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Ditch the Ear Buds - Other Ways to Listen to Portable Music

If you’re like me, and even if you’re not, you can get even more enjoyment out of your Sansa MP3 player by ditching the ear buds. I can’t stand using headphones but love my Sansa Rhapsody because I’ve found terrific alternatives to the ear buds that came with the device.

I don’t like the discomfort of sitting around with my ears plugged. And I like to be able to hear my phone, or what people are saying, even while the music plays in the background.

In addition, I’m convinced earphones can cause hearing loss. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that prolonged exposure to any sound above 90 decibels can cause hearing loss, and that most portable MP3 devices produce up to 120 decibels. Ear buds can increase that decibel level by between seven and nine decibels.

So if, like me, you want to dump the buds, know this: you have options, without spending another hundred bucks to do it.

First, the Sansa Base Station is cool. It allows you to place your Sansa c-series or e-series music player into a cradle that you then connect to your home stereo system. The included remote control allows you to control your MP3 player wirelessly. While connected, the docking station is also charging your device. It retails for about $70, and makes a nice addition to your home audio system.

Here’s an even cheaper alternative: a five dollar stereo mini-to-RCA cable. Simply plug the mini connector into the headphone jack of the Sansa and the RCA connectors into your stereo’s auxiliary inputs. These cables are inexpensive and readily available. Get a short one and save even more.

Now you can listen to your portable music over your home’s sound system on the cheap. The cable accomplishes the same thing as the more expensive docking station. Okay, almost the same thing. The cable doesn’t charge the Sansa, it doesn’t come with a remote (no biggie, I just hit “play all”), and it may not look as cool or tidy (though I can’t even see my cable).

Another way to enjoy your Sansa music sans ear buds is by using portable speakers. The Sansa Speaker Dock retails for about $80 and is pretty cool. Plug your Sansa e-100 or m-series player (or other device featuring a 3.5 mm headphone jack) into the dock, and rock on! You can use either an AC adapter or four AA batteries.

You don’t have to necessarily buy a Made for Sansa product, and you don’t need to buy expensive docking speaker systems. Remember the headphone jack? This time, get a mini-stereo cable with mini-stereo connecters on each end. Now you can hook up your Sansa MP3 player to portable powered speakers designed for computers! Chances are you may even have a set leftover from your last computer. Search your closet, and dig out those powered speakers. If you don’t have any, you can get a decent set at most electronics stores without spending a ton of money.

You can also listen to your Sansa MP3 music on the go in your car. Having a six-CD changer isn’t going to cut it once you have gigabytes of music on your Sansa. Many new car stereos now come with MP3 ports, USB ports, or headphone input jacks. But what about those of us stuck with old-fashioned car stereos? FM transmitters to the rescue!

FM transmitters plug into your Sansa player either through the good old headphone jack or the bottom connector, and then connect to your car’s cigarette charger. The transmitter gives you a variety of frequencies to choose from. You must first find a free FM frequency on your stereo and then match it with the transmitter. Once dialed in, you’ll be able to broadcast your own radio show from your Sansa to your car’s stereo.

Here’s an article for setting this up: How To Play Your Sansa's MP3s Through Your Car Stereo

If you have kids, protecting their ears is a valid concern. My Sansa Rhapsody e250 has two volume settings: high and low. When my daughter wants to listen to children’s music on the MP3 player, I double check the volume setting to be sure it’s on low. To do this on a Sansa e250r, go to Settings, scroll down to Volume, click the center button, and choose Normal. Other Sansa models have similar options. The default setting is high, so anyone who wants to protect their hearing should make this adjustment.

A fun alternative to headphones and ear buds for kids and adults alike is the i-Dog. Connect your Sansa MP3 player to the robotic dog (or cat, fish, penguin, etc.) and he’ll dance to the music. A built-in speaker means your kids can listen without headphones and enjoy the interactive fun these dancing gizmos provide. Buyer beware: cute outfits are now available for your i-Dog. This could get expensive!

Ditching the ear buds can open up a whole new way to experience your Sansa player to the max. But there are times when ear buds and headphones have their place such as jogging or airline travel. You can still protect your hearing by using them appropriately. The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping the portable music player’s volume to 60% of maximum. In addition, you should be able to hear conversations around you and these same people shouldn’t be able to hear your music. Finally, if you find yourself shouting rather than talking, turn down the volume.

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-2 of 2 | Latest Comment

March 18, 2008 5:07 AM


      my name is George and i have just purchasd a sansa e 280. As yet not been able to do much with it due to truble with my computer (could not load the sansa) now thats all been put right I"am looking for help with audio books never had anything to do with downloading them,as a matter of fact this my first atempt at useing an mp3 so any information would be helpfull.


February 23, 2011 11:13 PM

Is there an accessory that allows you to listen to your Sansa MP3 player without the strings hanging down from the ear buds, or without the ear buds?

Thank you.

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-2 of 2 | Latest Comment

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