On Apple & our wireless future

Never be an early adopter. Let someone else deal with the bugs, the problems with the code, the drivers that aren’t backwardly compatible, the higher prices that come from fewer products being in the marketplace, and the thousand other unforeseen problems. Sit back, observe, take notes and wait till the dust settles.

This kind of thinking was crucial to me back in the days when I had very little money and couldn’t afford to make a mistake with a tech purchase. Hanging back and waiting saved me from buying a laptop with the utterly laughable Windows 8, and before that it saved me from the god-forsaken Vista. This week it’s stopped me being an unofficial and unpaid beta tester for Apple’s iOS 10.

Ah, yes – Apple. The company that doesn’t like headphone jacks. Our subject today.

The iPhone is a digital device, and the music files it plays are digital. Why would you want to use analogue headphones to listen to your digital music files?

Why, indeed? Come to that, why would I want an analogue, valve-driven guitar amplifier? That weighs about 45 kilos and also functions as a space heater? Why are my vintage condensor microphones worth more today than they were when they were made, even though they don’t contain a built-in AD converter and can’t transmit audio data via Bluetooth?

I’ll stop with the sarcasm. I promise.

It’s entirely possible that, as with the demise of floppy disc drives and CD drives, a superior technology will take hold in such quick time that we’ll look back in a year or so and wonder what we ever valued about the 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the other hand, I’ve got several pairs of headphones, earphones and earbuds (none mega expensive, but none super cheap either), all for different purposes, and I take audio quality seriously. I’m not made keen on paying for Apple’s Airpods, or anything by Beats, with their ridiculously hyped low end and utter lack of detail. Frankly, I want to use the headphones I want to use, the way they were designed to be used, not with a Lightning adapter, thanks. From my perspective, Apple’s dropping of the 3.5mm jack feels like the same old game tech companies (hell, all companies – even my bank did this to me, abolishing my current account and forcing me to have their new one, with doubled monthly charges) all play with consumers.

Got a load of perfectly usable gear? Get our new stuff instead! And just in case you don’t want to, we’ll force you to by withdrawing support for your current stuff!

Thanks, Apple. Good to know you care.

And that’s without considering the reduced quality of wireless audio, and the potential for disruption to the signal. There is a reason that no recording studio in the world contains any wireless devices except possibly a wireless mouse. Guaranteed signal flow is kind of the basic, rock-bottom requirement for audio.

I’m not anti-Apple, by the way. I have an iPhone, a Mac and an iPod. But the day they withdrew the iPod Classic – the one that actual music fans love for sheer storage space and who cares about touchscreen – they showed how they view their customers. If we were in any doubt.

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