TerraTec – M3PO Go review

portable audioCD/MP3 player
Photo of TerraTec – M3PO Go

We reviewed one of the first home MP3 players from Terratec, the M3PO, more than a year ago. This portable version is based on the same principle, incorporating audio CD and MP3 playback into a single unit. But instead of using a hard drive like the home stereo version, the M3PO Go reads CD-R and CD-RW discs containing MP3 files. This gives it a theoretical maximum of 999 songs per disc, although the actual number will be a lot lower if you value high bit-rate and audio quality. Even so, five hours or so of music per disc is obtainable, assuming you carry more than one pair of AA batteries.

Although the rate at which MP3 files are traded over the ‘net has probably slowed a little in recent months, there are still thousands of users with thousands of music files at their disposal. Short of plugging your PC into your home stereo, though, there’s no comfortable way to listen to such a wide selection of songs. That’s even more true when you’re on the move, since most portable players have limited amounts of memory. We’ve seen several players based on hard drives, which offer massive storage potential, but CD-R is arguably more convenient, especially when it comes to actually transferring songs from your PC to the player.

The M3PO Go is simple enough to use, with four buttons for play/pause, stop, advance and ‘rewind’, plus four more that handle functions such as ID3 tag display on the LCD screen, file management, playback mode (random, sequential, etc.) and book-marking. When you insert a CD, the unit takes a few seconds to determine whether it’s audio or MP3, before starting playback. The M3PO Go supports all variations of MP3 bit-rate, plus the majority of different CD-R, CD-RW and CD formats.

The unit is supplied with a pair of AA batteries, a soft carry-case, a mains transformer and a reasonably good set of headphones. The quality of the sound is quite good through these, although the bass and treble functions have negligible effect.

You could also plug the M3PO Go into your home stereo system – Terratec even supplies the necessary cable in the box – but here you really do notice the lower quality of the sound compared to a good CD audio player. Even when using the line out connector, there’s a flatness to the sound and a deadening of bass frequencies that will put off audiophiles, although it’s still better than most portable MP3 players can muster.

The player’s anti-shock protection has limited effect. It works reasonably well when playing back MP3 files, but audio CDs can easily skip and jump following relatively mild taps on the casing. Our other complaint is that the M3PO Go looks rather cheap and plasticky, especially when compared to similar devices from Far Eastern companies. This doesn’t affect its operation, but it means that the M3PO Go doesn’t look like £200-worth of kit.

Company: TerraTec

Contact: 0870 901 0021

This is not the first portable player to combine audio CD and MP3 functions, and nor is it necessarily the best in terms of build quality. But its audio quality is better than many MP3 players we've used and the line out function offers some useful possibilities.