Back in 2005, I won a first-generation iPod Shuffle at a conference for being the most engaged participant or something (i.e. for being a loud-mouth).
The Shuffle is a horrible piece of kit, of course. It has no display, no way to navigate between albums (only track-at-a-time), no EQ, only the crudest battery-state indicator (OK vs. not-OK), and Apple’s appallingly clunky proprietary disk format which means you have to wrestle it to the ground before you can add songs.
Yet eight years on, it’s still the MP3 player I use the most, by far, and for one simple reason. I can hear the damned thing. Every other MP3 player I’ve owned is too quiet to hear when on a plane, or when running on a treadmill, and for most music even when I’m on a bus.
I understand that volume limiting is “for my protection”. But as with so many things for my protection, I think I’m better able to make that judgement than the people imposing it. They, for example, don’t know that I listen to a lot of music that was mastered in the 1970s, back before the loudness wars destroyed dynamic range. An accidental casualty in that war has been all the music not compressed to hell and back, which is now inaudible on modern players.
So while I’d love to upgrade to a player that can hold more than 1 Gb of music, and that lets me navigate properly, and has all the other bells and whistles, it seems that I’m stuck with technology nearly a decade old if I want to actually hear anything mastered with more subtlety than Metallica or Miley.
Is there an obvious solution that I’m missing?