Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Five Years of The iPod, And When Does The Honeymoon End?

Well ... it's hard to say. So far as this lonely consumer is concerned, though, it ended a few days ago. And not a moment too soon.

DV's words of caution were timely. Listening to 800 of your favourite songs in MP3 format is a treat -- so long as you're using those tiny little eardrum blasters that come with the iPod. If you graduate to a pair of Sennheisers, things are still okay. But try bumping this up to speaker-quality, and you will quickly find yourself disappointed.

I haven't yet tried playing the iPod through our home stereo, and I don't think I'll bother (I'm certainly not dropping another $100 on Apple's docking bay). I have, however, hooked the iPod up to a pair of computer speakers. The quality is not-bad, but it is definitely a distant, tinny echo of what the artists were hoping you'd hear. I am not by nature a stereophile, but listening to MP3s is the aural equivalent of grabbing orange rind in hopes of squeezing out a glass of orange juice. The soundfile is so tightly compressed that any manual attempt you make to broaden it (i.e., fiddling with the "bass" and "treble" knobs, or messing with your multi-channel equalizer) will only highlight the extremes and eliminate the middle. No thanks.

If you want the convenience of 1000-plus songs shuffled at random, or carved into playlists, you're better off hooking your PC up to your home stereo and playing OGG files ripped from your CD collection. As for car stereos, I'm guessing we're still a few years away from a satisfactory digital revolution.

Still, when it comes to digital music, iPod is indisputably its present, and quite likely its future as well. Here is PC World's Five Lessons For the iPod's Fifth Anniversary. The video link at the bottom -- Apple Introduces the iPod -- is nine minutes long, and quite instructive. Steve Jobs pretty much had the iPod's across-the-board appeal nailed down (even though his praise for the speed of Apple's file-transfer, and the iPod's "impressive" battery-life is a shade wide of the mark).


DarkoV said...

Dear Sir,
In fear of my ever-increasing gap between the NOW and the tsk-tsked outdated, I went to the "Yes you can!!" link on your previous iPod post. Who woulda thought I only needed money to the power of 2 iPods to be able to have an ipod playing through my car stereo, without having to dial in the FM station from Hell every 20 miles or so of travel to keep the iPod music happening.

I sound like an old-timer, I know, when I say I'm keeping my cd's in my cold clammy hands until I die!

My problem, as you described well in your orange rinds analogy, is there is a total lack of control of the sound output once it's on the iPod. Look Apple, I'd sacrifice up to 50% of the iPod space (i'd just jump to the next highest storage version), if you made those sound files FATTER. Don't know if that's a valid technical term; all I want is that my songs look like this, not that.

I want my iPOd tunes to be built for comfort, not for speed.

By the way WP, you can hook that iPod up to your stereo with one of these. Does it work? You betcha, if what you want to find out is how lousy the iPod tunes are coming out of anything larger than earwax.

O.K., I'm off now to check out if my albums will still play on my turntable.

Forward in all directions!

Whisky Prajer said...

hee hee! Quite the links you've got there, DV. All I can say is, Preach it, brother!