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5 Tips for Buying an MP3 Player for Listening To Old Time Radio

If you are looking to buy an MP3 player for listening to old time radio shows, or spoken word in general, there are several important factors that should concern you. These factors might not be at the top of the list if you’re buying one to listen just to music, but if you’re an old time radio fan they’re well worth remembering.

1. Look for a player that has a good graphic equalizer feature.

A graphic equalizer lets you fine tune the sound that you hear, much more than just a bass button or a treble selector. Instead of just being able to adjust the bass (deep sounds) or the treble (high frequency sounds) you have much more control. Usually, there will be five or more sliders. The slider to the right will adjust the very high frequencies and the slider to the left will adjust the very low-level bass sounds. The three or more sliders in the middle will adjust various aspects of the midrange.

Imagine you were listening to an old time radio show that had a bit too much hiss. To get rid of this with a graphic equalizer all you would do as lower the slider on the right (that’s the high frequency one) and you’ll notice the hiss either vanishes completely or is greatly reduced.

The great thing with graphic equalizers is that they really can improve the listening experience, which is particularly useful with old radio shows. Rather than just settle for poor sound quality you can actually do something about it if you have a good graphic equalizer.

2. Get a player that can act as a virtual hard drive

Many players (not the iPod I’m afraid) will act as an additional hard drive when you plug them into your USB port. This is very convenient if you have many shows to copy over. All you need to do is copy the folders from your normal hard drive and then paste them straight onto your player. No need to mess around with third-party software such as iTunes or Windows Media Player. It makes it so quick and easy that you can copy hundreds of files in just a matter of minutes.

Unfortunately, if you have an iPod you pretty much have to put up with using iTunes all the time. For some people this is fine, but for most people it is much quicker and easier just to quickly select files from one folder and paste them into another folder. If you choose your player right you’ll be able to do exactly that.

3. Make sure your player remembers where you are

Some players have a frustrating habit of returning you to the start of the file if you happen to switch the device off when you’re halfway through listening to a show.

This can be frustrating as it means the next time you switch your player on you need to fast-forward to try to find the point that you were listening to.

It’s also worth checking to see if the player you are thinking about getting has a bookmarking feature. Many players will allow you to set a bookmark at any point in the recording so you can return to that point whenever you like. This is very useful if, for example, you want to break off listening to an old time radio show or audiobook and listen to some music for a while. If you’ve set a bookmark you can quickly return to the exact point you were at. This could be later the same day, a few days later or even many months later. It’s a neat feature that’s well worth having.

4. An auto-off feature

If you enjoy listening to old time radio shows in bed it’s well worth checking to make sure the player you are thinking about has an auto-off feature. Without such a feature it means the player will continue to play until the batteries run flat, which isn’t ideal.

Some players have a sleep facility that lets you set a specific time, after which the player will turn itself off automatically. Others, such as the creative, offer a permanent auto-off feature that will turn the player off if no buttons are pressed for a set period of time. This can be very useful as it means that even if you forget to set the sleep-timer the player will turn itself off after an hour, or whatever length of time you’ve set for the auto-off timer.

5. Sufficient space for all your audio files

When buying a player it’s important to consider how much space you will need for files.

It’s easy to think that the more space the better, but this isn’t always the best way to approach the matter.

For example, there’s no point getting a player with 60 gig of space if you’re only ever going to use one or two gig. Equally, it’s not wise to buy a player with only 1 gig of memory if you’re planning on copying your whole old-time radio show collection onto it.

Personally, I prefer a smaller sized player, such as the Creative Zen Plus, with 8 gig of memory than a larger sized player, in physical terms, with 50+ gig on it. From experience I know that I’m never going to fill more than 5 or 6 gig at any one time and so anything more would be a waste.

The easiest way to calculate how much space you need is to remember that a typical old time radio show is roughly seven megabytes and a typical music track is usually about five megabytes. So, on a 4 meg player you’d be able to store roughly 570 old time radio shows (that’s about 285 hours of listening) or 800 music tracks, which is about 80 full CDs. On an 8 meg player you’d get twice this amount, which for most people is more than enough.

Another benefit of the smaller players is the storage tends to be solid-state, rather than a mini hard drive, which means they’re a lot more resilient and are not as easily damaged if you happen to drop them.

I hope that these five tips will help you in your quest to get the right player for your needs. Whatever you do, don’t get overwhelmed by the wide variety of players now available.

Just use these five tips and you’ll be able to eliminate over seventy percent of them straight away, which will give you a much more manageable list to select from.

Ned Norris is the webmaster of http://www.rusc.com , one of the oldest and most highly regarded old time radio web sites on the Internet. It’s a place where you can relive the golden days of radio at your leisure, download or listen online to 1000s of classic shows, and enjoy regularly updated editorial and reviews on old time radio and related topics.

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5 Tips for Buying an MP3 Player for Listening To Old Time Radio

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