Keep up James - get an iPod!

So, the 51st birthday approaches, and with it, the question 'what do I want for my birthday?'.

Well, in a lame attempt to catch up with the rest of the world, I'm considering an iPod. I mean good Grief, I even built a podcasting site recently, I ought to have one of the buggers. But which one? What size? The grandaddy iPod photo or the diminutive Shuffle?

And considering these options has had a surprising impact on the struggle to get 'I'm Back' sounding good.

(By the way, don't even consider suggesting some iPod alternative - I've been workng with Apple hardware and software for 18 years and I see no reason to change now).

Anyway, the iPod integrates with your computer using iTunes, so the easiest way to find out what size of iPod is required is to start loading iTunes with all your favourite albums. Of course, most of my favourite albums are on vinyl (Humble Pie live at the Fillmore anyone?), so the CD collection isn't what it should be, but for the last few days I've been copying CDs onto the iMac G5. I'm up to 1.6 days now apparently.

I've never used iTunes for anything else but creating mp3 files in the past so this has been a bit of an eyeopener. That's one nifty piece of software.

Now, everyone who matters recommends that when you're mixing down, you should listen to other tracks you like, and compare the sound with your own production. So, having loaded a whole bunch of music into iTunes which plays through my 30 quid 'multi-media' Reveal speakers from Costco, I was now in the position to do exactly that - as long as I had all my professional music software pumping through the same speakers.

Aha! Now things start to make sense! I've got Logic 7 Pro squawking 'I'm Back' through my little speakers and it's immediately obvious that I need to patch the various parts of the drum kit to separate audio channels so I can boost the kick drum bass and make the snare drum snap without affecting everything else.

Except that in the process of trying to work out how this is achieved, I manage to silence everything but the parts I recorded live. And I sit here listening to a track without all the supplementary software instruments and... it works! It sounds great! It swings, it's funky, it's cool!

Hmmm... time for a major re-think.

Of course, I'm still going to use the drums, and I'm still going to use the organ and the sax and the trumpet (you probably didn't even realise they were in there) but with a completely different perception of the track they'll play a very different role.

Watch this space (or one very much like it)...

BTW, if you're still here - it does look like the standard 20gb iPod will be quite sufficient. Still bad news for my credit card though.