Music: September 2008 Archives

Sorting Out Your Music

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It's come to my attention that over the last couple of years, although I still buy and listen to a lot of music, too much of it is through my iPod. Although I've got some half-decent Sennheiser earphones (i.e. not the ones that came with the device which are embarrassingly bad), that's not really the best way to listen.

On top of that, I actually have a quite decent stereo system at home, and when I do listen to CDs via that, the quality is astonishing.

So yesterday I went out and bought an Airport Express. OK - my interest had been piqued by a conversation with Geoff a couple of weeks ago. But I now realised that this relatively inexpensive device is exactly what I needed.

Setting it up was OK, although installation on Windows wasn't quite as simple and painless as Apple tried to claim it was. Indeed, on my Vista setup, I'd have been completely lost were it not for the fact that I've used WiFi for a few years now. Connecting to the Airport Express also meant losing my wireless router connection for a while until I could tie the two together into a single WiFi network.

Even that was a problem because the password I was using for my WEP-protected router wasn't 13 characters precisely. I took the opportunity to upgrade from WEP in the protection stakes, and this also meant some fiddling on XP machines with a patch that mysteriously hadn't been included on either of my machines (including my very recently flashed Asus Eee that now runs XP booting in under 30 seconds).

I got everything back on network with the exception of my PSP which refuses to work. No great loss as I rarely use it online these days.

As for the Airport Express? Well it works very well indeed. I think that Apple might include at least a cable in the box, but I'd bought one knowing that they hadn't.

And once installed, all the computers with iTunes on my network saw it, and gave me the option of streaming music to it rather than the tinny computer speakers.

Now I need to properly work out a single place for my iTunes library - preferably on a NAS drive. And finally I can start to comprehensively rip all my CDs in the same format. I have some as mp3s (and with an ongoing eMusic subscription, I'm likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future). Others are in Windows Media format, while anything ripped more recently is in AAC - at 256k. That's a particularly important detail, as I don't want my stereo finding the encoding quality wanting.

Any recommendations of NAS devices or enclosures with good power management (I don't want the drives continually spinning), would be more than welcome.

Musical Tastes and Personality


A friend of mine pointed me towards this story based on some research that suggests that your musical tastes are linked to your personality.

I think she took exception to the idea that "heavy metal fans are gentle."

Obviously, making broad genearlisations like that is nonsense, but I wanted to learn a little more about this survey. It could prove very interesting with commercial aspects for radio stations surely?

A bit of Googling revealed this BBC story on the research, conducted by Prof. Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University. Prof. North is a highly published academic, who I believe has worked with Capital Radio in the past. And it would be terribly unfair to ridicule research that I've not seen the full findings for.

But then the BBC story states that the research is still ongoing (so I suppose that means no published findings, I certainly haven't turned any up), and says that they're still looking for more participants. Helpfully, the BBC provides a link to the research survey -

Well I had to have a look at this survey. I should note that it does randomise the order of the questions, and I didn't actually complete the questionnaire, but I reloaded it a few times to see a large selection of the questions (it's not as short as the BBC report claims), and I do have a few questions about some of the things it asked me.

It wanted to know the ages of my parents (or how old they were when they died if they were no longer alive) and the age of my best friend. I can't quite work out what that could be used for in the nature of a music research survey. While I don't doubt that my parents might have had an influence on my musical tastes, knowing my current age and the age that my parents died wouldn't be especially helpful. E.g. My dad might have died aged 30 yet I might be 35 today.

The questionnaire asked me if I was bi-, hetero- or homosexual. How is that musically relevant? Will that define whether or not I like Erasure?

Another question asks me to what extent I agree or disagree with the following:
a. Music is very important in my life
b. Music can arouse feelings of thrills and excitement in me.
c. It's really important that I am able to share thrilling, intense and stimulating experiences with my partner.
d. I often get bored with my partner.

Huh? What have the last two got to do with anything?

More questions ask me about whether or not I'm in a romatic relationship, who ended my last relationship and why it ended (If she cheated on me, does that make me more likely to enjoy country music?). How happy am I in my current relationship, and how long I've been in that relationship.

Now I'm not a psychologist, and I've never studied the subject, but it feels to me that this questionnaire is trying to look at more than just my personality traits in relation to the music I like. There are plenty of questions about music that I've not ntoed here, but I've got to wonder what the ultimate aim of this research is. I don't think the press story that's out there is the whole thing.

Self-selected samples - i.e. you've made the decision to go to this site and fill out an online survey - aren't great. And without seeing details of the findings, I can't really be certain whether Prof. North's results really are "significant" as he claims in the BBC piece.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from September 2008.

Music: June 2008 is the previous archive.

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