Players | Download Services | Bass performance of players

Some of the Best and Most Popular Digital Music Players.
Note: This list is for devices which who's primary function is to play music. Other devices, e.g. Mobil phones and PDA (Personal Digital Assistants) e.g. Palm are also comming equiped to play music, but usually with lower capacity memory.
Model Capa-
Format Features * Cost Rating
Cnet/PC Mag
Apple iPod 60G MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF FS, PIM $335-419 8.3/4.5
Apple iPod Photo 20-60G MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, Audible, JPEG FS, PIM, 2" 220x176 color LCD $400-450 4.0
Apple iPod U2 20G MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, Audible, JPEG FS, PIM $329 4.0
Sony Network Walkman NW-HD3 20G MP3, ATRAC3 FS $250-300 7.7/
iRiver H320 40G ASF, JPEG, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WMA VR, FM, and photo viewing, 2" color LCD $340 4
Rio Karma 20G MP3, WMA, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC   $200 7.0/4
Archos Gmini 400 20G MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG4-SP AVI FS, VR, LI, photo/video viewer, AV Out, FS, 2.2" 320x240 color LCD, CompactFlash™ reader $270-430 8.0/4.5
Archos AV420 Pocket Video 20G MP3, WMA, JPG, or BMP, MPEG4-SP AVI VR, AV recorder, photo viewer, FS $400-615 /3.5
Archos PMA430 Pocket Video 30G MP3, WAV, WMA, JPEG, MPEG4-SP AVI VR, LI, AV recorder, photo viewer, FS, PDA, WI-Fi, Opera browser, USB Host port, IrDA port, Linux OS, 3.6-inch/ 320x240 pixel screen $630-720 /4.5
Archos AV700 Mobil DVR 100G MP3, WMA, JPG, or BMP, MPEG4-SP, DivX, AVI, WMV VR, AV recorder, photo viewer, FS, 480x234 LCD $800
Apple iPod Mini 6G MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, Audible FS, PIM, 8 hr. battery $180-200 8.0/4.5
Rio Carbon Pearl 5G MP3, WMA, Audible VR, LI, FS, 20 hr battery 175-220 8.0/4.5
Creative Zen Micro 5G MP3, WAV, WMA VR, FM, FS, PIM syncs with Outlook, 160x104 LCD, 12 hr battery $180-230 8.0/4.5   †
Gateway MP3 Photo Jukebox 6G MP3, WAV, WMA, JPEG 128x128 Color LCD (can't pan or zoom) $250 /4.5
Dell Pocket DJ 5G MP3, 1.6" LCD, 10 hr. battery $149 /4
iRiver H10 5G MP3, WAV, WMA and AA, JPEG VR, FM, picture viewer, 1.5" 128x128 LCD $190-270 /4
Palm One LifeDrive 4G MP3, PIM, photo viewer, Wi-FI, Bluetooth, 3.7" 320x480 LCD $500
iRiver iFP-799 1G MP3, WMA, OGG, ASF FS, LCD $190 7.7/4
Creative Labs MuVo TX FM 512 M MP3, WMA FS, FM, VR, LCD doesn't list tracks $115 8/4
Samsung Yepp YP-T5 V 256 M MP3, WAV, WMA FS, FM, VR, LCD $80-150 /4.5
Apple iPod Shuffle 1G MP3, AAC, WAV, Audible FS $129 6.7/4

  † one of Bill Machrone's (see below) favorites.

* Terms:
FS - file store - Acts as an external hard disk to store files from your PC
VR - Voice Recording
FM - FM Radio
LI - Recording Line In
ID3 tag a 128 byte at the end of MP3 audio tracks identifying the title, album, ... IrDA - Infrared
PIM - Personal Information Manager (e.g. address book/contacts, calendar)
USB Host - Acts like a computer; you can plug in a USB keyboard, camera and download pictures, etc.

Small Hard Disk (5-6G) players:
The Apple iPod has the best user interface, although a few people don't like the navigation wheel. It is the most popular and has a large after market selection of add-ons (speakers, cases, ...)
The Creative Zen Micro has more features and better sound than the others but a more difficult user interface.
The Rio Carbon Pearl has more features and better sound than the iPod and looks slicker than the Creative Zen Micro.

File Transfer With
Model Napst iTun Real Music
WMP Win Amp
iPod mini   X X   X X
Zen Micro X     X X  
RIO Carbon       X X X
WMP - Windows Media Player

Music Downloads Compatibility:
Model Napst iTun Real Music
iPod mini   X X   X
Zen Micro X   X X  
RIO Carbon X   X X X

Download Services (legal)
Early Peer-to-Peer (P2P) services like the original version of Napster and Kazaa, Morpheus, iMesh, Grokster, and Blubster got in trouble with the music industry for violating copyrights. Since then legal services selling songs for about $1/song have emerged.
Service Tracks Bitrate Format Rating
Napster 1M+ 128 WMA 4
iTunes 1.5M+ 128 AAC 4
RealOne Rhapsody 1M+ 160 WMA 3.5
Yahoo 1M + 192 WMA 4
MusicMatch 800K+ 160 WMA 3
RealPlayer 700K+ 192 RAX 4
Audible 18K
(books, ...)
32 AA 4.5
Wal-Mart 500K + 128 WMA 2.5

Music Services at
PC Magazine: Music Download, Music Sites, services
Music Genre
Digital Music Services
Guide to Internet Music Services at

Bass performance or Players:
Most digital audio players have weak bass performance because of the limited power in their amplifiers and the more power required for bass.
Some "in-canal" ear phones lower the impedance to increase sensitivity, but this futher loads the amplifier and reduces the bass response.

A headphone amplifier will fix this. Commercial versions run about $250, but you can get a variety of good homemade amplifiers on eBay based on the Chu Moy (cMoy) design for about $50 ($75 for the xMoy 2 amp version). (They may come with an Altoids can case, but they work.)
See articles at:

See Bill Machrone's article at his SpA site.
Pocket Headphone Amp at

See Also:
Audio Formats in Audio-Video under technology
MP3 in technology
MP3 Player Reviews at cNet
MP3 and Digital Music player Reviews at PC Magazine
Bill Machrone's SpA: Serious Personal Audio (Bill is a PC Magazine reviwer)
Top 10 players at SpinFree News
Top Players at at
Consumer Reports Magazine

last updated 1 Aug 2005