Song Formats for Mp3 Players Explained, Part I
By Tha Mp3 Doctor
I have seen quite a few threads around Fixya in which the stated problem is that the Mp3 or Digital Audio Player will not load the songs; will appear to load the songs but will not actually play them in the Mp3 player once disconnected from computer; will skip the songs on the player, or show only “0:00” for file length; songs “disappear” all of a sudden (although this particular problem can be caused for many reasons not covered in this article); your store-bought/burned/ripped CD’s will not load into your Mp3 player; or get the error message “File Format Not Supported.”
All of these problems occur because the user is trying to download a song format that the player does not recognize.
Every music file is in a certain format.
The most common music file formats are Mp3, WMA, AAC, WAV, RA, etc.
Each Mp3 player only recognizes a certain number of these formats.
Every Mp3 Player is different.
You will have to check your Mp3 player’s product specifications (specs) or user’s manual to find out which formats your particular Mp3 player recognizes.
When you try to download or sync the wrong file format, you will get one of the errors that I mentioned above.
First things first.
If you want to know what file type you have, then you must find the location of the individual music file on your computer, right click the title of the song, and select the option “Properties” from the menu.
If you do not know how to do this, you will need to contact the manufacturer of your computer or go to www.microsoft.com
For all types of file except RA, RAX, and WMA, the “General” Tab under Properties will auto-populate. If your computer recognizes the file format, it will say something like “MPEG-3,” “Windows Media Audio” (Windows Media Player), “Real Audio” (Real Player or Real Network’s Audio), or “Advanced Audio Coding” (iTunes) or some other such designator.
If your computer does not recognize the format, then you will just see a generic “Audio File,” and will have to download additional software.
With WMA and some RAX files, there will also be a “License,” “Digital Rights Management,” or “Media Usage Rights” tab. I will explain these licensing tabs later, in the discussion on WMA files.
For every type of file other than WMA, the format error is pretty straightforward.
You are trying to load a completely incompatible file format that is not recognized by the Mp3 player.
To give you an example, there are currently no Philips GoGear Mp3 players that will load songs from the iTunes music service.
The reason they will not transfer or play correctly is that the GoGear is that iTunes gives the users their songs in .AAC format.
The GoGear cannot recognize .AAC format. To resolve this problem, you will have to convert the AAC song file into Mp3 format, or some other format that the GoGear recognizes (Note to the law-abiding: converting a copyright protected file into another format might be illegal. If you are concerned, I would just re-download the same song in Mp3 or another recognized file format – this will require a separate music service other than iTunes, in this example).
Please Read Part II for Critical Information...