Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zeppelin Peril

A few weeks ago I splashed out a considerable amount of moolah on a B&W Zeppelin, which, if you don’t know and couldn’t compute from that link, is just about the fanciest, highest-fi iPod speaker dock available to man. I bought it for Em, honestly.

I’ve been accused in the past of being an audiophile, a descriptor I find both pejorative and a little inaccurate; I am well aware that real audiophiles would find my ears sorely lacking in many directions, for one. But it is more than fair to say that I care about how things sound (although I’d venture that I’m better at judging how a record sounds than how a particular model of CD player sounds).

I will venture that the Zeppelin sounds fantastic though; so much so that for the moment it’s usurped the rack-mounted, protractor-angled, tape-measure-positioned hi-fi that sits alongside it in the livingroom. That now pretty much does DVDs and nothing else.

The main reason for buying the Zeppelin (when the house is full of other hi-fis and stereos, literally), is that Em didn’t like listening to new records on the main system in the livingroom. Given that my headphone rig is in the backroom, it seemed fair that Em have something she could enjoy in the livingroom; a friend we stayed with a couple of months ago had just bought a Zeppelin on my advice (I’d been lusting after one since first seeing reviews earlier this year), and within a fortnight we had our own, such was the impression its sleek form and formidable sound made.

But all we had to provide music for it (sans running an optical toslink into it from a DVD or CD player) was an 8gig iPod Nano, sleek, beautiful, and… lacking in capacity. We have over 2,000 CDs in the room the Zeppelin sits in, and reloading the iPod every time one wants to hear an Electric Soft Parade b-side on a whim seems like unnecessary labour. (Said ESP b-side is called “Broadcast”, btw, and is by some distance the best thing they ever did – cue 500 words from Louis about how I’m wrong.)

So over the weekend I ordered an 80gig iPod Classic (engraved with the damn cats’ names), and later tonight I’ll ebay the Nano to claw some of the expenditure back. Indulgent, yes, but someone has to fight the recession.

(Not my hi-fi.)

The iPod’s due to arrive tomorrow. Which means that tonight, and probably the next few days, are going to be spent frantically re-ripping CDs to my hard drive at a frankly ludicrous bitrate – I’ve never had more than about 20gig of music on my computer (well, at least not since the bad old days), and the combination of numerous minor OCDs, and a compulsion to “make the most of” the Zeppelin’s considerable sonic abilities, means I’ve wiped the contents of my iTunes. Completely.

I could be precious about this – there’s a lot of stuff on there that I don’t own on CD, rare and downloaded stuff that the librarian in me ought to try and save. But, as promised a while ago, I’m going to be blasé about it. Not quite giving up listening to music in favour of fishing (although there are several nice spots along the river and canal barely ten minutes’ stroll from our front door), but being at least a little gung-ho about it.

It’s not dissimilar from a conversation I keep having with my mum; it’s now nearly a year since Em and I bought a house together, and there’s a pile of my old belongings still at my parents’ house. My mum asks if I want it, and my reply is that if I’ve not needed it in the last 12 months I’ll never need it again, so it can all go. My mum, a hoarder, finds this astonishing. My dad, not a hoarder, is itching to hire a skip.

All those little defenceless MP3s currently sitting in my Trash… there might be dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands, which I don’t own on CD. If I really cared for them, I’d have hunted them out. I’d have them physically. I’d be able to re-rip them at 256VBR AAC. But I’ve not got them, so they can vanish. Call it musical Darwinism; survival of the un-compressed.


Anonymous said...

Was the engraving of the cat's names a conscious attempt at making your iPod theft proof, or have you really become that person?

Sick Mouthy said...

A sickening combination of the two, I fear.

Ian said...

You're right about "Broadcast," in any case.

Anonymous said...



Meatbreak said...

Why didn't you get a 160GB IPod? May as well of gone the whole hog Nick!