Choosing a mp3 or daisy cd player

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Choosing a MP3 or DAISY CD player


RNIB Talking Books are produced on DAISY audio CD. These can be played on MP3 players or a specialist DAISY player.

This factsheet is designed to help you choose an MP3 CD player or DAISY CD player for use with RNIB Talking Books.
It isn't important to understand the technical differences between MP3 CDs and DAISY CDs, but you need to ensure that the book you want to listen to can be played on the audio player you choose.

This can be confusing so we hope this factsheet will make things clearer.

An up-to-date list of some of the players that are available can be downloaded from the website at, email or call us on 0303 123 9999.

What is an MP3 CD?

The most common digital file for audio is called MP3. An MP3 CD can fit over 15 hours of material compared to just 80 minutes on a standard audio CD. This is great for audio books because you can usually fit a whole book on one disc instead of several.

MP3 CDs can be played on a range of devices. However not all CD players will accept MP3 CDs, so it’s important to check before you buy.
You may already have equipment at home that can play MP3 CDs. There may be a label on the player or the box that says it can play MP3 CDs.
If you are unsure, we can send you a sample Talking Book to try out on your CD player at home to check if it will play. Call the Helpline on 0303 123 9999, email to request a test CD.

What is a DAISY CD?

A DAISY CD contains MP3 tracks but has additional features, which make the CD easier to use. RNIB sells players designed especially for DAISY CDs. These enable you to:

  • Use the player more independently with buttons and menus with speech (for example, if you press the play button, the player will announce: “Play”).

  • Change the CD or take a break from reading without losing your place. The player will remember where you stopped, even if you eject the CD, and it will restart exactly where you left off.

  • Bookmark a section or passage for future reference - good for reference material or finding a favourite recipe.

  • Skip quickly and easily to the right chapter, page, section or subsection in the book.

  • Customise the speed of the audio on the player to suit you.

  • Press a button to read out the title or hear other useful information, like how much time is left before the end of the book.

Which type of player is best for me?

The choice is mainly down to how you like to read, what sort of books you prefer and your budget.

Consider an MP3 CD player if:

  • You don’t listen to many books in a month or just stick to novels

  • You’re on a budget – MP3 CD players can be as cheap as £30 whereas DAISY players start at around £250

  • You want more choice – there are many more MP3 CD players out there to choose from compared to DAISY players

  • You’d benefit from having a radio too – most DAISY players don’t have radios but many MP3 CD players do, some even have the newer digital radios (DAB)

Consider a DAISY player if:

  • You like your non-fiction, reference books or epic novels – the added controls on a DAISY player make it easier to read more complicated material; reading an encyclopedia on an MP3 CD player would be very difficult in comparison

  • You’re reading a few books at a time – DAISY CD players can remember where you left off and also store bookmarks for several titles simultaneously. A few more expensive MP3 CD players can do this too but in a much more basic way.

  • You want a bit more control – DAISY CD players have been designed with blind and partially sighted people in mind, with speech enabled buttons and menus, large print labels and easy to use controls.

In a nutshell…

MP3 CD players are designed mainly for music, but if you just want to listen to fiction, an MP3 CD player may be all you need. And they’re a lot cheaper!
DAISY CD players are designed for reading, with features that are especially useful for long or complex audio titles such as very long novels, cookery books, dictionaries or newspapers.

Things to look for in a player

Whether it’s a DAISY player or an MP3 CD player, here are some things to consider when making your choice:

  • Buttons – are they arranged in a way that makes them easy to use? For example is it obvious which is the play button and which is the off button?

  • Memory – can the player save bookmarks and remember your place?

  • Headphones – does it have a headphone socket?

  • Speakers – some smaller players don’t have speakers – is this important to you?

  • USB or SD drive sockets – many organisations such as local talking newspapers use USB and SD drives, many modern players are compatible (find out more on the RNIB website)

  • Display – does the player have a display? Is it easy to see and use?

  • Speech – DAISY players have buttons and menus with speech. Do you like the voice used? Is this a feature that would help you?

  • Useful features – some players have other useful features like sleep timers and alarm clocks

  • Remote control – some players have a remote control with basic functions like play, pause and volume. This can make using the player a lot easier.

  • Portability – does the player take batteries or does it have to be plugged in? Is it heavy or difficult to handle?

If you can recommend a good player please let us know so we can tell others about it.

Adapting your player

    Once you have chosen your player you might find it useful to adapt it to your needs. Here are some simple ideas:

  • Bumpons – these raised bumps are supplied on self-adhesive sheets and available in a range of sizes, shapes and colours for marking important controls like the on/off switch (available from RNIB)

  • Use large print or braille labels - to make the controls clearer

  • Write your own instruction guide – instruction manuals can be complicated so why not write your own step by step instructions as a reminder?

  • Big button remote control – if your player uses a remote control you could replace it with an accessible ‘big button’ one (available from RNIB).

Technology Support Squad

RNIB's Technology Support Squad is a free national service that can set up and help you use your technology: from TVs, phones and audio labellers to Talking Book players and beyond.
There are thousands of gadgets designed to make living with sight loss easier, but it's hard to know where to start once you get them home. If you're blind or partially sighted and having trouble setting up or getting the most out of your technology, RNIB's Technology Support Squad is here to help.
Contact us

For more information about players or to request a volunteer, call the Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email

NL10034P November 2013

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