Everything's going Digital

Compact discs? How 1992. The future of audio isn't on vinyl, tape, or even aluminum discs—it's all magnetic.

Compact discs? How 1992. The future of audio isn't on vinyl, tape, or even aluminum discs—it's all magnetic. That's why the next component you add to your stereo rack might well be a hard drive.

CD? What's a CD?...
The Future is magnetic
Compact discs are a hassle; they're always getting scratched or lost. With the AudioReQuest you can easily transform all your CDs into digital MP3s.
$799/ ReQuest / www.audiorequest.com
 
ReQuest's AudioReQuest ($799) is an MP3 jukebox that takes the place of your stereo system's CD player. AudioReQuest has an integrated CD player of its own: Pop in your disc, hit play, and the box makes a digital copy for you. You never have to mess with the original disc again—go sell it to the local used record store. You can store up to 300 hours of music and even digitize music from tape and vinyl. And the AudioReQuest's parallel and USB ports mean you can download tracks from your PC or portable MP3 player.

There's a slight quality trade-off since sound on MP3 discs isn't as crisp as on CDs. But if a new, better-sounding format should replace MP3, you'll be able to upgrade the AudioRequest simply by sliding in an update CD-ROM.

MP3onDemand A similar concept from Versatile Vision Systems uses your computer as an MP3 server. The $299 MP3 OnDemand Home sits between your PC and stereo receiver, letting you play all the MP3 files on your hard disk through your hi-fi system. Thanks to the device's LCD screen, you can directly control (Play, Pause, Skip, and so on) all the MP3 files on your hard drive. And since you can always add more storage to your PC, your digital music library is limitless.

The MP3 OnDemand system is more of an audio hacker's choice, although it's fun for music enthusiasts to play with. You can even develop your own software to work with the device. Also keep in mind that your PC and stereo system need to be in the same room for OnDemand to work, but watch for a wireless version coming soon.