Posts Tagged ‘zappa

27
Jul
11

iTunes: Not so i-Deal

First of all we here at HiFi Central must apologize for the lack of posts over the past few months; we have been on a hiatus from blogging and using much of that valuable time to be with our families, or simply avoiding writing anything because we are too lazy and I felt compelled to touch base.

As some of our readers may know, over the past year I was enlightended about the brilliance of Phish and how diverse their music truly is; even I have to admit being rather ignorant in just assuming that they were a reincarnation of The Grateful Dead; they are clearly their own band and incredibly so.

So, over the past few months I have been collecting their studio albums and listening to live material in order to gain a larger appreciation of who they are and what they have contributed to music.  Clearly the best repository for their live material is directly from their website LivePhish.com; this site has a comprehensive offering of (I would assume) everything they have ever done; and for a small fee you can obtain choice snippets of what you consider to be the best shows to add to your collection.  I’ve used the uploading service for both their free Live Bait  releases and a 2010 concert; the sound quality has been superb!

So, I’m sure you are asking yourself “ok, so what does this have to do with the Apple logo and  the semi-clever post caption?”, ok, I will get to the point.

I’ve always been somewhat anti-Apple; and even moreso with the growing popularity of their products since it reminds me of some subtle world domination thing; I don’t know.  In the past I had subscribed to iTunes and liked it to a degree, but found that MicroSoft Media Player more dynamic; specifically in recognizing burned tracks and album art; something the iTunes in it’s infancy either accepted or rejected to no avail.  I wrote a blog post entitled “How Zappa Killed My Ipod” a year back and it really turned me off to iTunes and it’s inflexibility, especially with rejecting nearly 90% of Zappa’s catalog.  Not to mention the idiotic response I got from the Apple Stores “genius” at the time.  Up until recently I was opposed to the cult of Apple and everything they produced (and to top it all off and add insult to injury, my brother-in-law is a manager at the local Apple store, terrible eh?)

Well, about a month ago I was reliant on my Droid Eros as my mobile phone and for about a year it was reliable and snazzy (so I thought); I scoffed at the idea of owning an Iphone for reasons explained prior.  My driod died (the touch screen just stopped working) and Verizon was unwilling to assist me in fixing, replacing, or making any other mode of accomodation to keep me as a customer.  I finally decided to give in and try the iPhone 4, and yes, ok, I like it (just a little), ok….I like it alot more than my Droid.  The downside was that I was required to establish and iTunes account again (see, Apple get’s you by the nuts whether you like it not!!!); and of course the first thing it wants to do is become my default player AND convert my entire collection into their format; complete with unknown tracks and missing album art, once again. Yippee!

So, during my time exploring the self-created prison of iTunes I decided that I would check out their music catalog to see what they had to offer, of course I decide to type in Phish and yes, they have nearly all of the Live Phish sites catalog, very cool so I thought.  This is where I learn more about the lack of a deal iTunes really is if you are a savvy shopper and pay attention rather than relying on impulse to purchase your online music.  The concert I decided to look up was Phish’s 2010 concert at The Greek Theater in Berkely, CA (the 8/6/10 show, crazy version of “Cities”); on iTunes you can get 10 song’s for $12.99, or you can go to LivePhish.com and purchase the entire show of 20 songs for $9.99!!!  I was shocked and disappointed in iTunes, clearly this is a case of taking advantage of the uninformed consumer.  Why on Earth would you purchase anything live from Phish through iTunes, buyers please beware.  It’s like thinking your getting a good deal on a bulk size of Pringles at Sam’s Club instead of doing the math and realizing you can get a better deal at your local supermarket.  Then again, perhaps it is simply the consumers ignorance to blame for not doing their research comparing prices.

The other thing that I resent about iTunes is that you only have a limited amount of computers you can move your collection to (I think it’s 6?); then you are S.O.L. and have to either re-purchase the songs you bought off of iTunes or re-rip your cd collection (if you kept any after uploading them, which most of us are trying to downsize just for the benefits of electronic media storage).  Now, I’m not versed in MyCloud or McCloud, or whatever they are calling it, but perhaps this is the solution to keeping your collection off site and available for eternity.  If you do know how it works, please comment on this blog to enlighten us here at HiFi.

I like my iPhone, I really do, but this price gouging thing got me rather bitter.  Not to mention the uploading of my music collection to iTunes now looks pretty goofy with multiple albums without album art and a separate area of music quarantined as “unknown” or “unknown artist” which MediaPlayer seemed to figure out in 2 seconds, but the brilliance of Apple is dumbfounded; frustrating.

21
Dec
09

LaLa Online Music

Upon my recent review of Pandora and my excitement to share it with the masses I have discovered that has become first of all limited in its availability worldwide, and second, the artist profile that one creates barely plays the artist’s songs.  Sorry Pandora, but I’m not impressed any longer.  My “Zappa station” now plays ONE Zappa song per 10 songs and often, the same song? Lame.

I was introduced to an alternate online music source called LaLa and I have to say that I am rather impressed with the variety of artists available and also the amount of control the user has over listening to what you want (and all songs in their entirety!).  Please check this online source out and ditch Pandora since they are clearly a “bait and switch” site.  When they first introduced Pandora it was much cooler, not anymore.

I’m impressed how much Iron and  Wine, Nick Drake, and Elliot Smith they have, you can buy whatever you like at any time, but you can also create personal playlists to play, nice.  Ok, so here’s the catch- you can only listen to one song in its entirety once then you have to purchase it.  So, yeah, it’s free…but then it’s not, but the songs appear to be cheaper (.79 cents vs. .99 cents or more depending) to purchase than iTunes and the variety is pretty good. 

When you initially visit the site they give you 25 credits towards web songs you can add to a LaLa player which is free.  Each song is one credit and you can build a 25 song playlist after setting up a free account.  A cool thing is that you can listen to as many songs as you would like in their entirety prior to adding them to your playlist.  So, if you customize a playlist of things you might listen to all the time you might find the value in it.

Granted, Pandora is absolutely free but it has very serious limitations and becomes horribly redundant in its variety. 

Check out LaLa by clicking here and tell us what you experience.  Worldwide readers, please let us know if you can access this player as well.

09
Dec
09

Pandora Web Radio

For those that may be searching (or have searched) for decent free web radio station that plays the music you specifically like please check out The Pandora Genome Project.  I’m a huge Frank Zappa fan but find it incredibly difficult to find any Zappa on the internet; Pandora actually has a nice assortment of Zappa on the Zappa radio station.  You can create nearly any artist station and Pandora does a good job matching similiar artists in the mix.  I created an Al DiMeola station and have discovered other artists that I had never heard before (and actually liking!).   I have a Supergrass, Bob Marley, Gwar, Slayer, Eliot Smith, Iron and Wine, Jimmy Smith, John Coltrane, Cal Tjader, and other radio stations to choose from that I created.  The possibilities are quite endless.  I found a cable that connects from my laptop to my stereo and was able to feed Pandora through larger speakers, the sound quality was very good.

A cool thing about Pandora is that if you like the song you can give it a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” and it will assist you in creating a more personal play list.

Yes, there are commercials every once and awhile, this is actaully something quite new and I would suspect allows Pandora to provide this music for free.  There was a time, I was told, that Pandora began limiting the amount of free songs you could listen to, but I have not experienced any limitations yet.  Commercials are just part of the World Wide Web these days whether you like it or not, but hey…it’s still FREE, so don’t complain.

Check it out and I hope our readers in Iran, Saudi, and other countries where the Web is monitored can access this great station.

Please take the time and tell us what you think!




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