High Capacity & Superior Sound Quality Audio Players
High capacity audio players have the capability of storing large quantities of audio (music, audio books, audio feeds / podcasts, etc.) so that you can easily listen to any desired audio without having to locate or carry your CDs. For many, however, these media players have been a compromise. Though there is the convenience of having all of your audio at your finger tips, the sound quality is noticeably degraded from the original CD.
Thanks to a relatively new audio format, called FLAC, that is rapidly gaining in popularity, there is now a no-compromise option. Normally, when audio from a CD is compressed to work with an audio player, the compression drastically reduces the audio quality. FLAC, however, is a "lossless" format, meaning that no sound quality is lost during the compression; there is no noticeable difference between FLAC audio and the original from which it was made. In addition, FLAC players are powerful enough to read real folders. If you are already familiar with audio players, you may have noticed that most players do not understand folders. That is, you can spend time organizing and sorting all of your music, audio books, etc. on your computer, but when you transfer it to the player, all of that organization is lost and you can only sort content by the options your player provides. FLAC players, however, keep your organization exactly. When you turn on your FLAC player you can see all of your folders just as you see them on your computer.
FLAC players come in two main varieties: portable and stationary. Portable players range in size, capacity, and sound quality. They are extremely easy to use as they don't require any special software on your computer. Simply plug them in and drag your audio folder to it and that's it; all of your music will be copied to the player and your custom organization and sorting will be retained completely. Companies such as MPIO, Iriver, Cowon, and Sandisk currently produce a variety of portable FLAC players. Stationary FLAC players or "FLAC Jukeboxes" are about the size of a typical AV component, such as an audio amplifier, and made by such companies as Escient, Olive, and Pioneer. These players store the contents of your CDs and thus can replace a conventional CD player. They typically have a single CD player built in. Simply insert an audio CD and within minutes the entire CD has been copied to your FLAC jukebox with no sound quality degradation at all. Your stationary FLAC player is also visible from all of your computers, so if you have music on your computer, simply drag it over to your jukebox. Any music that is on your FLAC jukebox can be easily copied to any portable FLAC player.
Any audio CD can be converted to FLAC right from your computer. If you have one of the new GNU/Linux computers you'll find that FLACing is built right in; you won't even have to add any software. For other systems, you may already have a FLAC compression program that came with your computer or there are many online programs that can be downloaded. There are even online music retailers, such as The Philadelphia Orchestra, that are now offering music already in FLAC format and ready to play.
If you like great sound quality and the convenience of being able to listen to whatever you want without having to search for CDs, etc., then the array of new FLAC players will be your perfect answer.