iPod revisited

I have owned an iPod for a couple of years now and rarely use it. First, there are not that many moments in the daily life in Tallinn when I could encapsulate myself from the world with headphones. Secondly, I have been too busy/lazy to get a proper iPod connector installed to my car. Being a bit on the hifi enthusiast side, I’d prefer proper cabling + charger dock to entry level FM transmitter.

iPodding hasn’t even really worked for me in flight with the exception of catching up with some Kuku radio shows. I usually sleep or read on planes.

Having become a daily user of London Public Transport System things have changed. Ye ol’ pod is undusted and works as it is mean to be, building a nice music filled cocoon around the humble bug I am in the morning rush of London tube.

Two concerns still outstanding:

Earphones
A couple of weeks ago I made a spontaneous purchase at LGW. On my way to the gate I noticed a gang of about 30 drunk bachelors. All set up and ready to go get pissed in Tallinn with fake glue-on sideburns and huge fake gold Elvis Presley sunglasses. (Correctly) assuming what the next three hours in a narrow aluminum cylinder 10,000 feet above the ground will look and sound like, I stepped into a store and got myself Sony MDR-NC11A noise canceling headphones.

The phones did the trick with NDS and loud-soundtracked games on that trip. However now when used to truly enjoy music, I’ve discovered some deficiencies.

First, in the passive mode (active noise canceling turned off) they are not bad at all. A respectable amount of detail, clarity and smooth bass. If anything they could be a bit louder.

However, when the battery-powered filtering kicks in it makes the sound harsh and bass much more edgy while not giving that much more effect in noise killing than the earphones themselves physically do, sitting quite deep in your ear channels.

Worst of all in a quiet environment in between tracks, the active “canceling” in action can be heard clearly as static — bear the irony — noise. And to top it off, there is just too much wire attached to these things. When all tangled up it feels as if you could listen to what your left shoe is saying if you were 4 meters tall I guess.

Verdict: Clearly better than the standard iPod ear buds in passive mode, but not delivering what I bought them for. I should have gone for the Shure ones like everyone else I know, for the 20 extra pounds at that airport shop.

Updating iPod
The last time I updated my iPod was before I changed computers and decided I will not have any more MP3s (eventhough they were legal) on my work laptop. Thus, no iTunes. And it has not been a real issue as the music collection I have already synced to the iPod is far from getting exhausted.

However, now if I want to get some of the radio shows/podcasts updated with new episodes I can not do it. A blank iTunes host install tries to clean out the iPod and start all over. Seems that there are really two options:

  • Find the iTunes directory from a backup disk from my old computer, get the MP3 collection online again as well and pretend nothing has happened.
  • Find a third party utility that would let me add a few files to the iPod without touching what’s already on there.

Somehow the latter option seems less fussy. If you have any good tips on which utility to use and which to avoid, please let me know. I’ve heard enough horror stories about non-official utilities messing up iPods, just hope that most of them originate from Infinite Loop Drive.