Into the Digital Age

Published on 28 April 2005 in , ,

When I worked at Bush House, it was a daily ritual. Just before going out, pick up a CD, bung it in my CD player and run out the door. One CD would generally last me door to door.

Then I got moved to White City and that ritual was spoilt. The journey to work was now longer than the length of the average CD. Indeed some days its longer than the maximum length of a CD.

I finally ‘snapped’ and bought an MP3 player. Not an iPod I hasten to add – although I considered it. But there will be no white headphones in my ear.

After doing some research I bought a Rio Karma – 20Gb capacity and, more importantly, has a little hub thing with an ethernet port. It has a little Java app that means you can run the thing on any PC you like, and on any supported Java operating system, which means I can copy music onto it quite happily under Linux. It also plays Ogg files which makes me very happy. Oh and it was cheaper than the iPod would have been!

I’ve actually had it since Saturday, but so far have only managed to put around 11 albums on it, partly due to my insistence of entering my own metadata on each track after converting it to Ogg. Whilst many will look at me as if I’m bonkers for not using Gracenote or Freedb, I know that if I do it myself, the data will look exactly as I want it to be, and the genres selected for each file will be the genre I think best appropiate.

Those thirteen albums will soon increase – I’m off work now until Tuesday and will be setting both my PCs off on ripping missions whilst I’m off doing other things. Converted to digital formats so far today – Flood by They Might Be Giants and the self-titled album Levellers. And as I type, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ album, The Lyre of Orpheus is on its way. The Go Team’s Thunder Lightning Strike has also been attempted, but there seems to be a nasty scratch on the CD which has been causing cdparanoia just the odd problem.

The other great thing about having all this music in the palm on my hand is that there’s several CDs I haven’t listened to for ages – not because I don’t like them, but because they were far too short for the journey to work. Almost everything by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci springs instantly to mind! I didn’t like carrying multiple CDs with me as it’s a faff to change them over whilst your striding down the road. But now I’ll be loading them up and enjoying them once more.

None of this means I’m abandoning CDs and moving to buying music online – I love having my house full of little colourful plastic cases, and I hate digital rights management with a passion. I also hate the idea of having my music locked down to one or two devices, and the audio quality of such music isn’t always great.

And ultimately I like the physical – holding a CD in my hand, seeing the cover, reading the sleeve notes and so on. In fact in that respect CDs are inferior. Give me vinyl every day.