The owner of a local record store once advised me never to listen to the radio while driving: “Don’t let someone else play your soundtrack, man.” That was good advice, but back in the day, how could you avoid having to put up with the nearest station’s meatball disc jockey, only to hear static-laced cheese-puff tunes that only Casey Kasem could like? It wasn’t easy. It took a boom-box with twin tape decks and a lot of your time. But we did it.
Well, Turn It Up, Man
Today, with MP3 players, it’s a little easier to put together your favorite song list, even if it’s several hundred songs in length. And it took the automobile manufacturers a while to catch on, but they finally figured out that people wanted to be able to blast the hits from their MP3 players. They weren’t satisfied with the sounds that came squirting out of their ear buds. People wanted to hear “their music” come pouring out of the expensive sound systems that they had installed in their vehicles.
The MP3 file is definitely limited in comparison to full-size .wav files, but so is a 2.0 megapixel photo snapped by the average cell phone camera when you put it next to a 12 megapixel picture taken by an expensive digital camera. The smaller (and clearly lesser) file still puts out the sound in an acceptably audible fashion, but recording artists, engineers and other high-brow types frown on it. As Franklin D. Roosevelt used to say, “Everyone’s against me, except for the electorate.”
It may well be that, in the near future, audio devices such as the iPod will be able to store and play full-size song files in all of their intended glory. When that day comes, Super Speed UBS-enabled equipment will be ready and waiting to push that sound through your speakers, whether you are comfortably at home or out there on the road.