Thursday, July 15, 2010

Portable Music, Mobile Music.

It is clear that the style and method of listening to music has changed completely during the last decade or so . Now for people, especially the young generation, music is portable music, mobile music, downloaded music, pocket music or ear-hole music or by whatever name you call it. iPods, MP3 players, mobile phones, USB flash drives, MM Cards, etc., are the coveted and widely used musical devices for them. Even at home more people now prefer to listen to these devices instead of listening to the big hi-fi music systems which they have in their drawing rooms.

The result of the change in style and approach to listening to music, caused, may be, by occupational pressures, is that the music systems etc. which were a rage since the late 90s, are being kept idle and may face the fate of Gramophones, valve radios and, more recently,Video Cassette Recorders. I also feel that the quality of sound produced by these portable devices is so poor and devoid of depth and Hi-Fi effect that listeners are being, undeservedly, deprived of sweet, sonorous music. Recent reports also suggest that using earplugs(ear phones) for listening to music even for short periods may adversely affect one's hearing.

Another reason cited by many for these systems falling into disuse is the perceived practical difficulty in attaching the devices to the music systems as their audio out put (outlets) sources (usually single) are not compatible with the audio input sources (usually double-L&R) of the music systems. The problem can be easily solved. There are simple suitable adapters available in the market by which the 'two pin' audio cords of the music system can be connected to the MP3 player or iPod or mobile phone. An adapter can be custom made also by attaching a stereo socket to two audio wires to the other ends of which two audio mono sockets suitable for the music system in use can be attached. The stereo socket can be attached to the portable device by common audio jack. There are adapters available for extending the length of the audio cords also.When these easy methods are available why should one sacrifice listening pleasure?

A hi-fi music system usually comes with a FM radio. It is easy to play music from a MP3 Player or iPod through the music system by a small wireless FM Stereo Transmitter which are available in different models at low prices.The transmitter attached to the MP3 player will transmit music which will be received by the FM radio of the music system and played through its speakers. The FM transmitters, also called FM Modulators, can be used in cars also through car radios.The price varies with the range(the distance up to which it can transmit) of the transmitter. A range of 10 or 15 metres should be sufficient for a normal house. Any available frequency from 88 to 108 can be selected to transmit and receive music. For persons, like me, having only a cassette player in their cars, there is the cassette adapter which can be attached to MP3 player or mobile phone and the cassette loaded as usual into the player to listen to the music from the MP3 player.

There are several useful accessories in the market with which we can improve the listening pleasure of iPods etc. Recently I got a small device(6"x4"x 2") called sound box.It has a radio and can play an USB flash drive, MM card and has line in facility to play MP3/iPod/Mobile phone and a CD Player. I could even play my gramophone through this!!The quality of sound is O.K with a sound output of 3x3 watts RMS.

Several cute, small portable speakers are available in the market known as iPod /MP3 docks. They come as a small composite unit of two speakers with built-in amplifier, connecting cord to attach the player and space for keeping the MP3 player . There are high end models costing several thousand Rupees and also ordinary ones costing around Rs.5oo/- I found these small ones very convenient and the sound quality quite good though not comparable to big music systems.But definitely they add to the listening value of ipod etc. which produce sharp/shrill sound from their built in speakers.

If one wants to enjoy music from a music system, without bothering others in a room, there is , of course, the wireless headphone consisting, mainly of a transmitter and a earphone receiver.This is similar to a FM transmitter in its function.

Yes, these are good, value for money devices to enhance the listening pleasure . But to me there is nothing to beat the age old gramophone.

Tail piece. Recently one of my loved ones brought me a T-shirt from U.S.A. There was a seller's free gift with the T-Shirt. A portable MP3 Speaker . It looked like a cricket ball when closed but when opened, though there is no resemblance, I was reminded of a familiar sight in my childhood days-a jack fruit cut into two.

P.S.Click on the photos to see them clearly.


raju said...

In the early days of compact discs, vinyl records were still prized by audiophiles because of better reproduction of analog recordings; however, the drawback was greater sensitivity to scratches and dust. Early compact discs were perceived by many as thin and sharp—distorting sounds on the high end. In some cases, this was the result of record companies issuing CDs produced from master recordings that were compressed and equalized for cutting. Early consumer compact disc players sometimes contained 14-bit digital-to-analog converters, instead of the correct 16-bit type, as a cost-cutting measure. Some players were only linear to 10 or 12 bits.[42]

Though digital audio technology has improved over the years, some audiophiles still prefer what they perceive as the superior sound of vinyl over CDs.(You must be in this catagory)

Proponents of digital audio state these differences are generally inaudible to normal human hearing, and the lack of clicks, hiss and pops from analog recordings greatly improves sound fidelity. Modern anti-aliasing filters and oversampling systems used in digital recordings have reduced the problems observed with early CDs.

The "warmer" sound of analog records is generally believed on both sides of the argument to be an artifact of harmonic distortion and signal compression. This phenomenon of a preference for the sound of a beloved lower-fidelity technology is not new; a 1963 review of RCA Dynagroove recordings notes that "some listeners object to the ultra-smooth sound as ... sterile ... such distortion-forming sounds as those produced by loud brasses are eliminated at the expense of fidelity. They prefer for a climactic fortissimo to blast their machines ..."

The theory that vinyl records can audibly represent lower frequencies that compact discs cannot (making the recording sound "warmer") is disputed by some and accepted by others. According to Red Book specifications, the compact disc has a frequency response up to 22,050 Hz. The average human auditory system is sensitive to frequencies from 20 Hz to a maximum of around 20,000 Hz.[43] The upper and lower frequency limits of human hearing vary per person.

raju said...

Forgot to add. The comment is from an article on the subject and not mine