Music & MP3 Player Guide

Whether you prefer audio books or rock operas, you need the right portable device. This music and MP3 player guide will help you zero in on the best option for your audio interests and lifestyle.

Music & MP3 Players 101

You may already have a smartphone, tablet or even a digital camera loaded with your favourite songs, videos, games and family photos. So why would you want a separate device for music. Well for starters, your smartphone may have a lot less storage capacity than a music player. That’s important if you want access to all your music vs. just your current favourites. Other issues include excessive battery drainage, especially if you do a lot of downloading, and poor viewing experience on phones with small screens. A dedicated music player solves all of these problems. And if you have young kids, a music or MP3 player is an ideal starter device before they're ready to graduate to a smartphone.

Types of Music & MP3 Players


Music Players

If you're looking for an MP3 device primarily to listen to music, your best bet could be a music player. Though small and lightweight, these devices typically contain all the features you need to manage your music and adjust the sound to your liking. The screens are small, but adequate for operating the controls and displaying album art. Some models are equipped with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology to work with wireless headphones. Like smartphones, many music players offer additional lifestyle features like pedometers and heart monitors. At the low end of the price scale, storage capacity starts at 512MB, or about 120 songs. High-end models have 64 GB of memory, enough to hold about 16,000 songs. Some models come with expansion slots for additional storage.

Media Players (music & video)

A media player is a great choice when you want to do more than listen to music. These devices provide everything you need to organize and enhance your music. But they also have larger screens (up to five inches) for watching videos, gaming and browsing the Internet. Some even have cameras for taking still photos and shooting video, including videoing yourself for live online chats. With their sophisticated operating systems, these devices can essentially do everything that a smartphone can, except make phone calls. Storage capacity starts at 8 GB and goes as high as 320 GB. Like music players, some media players come with expansion slots for additional storage.

Music & MP3 Player Buying Tips:

• A model with Wi-Fi connectivity and a browser is best for downloading and streaming music
• Consider the amount of music and other content you're likely to store before deciding on memory capacity
• Choose a model with software that meets your needs for organizing your music and creating playlists
• For listening to music while swimming, choose a waterproof player designed for the purpose.
• A colour display is best for viewing photographs and watching videos

Music Player Features

Software +

Though it's not visible like your MP3 player's flashy exterior, the software installed on your device is important. The best software has an intuitive interface and is easy to use. A key purpose of your MP3 software is to allow you to organize your music collection into categories and create playlists for quick search and retrieval. It also should allow fast, simple transfer of music files to the player via USB cable or Wi-Fi, or both. And it needs to flawlessly convert files from one format to another for maximum sound quality. In most players, the software will need to be updated from time to time to fix bugs, add features and ensure compatibility with the latest file formats.

App +

Apps offer additional functionality beyond that provided by your device's system software. These self-contained programs are easy to download and install. Through the use of apps, you can transform your music and MP3 player into a Skype phone, gaming device, exercise tracker, heart monitor and much more. There are many free apps available and some that you must purchase.

Volume Limiter +

Listening to excessively loud sounds on your music or MP3 player can cause hearing loss. A volume limiter helps protect your ears by setting a maximum volume level for your device. This prevents you from accidentally turning the music too loud and ensures your kids always use their players at safe levels. Some devices have volume limiters operated through the software menu, while others have a physical switch that you turn on or off. Additionally, volume limiters are preset to safe listening levels and others let you set your own maximum volume.

Controls +

Almost all music and MP3 players allow you to adjust the tone of the audio produced. Some have equalizer controls, while others feature separate controls for bass and treble. Presets with default settings for specific musical genres like rock and jazz are another common feature. Other standard controls include volume, play, pause, fast-forward and reverse. Most players have a shuffle mode that lets you play tracks in a random order, which is great for parties.

Wi-Fi +

One of the hottest trends in music and MP3 players is wireless connectivity. Some players offer Wi-Fi as an alternative to a USB cord for downloading music files and software updates from your computer. More sophisticated players feature Wi-Fi paired with a web browsing and music-streaming software, which gives you access to online music. As well, some players use Wi-Fi to transfer data to wireless headphones for cable-free listening. If you’re shopping for a player with Wi-Fi capability, read the product specs to be sure you're getting the Wi-Fi you want.

Bluetooth +

Many MP3 players use Bluetooth technology, rather than Wi-Fi, to stream data to wireless headphones. Bluetooth is a dependable option, and there are plenty of Bluetooth-enabled headphones on the market. But as a wireless technology, Bluetooth can't match Wi-Fi for security, range or data transfer speed. For this reason, MP3 players with Bluetooth are slowly being phased out, and Wi-Fi is increasingly becoming the way to go.

Display +

Most new MP3 and music players have touch-screen displays that show information on the songs being played as well as memory use, battery life and sometimes the date and time. Some displays present a list of tracks from which you can easily make a selection. Others show only one track at a time, requiring you to swipe through albums and tracks to find what you want to hear. On some devices, the displays are monochrome, but most new players feature full-colour screens to support secondary multimedia functions like photo display and video playback.

Voice Recording +

Many MP3 players will record audio as well as play it. In some models, there's a physical button to press. In others, the recorder is activated through the device's software controls. The recorded audio is automatically stored for playback or to transfer to your computer. When using the recorder function, hold your MP3 player a comfortable distance away from the person speaking or place it nearby.

Content Recording +

In addition to serving as a basic tape recorder, some MP3 players with recording capability can be connected to a microphone to record live music or film dialogue. Use a unidirectional mic for recording a single voice or instrument and an omni-directional mic for recording a small group.

Video Playback +

Many players can store and play video in a format that compresses about two hours of content into 1 GB to 2 GB of data. Most music and MP3 players have relatively small screens, so they're best suited for watching shorter video content like music videos and viral web gems, rather than TV shows or movies. Some players have larger screens more suitable for watching longer programs. Also, keep in mind that video downloading and streaming generally requires high-speed Wi-Fi (Bluetooth transmission may be too slow for this purpose), and extended video playback will drain your battery quicker than music playback.

Speakers +

You can extend the usefulness of your MP3 player — and share your love of music with your friends — by connecting your device to speakers. Your options include a traditional speaker dock and wireless speakers. To use a speaker dock, you plug your player into the port or connect it using a USB cord. For wireless speakers, you stream your music from your MP3 player using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Storage Capacity +

Before you can crank up your favourite tune on your MP3 player, you need to save it to the on-board hard drive. The amount of storage capacity you need depends on how you intend to use your device. Some people keep a relatively small number of songs on their players, while others store their entire music collection. Since the average pop song uses 3 to 4 and a half megabytes of memory, a one-GB player can store about 280 songs. Today's moderate-sized devices have 64 GB of memory, which is far more capacity than most people need. For storing lots of large files like full-length movies, there are players available with up to 320 GB of memory.

Headphones +

If you enjoy listening to music on the go, you need to buy a good pair of headphones. The freedom to listen to music hands-free is an obvious benefit, but keep in mind you'll also be doing your roommates and fellow commuters a big favour. Earbuds are a versatile, highly portable option, easy to store in your pocket or purse when not in use. Headphones deliver better sound quality, particularly in the bass tones, but they're bulky and less portable. Noise cancelling headphones cancel out ambient sounds to help you hear your music better. The technology works best on continuous low-frequency sounds, not so well high-frequency irregular noises.

Batteries +

Today's portable music players are typically powered by rechargeable lithium batteries. If your device stops working, always check the batteries to see if they need recharging or replacing. When replacing the batteries, be sure the new batteries are the correct size and shape for your MP3 player. Some players have a battery that's hardwired to the inside. You should probably seek the help of a qualified technician to change the batteries in this type of player.

Waterproof +

If you love both music and swimming, a waterproof MP3 player may be for you. There are a variety of devices on the market. Some are produced by large brand-name companies and others by specialty manufacturers. Apart from the player remaining dry inside, the most important consideration is the earbuds, which need to create a tight seal with your ear. Other factors include how securely the player clips on to your body and the ease-of-use of the controls.

See all +

Shop Accessories & Related Products:

Music & MP3 Player Maintenance Tips:

• Use a sturdy case to protect your player from scratches and falls
• Cover the display screen with a latex screen protector
• When cleaning, use rubbing alcohol with a shammy
• Whenever possible, password protect your device to keep it secure
• Keep away from moisture if your device is not waterproof
• Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



Store details