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All About Access

You may recall my revealing admission a couple of months ago regarding my DVR. Im not going to recant any of those statements this month, but I will admit that just like any relationship that starts off hot, things between my DVR and me have cooled quite a bit.

Dont get me wrong, my digital cable set-top box with integrated DVR is still very special to me, but once the honeymoon ended, things between us began to change. The newness of our relationship wore off, we ran out of things to watch together and well…I cant lie. I started seeing another technology on the side.

Just when I began to think that video technology was all that I was concerned about, audio gear re-entered my life in big way. Why did my life suddenly change? It was spurred on by the opportunity to try out satellite radio for the first time, thanks to the folks at Sirius. This pivotal event was followed, a few weeks later, by the second-best birthday present that Ive ever received, an iPod mini, from my wife.

Combine these sudden lifestyle changes with the New York Yankees inexcuseable meltdown against the Boston Red Sox, and my world suddenly was flipped upside down. Can you blame me for losing interest in my wonderful, yet cantankerous, DVR?

Its really all about access. For the first time in my life I can track down any song that I want, then buy it from the comfort of home. Songs that I have never owned on CD are becoming part of my growing library, and music that I would never have thought of buying is finding its way onto my playlists. Guilty-pleasure tunes and one-hit wonders from the 80s that only rarely make it onto FM radios limited rotation, are now at my fingertips. Then, when I get tired of one batch of music, I go find some more. Downloading becomes a bit a like a word association game, as one song reminds you of another, and so on. Before you know it, your hard drive space is completely full, and youre forced to buy an external drive to accommodate all of your music and digital photos.

In the music download world, the only limitation Ive experienced is my own imagination. The Apple Music Store has done its best to keep users inspired with its Top 100 lists, Free Downloads of the Week and Celebrity Playlists from the likes of Edward Norton and Burt Bacharach. Yet, still whats missing is the influence of a cutting-edge DJ who can introduce me to completely new music and recording artists. Thats where satellite radio comes in.

In my short time as a Sirius subscriber, Ive been inspired by the breadth of genres offered and variety of music that can be found at any one time. Though even satellite radio DJs can become formulaic in their selections, Sirius lack of zoo crew DJ chatter and incessant commercials enables me to find a good song to play whenever I want.

I havent tried Sirius competitor, XM Radio, yet, but Im sure that the experience is much the same. The differences between the two are their choices of celebrity talk radio hosts and their varied sports offerings. Otherwise, Im pretty sure that Id be happy with either one.

One day I hope to take my satellite radio for a ride across the country, which I believe is the killer app for the technology. Listening to, say, an Indianapolis Colts game without interruption, from New York City all the way to central Pennsylvania, is something never before possible. So is listening to the same DJ for his or her full shift as you move from city to city, state to state, across the country.
My only complaint with satellite radio and my iPod, for that matter, is the quality limitation of compressed music. In some ways, both music downloads and satellite radio
technology trade quality for convenience. Generally, bass response is a bit lacking, but even this tends to be less obvious on higher quality speakers and headphones.

You might guess that Im already considering another technology relationship. As much as I like what Ive got going right now with my Sirius Satellite Radio and iPod, maybe its time that I played the field a little bit more. There are a couple of audio formats that I still havent tried. Im even told that they have a little more depth than all of the others. Lets see if DVD-Audio and SACD can win me over next.