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Chapter 6. Hardware, Portables, Home Stereos, and Kits

Chapter 6. Hardware, Portables, Home Stereos, and Kits

Until recently, MP3 audio was a software-only proposition for most people. MP3 files were created on the computer and listened to on the computer. But that was before the appearance of the now-legendary Diamond Rio, which won the landmark court battle against the RIAA and, in so doing, legitimized a tidal wave of hardware-based MP3 playback devices. At this writing, there are at least a dozen portable MP3 players, and a whole genre of MP3-oriented home stereo devices is threatening to enter the consumer channel. Dozens of sites are available on the Web designed to help you build an MP3 player from scratch, and many alternatives for playing MP3 in your car are available.

This chapter covers the aspects of MP3 playback that escape the limited confines of the personal computer. Since many of the devices covered here involve connecting computers, home stereos, and custom devices, we'll start with an overview of analog and digital connection issues, before examining the field of MP3 portables and the quickly changing question of how best to store files for use with portables (including the advent of Lilliputian hard drives and removable memory cards). In a similar vein, you'll see how you can use a hand-held computer to play back MP3 files, assuming you've got a suitable PDA. We'll survey the landscape of MP3 equipment designed for use in home and car stereos, then move on to the tricky stuff: Do-it-yourself schemes for building your own MP3 hardware from pre-fab kits and plans, or, for the truly hardcore among you, from scratch.


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