To Buy, or Not to Buy. That is the question.
I started looking at Portable Music Players a month ago. The information available is immense, everyone recommends what to buy and what it does but no one could really give me an answer on where to start.
I love music but I couldn’t get my head around why having a secondary device solely for music made sense. Especially when I’ve got a smartphone? What I’ve discovered on this adventure is that, music via a smartphone in the gym is different to music via a Hi-Res player with sound cancelling headphones sitting back in the chair at home.
These Top Tips cover what you should decide before making the plunge.
#5. Do I need to feel the music, rather than just hear it?
It’s an unusual question but it’s crucial. I’m no audio expert, nor am I proclaiming to hear the difference between the highest quality audio files. What I will acknowledge is that when you can hear every detail, and you’re in the right environment it’s no longer like listening to music. you’re experiencing the music and that’s a big difference.
The truth is, before listening to the Astell & Kern Jr. (my first true Hi-Res music experience) I didn’t see the point in having a second device, especially one that was purely focused on music – I had my Samsung Edge, I have an iPad, I had my MP3’s and I was happy.
So before you do anything else on your journey to buying a music player, decide on whether you need music to be more than just background noise to jog too. If that’s all you need keep using your smartphone and skip to Top Tip #3.
#4. Do I have the budget needed for a high end Music Player experience?
If you’re at Top Tip #4 it means you want to experience the music. Well what I’ve learned is that this comes at a price. A not-so-consumer-friendly price, sadly. For the right Portable Music Player and headphones you’re probably looking at $400 – $500, and things only get more expensive! You can obviously cut corners and get the price down by buying second hand but whenever I spend a lot of money I like to know I have an official warranty. Plus if you buy from a reputable source you can always send the item back if it turns out you don’t hear the difference. This is a real possibility, many people don’t hear the difference between CD quality and higher resolutions of audio, so perhaps you’ll have to be in the right setting for that $400 – $500 outlay to be worth it? This leads onto the next tip.
#3. A Portable Music Player should be all about where you’re going to use it!
If you’re out and about an expensive Hi-Res Portable Music Player might not be for you. I know it’s not for me! If I am commuting or at the gym the background noise clashes with the finer details of Hi-Res audio, you just don’t hear the clarity. Obviously you can buy noise cancelling headphones, but then you have an issue with spatial awareness which could lead to all kinds of accidents.
I find my smartphone gives a fine audio experience while commuting or at the gym. The same is true while moving around my home or at the office computer working. In fact the only time Hi-Res audio comes into my day to day life is when I want to think, relax or escape for a while.
If you need audio on the move decide whether carrying extra devices is right for you. If you’re looking at a cheaper Portable Music Player then your smartphone is probably already equal if not better at audio playback. The only reason to downgrade on quality is to keep your more expensive devices safe from potential damage. You should skip to Top Tip #1 if Hi-Res is not for you.
#2. Do I really want to build a new music collection of Hi-Res audio files?
Yes, MP3 files will upscale when being moved to a Hi-Res music player but they don’t become Hi-Res. You’ll need better quality files to appreciate that fantastic new Portable Music Player you’re thinking of buying. So factor in the time, money and effort to build a new music collection. Do you have that time and interest? Can you move away from the 50GB’s of MP3’s you already have?
#1. Does it need to do more than just play music?
Let’s compare the SanDisk Clip Sport and iPod Touch. One is just a drag and drop clip on audio player that’s ideal for the gym and nothing more. The other is an iPhone without a cell service. If you already have a smartphone why do you need another device where you can Skype, Tweet or play Apps?
If you are in the market for a Portable Music Player then remember it’s all about the budget you have, where you intend to use it and the music available. If you’re out and about the chances are you’ll have your smartphone so all the streaming services and social connectivity you want is already available. Most smartphones play audio as well as the cheaper dedicated Portable Music Players, so why carry another device? Be smart and buy the device that fits your needs.