Published on February 16th, 2016 | by Jeff Thiessen


Requiem for the iPod Classic

There wasn’t enough of an outcry when Apple discontinued the iPod Classic, so Jeff has written a eulogy for this groundbreaking portable music playing product.

On September 19, 2014, my worst fears were confirmed — Apple was discontinuing the iPod Classic. I had heard rumblings about this possibility, and the rumours were persistent enough that I actually bought a secondary one before the official announcement, but it was still a blow. Yet, nobody seemed to give a shit! Sure, I stumbled a few posts lamenting its demise on various audio forums, but overall the public didn’t really seem to shed that many tears for this wonderful device. I sure did — at one point I climbed into a dumpster when I thought I’d accidentally thrown it out and didn’t have my iPod backed up. But as far as that fateful day in September a year-and-a-half ago, I’ll provide a small backdrop for context.

Apple basically said the iPod Classic costs too much to build and sales weren’t enough to justify the marginal profits they did yield. Obviously the writing was on the wall: mobile music was just another thing to be packed onto phones, with all your apps and pictures. And I’m not debating this. I was laughed at constantly for my utter dependency on this device. I can’t count the amount of times someone requested I play a song, but I had to inform them it’s on my iPod, not on my phone.

To be clear, this burgeoning reliance on phones becoming the go-to music carrier wasn’t bewildering to me — I get that people now want anything that can be stored on their phone, to be stored there. But there was a whole world of us out there, literally dozens of us, who couldn’t find any logic in that mentality. For me personally, storing music on a smartphone just didn’t make any kind of sense. So there’s some context for you, in terms of why it was discontinued, but I don’t think the classic ever got a proper eulogy, which I will provide right now.

First things first: this bad boy, at least the newest 6th generation version, had a whopping 160 GB of memory. 160 gigs! To put that in some perspective, I currently have 15,393 songs on my iPod, and still have 25 GB worth of memory left. This means if I accidentally upload a Mick Jagger solo album or something, no big deal. I can just leave it on, ‘cause you know what? I’ve got room to spare. Get in there, Mick! In fact, tonight I’m going to throw on some Kid Rock or something, just cause I can. That’s what the Classic does, it makes any of us music collectors drunk with power. But honestly, I hate deleting stuff. If it’s worth going on my iPod, that means it’s worth listening to in its entirety, and the way I flip flop on albums, deleting something makes me nervous. I never have this dilemma with the Classic; if it’s on there, chances are it’s staying.

Second, the wheel. God, that wheel represents everything pure and holy in this world. Touch screen is fine — if you have to get from Audioslave to Daft Punk and have like 26 bands between the two. But when you want to get from Actress (first act on my iPod) to Ty Segall, and have hundreds of acts sandwiched between the two, touch screen is more than a little exhausting to count on. Not only is the wheel more efficient, but when you are cycling through quickly the Classic is smart enough to know you have shit to do, and are trying to get from point A to point T in this case, and the bold letters pop up on the screen. At this point you aren’t cycling through the acts, just letters, and you’re laughing it goes so quickly. Laughing! To me this is the trump card, as I am well aware phones will eventually have a ton of GB space. Sure, that will improve but it will probably still be a monumental task to fly around if you have a lot of music on it. I’m sure they will add some lame ‘search option’ but I don’t think that’s all that great anyways, as I don’t want to type in artists or repeatedly scroll down. Trust me, the wheel is the best and flawless in its execution.

Next, it’s the perfect size. Phones are starting to just become undersized tablets. If I want to walk my dog and don’t feel like taking a giant screen smart phone in my pocket, it’s absolutely perfect. Size is big enough to manipulate without even looking at (if you have enough practice), and small enough to easily fit in almost any pocket that isn’t skinny jeans. Plus they’re tanks — they can take a lot of drops, and all you get are cool battle scars with almost no risk of that catastrophic frowny face that basically lets you know it’s fried.

Really, it’s the perfect mobile unit. I started out with some totally shitty MP3 player, I don’t even remember who made it. Crashed my songs constantly and only allowed me about 80 tracks or so. Then I switched to the iPod Nano (which incidentally, was a little too small), and while it was a drastic improvement, it maxes out at 16GB. Are you starting to see why the classic was in a totally amazing league of its own? My Nano was 8GB which was a drastic step up from whatever piece of garbage MP3 player I had previously, but once I actually filled it up, I realized with every band I wanted to add, something had to die. Once I started seriously considering deleting the Nirvana’s Bleach to make room for the new shitty Brian Jonestown album or something, I realized something had to change. Enter the Classic, and I’ve never looked back.

I have never had a product I’ve used more and cherished more. As you can see, the only remotely comparable item is the Nano, and it’s a waste of time for anyone with a remotely growing/large library. I know, the iPod plays MP3 files, which are compressed, and blah blah blah. Everyone knows it’s not going to simulate the quality of a CD on a high quality system, or the rustic elegance of an old 12”. I know this, so it’s not even worth pointing out to me. But you know what, I’m ok losing a bit for everything it’s brought to my life. If I’m cleaning up after a messy supper or having it on in the background while I’m playing GTA5, I don’t necessarily need to hear the subtleties of a MBV or Sonic Youth album.

Finally, and most perhaps most importantly, it’s the last mainstream portable music device that has one function: to play music. Not a hybrid with anything else, it existed solely to represent everything in your library. It’s not a jack of all trades, it doesn’t have the ability to capture a moment or GPS coordinates. It played music for you and knew it didn’t have to be anything more. That was enough.

R.I.P. iPod Classic. I dread the day when the 25GB I have runs out.

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“I love rock n’ roll” (-The Jesus and Mary Chain). “I hate rock n’ roll” (-The Jesus and Mary Chain). Meet me in the middle and drop me a line sometime.

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