The Bass Geek - Words about Music, Circuitry, and New Orleans
The Bass Geek

Connecting Your Headphones

Apple buying Beats and looking into new headphone connections shouldn't be a big deal. Apple bought Beats for the music streaming and personnel as much as the headphones (which are NOT GOOD AT ALL PLEASE LOOK INTO KLIPSCH OR AKG OR SENNHEISER OR SOMETHING ELSE), and the 3.5mm connection was never an audiophile choice for headphones. The jack works because it's small, portable, and easily implemented. Why not look into new technologies or connections (using something besides Beats headphones, of course)? And remember, of course, that connection types don't necessarily help audio quality (remember when the Playstation was the audiophile choice because of . . . RCA connectors?!). Let the new technology happen, and remember that source material, good headphones, and the signal chain mean just as much as the connector.


iOS Gets Better Audio Support Behind The Scenes

This announcement wasn't a big deal at yesterday's Apple event, but the support for registered audio streams shared amongst apps in iOS 7 is a huge deal. While it doesn't look like Audiobus or Jack needs to abandon ship any time soon, the possibilities for multitasking and sharing audio between apps seem promising. More plug-ins, more possibilities . . . and probably the need to buy newer  hardware (the new iOS doesn't support all features for anything but the latest Apple hardware). And, of course, my Alesis IODock doesn't support the newest connectors. Feh.

Nevertheless, I think this is the point where the hardware is fast enough and the multitasking availability means that tablets and phones start replacing laptops onstage at a faster pace. Less boot time, cheaper, and the touch interface beats out the need for hauling the laptop around. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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Amazon Giving You Free MP3 Storage For Previous Purchased CDs

Oh, hi New Year. How ya doin'? More on bass later - I've assembled a decent looping rig and am working on stuff now. Like I said, more later

TechCrunch announced Amazon's AutoRip service today, basically giving you a central storage area for all the songs you ever purchased in any form from Amazon. That means you can now store your music collection in one of three central areas - Apple servers (for a fee with Match), Google (free for their purchases, to a limit for everything else), and Amazon (basically stuff you bought from them).

Meaning that media matters little anymore. Doesn't matter how you bought it, these three will make it convenient for you to get.

Why? Because they want you to buy from them in the future. They want their place to be instinctual for you to visit and to purchase from.

Seems nice, but we've seen people pull right back for this kind of media before (right, Amazon?). So I still plan on syncing my server to Google Play for mobile use that still leaves copies for my own personal satisfaction at home.

I'm more intrigued by seeing exactly what I've purchased from Amazon. And a little creeped that they remember better than I do.


Thoughts on Apple’s Podcast App

Sure, other apps like Stitcher Radio provide the functionality that Apple's Podcast app does (pulling together different progranms into a single feed), but I bit on the Podcast app because I already had my podcast subscriptions set up inside iTunes. The subscriptions themselves synced fine, but I decided to unsubscribe in iTunes and just stream the episodes. Two drawbacks:

  • Had to resubscribe to all podcasts inside the app - it didn't carry over
  • Got a nice warning that I was going over 3GB on streaming - time to turn on the WiFi

I also had a full crash where I had to delete, reinstall, and resubscribe all podcasts. Feh.

That said, I'm saving a ton of space by not actually downloading the episodes anymore (LOT of music on my iPhone), and the unplayed podcast list works dandy. Needs some improvement, but overall a keeper.

And yes, I still listen to podcasts like it's 2009 and stuff.

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Mastered for iTunes

Got opinions about Mastered for iTunes? These people do! And it really doesn't change all that much right now. Asking for high-quality files in preparation for higher-quality consumer files isn't a bad idea, but good recordings were already there. The new tools to demonstrate how a file sounds is a bonus, but again, but quality engineers already understood the need to test. The principle that you should always record and master to the best possible format hasn't changed, and the jury is still out on whether the Mastered for iTunes files on sale at the iTunes store really do sound better - there's a ton of other considerations about the recording process in general that could affect that, no matter what tools and guidelines Apple provides. Higher fidelity is always welcome, so let's see what's coming out next. I'm not going to get too excited right now. When Apple sells full lossless or makes low-data cost streaming available, then it's the time to freak out. I like Ian Shepard's opinion that this is a step in the right direction, but the road continues.

And, of course, folks like Bandcamp already make lossless available . . . just sayin'.


New IMN Podcast and OS X Lion Compatibility

The new IMN podcast is up - download it or listen at the site or on WFYI HD2, Thursdays at 4pm and 10pm.

I'm gonna wait just a little bit before upgrading to Lion - I'm working on an older laptop and I'm thinking some more RAM may be in order before making the plunge. I also want to make sure the software I used primarily (Reason, Record, Soundtrack Pro, and the odd amp sim) are compatible. Things are looking good according to Sweetwater and Roaring Apps, but I like Create Digital Music's take on this - wait for the all clear.


What Would Have Happened?

Amazon and Google have cloud-based music lockers, and next week's announcement from Apple surely promises a third option tied to an iTunes account. All of this should sound familiar - it's basically what was doing years ago. The difference is that used a physical disc to verify ownership, while these cloud services demand either uploading or purchase from a music service. That's a significant difference, but how much easier would everything have been if, instead of suing the service out of existence, the major labels had worked with You'd have a third-party service streaming purchased tracks as a value-added proposition to music sales, which is what everybody seems to want now. It only required a ton of money and lawsuits to hash it out back to the starting point?

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Random Weekend Summary Notes

  • The Genius function on my iPhone failed to create any playlists off of any songs currently loaded.  I'm chalking it up to the fact that my entire library isn't on the phone (far too much memory), so I only sync unhead podcasts and songs to it.
  • Apple's refusal to stock the Podcaster app in the Apps store is a bit disconcerting, to say the least.  Getting podcast subscriptions on the go would be a helpful tool, and the answer as to why they refused it doesn't seem quite logical.  Given the amount of blogosphere outcry on the situation, I'm not sure how long this app stays off the market.
  • Best Buy purchasing the now-DRM-free Napster and MySpace readying an ad-driven portion of their music service hopefully signals a quicker end to DRM in all services.
  • Steelers start 2-0.  This makes me happy.
  • So does "Evil Dead: The Musical."

Time With The Genius

Since I'm not in the market for a new iPod, today's "big announcement" from Apple didn't really mean much to me until it got to the iTunes 8 update. The Genius feature (a bit misleading, considering they already use this term for their in-house tech support - I've generally had good experiences, but I don't want to tie in my music listening to the need for assistance) supposedly builds smart playlists based on a single song from your library. On my work computer (with no music library to speak of), it also gave helpful suggestions from the iTunes Store. Reminiscent of Amazon's suggestions and usually well-related, it still wasn't a huge leap. It also made me wonder why it was recommending German techno based off of the ill-received Roots/Patrick Stump collaboration "Birthday Girl." There's some inscrutable logic there I'm just not getting.

After installing iTunes 8 at home and letting it catalog my home library (a process that took just under an hour on an old PowerMac G4 - slow but a lot of storage capacity), I gave it a shot on the track I was practicing at the time. From Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely?", I received a 25-song list featuring Sly and the Family Stone, Al Green, The Spinners, Isaac Hayes, Maxwell, D'Angelo, Parliament, Sam & Dave, Van Hunt, Nikka Costa, The Time, and more. Decent selection of new and old, and all were good songs. At this point, it's looking like a more intelligent shuffle function - the tracks are random, but they're stylistically similar.

Tackhead and Supergrub produced no results from Genius. Even though both are in the iTunes library. A little disappointing.

The Hold Steady pulled tracks from The Gutter Twins and The Twilight Singers (both well-loved rock acts in my library, no surprise), Art Brut (former tourmates and excellent match), TV On The Radio and Gnarls Barkley (okay, I suppose I can see these fitting in) and Genesis. Nope, I'm drawing the line at "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway."* That just doesn't quite pull it.

I like the idea of Genius, and its results seem useful, if sometimes rather random. Most of it is still based on what's in your library, so you're limited there in a way that you're not with Pandora and However, your tracks aren't likely to disappear due to inscrutable royalty disputes either, so that's a plus. The feature is also another way for iTunes to sneak advertising into your music experience, so take that as you will. Some will enjoy the suggestions for the possibly new and different, others will resent the intrusion. I've always wondered what Amazon thought about me, too. It's a decent step forward, but it still does nothing to advance iTunes and the iPod to my ultimate wishlist - liner notes and info in the program AND on the mobile device WITHOUT DRM. I even set that up as a Boolean statement, for ease of programming.

*Incidentally, the track in question was "The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging." You're going to read into that what you will, so have at it.

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Quick iTunes Note

Alright, so I refreshed my browser a couple of times during the MacWorld keynote speech to see what Apple was coming out with.  I'm not concerned so much with the new laptop or iPhone stuff - it was the improvements to the AppleTV unit and iTunes that interested me.  Apple getting into video-on-demand is interesting, as are the capabilities of the new AppleTV unit (for those of you with digital cable boxes, it's pretty much like the on-demand services you have right now - one step forward towards a la carte cable viewing as opposed to subscription?).  It's also cool that some hi-def DVDs are going to include iTunes-ready digital files on the disc.  This fulfills a pet peeve of mine - being able to get a digital backup of your media.  With this, you can have a copy on your computer and your disc at the same time without technically violating the DMCA (even though I'd regard copying that media as well within your rights).  The only drawback is the DRM on the iTunes files.  Even if it's less restrictive than other DRM, it's still there.  Baby steps?

It's also telling to me that iTunes skipped right over music this time around.  Except for mentioning that it's offered wirelessly through AppleTV and such, there were no new announcements.  Given that record companies are making the move towards Amazon (at least the majors), I'm curious to see if more music offerings at better bitrates and without DRM are in the cards.  And don't forget, there's always Tunecore and CD Baby to get your music on these services.