up.
You might not think that this is a big deal, but it does make
a massive difference if you are using an mp3 player live on stage.
Imagine it is near the end of the gig and you have a packed dance-floor.
As one song is about to end, you need to scroll quickly to the
next song and get it ready to play, to keep the audience dancing
and the atmosphere bubbling.
If your mp3 player is scrolling slowly because it's processor
is busy playing the current song, there may be a few second delay
before you carry on to your next song. A couple of seconds is
enough time for dancers on a dance-floor to decide that there's
no "follow up" song coming and leave the dance-floor.
Similarly, mid-way through a gig, you may perhaps decide to cue
up your next song during the solo of the present song. If scrolling
through the menu is slowed up, you may not get your next song
cued up by the time the solo has ended and before you know it,
you've reached the end of this song but the next one hasn't been
cued up ready to play yet. As you probably know, when working
with a live audience, timing is of the utmost importance and a
break of even a second or two at just the wrong time can result
in an embarrassing silence and ruin your performance.
So, in a nut-shell, there really is only one true winner when
it comes to choosing a digital music player to use live on stage,
and that's the Apple iPod. Other players will certainly do the
same job (many have more features than the iPod like bigger hard
drives, integrated radio etc) but none can compare with the iPods
robustness and ease of use.
You could be forgiven
for thinking that this article is biased towards iPods but, believe
me, it's not. Until another manufacturer can produce a player
that can better the iPod's superior qualities, the iPod reigns
supreme in the digital player market and is likely to continue
for some time yet.
The launch of the
iPod Video (30GB and 80GB machines) makes the iPod an even more
attractive buy now because they boast bigger hard drives (which
means they can hold more backing tracks) and the screens are bigger
(which means they're easier to see and to use on a dimly lit stage).
Article Written by Kenny Campbell
(This article cannot be reproduced without express
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