What Makes the MP3 Player Tick?

by : Andrew Stratton

While storing data in your MP3 player, you seldom stop to find how files are saved in the player's memory. The different types of memory types include internal flash memory, Compact Flash cards, Smart Media cards, Memory Stick and internal micro drive.

Except for internal micro drive, all of the above mentioned are ‘solid-state’ memory types in which there are no moving parts. This enables better reliability and no skips while you are enjoying the music. There are tiny hard disk drives in MP3 players which have capacity to store 10 to 150 times more date compared to flash memory devices.

In any MP3 player, the microprocessor is the brains of the system, monitoring user input through playback controls, displaying all the statistics related to the song playing on the LCD panel and sending instructions to the DSP chip that tells exactly how to process the audio.

The DSP withdraws the data of songs from memory, through application of special effects, or EQ, and streams it to the amplifier. A decompression algorithm run by the DSP will undo the compression of the MP3 file and then a digital-to-analog converter will change the bytes back into sound waves.

After boosting the strength, the amplifier sends the signal to the audio port, which is connected to a pair of headphones.

MP3 players are portable and battery-powered. Most of them use one or two AA batteries that last for about 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. Many players are equipped with AC adapters and can be plugged into a normal electrical outlet and some even offer DC adapters for use in a car.

Minidisk technology comes to music listeners in a new and improved line of Minidisk Walkman digital music players. A 1 GB disc is provided by Hi-MD technology to give users up to 45 hours of music. Those looking for a player that can store their entire music collection would find the hard drive ideally suited for the purpose. These discs can also store and transfer many PC data files to enable PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, etc. and depending on the model, it could allow 30 to 50 hours of playtime on a single AA battery.