Review: EZDigiMusic MP300 – PC-less MP3 ripper
One of the necessary evils of migrating from aCD player to a digital music player is the tedious process of extracting music from already owned CDs. Sure, anyone with a computer can use one of the available music extraction software programs, many of which are free. But for those that don’t have access to a computer, or that don’t want to tie up their computer system resources while “ripping” CDs, there is another option. EZPnP is perhaps best known for their EZDigiMagic CD Burner, a standalone device which removes files such as digital photos from memory cards, and then burns that data to a CD. They have now introduced the EZDigiMusic MP300 which basically does just the opposite. Instead of copying data from a memory card to a CD, it copies music files from a CD and converts them to MP3 files which are then placed directly on a memory card or onto a connected USB enabled flash memory device.When I first read about the MP300, I immediately liked the idea of being able to rip music directly from a CD to a memory card without having to involve a computer. At the time, I was not aware that the device was also capable of functioning as a CD / MP3 CD player, so finding out about its dual use was a pleasant surprise.
Included in the package is the EZDigiMusic MP300, an AC adapter, a USB male / female extension cable and a direction sheet.
Audio playable Format Supported: CD-DA/MP3
Ripping Speed: up to 4x
Recording Quality (sampling rate): CD Quality (128K/192K / 224K bps selectable)
Interface: USB/ SD/MMC
MP3 Player Supported: Mass Storage Class USB 2.0/1.1 Flash-based MP3 players
Memory Card Supported: SDâ„¢ / Mini-SDâ„¢ / MMCâ„¢ / RS-MMCâ„¢
Display: LCD with Back Light
Power: 100-240V(50-60Hz) universal AC adapter (DC 5V, 2A), 4*AA Ni-MH or Alkaline batteries (batteries are not included)
The EZDigiMusic MP300 is a standalone device that measures approximately 6″ long x 6″ wide x 1.7″ tall, and it weighs one pound six ounces with four AA batteries installed. The top of the MP300 has a dual line LCD display, and there are four function buttons with a dual-colored LED status light at their center.
The triangular button is used to select or cancel options, and the other buttons should be self-explanatory. The LED at the cluster’s center will glow green when the MP300 is turned on and receiving a steady supply of power. It may blink red occasionally during the conversion and transfer process, and it will continuously blink red when the batteries start losing power.
The back of the device houses the battery compartment, and there are four black rubber skid-pads. There is no reference regarding the purpose of what looks like a switch on the left side of the case’s back, and during testing I was not able to determine if it had one.
The rear of the MP300 features a headphone jack, the power jack and an on / off switch.
The front of the device has a traditional CD tray with button eject and a small status LED that blinks green when the disk is being accessed. Above the CD tray are a USB port and an SD / MMC card port.
The CD tray closed
The CD tray open
When the device has power and has been turned on, the green LED in the center of the button cluster will glow…
…and the display will state the device’s readiness.
Once a CD is inserted in the tray, there will be a momentary blinking of blue LEDs behind the slightly translucent plastic on the front. When a memory card is inserted in its slot, a solid blue LED bar will show, which will remain on as long as the card is inserted.
The LCD display on the MP300 will show the amount of space needed to rip the CD, as well as the amount of memory available on the card.
Pressing the Play / Pause button starts the conversion process of the entire CD, but there is also an option to rip selected songs from the CD, versus the entire contents.
As the CD is being ripped, the blue LED will provide a graphic reminder as it radiates in an outward progression from the center to the edges of the wide light bar.
When the CD ripping is complete, the LEDs will pulsate and dance – for lack of a better description – across the front of the device.
A message on the LCD declares that encoding is finished. For those wondering, a 55MB CD to MP3 took exactly 13 minutes and two seconds to encode at 128kbps. There is an option to encode at 128, 192 or 224kbps. Other than the initial whir of the CD it is relatively silent, a feature that many users will appreciate.
Once the encoding process has finished, the CD can come out and a new one can be inserted, or the memory card may be placed in a PDA, phone, or an MP3 player which uses memory cards. This same process could have been done via USB, transferring the files directly onto a flash-memory MP3 player.
One quickly realized caveat when ripping music with this device is that the resulting files look like this:
In other words, the new music files are identified by a number, not by their song title or artist’s name. This is when having a PC does come in handy, as using one makes updating the files names a simple matter. Those that are ripping CDs directly to their flash-based digital music player may or may not miss having the song ID tags, as many such players do not employ a display. Those that do have displays will simply show the song’s number instead of a name.
If a CD is inserted in the MP300 and no memory card is inserted, then the device will go into “Audio CD Play” mode, which means that it is now a functioning CD player. As there is no external speaker, the headphone jack on the rear must be used to enjoy the resulting music. Pressing and holding the advance button raises the CD’s playback volume, while pressing and holding the reverse button lowers it.
Those that will be ripping a large number of CDs directly to a memory card or USB flash-player will find that the created files will just continue to number themselves for the total number of songs encoded. This may cause confusion if the owner is planning to rename the files in the future, but it shouldn’t be that big of a deal for those that are trying to “rip and go”.
One of the first things I thought to try was hooking my Seagate 400GB Hard Drive directly to the MP300, since that is generally my destination when ripping CDs anyway. The MP300 did not even acknowledge that there was a USB device plugged in, perhaps because this is a moving hard drive and not a flash-based drive. Ah well, it was worth a try.
Even with the few caveats I found, the EZDigiMusic MP300 did manage to impress me. Its near silent operation without tying up my desktop’s resources was great, as was the unexpected bonus of the device being able to operate as a standalone CD player. All in all, the MP300 is so easy to use that I think even the most technologically-challenged will find it easy to operate. For those that don’t have a computer, or that don’t want to tie up their system resources when ripping CDs, the EZDigiMusic MP300 may be the perfect solution.