I have never owned an ipod. I never will own one because I prefer to use my portable CD player when I want to listen to music--either through headphones or through speakers. I used to kind of want one, until I heard someone play a baritone aria (I think it was from Faust) from an iPod on one of those "speaker docks." The sound had no depth. I couldn't hear any of the inner string voices, and I couldn't even recognize the voice of Bryn Terfel, my favorite living baritone, because the "stuff" that makes his voice interesting for me was compressed out of existence.
Young people seem to be perfectly happy to listen to popular music on their iPods (they also, I have been told, are happy to watch movies on tiny ipod screens). I imagine that pop recordings are engineered to work with the qualities of iPod-type-sound the way that country music recordings are engineered to sound clear and strong when driving down a highway at 60 miles an hour. (Did you ever notice that the tempo of most country music songs also seems engineered to go with the rhythm of the "road?")
For me the iPod does not spell the death of classical music at all. Actually, as musical compression becomes more the norm, the difference between listening to live music and listening to mp3 files will become greater and greater, kind of like the difference between eating home-made soup or soup from a fine restaurant, and eating soup from a can. When the CD and the SACD started making the recorded listening experience more pleasurable (at times) than hearing live music played in real acoustics and in real time, I started to worry about the future of live music. I no longer worry about that. I predict that the ipod will eventually make more and more people crave the real thing in real time, when it comes to listening to classical music.
Tags: iPod, classical music