(The original version of this article was first published on the Mp3 Backing Trax website circa 2006 – 2012)
Is the Apple iPod really the best mp3 player for backing tracks?
Apple have always been famous for producing user-friendly products so it’s no surprise then that iPod has revolutionized the music industry. An iPod is like a Walkman but with a hard disk which can store music, much in the same way the hard disk of your computer can store files.
Musicians and singers are not too good at embracing new technology and I can understand why – we don’t like to have to concentrate on new pieces of equipment while we are on stage because it can detract from the contact we have with our audience. Even a couple of seconds trying to get a new piece of equipment to do something while your on stage is often enough for an audience to sense that you’re “turning your back” on them and lose you the momentum that your performance requires.
However, we, as singers need to move on – we cannot continue working at a high level unless we keep up to date with the new developements in our industry like the iPod. All it takes is a few gigs to get yourself familiar with your new iPod and then you’ll be wondering how you ever managed to gig without it!
The last big thing to hit the entertainer/musician/singer market was the minidisc player and if you remember back then, it took you a few gigs to get comfortable with it on stage but after that, you could really relax and appreciate it’s value and the way it made life easier for you on stage.
Well it’s exactly the same with the iPod, so if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to take the plunge and start using your iPod on stage.
Why should I use an iPod for my backing tracks?
A question that’s often asked! Well, because the iPod is small and portable enough to fit in your pocket, yet holds thousands of backing tracks!
Many one-man acts, duos and bands are now using the iPod for their backing tracks. They need something that’s simple, small, has massive storage and is reliable onstage…and that’s exactly what you get with an iPod.
The iPod has a tiny hard disk which can hold thousands of backing tracks. There is no moving parts so it makes the machine more reliable. Now you can have instant access on stage to every backing track in your repertoire and can play a wide range of other easy listening music during your break.
iPods come in many different models and prices. However, no matter which model you choose, they are all solidly built, small, light, reliable and have one distinct advantage to the singer/musician which sets them miles apart from all other brands of music players – Apples famous user-friendly operation.
If you shop around, you will find many mp3 players which may boast features such as bigger hard drives, integrated radio, longer battery life etc for less money, but don’t be fooled… none can compare to the functionality and quality of an iPod.
If you don’t believe me, try buying a cheaper mp3 player and see how difficult and cumbersome it is to do even the most simple of tasks like making up a playlist or skipping to a particular song on the hard drive.
Singers need their backing tracks to be quickly accessable onstage so the iPod is the clear winner when it comes to ease of use.
If your computer is quite new (ie no more than a few years old) you should be able to connect your iPod to it. However, do check before you buy! If you don’t have a firewire port or USB 2.0 port, don’t worry. You can buy a firewire card or USB2 card at most computer stores quite cheaply.
Likewise, USB 1.0 will still work – it’s just slower at transferring songs between your computer and the iPod.
An internet connection isn’t necessary, but if you want to get the most from your iPod, you’ll want to be connected to the internet to download backing tracks.
iTunes is a software program which Apple produce which helps organize and play the music you have on your computer. It’s also used for transferring or moving music between your computer and your iPod. It’s worth noting that you don’t need to have an iPod to use the Apple iTunes program – it can still organize your backing track collection just the same.
And here’s a tip…why not download the iTunes program even before you buy an iPod – it’s a great program and its free!
If you are shopping around, bear in mind that some sellers may throw in a few accessories like external speakers or engraving the back of your iPod etc to help sweeten the deal but make sure your not inadvertently paying for these accessories via a higher price tag!
Should I buy a used iPod?
You may consider buying a used iPod. Many iPod owners simply upgrade to a bigger or newer model so “second-hand” doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with it. Buying a used iPod is exactly the same as buying any other piece of electronic eqipment – be careful to ensure that it’s in good working order before you part with your hard-earned cash!
Check if the model you’re buying has recently been replaced by a newer model – a new model with a better spec usually makes the price of older models tumble so you could bag a real bargain! If the used iPod is less than a year old, you should be able to transfer the manufacturers warranty and have any problems fixed under it’s original guarantee.
A word of warning – although the used iPod you are buying may appear to work just fine, the battery may well be on its last legs and replacing an iPod battery is a costly affair!