The time has come

Despite being quite nerdy in some other areas, I've always been backward when it comes to gadgets. Specifically, portable music gadgets. The only thing I own to play music on the move is a Walkman I bought when I was about 13. It's utterly useless now, unless I want to listen to a bootleg tape of Suede, by Suede, purchased in Bulgaria circa 1993, and recordings of my old student radio shows – which might be interesting for the music, but I'd have to fastforward all the speech (visible cringing on the bus isn't a good look). I never owned a portable CD player and I've never owned an MP3 player, generally prefering in-head radio or, you know, books for my entertainment.

But things change. I am under instructions to join a gym (something about helping to reduce cortisol and balancing out my overactive mind with a vaguely active body blah blah blah) and the one nearest work (and the one that has a decent subsidy and no long contracts) plays – I quote – "funky house tunes, along the lines of Hed Kandi and Ministry of Sound compilations".

Oh fuck me, no.

I need an MP3 player. But I don't know anything about them. I could do research, I guess, but I can't be arsed. So I'm appealing to you – all three of you – to give me some advice. I know iPods are the default option but I'm not sure about their battery life and what seems to be built-in obsolescence. If I haven't bought a music gadget in over half my life I'm going to mighty pissed off about buying two in two years. Creative have a good reputation but they look a bit clunky. I don't need something that takes my entire CD collection. God, can I put my CD collection on it? How does one do such a thing? I have iTunes on my PC (but never use it) – does it only synch with Apple players? Oh, and I hate the default in-ear earphones (they hurt my teeny ears and fall out, not to mention make everything sound tinny). I'm watching Marie's post about her old Sennheiser headphones (I love Sennheiser – student radio again) and her new Sonys but I still don't know.

Recommendations. I need recommendations and opinions! And then I'll weigh them up, compare them with my own personal prejudices and then ignore the lot and do my own thing.

No, I won't. Because I don't have my own thing. Seriously, help, argh…

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6 responses to “The time has come

  1. Tom October 21, 2008 at 10:36 am

    *Finds soapbox, steps onto it*
    Obviously I could ramble about this kind of stuff all day as that’s my job. But the very brief summary:
    Headphones: all players come with crap ones. For proper over the ear sets buy Sennheiser or Audio-Technica (especially the ATH-ANC7 set, which is great). Try before you buy, though, as some Sennheiser sets grip your head like a vice. For the gym I guess you’ll need in-ear phones, in which case Sennheiser is the way to go (cheapish and good).
    Players: Creative players are fine, Sony players are much better than they used to be, but if you already use iTunes then buy an iPod (iTunes won’t play with anything else). And if you want to use it at the gym, buy an iPod Nano.
    I’ll stop there, but if you’d like any details just ask.

  2. Les October 21, 2008 at 11:09 am

    In the days when I could afford to go to the gym, I had a Creative Muvo 1Gb. It was small and light and cheap, and came with a sports arm band thingy. I loved it, even when the battery cover broke.
    Last xmas, I was persuaded to replace it with an iPod Nano (3rd gen) and haven’t looked back. I love that I can watch TV shows and I’m kinda addicted to the solitaire game. Of course, I replaced the earphones because I think wearing the white is an advert to get mugged. Got some Sennheiser buds with inline volume control (this is _the_ most convenient thing when listening to music on the move) for £15.
    You need to figure out if you want or need to wear the mp3 player on your person (via armband or whatever) or if a pocket is secure enough when on the treadmill or are you happy to put it in the thing next to your water bottle and carry it from machine to machine. (Lanyard round your neck won’t work.) The armband option is easiest, but narrows your options for mp3 player because I don’t think there are many models that come with that option. iPod here is the obvious choice but adds to your cost big-time.
    I would recommend Creative. The Zen Stone Plus or the Zen V would be a good start for your first trip into the mp3 player world, and you can get armbands for both.
    Forget about iTunes. When it comes to ripping your CDs to mp3, use these instructions: http://www.music-reviewed.com/guides.php. Then you can drag-drop your music to your player (which can double-up as a data memory stick).
    Have fun shopping and let us know what you choose!

  3. Will October 21, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Although I do carry my entire music collection around with me, and have an MP3 player the size of a brick to show for it, by the sounds of it you just want something small for the gym. In which case go for an Ipod Nano or a Shuffle.
    In terms of headphones, DON’T get the Sony ones. I went through 3 pairs in 3 years before giving in and switching to a pair of Sennheiser CX300’s which have lasted well. Sony just don’t have the build quality.

  4. Tuuli October 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    In-ear phones used to hurt my ears too. Then my brother got me Koss earbuds (look for Plug on their webpage). They’re soft and fit perfectly, and the sound is good, too.
    My Creative Zen Nano works well enough, although 1 GB isn’t quite enough and file transfer is slow.

  5. Rachel October 21, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Weeee, thank you all! I shall look into all of those in much more detail probably over the weekend. And thank GOD there is general love for Sennheiser; though Koss sounds interesting coming from a fellow teeny ear person.

  6. Rachel October 26, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve made my decisions, and couldn’t have done it without all your help – thank you 🙂 I’m going to buy an iPod Nano (and armband) tomorrow and have just ordered the Sennheiser CX300 AND Koss Plug earphones from Amazon (for less than the cost of buying just the Sennheisers in Currys Digital, rip-off). Now I just need to, you know, actually join the damn gym.

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