Technical Travel - Music on the Road | Travel Guide


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Technical Equipment

Music and the Ipod

How much music you listen to on an extended travel is very much down to your personality. Certain diehard travellers will tell you to leave the music at home and concentrate on the ambient noise of wherever you find yourself. If music is an important part of your everyday life you will miss it, and on a long journey there will be times and places where listening to music will be much more preferable to the ambient noises. The noise of your fellow passengers snoring and chatting on a long haul flight is not interesting, on a overnight bus journey it's a case of sleep, read or relax to some music. Whilst not essential, some music is a good thing to have.

There have never been as many choices as currently available, from the much-coveted Ipod to the Walkman, the first portable music system playing the now-old-fashioned cassettes. All have their own place, convenience and price-tag.

Walkman - cassette player
15 years ago these were the best option, now they have been superseded by a host of options. The chances are that if you have one its old. The sound quality isn't the best, the tapes are bulky.
Capacity: 1 cassette stores up to 120mins of music.
Description: Easy to record a cassette of your favorite hits from your music collection, but becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement tapes, on the road your collection will not grow, so you'll be listening to the same music as you leave with.
Cost: Very low.

Basic portable CD player.
Ranging in size from only a little larger than a CD case to some nasty bulky models.
Capacity: 1 CD up to 80 mins of music.
Description: Easy to make a best of CD on a home computer, you'll find that you can swap music at some internet cafe's or when you meet a sucker carrying a laptop. Down side - a large collection of CD's becomes bulky quite quickly. They also tend to have a short battery life, continuously spinning that CD requires power. Often skips easily, so not suitable for listening to whilst moving (brisk walking upwards)
Cost: Very low

MP3 portable CD player
Looking exactly the same as a standard portable CD player, the only give away a small stylized MP3 somewhere on the case. MP3 is digitally compressed music, by losing quality of sound (mostly in frequencies that you can't directly hear) music can be compressed to much smaller sizes. By losing some audio quality, the sizes can become extremely small.
Capacity: 1 CD around 10hrs good quality music up to 40hrs at low quality.
Description: A little more complex to make CD's of music, you have to use some software to rip the music from your CD collection. Tend to have better battery life than standard CD players, and skip less. Much less bulky music collection - 10hrs of music on one CD is a huge amount. Most people's entire collection will only take 4 or 5 disks.
Cost: Medium

One of the smaller options, around half the size of a cassette player. Again incorporating compression to allow 100mins music to fit on a 3.5inch disk.
Capacity: 100mins per disk.
Description: Superseded by the current generation of players, the minidisk is on the way out. Updating your collection on the road will be difficult. Although less bulky than the cassette and standard CD player options, a large music collection will take up a significant part of your luggage.
Cost: Medium

Portable MP3* players (inc. Ipod shuffle), flash memory based.
The smallest of all the options, ranging in size from about the size of a packet of chewing gum. Example; Ipod shuffle.
Capacity: From 1hr to 20hrs at good quality.
Description: So small that the headphones will be more of a burden, doesn't skip, solid state. Only draw back is that you would be limited to the music that you load initially.
Cost: Medium

Portable MP3* players (inc. standard Ipods) hard drive based.
Of all the products of this type the Ipod from Apple is the most well known. Basically a laptop hard drive in a sleek case, with hardware decoding for compressed music.
Capacity: From 40hrs to 600hrs at good quality.
Description: Ultra portable and with so much capacity that carrying additional music would be pointless. The Hard drive based portable MP3 players are the ultimate option for the traveling music buff. It would be extremely rare that it skips. Looks good has massive capacity. Only drawback is the cost.
Cost: High

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