SoundPlaybackDeviceFilter: I need to play back audio for a specific purpose. Please tell me what devices (mp3 player, sampler, etc.) have worked for you!
February 16, 2007 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for something that will be able to play back either an uncompressed WAVE file or that will record an actual audio signal for later playback. It has to be totally shock/shake-proof, and it must be able to automatically stop after every track/file and wait for input to start again. Preservation of sound quality is absolutely essential. If any of you have experience with such a device, please share.

So, this device would be used to play a track of audio to a mixing board to be mixed in with a live performance. Obviously, it needs to stop at the end of each track so that it can be restarted at the band's convenience.

It would have to output to 1/8" or 1/4" stereo, RCA, or XLR (preferably not XLR).

It could be a CD player, but I think that would probably cause too much trouble, and they never seem to be totally shock-proof.

It could be an mp3 player that supports WAVE files. Once again, it would have to be able to stop at the end of each track and wait for the "play" button to be pressed to start the next track.

It could be a sampler, but I know nothing about them. If it is a sampler, it would need to hold at least 40 minutes of sound.

I don't trust CD players for this, and I really have no experience with either mp3 players or samplers, so I don't know if any of them could do the job. I trust the hive mind to point me in the right direction!

And once again, preservation of sound quality is essential.

Oh, did I mention that I would like to spend less than $200? I wouldn't mind spending more if it is for something really worthwhile, but my gut tells me that the right device exists and can be found (Ebay? Craigslist?) for under $200.

Thanks in advance to anyone who responds.
posted by gaiamark to Media & Arts (13 answers total)
iPod Nano - it plays from ram so it should be quite shock proof and you can put music in there in CD quality format. If it is the only song on the playlist or other section and the device is out of shuffle it will just stop after the song is done.
posted by caddis at 9:04 AM on February 16, 2007

maybe something like this?
posted by peewinkle at 9:23 AM on February 16, 2007

On the bell curve of consumer-grade audio, iPods are very far towards the good side when it comes to playback quality. Try one and see if it meets your standards before you spend more. But if you really want the best possible audio quality for playback, the answer is a portable device geared towards musicians (there are such things, for example an mp3 recording/playback device from M-Audio in the $400-500 range; ask at a music store or website).

Audio quality is also going to depend on the entire signal chain, from this playback device through the cable used to connect it to the mixer, to the mixer itself. Anything handheld is most likely going to output 1/8" stereo audio. So you need a 1/8" to 1/4" stereo converter cable, and you need the best one you can afford. makes the excellent custom cables I use. (Actually they would be a great/friendly source of advice on this question.)

If the band is playing at different venues -- not always using their own mixer & setup -- they need to know in advance if the venue's mixer will accept a single stereo audio in, and be prepared if not. For greatest flexibility, they'll need a set of converter cables, the most important being single 1/8" stereo to Left and Right 1/4" mono. Always ask the venue to avoid disappointment/stress....
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:01 AM on February 16, 2007

Also, the reason caddis recommends Nano is that you definitely want flash memory rather than a hard drive for shock resistance. Currently, iPods in the 1GB-8GB range use flash (good) & anything bigger uses a hard drive (bad).
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:04 AM on February 16, 2007

@caddis: Thanks. I thought perhaps one of the iPod variations would do. The only problem is (and perhaps I didn't make this clear) that it would have to be loaded with perhaps ten or twelve tracks, and it would need to stop automatically at the end of each and wait for input before proceeding.

@peewinkle: That device is actually for recording. I need something for playback. Thanks anyway :]

@allterrainbrain: Thank you for all of the info. I actually am a bit of an amateur sound engineer, so I know all about cables and I have plenty of adapter cables for various situations. I have also seen portable audio devices that use RCA inputs and outputs (I own one).

I just know very little about mp3 players and the like, mostly because I'm a poor bastard and I don't normally buy them. It seems like an iPod would do the trick, if only they could be made to stop automatically after each track.

Hopefully someone knows of something that will do this.
posted by gaiamark at 10:18 AM on February 16, 2007

I don't have an ipod, but would this work? Set up a "playlist" for each song, containing only that song. Then you could just play the specific playlist, and only that song should play, and it should stop at the end.

Right? Maybe?
posted by inigo2 at 10:23 AM on February 16, 2007

@inigo2: I guess that should work, but it would be too laborious and time-consuming. The idea is that I should be able to just press play whenever I want the next track to start. I don't want to mess around with leaving extra space at the end of tracks and just pressing next either, because a stray double-press could lead to catastrophe.
posted by gaiamark at 10:30 AM on February 16, 2007

I suggest the Cowon IAudio G3 (this is what I own) or maybe another Cowon player like the U2. If you set the G3 to single track/no loop, it will stop playing when it gets to the end of the track and you will only need two presses to start the next track (next track, play)...the U2 should be similar, just with a smaller screen (cheaper).
posted by anaelith at 10:44 AM on February 16, 2007

Edirol R-09 24-Bit Wave/MP3 Recorder Features:

* 24-bit/48kHz (or 44.1kHz) uncompressed recording
* Up to 320kbps MP3 playback and recording
* Records to SD card (64MB card included supports 32MB-2GB cards)
* High-grade stereo condenser microphone built in
* Mic and Line audio inputs; USB I/O
* Playback reverb
* Easy operation, user-friendly graphic display
* Ultra portable, half the size of the R-1
* Long battery life
* Includes AC adapter, 64MB SD card, and USB cable
posted by peewinkle at 10:45 AM on February 16, 2007

Edit: Actually, playing with mine more, I lie, you only need one press (dunno why I was convinced you need two).
posted by anaelith at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2007

it would have to be loaded with perhaps ten or twelve tracks, and it would need to stop automatically at the end of each and wait for input before proceeding.

Not a problem. Just put each track into its own playlist. The playlist name could be the same as the track name to make it easy. It will play just that track and then stop, waiting for your input. Ten or twelve lossless tracks will easily fit into even the smallest Nano.

A more old school and perhaps sturdier approach might be to get an old tape cart player/recorder from a radio station. Tape carts look like 8 track tapes, play one song/commercial and then stop.
posted by caddis at 12:05 PM on February 16, 2007

wow, I posted that last comment at 2:10 EST, just as MeFi was going down and here it is with a 3:05 EST time stamp. weird.
posted by caddis at 12:25 PM on February 16, 2007

@peewinkle: Sorry, I didn't see that. It doesn't matter, because I have no way of knowing whether it will auto stop at the end of each track.

@caddis: I'm too lazy to bother with the playlists.

@anaelith: I've just purchased a 4gb U3 :]

I hope it works the way I need it to. Thanks everybody.
posted by gaiamark at 12:50 PM on February 16, 2007

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