Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] Re: NMOC: MP3/WMA Technical Quesitons

Miron Mizrahi mironmizrahi at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 15 17:06:07 MST 2004

> Since my old cd player is dying a slow death I have decided to
> replace it with an MP3 player.  After doing a little research I
> have a few questions regarding type/brand (anyone willing to share
> a story regarding their experiences?) and the difference between
> MP3 format and WMA format.  I use Roxio and it looks like I can
> code MP3 up to 320 kbps but WMA only up to 128 kbps.  About all I
> know is that more is better sound but also more space.  If anyone
> has any technical advise they woul be willing to share I would
> appreciate it greatly (off list reply is ok).
> Thanks,
> Randy.

both mp3 and wma are audio compression schemes. they are lossy so
under no circumstances should they be used in a trade. 

mp3 is the de facto standard for lossy compression. microsoft came
up with wma (which stands for windows media audio) in its usual bid
to try and use its size to dominate yet another market someone else
thought of. mp3 is public domain while wma is a proprietary
microsoft technology. this is enough (for me at least) to opt for
mp3 over wma. if this is not enough then the prevailing opinion is
that mp3 is better than wma and results in better sound. the only
situation I know wma to be superior is when using low bitrates
(below 64k). this is since wma was originally designed for streaming
over the internet to which the majority of users still connect using
a slow dialup. since you intend to use it at home there is no reason
I can think of to use wma. note that I used the phrase "prevailing
opinion". at the end of the day it is not about scientific proof but
about what sounds better to you. in addition if you use mp3 you can
easily use/share elsewhere since there are many more appliances
supporting mp3 than wma. 

for more go to http://ekei.com/audio/

as far as compression ratio, the higher the better but in case you
do choose wma, 128k is absolutely fine for a normal studio recorded

as far as brands it will depend on what you intend to buy. there are
3 types of appliances that can play mp3/wma

1. dvd - good since you can play a lot of other stuff too and
connect it to an av receiver and surround speakers (if you have
them). bad since it is not portable and does not operate on

2. cd based portable player - this plays regular cds as well as mp3
cds. you can use that on the go or in the car (using a cassette
adapter) but not as part of a home sound system (well you can, it
just won't sound nice). 

3. solid state portable player - this is the small, keyring style
player with usually 128MB of memory (fits about 1 CD at 128k). they
are really unobtrusive and more comfortable to use due to small
size. they do, however, contain only about an hour's worth of music
and you need a PC to download songs to them. they are perfect for
things like jogging since they contain no moving parts (thus no
skips) and you usually don't jog for more than an hour. marathon
runners, tri athletes and people with more stamina than me excluded.

for a dvd or portable I would not go for brand names. they offer no
real diff. in quality and cost more. I would opt for a high end
noname. dvd should go for under $100 and portable for under $50. if
you happen on a deal you can get it for even less. I picked up a dvd
that plays everything, everywhere for $30 at Fry's in Jan.

I have never looked into the solid state ones. 

note that if you intend to listen to boot cds I have not been able
to avoid the gap between songs and it it reeeeealy annoying. the gap
occurs since the switching from one mp3 track to the next involves
closing and opening files which is a much lengthier operation than
moving on to the next audio track.

hope it helps. drop me a line if you need more info

> ...not in Nottingham...

yeah I know. Walnut Creek right?

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