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November 27th, 2006

iShuffle: Headphone Snob = Me

Mom got me an iShuffle spin-off -- I’m a walking Bath & Body Works advertisement (yea, I didn’t know they were in the tech business either) -- and I was surprised at the little things decent specs ... until I heard it spit-out muffled noise that sounded like a high-pitched Justin Timerlake rather than sub-woofer for Moby. I suspected the ear buds and went geeky to verify that they are the culprit.

Why oh why do people download outrageous, 256kbps bitrates yet listen to their iPods via these awfully White, pop-culture “headphones” that are obvious victims of sleek- and slim-obsessed Americans?! Rebel! be unique! I look something like this guy.. Big-ass, Close-cup Aiwa HP-X223‘s baby, Oh yea. You know it. But even my Aiwa’s are entry-level, aka. low-end ... so what are your ear plugs?? Hah!

Digital Music 101

First, howstuffworks.com has a brief, albeit techie, primer in digital music.

MP3’s and Bitrates

My laptop has Intel’s i810 chipset with AC97. According to Moore and associates, it converts digital-to-analog and vice versa at 48kHz samples per second with 20-bits per sample in stereo (2 channels). That means I can, at most, hear music recorded at 192kbps (48000 * 20 * 2). That’s it; a hardware limitation of my laptop regardless of that 256+ MP3 that the National Symphony’s recording studio can pump out.

The iShuffle spin-off that Mom got me sounds cheaper but the specs aren’t ... specific enough so I can’t tell how good it could convert a 320kbps mp3, as the manual says I can upload to it.

Headphones and Sound

Now that my laptop’s soundcard or MP3 player is spitting out fairly fidelitous music, I’m supposed to ruin what’s left of the sound with these ear aching buds?! Nope; doesn’t cut it. My Aiwa’s can bounce from 5Hz bass to 25kHz treble with nice, round 1.5“ diaphragms -- that actually move! -- while the ear buds chirp little 20Hz to 20kHz on ... well, tiny electrostatic plates. Hah!

I’m not a bitrate whore; I’m a big-ass headphone snob. Still, I’ll walk around with the little things in my ear when I need some ear plugs.