Keeping up with Music Media 108

I have escaped from the cardiac care unit after six days. Hurray! To be fair to the QEQM hospital in Margate, they give patients individual freeview televisions with built in DVD players, rather than the ridiculous Patientline rip off, and they don’t pretend mobile phones interfere with medical equipment (or bring down low flying aircraft, which they would were the entirely fake airline warnings true). I was able to patch my laptop through by using my phone as a hotspot, though unfortunately the phone data signal was weak to vanishing.

But one thing the experience did bring home to me was a problem with the portability of my music collection. I had downloaded my CDs on to my laptop and even purchased some music online. But I would like to put the collection in a still more portable format. The difficulty is I have over 14,000 tracks comprising some 1200 hours, currently in a windows media format.

I want an MP3 player but they don’t seem to have that much storage. I want a portable music player, as small and simple as possible, not something that phones, plays videos, connects to the internet or offers nutritional advice. I have great difficulty finding what I need as on close reading it appears that most devices don’t have a very high proportion of advertised memory actually available for music storage.

Any advice? I am constantly amazed that at least one well informed person on absolutely any subject you will name reads this blog. I don’t apologise for the lack of a proper post of commentary today – I am meant to be resting!!

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108 thoughts on “Keeping up with Music Media

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  • Martin

    You can get iPod classics, which have larger capacity than the touch or phone varieties. Alternatively, consider a Creative Zen player. I had one a few years back, and it was great.

  • Alex

    Agree that the iPod classic would be good and well built. 80GB version is probably big enough for your 14,000 songs (I assumed a generous average file size of 5MB), although the 160GB one would ensure you can keep collecting songs for years to come. However, they are expensive (£200). Plus, personally, I hate managingmy media through Apple’s iTunes (especially on Windows PCs) so Microsoft Zune 80GB may be a better choice, and appears quite cheap: 120GB for £50.

    Get fully well soon, and keep the blog posts coming!

  • nevermind

    Aaaargh, the return of the ‘torture laptop’ last used to discipline and disorganise the workforce at a certain Ramsgate abode, I know it well……

    Great to hear you’re out. Wonder why the Frontline club is scared of you? that they never invited you to share the platform.

  • mike cobley

    Never a fan of Itunes, to be frank, but can thoroughly recommend the Sony Walkman NWZ series player – I have the A818 (8gb) but you can get the 16gb version too which is ample for hours/days of music. What I like about it is that you dont need to have a complementary chunk of software on yr PC in order to load it up with mp3s – sure, Windows will always offer to sync it to the media player but that option can be avoided. All thats needed is the interface lead to a usb jack, which recharges as well as allowing the movement of mp3s, folders, and pix and vids too. Check out the Amazon reviews for more gen.

  • Jives

    Have a gander at the Cowon X7 Craig.

    Fast file transfer from laptop,huge 160 Gb capacity,excellent battery life and reputedly oustanding audio fidelity quality.

  • Paul

    Ipod classic has loads of room, organises your music for you, is very straightforward to use. I’ve had my 80Gb one for several years, and the battery is still good for several weeks. I usually play it in the car as I go from job to job, listening to audiobooks as often as I listen to music.

  • Richard

    My solution is a Glaxy S3 phone, complete with a 64 GB microSD card. This stores at least 600 CDs worth, and it’s a good solution, with plenty of battery life (at least if you keep the screen off while playing).

    What you’re really looking for doesn’t exist any more – the reason is that, to choose from a large music collection, you really want a reasonable-sized screen.

    The ultra-compact players tend to have a terrible interface, or they’re nearly as expensive as a smartphone, just do less. Also, there’s not much space in the market for a dedicated music player, now that smartphones can weigh less than 6 ounces!

    Lastly, as a geek, I recommend staying well away from Apple (or iTunes) – this way, you keep your freedom to manage your files your way.

  • Dave Kearsley

    Glad to know your discharged from hospital, and that NHS were at their best, now make sure you follow their advice and get yourself fighting fit again! I’ve not posted before but follow your posts, all respect and best wishes to you for this new year and many more to come 🙂

  • Laurence

    Google Play will let you upload 20,000 tracks for free, and you can access them from any device with a working internet connection.

  • kingfelix


    ipod 200 quid!!!

    I bought one here in Taiwan 4 years ago and it cost 100 UKP and the price must have dropped further since.

    Is this rip-off Britain?

  • glenn_uk

    I don’t know about that, Laurence… the less you involve google in your life the better.

  • DtP

    Hope you’re better young man. Bit strange popping you in the cardiac ward for a bad case of the piles but i’m no Doctor!! Ber dum dum tish – i’m here all week, tip your waitresses!

  • MikeD

    I agree with Richard tho I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7 inch) with an external card. It plays both WMA and MP3 files…. Find it very useful for reading news and skype too. Very easy to transfer your music from a PC -just plug in like a USB stick. The tab cost about £170 and the ext memory was another £15-20.

    Hope you have a rapid and full recovery – best for 2013 🙂

  • Cryptonym

    Though you can wrap a larger shell script to process a batch of files for conversion from wma to mp3, with some safeguards, you’ll run into problems with bad filenames, those containing spaces and so, requiring fixing first, with that done then using lame and mplayer, the core of such a script might be:

    for i in $(ls -1 *.wma)
    lame -t --quiet /tmp/myfifo.wav ${i}.mp3 & mplayer -cache 1024 -ao pcm:file=/tmp/myfifo.wav ${i}

    This sets up lame listening to a named pipe (which is the scripts job somewhere to create if it doesn’t exist) then mplayer reads the source file wma, sending wave output to the pipe (note then no large intermediate wave file is created). The source wma file in each iteration is $i and the destination file created is called $i.mp3. Thus for a file called file.wma, you’ll end up with another called file.wma.mp3

    You should really examine if your want for large memory on a portable player is really all that important, beyond about 4G memory on such a device, the returns are diminishing ones. Is it really all that important when access to a greater number from a pc laptop, or dvd backup is so easy. Maybe consider a player with removable micro-SD cards or similar, but always accessible simply as USB storage devices, not tied to any proprietary os or transfer software; flash memory write cycles are however still limited and you wouldn’t want to be frequently changing the contents.

  • thatcrab

    I don’t recommend getting hooked on Apple products unless you can afford to do the whole set ipod, iphone and a Mac — they are all smoothly supported, but with a big price premium. Ipod drivers slow down many laptops. Also, the state of mobile phone technology now has rather eclipsed old portable music players.

    I recommend putting music collection on microSD card/s, these are the medium of choice for this, smaller than a postge stamp, they go in most digital video/cameras too, sometimes fitting inside a £1 case/adapter to fit the larger old legacy SD size. They will play in nearly all phones and decent mp3 players.

    A usb reader for microSD is handy and cheap for connecting to computer: (£3)

    64 gig microsd cost about £45, 32g about £25, 16g about 10, 8g and less costs around £5. Class 6 or 10 means a reasonable guarantee that the card will not be slow for reading or writing.

    This list is fine value, just choose size desired (eg 32) and class 10 is not much more expensive

    If you have a lot of CDs to convert then a nicer cd reader can be a very worthwhile investment,
    I cant make a certain recommendation but this cheap external drive has fine reviews,—Black
    Thats better than using a laptops burner, or a ropey old desktops. Some people will invest more on a top performer that copes with dirt and scratches. Good to get someone well equiped to scan your cds for a price.

    Someone should be able to recommend a smooth CD converter application for Linux, or Ubuntu or whatever probably has one already setup.

    We could look for a decent microsd based, long battery life music player/radio with an internal speaker for certain occassions, but its not so different from a modern phone without a sim card…

  • thatcrab

    I caught the new years cold virus today so im feeling a bit robotic. Very glad to hear you have escaped Craig ! Treat yourself nice 😀

  • A Node

    Your ‘windows media format’ is probably wma which is more or less equivalent to mp3 in file size. You don’t say what bit rate your tracks have been encoded at but assuming a reasonable quality of 192 kbps, you’re going to need a minimum of 100GB storage space just for present needs. Allowing for future expansion and/or better quality bit rates, you should be looking for storage space of at least 160GB. You’re going to need something with a hard drive.

    Many music players have hard drives, but due to the imperatives of consumerism, they aren’t designed to last. You might consider buying a portable hard drive which will be quarter the price and twice as durable. You can plug it into any player with a USB port.

  • John Goss

    Free television! Wow! Anyway, glad to hear you are back in circulation if you’ll pardon the pun.

    I had heart surgery last year. The television provider at Solihull, Lode Lane, and at Walsgrave, Coventry – which was the same for both – a company called Hospedia, was a right rip off.

    The hospital surgeons and staff were a credit to the NHS creating a stark contrast between our publicly-owned hospitals and Hospedia, a private provider. Televisions on the ward were antiquated and did not work. The choice of channels was dire. People who were only in for one or two nights were the ones who used them. Most of those in for longer found other forms of entertainment.

    I think they’ve renamed Walsgrave hospital to something like Coventry University Hospital. Quite right too. Who wants to go in for major heart surgery when the hospital ends in ‘grave’?

  • thatcrab

    WMA files can be beyond the average computer users means to convert because they can be locked. If they arent locked then convert them to a much higher bitrate mp3 eg constant 256kbs (not 128) because the inaudible differences in the formats combine and become audible – tinny and squeeky, especially if you dont upsize them in the conversion. The effects can be bothersome even when hard to notice. WMA and even MP3 are not designed to be nicely convertable.

  • Phil

    I hate to poop the gadget party but I will. I am amazed that here, where people understand that big business is the root of evil, google and apple are suggested as possible solutions.

    I question why you feel the desire to have 14,000 tracks immediately available at all times in all places. Fourteen fucking thousand?!!

    Corporations kill. Consumerism kills. Listen to community radio instead.

  • kingfelix


    You are quite right, there are many organic MP3 players available. I myself have recently switched to one made of elk horns and amber assembled under a fair-trade agreement by the Navajo.

    As for 14000 songs, why not? That’s not unreasonable, less than 2000 albums. For those who have collected music with any sort of commitment, that’s not a lot to have to show after a few decades.

  • thatcrab

    Good music on the radio is a wonderful but rare find, community radio stations are rare too. I don’t subscribe to the advice that change starts with the individual in the present – with You. Now. – forfeiting everything that is produced wrongly and feeling complicit every time you don’t. I think that kind of demand locks quite practically most people into the problematic system. Change no matter how urgent has to be gradual and imparted to the system, not into a few exceptional heroes, into the outlooks of the many.
    Restraint and resisting the glamours and temptations at large is good but little more than as much as it benefits you individually. To benefit everyone influence well the many. Your individual now is paradoxically but practically less significant than compared to the affects on the manys now and future.
    In essence you can waste a lot of time on resources on frivilous and contentious products while still having one of the best effects on the many and the future, the inverse is true. Its a matter of degree and balance, and owning your own music collection for your own pleasure is a small degree compared to most.

    But I think these gadgets might become much more expensive in the future, and worry i should be stockpiling necessities more than just in case. Life goes on as it goes around in the meanwhile.

  • kingfelix


    Much music is the antithesis of mindless consumerism, i.e. art, my boy.

    Stop being so dreary. Community radio? They’re going to play Fela Kuti followed by Swans and then an interview with Ray McGovern.


  • Jon

    Phil, I mostly agree with you, but would say two things: one cannot entirely avoid corporate products in a corporate world, and the degree to which these things can be partly avoided varies from one person to the next.

    For example, I avoid iTunes, since I think it sucks users into a closed platform of music purchasing that I’d rather steer clear of. I’d prefer to purchase from a variety of sources, and in a non-protected standard format. Of late, I avoid Amazon because of their tax avoidance. But if want to run a smartphone it is either Android (Google) or Apple, even though there are progressive objections to both. I’m a fan of Linux, but use my work MacBook at home because (I hate to say it) it works much more reliably.

    Similarly I’ve mostly switched to the Co-op supermarket but sometimes Tesco, five minutes away, is the only possible option.

    There is a danger that we encourage people to inconvenience themselves so greatly – here I think of persuading people to dump their cars – that they give up on trying to change anything. Some, therefore, is better than nothing!

  • Phil


    Sure you mock anti-consumerism as organic elk worship. Sure you cry about children lacking of water. Maybe you give to charity. But don’t interupt the consumrism fest that is 14,000 tracks aon demand that are all mine, mine, mine. I paid for them just like I did that shit xmas gift that the recipient laughed about for 2 minutes before throwing it in the bin. Consume, consume, consume away. There’s a good little consumer.

  • thatcrab

    Sorry a virus seems to have scrambled my expressive regions more than usual. Kingfelix – the vinyl record player seems positively organic today. Now those made impressive collections.

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