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Listening To Music On Servers Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 December 2004
In the old days of the late 1960’s through the 1980’s, audiophiles and even mainstream music consumers would listen to music predominantly on albums. For years we all reached for our trusty CD or LP copy of Dark Side of the Moon or Electric Ladyland and played the sucker from start to finish. For me hunting down albums to listen to from my collection of CDs is part of the fun of owning a top audio-video system. Some albums demand the attention that comes from a serious listening session however new technology is interjecting itself into the way we listen to music, and things have changed in terms of how we listen to music. The change started with the Napster phenomenon and the unbridled access to music it offered those using that software or P-2-P networks. Now the movement has morphed into a more legal practice with the rise in popularity of Apple Computer’s iPod and iTunes system as well as other hardware units and online music resellers. There is little question that mainstream users have compromised audio quality (an unthinkable concepts for purists even by today’s standards) for convenience. But with the convenience comes an interesting new look at your music collection even for the jaded audiophile. While I still keep 1,100 CD and hundreds more DVD-Audio, SACD and even some new DualDisc titles, I also have versions of them legally ripped onto a Firewire hard drive on my computer at work as well as into a ReQuest Audio music server at home.

My 40 gig iPod’s advantages are obvious, I can travel with my music collection in the palm of my hand when that collection would weigh tons if I tried to check it as “additional” baggage. But what I have been most compelled by lately is the way I have been using my ReQuest server to manage my music collection and how it inspires me to listen to music differently. While you can treat 1,100 albums just like your CD collection by searching by title and artist, what I am finding to be more interesting is creating unique playlists that manage moods. It is great that you can rip music on a ReQuest (and other servers from the likes of AMX, Netstreams, Escient and others) in an uncompressed or slightly compressed modes however it is the ability to manage playlists or “moods” in my case that makes the idea of listening to music on a server most interesting. For example, say I come home from a hard day at work and want to unwind listening to some loungy, yet cool tracks from the likes of Thievery Corporation, Air, Zero 7 and others. Within moments of walking in my front door, I can simply touch my AMX remote and press ReQuest. From there I select my playlists and go to one of my loungy moods and either press play or press play and random. Within a mere 10 seconds, I have my system on and rocking with my tunes rolling and my system doing its job - which is to create positive vibes in my house.

Steven Jobs, Apple’s founder, has suggested that people are willing to sacrifice audio quality for convenience and perhaps he is right, however with today’s servers designed for higher performance, audio-video enthusiasts can still have high quality while enjoying a new look – or should I say – sound to their music. Distributed throughout your home, streamed to your laptop while you are connected to a high-speed connection in a hotel in Hong Kong or beaming right through your speakers in your media room, listening to music on servers can change the way you look at albums, your music collection and the overall emotions that can be created with your system.

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