Before I go any further, you need to understand that
there's nothing magical about 'MP3'. In fact, when people talk about an
'MP3 player', they're often referring to something that plays other
digital music formats. It's just that MP3 is a
lowest-common-denominator standard and the term has rather stuck in the
collective consciousness. Anyway, keep an open mind and read on...
OK, so the Nokia 9500/9300 and P800/P900/P910 and Nokia
6630/6680/6681 (etc.) can play standard 'MP3' stereo music files,
probably downloaded from the Internet. These are usually encoded at
128kbps (their 'data rate'), which is reckoned to produce 'CD quality'
to the average ear, especially when you consider that you're often
listening in the open air or in a noisy environment. 128kbps works out
at around a megabyte per minute, which means about eight hours worth on
a 512MB MMC or two hours worth on a virgin 128MB Memory Stick Duo.
If you haven't yet bought a big expansion card, try
Rolling your own
Now, it's quite possible to encode your own MP3 files,
using a freeware application like CDex, shown below. This will
'rip' any of your CDs and encode them to any format you like, including
MP3. One of its settings is the data rate that you'd like to use, e.g.
64kbps. At this rate, half that of the usual 128kbps, you'll fit twice
as much music on your card, at the expense of the music sounding flat
and lacking in higher frequencies. Read on...
A better way
Now, thinking laterally for a moment, what if there was
a better and more efficient coding scheme for digital music than the
familiar MP3? What about 'MP3pro', championed a few years ago but
largely ignored by the world at large. This is better than MP3 at each
data rate but MP3pro is heavily licensed and you have to stump up real
money to buy a utility to encode your files. What about Windows Media
Audio (WMA)? This is also far more efficient than MP3, but is
proprietary to Microsoft and you probably won't find Symbian devices
playing it anytime soon... What about AAC, used in encrypted form for
Apple's iTunes? Although AAC itself is an open standard, iTunes files
from the Internet require Apple's decoder, and anyway AAC isn't that
much better than MP3.
And so we come to the current 'best' format, the open
source (i.e. totally free forever) Ogg Vorbis. It's a strange name (to
say the least), but look past that and you'll find CD quality music
even at 64kbps. Which equates to around six hours music on a single
P800/P900 128MB Memory Stick Duo, which is pretty impressive. On a
Nokia 9500 with a 1GB MMC, you can store over 30 hours, or around 45
CDs worth of music, which is definitely getting into iPod killer
territory. And you can get there today, for free.
Getting your music into Ogg Vorbis format
You'll need two piece of software to get going. CDex, I've already
mentioned. This runs under Windows and includes a good Ogg Vorbis
encoder on its Settings panel. Once set up, you just pop in each of
your audio CDs, fill in any track information (if you don't already
have this from the CDDB Internet database), set the 'Quality' to 64kbps
and click on the 'Extract CD tracks to compressed audio files' button.
(If you don't use Windows, there are plenty of free encoders for Mac
You'll end up with a few folders of .ogg files, each
folder named after the album its tracks were culled from.
Ogg Vorbis on the Nokia 9500 and 9300
Just drag and drop these folders onto your Nokia 9500's
memory card in Windows Explorer (using a card reader is best - it's
much, much quicker). For the Nokia 9500, you might as well keep the
original folders intact, as the built-in Music Player application is
very much folder-based, should you want to use this to play the files
using the Ogg Vorbis plug-in, mentioned below.
What you need is the free OggPlay for Series
80 (i.e. the 9500 and 9300). Once installed, use the 'Find new files'
menu option and you'll be able to browse all tracks in all folders,
choosing by artist, title, etc.
Alternatively, as mentioned above, you can upgrade the
built-in Music Player application to also work with Ogg Vorbis-encoded
files. The Nokia 9500 (like all recent Series 60 smartphones) uses
Symbian OS 7, with its MultiMedia Framework. What this means is that
different video and audio decoders can be 'plugged in', after which
they're accessible by any application. Simply install this plugin [link
Playing Ogg Vorbis on the Nokia 6630/6680
Just drag and drop these folders onto your Nokia
6630/6680's memory card in Windows Explorer (using a card reader is
best - it's much, much quicker). Download and install the free OggPlay MMFfor
Series 60. Once installed, use the 'Find new files' menu option and
you'll be able to browse all tracks in all folders, choosing by artist,
Playing Ogg Vorbis on the Sony Ericsson P800/P900
Download OggPlay for UIQ.
After installing, tell it to 'Find new files' and it will read the
header info in each .ogg file and set up playlists according to artist,
album, title, and so on. Best of all, you can operate OggPlay in Flip
closed mode, just like the Audio player in later P800 firmware and in
I recommend setting OggPlay up on the default Flip
closed (centre) position. You can do this in 'Control panel | Flip
closed shortcuts', if you haven't already.
Now, with OggPlay running and your P800 flip closed, Jog
up and Jog Down control volume (although make sure your system
multimedia volume is turned up; it's the volume control icon in your
system tray), and jog forward and backwards skip between tracks in a
And if you think all this is as cool as I do, consider
making a PayPal donation to the chap who wrote OggPlay. I just did! 8-)