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Today's iPod is yesterday's Walkman

"Who can stand listening to music that way?"

While I appreciate the convenience of the iPod, I’ve been horrified at the sound “quality” of these devices. Yes, they are digital, but the audio is compressed… depending on the source, VERY compressed. Then listening is done through tiny “ear buds” (how CUUUTE!) which produce nothing lower in pitch than a baby’s cry; these headphones (so-called) have NO bass, from what I’ve heard!

Who could stand to listen to their music this way? Who would WANT to feed their audio through basically a system of distortion, then play it out through something sounding similar to taping aluminum pie pans to the sides of your head?

…Then I got to thinking about how I listened to MY music in the 80s.

Yes, some of us had “boom boxes” (or “ghetto blasters,” if you prefer), and yes, if you were the rich kid in school it was BIG and had LOTS of bass. There was always Mom or Dad’s stereo (when they weren’t home), and my uncle had a KILLER component stereo system with a Pioneer receiver, an auto-reverse 3-head cassette deck, and he even had his hi-fi VCR hooked up to it! MTV was AWESOME at my uncle’s house.

In reality, most of the time I was listening to radio, or tapes, on… on my Walkman(s). The Walkman was very durable. It sounded pretty good, but of course radio stations crushed the music before they broadcast it, and cassettes were usually recorded from records… and were often warped from time spent in a hot car.

And they used headphones.

Not headphones like the big “cans” you might see professional producers or DJs use. No, these were tiny (for the time) “lightweight stereo headsets” (often with ORANGE foam pads, which provided NO comfort for the ear BTW), and those headsets came in two flavors: Not Much Bass, or No Bass & Few Highs.

So, imagine me listening to a warped cassette of a radio station playing a record they had transferred to a tape on a set of these micro-‘phones WHILE MOWING A YARD. Oh, yeah… had it cranked to jet engine levels to be heard over the lawnmower, resulting in distortion somewhere in the double-digit percentages.

…Maybe kids today AREN’T so crazy for listening to iPods.

(Have an idea for an 80s-related BlackLight Radio post? Comment on this post, or email me! )

Posted by Gene
Posted under Memories
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