Terratec M3PO - MP3 player

The silver retro-look unit can play back MP3 files that have been burnt onto a CD, as well as read files directly off an internal hard disk (if one is installed). In addition, it will also play regular CDs. The M3PO connects to a stereo system's CD or AUX input jacks via RCA connectors, in the same way a regular CD player would.

When you insert a CD into the M3PO's caddy, the player will look for music in the root directory as well as in subdirectories. You can use the main control's rotating wheel to scroll through the contents of the CD, and icons will be displayed on the LCD, identifying music files, directories or playlists. Also displayed are song titles, artist and album information, which are contained in the MP3 files' ID tags. Popular programs such as MusicMatch Jukebox allow you to easily insert ID tag information while creating your MP3s. An info button located on the M3PO's remote control offers further information, but of a technical nature, such as the encoding rate (bitrate) and file type.

Not only used for navigation and selection, the rotating wheel also offers access to most of the player's functions, like changing play modes, creating or modifying play lists, adjusting bass and treble levels, and creating directories and copying files.

The budding MP3 DJ will be glad to hear that a speed control is included, which will speed up or slow down a song without affecting its pitch. Song speed can be adjusted in 1 per cent increments up to the 10 per cent mark, at which point the jump in speed becomes 10 per cent with each continued press of the button. This feature can be accessed via the rotating wheel or remote control, yet it would have been much better with its own assigned buttons, rather than being hidden in the submenus.

Note that the speed control will only work for MP3 files, and will not work on regular audio CDs. Also, the player is unable to quickly scan a track with the forward or rewind buttons. When these functions were tried, the song would skip and stutter every few seconds, playing and then stuttering again, taking an unacceptable time to forward to specific parts of a song.

With its 650MB capacity, a single CD-ROM can hold many hours of music, but even more MP3 playing time can be achieved by equipping the Terratec M3PO with a hard drive. Adding a hard drive is a fairly simple task and the player's manual includes a step-by-step illustrated guide.

Essentially, once the M3PO's cover has been removed and you have correctly set the jumpers, all you need to do is securely fasten the drive to the chassis and connect the IDE ribbon cable and power lead. The hard drive needs to be of the IDE variety because the player does not contain a SCSI connection. If the drive has not been preformatted and contains no MP3 files, the M3PO will allow you to format it using the FAT32 file system from the player's "HDD Functions . . ." menu, and will also allow you to create directories and copy files to it.

In addition to all of these great features, the player contains the usual random, repeat and continuous play modes found on similar audio equipment, and as such can be a great jukebox for parties, with its huge capacity. Sound quality from the M3PO was excellent.

It's a great component for the MP3 buff, but newbies may also take to it because now they will be able to listen to MP3 music independent of their PC.

Terratec M3PO

Price: $995

Distributor: Moore Music

Phone: (03) 9419 0344

URL: www.mooremusic.com.au

Distributor: Innovision

Phone: (03) 9853 6387

URL: www.innovision.com.au

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