My Five Most Indispensable Music Technologies
I started listening to music on vinyl way back in biblical times and things seemed just fine. CDs came along and made hauling around music somewhat easier and, once you got past the crispy clarity, the music sounded pretty damn good. But, in the last 10 years, technology has gone from a light jog to a steroid-fuled sprint and we are all racing to keep up.
Previously the pinnacle of music technology...and pure awesomeness.
It got me to thinking, setting aside the obvious benefits of things like the MP3, the music blog, streaming services like Spotify as well as download sites like iTunes and Amazon (or P2P if you prefer), there are still more technologies that are part of the way I now enjoy music. And I'm not even counting all the technology I use to create, record and edit music.
5. Computer Speakers
This is probably the most boring and the most obvious. I never really spent time listening to music at my computer before about five or six years ago. If I did, it was on crappy little speakers that came with the computer. When I finally dropped $100-plus on a really good pair of desktop speakers, it changed my world. Suddenly, I could listen to really good music without having to leave my desk. I still struggle to write when listening to music with lyrics -- I tend to stick to jazz while working -- but my computer is now the best spot in my apartment for hearing tunes, which is good considering how much time I spend in front of it.
I'm old school in that I really, really like knowing who played on a given record. For most hardcore musicians, the idea of listening to a record while staring at the liner notes to see who played on it can be a bit of an obsession. By finding out who played on something we like, we can find out what else he/she recorded and expand our list of influences. Enter AllMusic.com. Think of AllMusic like IMDB but for musicians. It is the most comprehensive source of information I've found anywhere and nothing helps me figure out who played on a record faster, nevermind when it came out, who produced it and the like.
Like the speakers for my computer, this may sound obvious, but that's why it is on the list. I used to have an iPod (actually, I still have it around somewhere), but with the advent of the iPhone, the device that allows me to take calls, receive emails, get directions, look things up on the web and generally stay organized also gives me access to my music wherever and whenever I want. At night, I hook it up to a little speaker system that charges it and amplifies anything I want to hear from the radio (yeah, on an app) to music to white noise. When Apple finally launches its Match service that syncs up music in "the cloud," you can damn sure bet I'm dropping the annual fee to have access to all my music no matter what the size of the hard drive in the device I'm carrying.