To Ipod or not
February 5, 2006 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Will an Ipod play all of my MP3 files, including those I got from Napster, Audio Galaxy and Soul Seek? I get various answers on this.
posted by DieHipsterDie to Technology (20 answers total)
Yes. (assuming they are indeed .MP3 files).
posted by Robot Johnny at 5:22 PM on February 5, 2006

MP3s have played falwlessly on every iPod I've ever owned, from 1st generation to Nano. Just stay away from that WMA nonsense and you're all set.
posted by clango at 5:24 PM on February 5, 2006

(flawlessly, oops)
posted by clango at 5:25 PM on February 5, 2006

MP3 files, mpeg I layer III files are a 'standard.' Your ipod should handle them fine.

There is no DRM (that I'm aware of) for MP3 files.
posted by filmgeek at 5:25 PM on February 5, 2006

"Probably". You're sure they're all mp3s, right? No oggs, RMs, FLACs, SHNs, etc?

The "best" player for all round format support right now is probably the iRiver ihp-120/140 with Rockbox OS loaded. This will pretty much play any sound format you might download without any need for conversion or transcoding, except for DRM-bollixed WMA (ie, Microsoft) and FairPlay (ie, Tunes) files. The Gameboxy emulator is a nice bonus as well. The later, color iriver 3xx series are also a port target.

There *is* a port of Rockbox to the iPod, but this is much less advanced and now really ready casual users.
posted by meehawl at 5:29 PM on February 5, 2006

Response by poster: They are all MP3s. Two people have told me that only MP3 files from Itunes will play on an Ipod.

Thanks guys.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:35 PM on February 5, 2006

Best answer: Those two people are confused. The iTunes Music Store doesn't sell MP3 files. They sell AAC files. Many of the other online music stores sell WMA files. The iPod will play MP3 files and AAC files, but not WMA files.
posted by aneel at 5:53 PM on February 5, 2006

If they are pure mp3s, yes, they'll work. You're encouraged to go through iTunes to get the songs onto your iPod, but it's not necessary as far as I know.

However, Napster is a subscription service, isn't it? Its FAQ says you can only "keep the music you downloaded for as long as you want to be a Member."

Now, if whatever format Napster lets you download in can be converted to mp3, that should be okay. But if not -- if the files can "expire" or whatever when you stop subscribing, as Napster claims they will -- then you're out of luck.

I don't know if Audio Galaxy or Soul Seek have the same models, or if the music you buy is truly yours. But that's definitely somethng to check out.
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:54 PM on February 5, 2006

Response by poster: I'm talkin' the old free illegal shut down Napster.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:56 PM on February 5, 2006

In that case, they should be plain old vanilla mp3s, and there's no reason on earth you're not set to go.
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:57 PM on February 5, 2006

I've seen one file out of 30,000+ not play on an iPod. IIRC when I examined it I found that it was in mp3 version 1 format and was of, um, uncertain provenance. iTunes would play it but wouldn't transfer it to the iPod. Fortunately, the iTunes Music Store carried it!
posted by kimota at 6:00 PM on February 5, 2006

Napster is a subscription service

No, not entirely. It does both. Napster sells subscriptions, basically pay $10/15 per month and load as much music as will fit onto your device or PC. It's a version of Microsoft's Janus technology, used in all the WMA subscription services. But Napster, like pretty much all the WMA stores, will let you "buy" a tune for 80-99ยข that will persist on your device and be playable by any WMA player without paying a monthly continuance fee. This is the same licence model that Apple uses for its downloads.

So the MS technology licensees get it both way: they get to sell per-item licences, and monthly licences. It's not like Apple to miss out on a potential revenue stream for long. Now that subscriptions have turned into a nice little earner, I figure Apple will front some kind of subscription service sooner rather than later.
posted by meehawl at 6:01 PM on February 5, 2006

The ipod sorts mp3 files by their id3 tags, so mp3 files that are ordered perfectly well in a file folder can, if they lack tag info, be hard to find or poorly labelled when you try to find them on an ipod. This might also be a source of the confusion (but probably isn't).

If you haven't used a player that relies on the id3 tags before, then due to the variety of sources of your mp3 files, you'll pretty much definitely have to get a utility to edit the tags of your mp3 files, else many of them will just be a mess in the ipod. They'll play fine, but finding any particular song might sometimes prove challenging, since it might not have a useful name or other identifiable information.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:15 PM on February 5, 2006

Also, there are lots of AskMe questions about good id3 tag editing utilities, so if you do need one, do a quick search and you'll find heaps.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:17 PM on February 5, 2006

There is a type of .mp3 file called mp3Pro, which uses a different type of compression algorithm which givesbetter sound at a lower bit rate. That is, a file encoded as a 128kbps mp3Pro file will sound like a 196kbps regular mp3.

As far as I know, an iPod should play these files, but it will sound like a 128kbps file because the iPod cannot process the mp3Pro compression.
posted by thewittyname at 6:18 PM on February 5, 2006

Oh - one other thing - I remember, way back in the old'n days that a few music files were encoded as mp2s. Sometimes these files would be re-labeled as mp3s. An iPod may not be able to play those re-labeled mp2s, but I doubt that would be your problem because I haven't seen an mp2 in years.
posted by thewittyname at 6:21 PM on February 5, 2006

Whoever said that you have to buy music that goes on your iPod from the iTunes Music Store is an idiot (yeah, both of them). I've owned two iPods, one first generation and one fifth generation. I've never purchased (ever, ever) any music from the iTunes Music Store or any other digital download service. I rip all my music from my own CDs (or music I made myself) and all of it's on my iPod. Except for one m4a file, everything is MP3. I've heard iPods will also play wav files, but I'd rather save the space and rip to MP3.
posted by phoebus at 6:52 PM on February 5, 2006

Regular old mp3 files, yes. I've been collecting mp3s since long before the days of the original Napster (anyone else remember using dial up to get mp3s from ftp sites?) and my iPod mini hasn't choked on one yet.
posted by cgg at 8:08 PM on February 5, 2006

As far as I know, an iPod should play these files, but it will sound like a 128kbps file because the iPod cannot process the mp3Pro compression.

Actually, it will sound worse than a 128kbps file - mp3Pro uses some of the data to save it's extra audio information, leaving behind less bitrate for players that can't understand mp3Pro.

So if you like, a 128kbps mp3Pro file sounds like a 196kbps file on an appropriate player, and a 96kbps file on an inappropriate player.
posted by Jimbob at 8:32 PM on February 5, 2006

I have occasional problems with my MP3 player (which is not an Ipod). It seems to happen mostly with low bitrate files such as lectures and the occasional podcast.

All I have to do to fix this, however, is reconvert them in DBPoweramp. If there's any real loss of quality, I can't hear it.
posted by tomble at 9:34 PM on February 5, 2006

« Older iPod coexisting with Mac and Windows?   |   Anyone use Colibri? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.