mp3 capable units

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Ted Lee, Sep 12, 2003.

  1. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hi all -

    how well do car-units play mp3 encoded cd's. is it as simple as copying the songs to the cd, then popping it into the head-unit?

    or, is it one of those deals where things have to be "just right" for it to work? do i have to do any kind of special prep-work, etc?

    in other words, has technology advanced far enough that this has become a pretty user friendly kind of thing?

    thx,

    ted
     
  2. Edison Tinker

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    For the most part it is just a burn and play proposition...however there are a few things you might want to consider:
    • The bitrate...I've found that anything under 192 can sound off...that is to say the bass can lack impact and the highs can be less than brilliant...I'd recommend going with files that have a bitrate of at least 192 and preferably have a variable bitrate to maximize both quality and minimize size...
    • The ID3 tags...this might not be as important to some, but most MP3 players read ID3 tags...so if you're like me and like tho know what you're listening to then make sure that your ID3 tags are filled out properly before burning to disc...
    • File folder structuring...most players are able to distinguish between file folders and subfolders, so you can arrange your songs by artist, release, genre, whatever...you can take advantage of this fact to make it easier to navagate the disc while driving...
    • Make sure to shut down all other operations while burning...I've heard MP3 discs with erroneous popping and clicking noises throughout that can probably be attributed to data errors propagated by multitasking while burning the disc...the best way to burn is by leaving the computer alone while burning...oh and pay attention to your burn speed too...sometimes the burn speed can affect the sound quality of the disc...I'd burn at no faster than 4x for good quiality at decent speed...

    Hope this info helps...[​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    edison -

    that's great...thx very much for the info.

    bitrate: i typically never burn at less than 160, but i'm usually not "brave enough" to do 192. i'll certainly experiment.

    id3 tags: do you know if most headunits use v1 or v2? i'd say the majority of my files are tagged correctly, but i'm sure they're not all done.

    file folder structuring: this is a good point. typically i have soething like ALBUMS (as a generic starting point)artistsalbum titletrack title. would that be a good working structure?

    burning: i must admit i'm guilty of doing other things, but i've got a pretty rippin p4/2.53 - so (afaik) i've been lucky.

    thx for taking the time!

    ted
     
  4. Andy Hardin

    Andy Hardin Stunt Coordinator

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    Here is my experience.

    I'm at work, and don't know the model# off my unit off the top of my head, but its a Sony in the $150 range online.

    My experiences.

    It'll play just about anything. I've got mp3 disks from back in 2000 I burned with no intention of worrying about how it would work in a car mp3 player (being as they didn't exist then) and they play just fine. The unit is based on directory trees and you can skip between them (usually they would be considered album or artist directories).

    The one complaint I have, probably due to the entry level unit I have, is the initialization time on disks. This can be between 15 secs (normal .wav cd) to close to 60 seconds for a complex mp3 disc. One initialized it works great but I have to deal with some silence. Be sure to test units with a disc to see if they are acceptable to you.

    Sound quality.

    I don't have a "golden ear" but I like good sound. I've built a very good JBL/Infinity system in my vehicle and I cannot hear the difference (I burn at 192). I know some can and some say they can, but I cannot hear the difference when I play a well burned (burnt?) mp3 from a quality source at a good bitrate. YMMV.

    Overall I see no reason not to make the jump if you are currently using the mp3 format. I digitized all of my albums over the winter for an mp3 server in the house so it made perfect sense. I love having an artists entire catalogue on one disc so I can jump from album to album without any switching.
     
  5. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hi andy -

    thanks for your input. i also recently digitized most of my collection (i only stopped cuz i was getting burned out ripping 800 cd's [​IMG] ) so i'm thinking it would be a great time to put them in the car.

    it must be great to get a hundred songs on one cd. wow...the possibilities!

    when you say directory tree, i assume you mean a "regular" hierarchial structure? so i assume i can nav in the headunit in a similar fashion to how i would nav in windows?
     
  6. Edison Tinker

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    Ted-

     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thx edison. that clears up how the mp3 is organized for me.

    i mainly use cdex, and even then, i don't really tweak the settings like i probably should. i will try vbr one of these days. i'm just too lazy right now. heh!

    thx again guys! i'll have to swing by my local car shop...bring a mp3 cd with me.
     
  8. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    One other thing to consider when burning is that you must use the "Disc at once" method rather than "track at once" (at least that's the way it is for Alpine HUs). Incidentally, the disc read with Alpine is very fast.
     
  9. MikeSerrano

    MikeSerrano Second Unit

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    I just recently installed a Kenwood MP3 deck (KDC-MP522) and can confirm most of what everyone here is saying.

    As far as bitrate is concerned...

    VBR is a cool feature of MP3 and seems to bring the best of both worlds: high-bandwith (for the moments that need it) and compact file size. The problem is that a lot of CD-based MP3 players (at least all of the ones I've owned) have problems properly displaying the running time of VBR tracks. It doesn't bother a lot of people, but it is just one of those things that are annoying to people like me.

    For me, 160kbps is fine for everyday listening. I listen to mostly indie rock and encoding at 192 does not give me a a huge boost in sound quality. In fact, my car is not the place where I do my most critical listening anyway. Bothersome little things (like trying to weave my way through the masses of horrid drivers) tend to take my attention away from fully experiencing the ambiance of a particular musical piece. [​IMG]
     
  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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  11. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    I have an Alpine 7995 I got from Crutchfield for $252 shipped. It plays Mp3s very well, the same as I'd hear the MP3s coming from my PC hooked to a receiver or separate amp and HT speakers.

    My one quirk, is that it takes 1 second or 2 between track selection. And that the text display isn't large enough to show the whole song name, so it just shows the first half and scrolls.

    Other than that, folder navigation is really simple, the player has a folder up and folder down button, and I can use the remote to navigate tracks as well.

    It's hard to believe how many songs can fit on a CDR, it was as if I added a CD changer. This player also is able to play scratched CDs better than my Sony player.

    As for bit rate, if you have a revealing setup, the quality of the Mp3 can greatly affect your ability to enjoy the music. I've noticed that some Mp3s will have a metallic tizzy reverberation in the highs that sounds very artificial. The worse the bit rate, the more the highs seem to suffer.
     
  12. Dave Bennett

    Dave Bennett Screenwriter

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    I rip all my stuff at 192kps as not only do I listen to them in my car, but I often use my computer as a jukebox. I couldn't tell the difference between 256 and 192 but i could definately tell between 192 and 160.
     

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