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Chapter 4. Playlists, Tags, and Skins: MP3 Options

Chapter 4. Playlists, Tags, and Skins: MP3 Options

The stock $35 SoundBlaster-compatible card, driving a pair of $25 plastic desktop speakers, has become a de facto standard throughout the '90s. But as computing power increases in accordance with Moore's law,[*] media production and playback functionality takes a more central role in the consumer computer. With the advent of audio cards like the SoundBlaster Live! and the increasing popularity of satellite/subwoofer systems and computer-to-stereo connections, quality file-based audio becomes a realistic possibility for millions of users. MP3's natural home may be the wildlands of the Internet, but its reach is quickly being extended into other domains as well. As homes embrace the "convergence" model, computers, stereos, and televisions are blending together into all-in-one, networked infotainment centers, and stereo component manufacturers are introducing hardware-based MP3 players. Sales of portable units such as the Diamond Rio and Creative NOMAD are skyrocketing, and more and more cars are being fitted with MP3 playback units as well. As a result of all this, it becomes more important than ever to think beyond the simple task of encoding and playing MP3 files. Increasingly, people need to move large amounts of data between their computers and their playback devices, optimize the quality of their MP3 collections, maintain a well-organized filing system or MP3 database, make sure all of their files are tagged with useful meta-data for future reference, parse meaningful playlists out of collections extending into the gigabytes, and extend the reach of their MP3 players to handle unusual situations.

[*] See the glossary for definition and more information.

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