Wednesday, June 17, 2020

MP3 Players and More, a Mixed Media review

I get a lot of my music from Google Play, but I will shift to downloading via Bandcamp.  This is because Google Play Music may all become retooled into the YouTube Music app.  I don't know if Google will host individual tracks or album downloads with their service anymore.  Perhaps the service for online downloads to computer will stay functional. & It looks like the music section of the mobile phone google play store has already been axed... People might not talk as much about downloads these days, but Bandcamp is really cool.  I've already downloaded loads of cool music.  Bandcamp treats their artists very well!  Also there's still Apple Music/iTunes and stuff like Beatport.  Sites like SoundCloud, Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes, DatPiff, and ReverbNation have a lot of free downloads.  Bandcamp occasionally has freebies too!  People don't really download as much in this era of streaming.  But, like me, you may still really like getting music this way. Bandcamp app on mobile allows for unlimited streaming of your collection as well as letting you demo listening to other music.  Just got it myself, but seems nice!  I will be talking about other music streaming apps later.

Modern MP3 plays offer pretty good music quality especially if you use a higher bitrate.  I tried some of these song encoding formats on my MP3 players to see what I liked best.  WMA Pro works on Zune and Windows phone and sounds great.  But um, like, it only works on those 2 things besides in your computer.  And um, like, they are both discontinued.  Most MP3 players still do not support WMA Pro.  Still it is a cool format for a high definition balanced sound but you'll want to be ripping the music off a very good condition CD and a fast computer.  I have the Zune so I got to use it and really liked it.  However I was frustrated when I tried it on Sony Walkman NWE394 and SandDisk Sportclip and it worked on neither.  Guess I learned the hard way Grrr.  Regular WMA has been around longer and therefor works on nearly all "modern" MP3 players.  These files also take up less space and sound better than MP3.  MP3's still sound pretty good at medium or high bitrate though, and if you are ripping off CD you can set this up properly in the settings.

There are several MP3 players under the walkman name.  The version I have, the NWE394 with 16GB is inexpensive but pretty good.  The sound is really good, nice punchy bass on my over-ear skullcandies, but there's not a lot of equalizers.  However you can create your own custom EQ which is a very nice feature!  My favorite built in EQ is probably the "unique" EQ.  It is fast and easy to navigate my music library.  The power button is kind of touchy though, just bump it and it's turned on.  Also the manual was all in pictograms.  This is the budget version, for only around $75.  And if you can afford it I would recommend the higher end, high priced walkmans because you get what you pay for.  This MP3 player has never froze on me and it can be filled to the brim with your favorite tunes.  When it's all said and done this is pretty good MP3 player and I give it a 8 out of 10.

I also just got the SanDisk Sport Clip 16GB.  This MP3 player also sound pretty good, but it is slower navigating my music library.  It has more built in equalizers than my walkman.  I probably like the "funk" EQ the best.  On my skullcandy over-ear headpones the bass seems a little wimpy though, probably because this is a small clip-on device, like a generic iPod shuffle.  You might get around this with the "hiphop" EQ.  On a pair of earbuds the sound is excellent!  The power is less touchy on this one you press and hold the middle select button for 3 or 4 seconds.  And it gets an A+ for price, mine, the non-bluetooth version was just $40.  Just don't fill this MP3 player all the way up.  It needs a little sliver of empty memory to run.  The SanDisk froze on me once, but this hasn't been a problem.  I just let the battery run itself down and I was fine.  I might even buy the bluetooth version just for kicks.  I give this MP3 player a 8 out of 10.

UPDATE! I also, also, also got SanDisk 16GB Sport Clip Plus with bluetooth capability.  The good news is that this MP3 player looks and feels better than the regular Sport Clip.  It also has flaps over the USP port and headphone jack which I assume makes it more water resistant.  As it is larger than the regular model it also kicks out a louder fuller mix.  Great bass on my wired skullcandies!  However, I don't like the bright-colored backdrop because it makes it harder to read which song I am playing.  Funny that the regular cheaper one had a dark backdrop I liked better.  Controls are pretty intuitive on both SanDisk devices.  Not all folders keep things alphabetized on either SanDisk which is kind of annoying.  Still, I really like this new MP3 player and for just $60 it's a great value!  I rate this MP3 player an 8 out of 10.   

The Microsoft Zune is discontinued.  The software to sync Zune from computer is discontinued.  They are very nice, but Microsoft killed it off entirely.  It pisses me off that they left the Zune fanbase high and dry.  I understand no longer manufacturing the physical device.  But how about still hosting the Zune software.  But nope.  Microsoft murked it just like they canned the good version of Movie Maker.  Apple did a much better job catering to the iPod fanbase.  In the past I have seen firmware problems when I tried to get music on "new" Zune for a friend.  We never solved that.  That said, I have a Zune HD and it is a priceless time capsule for me!  The display is excellent and I love having biographies and pictures of many of these musicians built right in.  And of course the sound is excellent!  But don't buy one unless you already have the Zune Software or you know somewhere online that securely offers the software for download.  I give it a 9 out of 10 for original quality but a 1 out of 10 for technical support.

There is an app for Smartphone called ZPlayer that recreates the feeling of Microsoft Zune very faithfully, mmhmm I really dig it!  I like having all the bios, podcasts, layout, and more precise control of my volume.  Other music apps keep me feeling like my volume is either to high or two low.  ZPlayer helps me get to that sweet-spot!  EQ's are good too, try bass boost and virtualizer!  I give it a 10 out of 10.

Want to turn your phone into a its own MP3 player?  Try Audiomack!  8 out of 10.  You can download as many songs as you'd like free, then just listen to them on airplane mode and you got no adds! #LifeHack

I have been streaming music with Deezer and I really like its variety, and direct nature!  Add aren't bad.  A sleek, no-nonsense music streaming app.  9 out of 10. 

On my PC I gave the app "Music Bee" a spin.  It has a great display and high quality equalizer, and you can burn and rip CD's using the program.  I am unsure if it allows you to sync music with an MP3 player or Smartphone.  It seems very easy to use, but when I burned a CD of my own recordings, one of the tracks became a white noise glitch.  Maybe this was just a formatting issue.  I give this program a rating of 9 out of 10.

Xbox 360 is getting to be retro now, but there's a good handful of you that still rock this console just like me!  Try "8Tracks"! (rating: 8 out of 10)  Download this app free and enjoy streaming all types of fun jams!  Go ahead, crack a beer, you've earned it ;)