Friday, January 14, 2022

Music Lovers Beware

The Bezoid never sleeps

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.   

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional meltdown.  

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlereader  

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." -Aldous Huxley

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

Music lovers — full-timers, part-timers, and once in a great whilers — are as fragmented as just about anybody trying to survive life on the shores of the ever-rising Information (and choices) Ocean.

Most of you zany young people, that is to say, anyone under the age of 50 or so from my current perspective, and even many of my fellow sexy senior citizens (SSCs) are familiar/comfortable with MP3 music files even though they've only been around for 30 years.  

I suspect that there's no shortage of members of both groups who don't know/don't care that when they're "streaming" or downloading music that they're listening to MP3s, or allegedly slightly better formats that sound roughly the same — awful. 

Audiophiles, on the other hand, who, if they deign to stream at all, will go to a great deal of trouble to download "lossless" (or at least less brutally compressed) music files of one sort or another to get music that's as least as good as listening to a virtual CD — preferably better.    

{Wait-wait-wait. I have an enormous collection of MP3s that I accumulated in the 80s that sound great to me. I love Spotify and...}

To paraphrase/recontextualize a Louis Armstrong quote I bumped into somewhere but can't find, Dana, if you like it it's good music. 

There are SSCs, and younger people, that still listen to, and even purchase, actual CDs (40-year-old technology) in spite of the "jewel cases" they're usually packaged in that are made out of a type of plastic that immediately starts decomposing as soon as one manages (4.3 minutes on average) to claw the shrink wrap off.

There are fringe groups that own and listen to cassette tapes (60-year-old technology) which have made a bit of a comeback of late. I heard about a dude that retired to Elbonia that has a climate-controlled vault bulging with 8-track tapes. 

There's a bunch o' Boomers (and a subgroup of young white males) that only listen to classic rock stations that have been playing the same couple of hundred songs since the late sixties.

{What about vinyl LPs? They've made a big comeback and some people say they sound the best.} 

No, they don't, but far be it from me... 

Anyways, they've made a relatively modest comeback because some people are willing to pay $25 for fresh vinyl, some people enjoy scrounging for old vinyl, and certain people are resistant to change.

{Yeah, most Boomers and...} 

Some members of this group have too much time and/or money on their hands, like this guy.

And finally, we have me, a wild-eyed eccentric and rugged individualist who has turned his back on overpriced Apple products and overly complicated PCs and embraced the inexpensive/uncomplicated Chromebox, the desktop version of the now-famous Chromebook.

{You're my hero.} 

A man who, thanks to appropriate peripheral devices including a decent pair of powered speakers and subwoofer attached to said Chromebox — and subscriptions to certain video streaming services — created a poor man's entertainment center (PMEC)/home office in his chambers that fulfills all his needs with one exception, CD-quality music.   

{Um... You do realize that you can attach a CD player to a Chromebox, book, whatever, right?} 

Yes, but then I'd have to own/maintain CDs, I want to "stream" my music out of the cloud. After all, it's all out there, or at least will be eventually. 

{Um... Amazon Prime members can get CD (and even better) quality audio via something called Amazon music UNLIMITED. $7.95/month gets you access to a library of 75,000,000 (and growing) songs. It's only two bucks more for non-members.}

Indeed, which brings us to the title and subtitle of this column. 

{By the by, who's the Bezoid?}

Jeff (all's fair in love and retail) Bezos. 

For one brief, shining moment I thought l could live out my days without having to complicate my life or my room: the PMEC complete at last. I'm running low on allocated words so permit me to skip to the bottom line. 

CD-level audio via Amazon streaming is not possible for Chromebook/box owners. As to why, well, good luck getting a straight answer on that one.

{Well... buy a cheap PC then and...}

I don't want or need a cheap PC, and here's another fun fact. An inexpensive PC, or an overpriced Apple will get ya CD-level audio (which Amazon calls HD sound). 

But Amazon boasts you can also access Ultra HD sound, better than CD, and you can — if you purchase a hardware add-on or two, which they forget to mention.

{Huh... but I know for a fact it'll give me CD-level sound on my smartphone...}

Sure, but again, the elusive/alleged Ultra is not possible. And, unless you've got expensive headphones and/or the ability to connect your phone to a (not cheap) pair of speakers, you're not gonna notice much of a difference. 

{Oh... well still, there's something to be said for access to all those songs for less than ten bucks a month.}

True dat. Still, it'd be nice if a company that's supposed to be all about customer service always played it straight. 

{Man, you are a crank.} 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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