Are you still listening to CDs as they were ten
years ago? You know, 72-some-odd minutes of music, just enough to fit Beethoven's
9th Symphony, yadda-yadda-yadda…. Then you're commiting a crime that's suarre
to send thousands of data compression majors into a fit of poorly constructed
Huffman encoding trees.
See, they got this new thing called MP3. You can
encode your music into MP3 form, reducing your typical four minute track down
to around six-or-so megabytes. Do the math - a single CD can now hold over a hundred
tracks of high-quality audio. Of course, if you can live with reduced sound quality,
you can make the music files even smaller and can pack even more onto a CD. Such
is the power of MP3, kids - it's not just for illegal downloads.
So now you've got a CD full of MP3 music, but how
to play the thing? You have four options:
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.
- Play the CD back on your computer. This works, but you're stuck
listening to the music while you use your computer. No good.
- Buy an MP3 CD player. Yikes! Over one hundred bucks! No good.
- Stick the CD up to your ear and turn it real fast. Maybe, just
maybe, you'll hear something. Uhh… never mind.
- Obtain the "Blaze MP3 DC" for a mere $19.99.
Brought to us by Blaze, the same company behind
the DC-X import player and the DC Twin Joystick, the MP3 DC allows you to play
MP3 files stored on a CD on your Japanese or American Dreamcast (we haven't tried
it with a European Dreamcast, but it should work as well). You simply stick the
MP3 DC start-up CD in your Dreamcast, swap it with a CD loaded with your favorite
MP3s, and you're ready for hours of music. To get you started, Blaze has included
a CD with the package that features around 100 MP3 tracks.
For those interested, here are some of the higher-tech
aspects of the DC MP3 playback, as promised by Blaze:
Of course, to have any real use for this product, you'll need to
either have a source for CDs with MP3s of your favorite music (don't ask us where
you can buy these - we'll have to report you to the feds), or have the ability
to burn CDs with your favorite legally obtained MP3s. This latter step requires
access to a CD burner, something that's standard on many computers and is readily
available at any computer store.
- Plays VBR (variable bit rate files)
- Plays MP3s of any size
- Plays Mono/Stereo files
Once you have some CDs loaded with MP3s, the MP3
DC takes it from there. The software displays a list of MP3 files available on
the disk. You can play individual files, or you can select a series of files for
a play list. When a song is playing, the television displays the song and artist
info if available. You can skip to the next track on your play list with just
the push of a button, but that's about all you can do - there's no forwarding
or rewinding through tracks, or pausing.
Be aware when picking up the MP3 DC, that you're
getting somewhat of an underground product. The interface for playing music is
pure text, which may scare off some. Also, the MP3 DC software is on a CD, not
a GD-ROM. If you have a newer DC, you may not be able to run it. Make sure the
store you buy the MP3 DC from will allow you to return it if it doesn't work with
If you really want an MP3 CD player and don't mind
a few rough interface issues, the Blaze MP3 DC is a good choice.
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