Tag: iPod

Fifteen musical moments

Simon tagged me in a Facebook meme (by the way, I now have a Facebook username). I don’t generally participate in these things, and I’m not going to tag anyone else, but I found it sort of intriguing… so here are my results.

The idea is that you shuffle up your iPod and write down the first 15 songs that come up (no cheating, skipping, picking out songs that make you look good!).

Well I actually only have a tiny subsection of my iTunes library on my iPhone – of ~11000 tracks so far ripped, I’ve got 1449 on the iPhone at the moment, which I think is only about 5.5Gb of the 8Gb capacity, the rest taken up by photos, apps and video podcasts.

Here’s how it came out – without any cheating.

  1. The Butterfly Collector, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller
  2. Loneliness, The Feeling
  3. A Life Less Ordinary, Ash
  4. The Ghost of an Unkissed Kiss, Trembling Blue Stars
  5. Not a Love Song, Uh Huh Her
  6. People Move On, Bernard Butler
  7. Swara Suling, The Schubert Club Gamelan Ensemble
  8. The Sad Day, Jody Talbot
  9. Once Around The Block, Badly Drawn Boy
  10. Deep Water, Jewel
  11. No More I Love Yous, Annie Lennox
  12. Be OK, Ingrid Michaelson
  13. Kung Fu, Ash
  14. Dreamer, Uh Huh Her
  15. This Corrosion, The Sisters of Mercy

If the list interests you, my “social music networks” are Last.FM and, to a lesser extent, MySpace (where I tend to find new and interesting artists, or connect with ones I already know).

Oh, and on a vaguely related note – anyone else massively underwhelmed by “shake to shuffle” on iPhone/iPod OS 3.0? It only appears to actually work if you have a playlist underway, or, say, shuffle all the tracks on the phone, in which case it’s the equivalent to hitting next anyway… what’s the point?

No tagging from me, but I’m assuming Simon will see this so he’ll know I lived up to my part in his meme. Looking down his news feed, I see a 25 albums meme in there too. I abstain 🙂

iPhones, iPods, headphones

Although Steve Jobs described the iPhone as the “best iPod [Apple] ever made” back in January 2007, I have to say I’m not sure.

I previously owned a 2nd generation nano, and loved it. Light, easy to use… OK the screen was tiny and the capacity was limited, but it did the job.

The iPhone has that nice big screen with video playback going for it, and now it also has the new (and very, very cool) Genius playlist feature. Just a small number of issues, then…

  1. No search? the 2G nano had search! Am I missing something?
  2. No ability to read the notes for podcasts. On the nano I could press the button to cycle through time / cover art / lyrics or info display, and on the iPhone I get lyrics or the “back” of the album cover. Nothing useful for podcasts.
  3. The time slider is way too difficult to control with a finger. On a longer podcast, say over an hour, skipping over a minute or two of the duration is almost impossible. The click wheel definitely wins there.
  4. Finally, and most annoyingly: no external skip / pause control. I have to take the phone out of my pocket, potentially unlock the screen, and then skip to the next track. Really not the best idea when travelling on the London Underground (“that’s right folks, I have a 3G iPhone, please mug me at the next station”).
    OK – time for a confession here. I never unpacked the iPhone headphones until last week. I didn’t realise that they have a mic on the wire with a click switch which gives the forward/back/pause control. Why? Because I’m so used to the poor audio quality of the Apple earbuds that I switched to Shure ones several months ago and I’ve been using them since. So it seems to me that what is needed is some kind of cable which can fit in between third-party headphones and the iPhone’s headphone socket with an external switch on them.

I think the iPhone is an awesome device, but for me, it just isn’t the best iPod I’ve ever had.

Review: Shure SE210 earphones

Ever since reading Nik Fletcher’s review of the Shure E2C earphones last year I’ve had Shure kit on my mental “would really like some of those” wishlist. I now have a lovely set of Shure SE210 earphones.

SE210 what's in the boxI use my iPod nano a lot, but it is well-known that the Apple earbuds are not the best. I’ve previously thought about some good noise-cancelling headphones, but in most cases those aren’t especially portable as they cover the ears and require batteries to power the noise cancellation. When I read Nik’s review I thought the sound-isolation seemed like an interesting idea, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work

Well, I was able to try out a set of the Shure SE210s (the successors to the E2Cs) at MacLive Expo in London back in November, but I resisted getting them at the time. Now I’ve finally succumbed.

The sound-isolation is achieved by the earbuds having foam or rubber sleeves that act like earplugs and block out the external noise. By default the SE210s come fitted with foam sleeves (picture here), which should be rolled between the fingers before you put them into the ears, where they expand to a neat fit. If the foam ones don’t suit, the box contains four alternative sets of sleeves which may fit better, and a cleaning tool for hooking out any dirt from inside the canal of the earphone sleeve. It’s quite an odd experience at first, since it does feel like you are wearing earplugs and yet able to hear the music… but the sound-isolation is great – people working in the same room as me will attest that it is now harder to catch my attention aurally! Another side effect is that I’m actually using a much, much lower volume setting on my iPod than I used to… I barely have to have any volume at all. As I type this I’m listening to iTunes on the MacBook and the volume is on the lowest possible setting, but it’s entirely comfortable and I can’t hear the click of the keys as I type. The only downside is that it can be a bit fiddly to put them on, especially since Shure recommend having the earphones curled around the ear.

The quality of the audio from the earphones themselves is excellent. With the Apple iPod earbuds it was frequently a little tinny and lacking in depth. The SE210s deliver a lot richer sound with clear bass (although I tend to select the Bass Booster EQ setting on the iPod). Select a multi-layered track like Coldplay’s Speed of Sound – which I also note tends to be be loaded on the iPods in Apple stores, which usually have high-end Bose noise-cancelling headphones attached – and I can hear a lot of texture and detail, and pick out the individual tracks in the mix. As Nik says, there’s a danger of becoming an audio snob with these.

The SE210s also come with an extension cable (the earphones themselves are on a foot-long “stub” of a cable so it’s lucky that the extension cable is in the box), and a carry case. All in all, quite a nice package. Worth a look if you want to upgrade your sound but continue to have portable earphones. Oh, I’d avoid getting them from the Apple store, since they seem to only be available at list price… the price is more reasonable (although still expensive as in-ear headphones got, but these are good quality) elsewhere such as Amazon.