Sunday, May 26, 2024

All New IPods, More Digital Music: A Generation Misses the Point


Yes, there’s a whole new line of IPods announced yesterday. They have phones, cameras, and frappe blenders attached to them.

What they don’t have

Whether you listen to digital music on an IPod or — my personal favorite–a Creative Zen XFi2-– it doesn’t matter. You simply aren’t hearing what was recorded. This is especially true for classical, jazz, and classic rock records. No matter how good the earbuds– from the Klipsches we heard last week in L.A. to my preferred Ultimate Ears— 50% of the music is lost.

Some digital music is called “lossless” but that’s not true. In order to get the big sound of a beautiful recording into something the size of pack of cards, precision has to be dumped. And it is. Further, to then force the music into those ear buds–ouch! Forget about hearing loss. The richness of the sound is simply gone.

I’ve been traveling for the last few weeks, so I’ve had the Zen and Ultimate Ears to entertain me. They’re fine; very good in fact. But they’re not intended for anything than on the go listening.

Today, finally resettled in my apartment, on went the solid state Conrad Johnson amp, the Rogue tube pre-amp. I let everything warm up. Then I put the Arif Mardin tribute CD, “All My Friends Are Here,” into the Creek CD player. The orchestra opened up, and Bette Midler‘s beautiful voice swam through the Sequerra Met 7.7 speakers. Nirvana. More CDs followed, including Arcade Fire’s “Suburbs” and Mozart piano concertos played Robert Casadesus, the Beatles, Sting‘s “Symphonicities,” and — when we were sure the amp was awake– a little Led Zeppelin remastered.

I write this now because I realize: compressed music is hurting my head. The musical palate is disappearing. Digital music is convenient, but it’s not an artistic experience. Yes. it’s grand to have 160 GB stored in a device. But it’s better to have a single great recording envelope a room. Kids, there’s nothing like it.

Please do click on the link at right for Dick Sequerra Speakers, or go to, or better yet, visit a high fidelity stereo store in your town (not Best Buy, etc). In New York, we have Stereo Exchange, Sound by Singer, Park Avenue Audio, and Innovative. Read Lament not the IPod wheel. Celebrate the breadth and depth of music.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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