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iPod’s Fall From Grace OR DRM Blues

July 30, 2006

So, with my recent car stereo installation, I’ve attempted to find ways to optimize my music complication experience.  For the past seven months, I’ve been glued to my iPod and, on average, bought 2-3 albums a month–cool to find a song, pay and download, and go.  Very slick.  As I’ve done more research, I’ve discovered that these joyous songs are protected–they cannot be played outside of the iPod and iTunes unless I burn them to CD, which loses the album/song information.

Okay, so that annoys me, and others [1, 2, 3, 4], that I’m now locked to using iTunes (I’m a Windows user, btw).  Meh.  The cheap way around this?  Burn the music to CD, re-rip using Windows Media Player (or even iTunes reconfigured to MP3s) back to the system?  The downfall?  The AAC lossless format is pretty darned nice, and reducing it to 44KHz again and double-dipping the encoding is bound to lose a bit.

My experience?

Heh, I proceeded with this on a recent purchase (9.99$) and had both the iTunes version and my mp3 version on the iPod.  Could I tell a real difference?  No, not really on the standard iPod earbuds.  I put on my Logitech headset and noticed a bit of difference in the base and midtones, but only because I love the song and am used to how it sounds.  Once I get in the car and let the pre-amp have it’s way, and am going down the highway at 70mph with my windows down, will I notice?  Nah.

So, my music tool of choice now?

Windows Media Player was a sure shot–I like how it operates, but how it interfaces with an iPod SUCKS.  And not just a bit, but REALLY bad.  The Windows Media Connect tool is useless and doesn’t seem to understand how an iPod works–focusing more on the Creative Labs Zen and even the Dell Axim’s…

I opted, after some recommendations from the Best Buy Dude, to WinAmp.  I haven’t upgraded to Pro yet, but the free version and iPod plug-in work like a CHAMP.  It recognizes the full USB2 speeds, the songs go across flawlessly, and show up perfectly on the iPod–ratings and all.

Conclusion.

Do I like my iPod?  Hell yes.  Sweet machine, good sound quality out, and the interface is flawless and slick.  Do I like iTMS?  Meh, yeah, honestly, I do still–click and download to a ‘T’–but I’m disappointed with the DRM.  I bought it, it’s mine, kthx.  How will I get music in the future?  After a weekend of getting this all configured, I’ll probably go back to buying CDs.  I spent a dozen+ CDs so I’d have backups of the media–something I should have done each time I bought a CD from iTMS (thank God my PC never crashed!); so for that convenience, the 1-2$ extra for a pre-manuf’ed is fine.

Categories: Everything Else
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