Laptop, iPod, iPhone or Minidisc?

Kevin asked a question about which is best for playing backing tracks – a laptop, iPod, iPhone or Minidisc?

Hi Kevin

In my opinion the best mp3 player for playing backing tracks from a choice of laptop, iPod, iPhone and Minidisc player is most probably the iPod – it was designed to play music and is the most robust of them all. Remember it was originally designed to play while people are out jogging etc so it can stand the punishment of being on a stage and handled a bit roughly. The iPod Touch and iPhone are not very robust though – it’s the iPod classic that is the most sturdy.

Minidisc used to be a good format and very reliable but the minidisc decks are getting impossible to find and even then it’s still not as reliable as an mp3 player like the iPod because with an mp3 file there are no moving parts whereas a minidisc has a mechanism and moving parts inside that can break or go wrong.

Regarding keeping a copy of your tracks on your iPhone, yes you can do that. I actually firmly believe that you should keep a copy of EVERYTHING, not just your backing tracks. Computers, gadgets and technology are handy things to have and use but when they go bad you risk losing everything so you should never commit all your information to just one device.

As for reliability on stage, I would say that the most reliable devices in order of best to worst would be:

1. iPod/mp3 player
2. Minidisc
3. Laptop

All 3 have their pros and cons.

The iPod has a small screen which can be hard to see depending on your eyesight, but the laptop has a lovely big easy to see screen.

With a laptop, Windows might crash halfway through a gig, whereas the iPod is less likely to have any problems like that.

Minidisc is kinda in-between, but because it’s such an old format I just wouldn’t risk gigging with any of those old Minidisc decks any more (plus you’d be climbing the wall having to change minidiscs in between songs as a minidisc can only hold about 20 songs or so).