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Twenty-First Century DJ



 Eclectic CH100 MP3 player/software

by Patrick Norton

Eclectic CH-100A few years ago, a friend of ours discovered the ultimate format for party music. He taped CD tracks onto regular VCR tapes. Come party time, he hit play on the VCR, and the music raged on for six odd hours. Thanks to MP3, Vertical Horizon's new Eclectic CH-100 will kick out 10 hours of MP3 music-- from a single CD. We tested an early beta of the combination MP3/CD player.

Beyond the funky gold case (anybody remember the old Marantz components?) the Eclectic looks much like any other CD player-- at least until you insert a CD full of MP3-encoded audio. At that point we used the remote (or the buttons on the face of the unit) to click forward and backward through the list of files on the disk. The oversized green display scrolled each file name in black letters. When the file we wanted came up, we hit play, and the unit cranked out MP3 audio over a standard stereo RCA cable. (The Eclectic installs like any other CD deck, just plug it into the wall and into an open stereo port on your stereo.)

The Eclectic plays regular CDs along with MP3 on CD. While we had no difficulty telling the $120 (manufacturer's estimate) Eclectic from our regular CD player, in a party setting, the Eclectic should more than hold its own. We suffered one major disappointment with the beta we tested. There's no ability to create playlists. That means you either record your favorite tunes in the right order on your CD-R, or you have to live with whatever order they're in.

Given the rarity of MP3-encoded music on CD here in the States, you'll need your own CD-R, or access to someone else's, to make the Eclectic useful. Failing that, the Eclectic could cost a fair bit of change if you buy a CD-R just to burn mix CDs. That was the nice thing about our friend's VCR trick. He didn't have to spend an extra cent to let the music play all night long. In any case, we'll hold back on rating the Eclectic until Vertical Horizon (or a licensee) gets closer to shipping a unit.

Summary: Vertical Horizon's Eclectic CH-100 delivers CD and MP3 on CD playback in a single box. The company hopes to sell it for $120. It might not make it to market under Vertical Horizon's name, but we imagine it will be a hit in no matter what name is on the box.

Pros: 650MB of MP3 music on a single CD or CD-R. You may never have to change a CD during a party.

Cons: Though we only had a chance to listen to the low cost beta, we're pretty sure this won't be an audiophile-class component.



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