30,000th Track played on Last.FM

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18. Sep. 2011, 6:04

Track number 30,000 was Slapp by Stalley, one of my favorite artists of 2011. Track number 30,001 was 330, both from the mixtape Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music). I saw an interview where he explained that it took his sound engineers multiple tests on car systems to find the sound they wanted for the mixtape. I've used both songs extensively to test bass performance on my speakers and headphones. More on that later.

It took me 376 days to rack up my third set of 10,000 songs, the shortest period yet. This was helped along by having a temporary job that allowed music to be played all day. However, the Last.FM radio wasn't as diverse as Pandora, so I eventually moved over. Also in this timeframe, I've reached some important milestones, such as graduating college. There are still important transitions that are not yet complete. Likewise, my taste in music continues to expand while maintaining strength in my favorite genres.

One important discovery of the past year was Dubstep. It was inevitable, really. I already loved Drum N' Bass and had a short stint of Hardstyle (which never materialized into long-term listening), so it was the next step. Initially, I avoided the genre on the grounds that it was called a "fad" by other electronic listeners who had delved into it before me. The turning point was when I went to one of the first Dubstep shows on campus and had my mind blown by the heavy bass. It was incredible! There's no easy way to describe it. At my peak of Dubstep listening I remarked to a friend that "if I could only listen to one genre for the rest of my life, this would be it". I now rescind that statement on the grounds that I was getting caught up in the hype a bit. What I enjoy most about the genre is the diversity of the sound, based on the artist's interpretations. Some are simply remixes of pop songs, others are grinding monstrosities that sound like nothing human, and some are mellow and minimal. Maybe the genre was a fad to some, but I feel that diversity will grant it a long-term place in my library. So much good music simply wasn't played in clubs.

All I was really searching for was more bass to enjoy. You'll find that in Hip-Hop, Dubstep, Drum N' Bass, everywhere.

My quest for better audio performance led me to buy a portable amplifier for my iPhone, the PA2V2 made by Electric Avenues. The "company" was actually just one guy up in Canada with a day job in the field of electrical engineering. I bought it on the recommendation of the headphone audiophile site head-fi.org, which my brother introduced to me. The improvement in sound quality compared to the iPhone's weak internals was immediately apparent. Sure, it's a little less convenient to carry around an iPhone with a small brick attached to it, but my ears found it worth it.

Later on I bought a pair of Koss PortaPro headphones and a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50s. Both were underpriced compared to the sound performance. The PortaPros, for example, gave my $300 Bose headphones a run for their money, and the Audio-Technicas are by far the best headphones I've ever used (and are ranked higher than several $500-$1000+ items on head-fi.org's best headphones list). My overall music listening experience has dramatically improved as a result.


Moving forward:

I'm still kicking around the idea of learning to DJ. It would be for personal enjoyment more than anything else. I'm a fan of scratching and stringing songs together, but I know that the process will be difficult to master. After all, two turntables and a mixer can be considered a full-fledged instrument. There's a lot more to it than simply being familiar with a lot of artists or having a large music library. As much as I'd like to, I might not have time to make a serious effort at DJing.

There's 2,000 songs in my inbox at the moment, almost entirely the Hip-Hop. I've taken to saving interesting songs, usually one per album, into shortlists to remember what the artist sounds like. I rarely have time to listen to a song or album twice. Counting unimported music, I have about a year's worth of material to listen through! I'm working on importing and listening to the FabricLive mix series, which alternates monthly releases with the Fabric mix series (that's next on the agenda). My next year is set to be full of more of the same: tons of Hip-Hop and Electronic music, with more focus on learning individual artists. Also, my father has a book titled "1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die", and I plan to listen through all of them. That ties up another year at least!


What else is there? I've got plenty ahead of me in more ways than one.
Andrew

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