Getting the best out of MP3
This has probably been covered before but one of my big bug-bears about the coverage in the magazine is the lack of detail regarding tests and discussion of MP3 players and recordings.
With hi-fi equipment we always get reviews of kit based on partnering with appropriate components and thus you get a view of the quality of the kit in the environment in which it is likely to be used. With mp3 players there is often little evidence that the machines have been tested with anything other than the supplied headphones which for the majority of readers is not how they would be used.
What would make more sense would be to test the players and supplied headphones seperately - i.e. a rewiew for the player itself based on performance with suitable aftermarket headphones and a seperate rating for the supplied phones.
On another but related note - with the performance of mp3 players so dependant on the quality of the 'rip' - i.e. bitrate, format (mp3, flac, aac etc) - I think a useful feature in the magazine would be ripping techniques for getting the best out of this format. This should ideally include ripping for both home music servers such as the Squeezebox or Sonos set-ups (relative merits of FLAC, WAV, 320kbs etc) and also for portable players where filesize is more important (comparisons of quality at various bitrates for mp3, aac, wma etc).
This could perhaps be included as a beginners guide in every issue.
Always a bugbear of mine where people extol the virtues of their new ipods when listening to low bit-rate music on the supplied headphones!
Interested to know other peoples views on this.