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Exceptional Quality Complete Compact Stereo
on August 31, 2011
Well beyond a mere "boom box," this is a compact stereo system to truly appreciate. It can run off of an included AC cord or 8 C-size batteries. Have had mine a year now and it is pretty perfect.
To turn on, push the AM/FM button. To turn off, push TAPE/OFF.
In place of a lot of bulky equipment, I have always let boomboxes be my only stereo system, by connecting powered speakers through the headphone jack, just to let you know that you have that versatility if you want (and if you can still find the powered speakers for Walkmen and boomboxes.) But don't worry, the sound quality on this unit is truly excellent "as-is."
There are five equalizer presets including "heavy" (more bass), "soft" which is helpful for late-night listening, "clear," "vocal," and "off." You can fine-tune these by independently setting both the bass and the treble (selecting from eight settings for each.) So, eg., if "heavy" is a little too heavy, set the bass a notch or two lighter.
The virtualizer feature projects sound, and, amazingly, there is a "re-master" feature which reproduces the frequencies lost during recording.
First, you will want to get four fresh AA batteries and install them in the player otherwise a power interruption deletes radio presets. And install batteries in the remote.
There are 16 presets each for AM and FM. Setting them is like setting a car radio, with one extra step.
Start by tuning to the lowest radio frequency. On the remote, hold the forward arrow button down for a second and it finds the first station. Say you want a preset there; press "program"; then the number buttons to assign a number to it (eg., press #1) and that is your preset. Push the forward button to find the next station you want; press "program" then the number buttons (eg., #2) and that's all there is to it.
Alternatively, you can use the "auto preset" button and presets for the strongest stations in your area will automatically be set.
To listen to your favorite station press its number on the remote's keypad.
For CD's, you can program the order of tracks, omit tracks, etc.
USB FLASH DRIVE:
Love the port for a USB flash drive to play (MP3 only) music from it. You can use up to an 8GB; if you don't have one, they are only about $12.00 at WalMart. Not only can you get a gazillion songs on one 8GB flash drive, YOU are in control of which songs are there. My most sincere thanks to whoever invented this system.
There are a couple of ways to get music onto the flash:
1) Synchronizing with computer
You want to choose this method if you use playlists that let you set the order songs play in, such as in Windows Media Player. Unfortunately there is no guarantee these playlists will be followed. However, I've seen reviews for several MP3 players where they either don't have playlists, are cumbersome to setup, or don't follow them. Reading reviews, a lot of people like playlists, so this is an area manufacturers may want to develop.
On the Panasonic, have found that about 70% of the playlist order will be followed, if you sync correctly with Media Player.
To get started, open computer and Windows Media Player; insert flash into the USB port and Media Player will recognize it. Click the arrow under "sync" and if you want playlists, choose which ones. Click to start; wait until it says it is done, then read the report to see if some files were not added. You can re-sync or manually add these.
2) Direct copy and paste method
In this method, you don't bother with Media Player; you insert the flash drive into the computer's USB; open My Computer; open the flash drive; open your Music folder; and just copy the files - just the music files not the folders and sub-folders! - into the flash drive window as you would any other window.
I learned one thing the hard way. My unit is a year old the USB has always played beautifully, so imagine my surprise when only a few of the songs would play recently! I felt horrible, but figured I can still use the boombox for my CD's, cassette tapes, and radio. But truly, I was brokenhearted. Lo and behold, it wasn't broken.
In popping the flash into the computer, I saw it contained all music FOLDERS instead of the music FILES as before. In adding recently purchased music to the flash, I had mistakenly changed all the music on the flash drive as they are on the computer. As soon as I removed all the folders and sub-folders, leaving just the songs on the flash, now the music plays perfectly again. Whew!
Even if you turn off the player and turn it on a week later, it remembers where it was on the USB drive and takes up on that song; you know when it has gone through all the music, as it stops and waits for you to hit "USB" again.
Digital Rights Issues:
Some of my music was ripped from CD's I own. In Media Player, I changed the format to MP3, easy to do. The rest of my music was downloaded from Amazon. Have had NO problems with digital rights, which is appreciated, as the music was paid for.
Adding Auto Volume Leveling to Music on USB Flash Drive:
When listening to music, do you ever find that one song will be too quiet so you turn it up, then the next will be too loud, so you have to turn it down again.
Adjusting music volume is called "normalizing." This makes the overall volume sound similar from song to song without changing the high's and low's inside the songs. Windows Media Player has Volume Leveling available but these features don't transfer to your flash drive.
If you are somewhat "tech savvy," (you needn't be a sound engineer) you can use a free program called MP3Gain.
Start by Googling MP3 Gain for the You Tube demo videos and the website of the product. Get a sense of it and how comfortable you feel in trying it.
If you get this product, please be sure to READ the Help file first; particularly, you want to be sure it is set so that the changes are reversible if you don't like them. And backup your music beforehand.
You can put music on the flash then level it, or you can level your My Music folder on computer before copying to the flash.
With other programs, normalizing re-encodes your music, which changes it slightly. However, MP3Gain makes a point of not re-encoding.
I used MP3Gain following the above advice and could not be happier with the results. If you like the program, please make a small contribution to the author.
The port for an MP3 player is a 3.5mm round port which would connect from the headphone port of the MP3 player. I don't have an MP3 player, has anyone used theirs with this boombox, how does it work, is it more functional than the USB flash method?
If, like me, you have a collection of cassette tapes, it is getting hard to find players for them anymore. Besides playing your cassettes, you can use this player to convert your tapes to MP3 format on your computer for the cost of an inexpensive 1/8" (3.5MM) male and male cable. These come in different lengths eg, 3, 5 or 7 feet. Order it through Amazon or get at Radio Shack, etc. Connect one end to your boombox audio out (earphone) port, and connect the other end to your computer's line-in (light blue) port. Hint: your boombox is powerful; keep the volume down low to begin with.
Download the free Audacity software and the Lame plugin. Now use Google to find the many videos on how to use Audacity. It does look intimidating at first, but turns out it isn't that difficult. Once you get your tape programs in MP3 format, you can copy them to your flash drive or any portable MP3 player.
Alarm clock, for those using the unit as a bedside stereo.
If you have read this far, I thank you for reading, and hope this has been of some help to you. Enjoy the music!