Daily Archives: 12/11/2005

iTrip vs. Cassette Deck

An image of an iPodI’ve owned an iPod for a year now, and for that time I’ve been using a Griffin iTrip to play music through my car stereo. So I have a fair amount of experience using this setup, and I am qualified to say that it sucks. Yes, the Griffin iTrip sucks. And here are the reasons it sucks:

  1. Sounds tinny – First and foremost, music played through the iTrip sounds clipped and tinny. Something to do with the FM broadcast I suppose. The sound just can’t hold a candle to other formats, even a regular FM broadcast sounds far better than the iTrip.
  2. Can’t crank up the tunes – On the same thread, it is impossible to crank up the music. I’m not some bandanna wearing metal headbanger, but I do like to turn up the volume every now and then. And the iTrip just can’t handle it. Above a certain point, the sound was just filled with crackle and hiss – and it still wasn’t loud. Bummer dude.
  3. Other people on the same frequency – When I took my iPod with me to St. Louis in August, a major flaw of the iTrip was exposed. In major urban areas the FM spectrum is pretty damn crowded, and people using the iTrip or similar products are clustered into several frequency ghettoes. Either I was constantly fiddling with the iTrip to find an empty frequency or I would be driving down Big Bend and suddenly listening to Garth Brooks or the Black Eyed Peas coming from another vehicle. When this started happening every day on my commute to work back home on Guam, I knew the iTrip’s days were numbered.
  4. Random frequency switching – This was the final straw for me. Like most people, I simply put the iPod on random shuffle and listen to whatever comes up. Unfortunately what comes up with alarming frequency are the specialized iTrip mp3 files that change the gizmo’s broadcast frequency. Nothing is more frustrating than suddenly losing music to the hiss of static and either searching through the radio dial for my music or manually retuning the iTrip and risking another random retuning.

So when I got my hands on an old MiniDisc player last month, one thing really stuck out in the package – a cassette deck adapter. I plugged in the Sony CPA-7 and I was blown away by the sound quality. My music was crisp and clear, and I could crank up my Aphrodite’s Child album and freak the hell out of the people in the car next to me with ease. And that’s a good thing. So goodbye and good riddance iTrip, it’s been a frustrating 12 months dealing with you.

Ukiyo-e Sunday: Kuniyoshi

Time for another one of my favorite ukiyo-e prints, this time a wintry scene of the monk Nichiren walking through the snow, a woodblock by the artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Kuniyoshi was very successful depicting warriors and heroes, achieving fame with his series ‘The 108 Heroes of the Popular Suikoden All Told.’ This image is from another series depicting the life of the Buddhist monk Nichiren.
The Buddhist Monk Nichiren in the Snow at Tsukahara, Utagawa Kuniyoshi ca. 1840, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Buddhist Monk Nichiren in the Snow at Tsukahara, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861). From the series Sketches of the Life of Koso; color woodblock print, ca. 1840, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, JP2634.