Mp3 Audio

Most people are familiar with mp3 audio. MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 is digital audio coding that uses auditory masking to enable the reduction of the file size. Auditory masking is leaving out the parts of the sound files that are not audible by the human ear. With this technique the size of mp3 files are able to be reduced to a manageable file size.

This smaller file size makes mp3 files the perfect format for digital downloads and portable media played on small flash drives. Recently, mp3 files have been used for everything from music, to talk shows, to portable learning.

With the use of quality mp3 players you can take your music and other entertainment anywhere you like with no fuss and no hassles. If you like uninterrupted talk you can find great podcasts on iTunes or other digital download sites. You can also find recorded books and online classes from science to foreign languages.

If you are going for a walk or exercising having a portable mp3 player with lively music or uplifting talk can be a great motivator. Having a loaded iPod or other player can make long trips seem like short trips. Plus you can save time by listening to a new book or learning something at the same time that you are traveling.

HD Radio

HD radio has been around for awhile as well. But it is recently starting to really catch on. With HD radio you not only get CD quality sound on your FM stations, but you get FM quality sound on your AM stations. You end up with crystal clear reception and no audio distortion.

You also get more listening options. For instance many FM stations have double broadcasts. So if your favorite station runs a morning show, you can tune into the second broadcast and get music only.

HD Stations

Most HD stations use SIS or station information services, which display station names or slogans on the screen. SIS combined with PAD, program associate data text messages allows for song names and artist titles to be displayed as well. This functionality is used with the new iTunes tagging which allows you to instantly purchase a song you hear on the radio if you have compatible equipment.

Regular radio stations send out an analog radio signal. If they are broadcasting in HD they will send out an analog and a digital signal. With the digital signal text such as song titles can be bundled as well. The digital signal is compressed and both signals are transmitted.

Radio Signals

Radio signals get distorted when they bounce off of objects. Digitals signals can sort through the reflected signals, therefore eliminating static. In order to listen to HD radio you will need a HD radio receiver. HD is almost as good as Satellite radio as far as listening choices. But the one advantage HD has over satellite is that there are no fees. Once you own your HD equipment the broadcasts are free.
So which one is better? If I had to choose one over the other I would opt for the mp3 player because of all of the listening choices and the ability to customize my playlist exactly how I want it. But fortunately we live in a time when we can have the best of both worlds. Having some really great radio available is great when you don't have time to download music and podcasts and create or update your playlists.

Best Choices

My current car stereo has an AM and FM radio tuner, and is Satellite and HD radio compatible. I have a satellite tuner, CD player, and an mp3 jack that broadcast through the radio tuner. If I were to purchase a new car stereo, I would get a built in mp3 jack and a built in HD tuner. The versatility of mp3s and the sound quality of HD radio are both worth while additions to any audio system.