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Jargon Buster

Digital audio may be full of terms like MP3, MP4 and AAC – but don't let the jargon worry you; they're just 'formats' for storing media digitally. These digital files take up less space than CD recordings – up to 10x less! – which means you can fit more music or video onto your player.

Most MP3 players can play several formats: for example, Apple's iPods play a format called AAC as well as MP3. Here are some other common terms.


ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding) is an audio compression format used to store information on Sony music players, which is only compatible with Sony products. We recommend you use Sony’s own software and download site.
CD-RIP When you buy music over the Internet, the digital files may be copyright protected, which limits your ability to copy them again and again. CD-RIP means the player can only play songs copied or ripped by your computer.

Stands for Digital Audio Broadcast. A DAB radio receives its channels as a digital signal, which means much better audio quality than traditional radio. (All main radio channels broadcast in digital). Some 85% of the UK is now covered by the DAB signal, and it's increasing all the time.

Download To copy a file from a remote location (normally Internet-based) to a computer or MP3 player.
Drag and drop This enables you to transfer files from your computer onto your MP3 or MP4 similarly to how you copy files into another folder via Windows Explorer or similar program.
DRM Isn't a format; rather, it handles copyright protection for other formats. (It stands for 'Digital Rights Management'). If you see DRM9 on a player, it means it can handle media from most download sites where you pay per song (excluding iTunes).
FM transmitter An accessory for MP3 players that lets you listen to your MP3 music over your car stereo.
GB A Gigabyte (GB) is a unit of measurement relating to a specific amount of computer data – one billion bytes. 1GB is the approximate equivalent of 500 music tracks.
Internet radio A digital radio that picks up its broadcasts from the Internet, using your home wireless Internet connection. Not to be confused with DAB radio – they're different technologies.
iPod Apple's iconic MP3 and MP4 players, known for their beautiful designs and wide range of accessories.
iTunes or AAC Is Apple's format for storing music, and can only be used with iPod MP3 players.
MB A Megabyte (MB) is a unit of measurement relating to a specific amount of computer data – one million bytes. On average a standard MP3 track is about 4MB.
MP3 and MP4 Common 'formats' for storing music and video. A format is just an agreed standard, like 33 and 45rpm on old vinyl albums. When you 'rip' a CD into digital files, your computer converts it into one of these formats.
MP3 and MP4 players Devices for playing audio and video files recorded in digital formats. Most MP3 players can play several formats besides MP3: for example, Apple's iPods play a format called AAC.
Playlist A list of songs created by the user. Playlists can be tailored to suit individual tastes, saved for prosperity and randomised to allow for less predictable playback.
Ripping When you convert songs on a CD into files in a digital format like MP3, it's called ripping. Today's software, like Apple's iTunes or Windows Media, makes ripping easy. Of course, you should only rip CDs and DVDs that you own already – copyright law allows you to make one copy of music you own for personal use. If you buy downloadable music on the Web, it'll be in MP3 or WMA format already.
Sleep timer Some DAB and Internet radios feature automatic power-down, so you can fall asleep to your favourite radio station.
Solid State An electronic device consisting of components with no moving parts. Advantages are increased reliability and smaller physical size.
Speaker dock A set of speakers into which you can plug your MP3 player to give sound that fills a room.
Station presets On a DAB or Internet radio, the number of stations you can programme in for instant access from one button – even easier than choosing the station name from a list!
USB A port used to connect devices together to transfer files, normally using a computer. There are two ways in which you can connect your player to your computer to transfer music: via a USB cable or directly into the USB port.
WMA An audio compression format similar to MP3, but with Digital Rights Management (copy protection and usage restrictions) built by Microsoft.