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I get asked a lot what technology I actually use, as opposed to all the cool stuff I show people or talk about.  So I started looking around and thinking about it.  What do I use? What do I have? Do I like it or love it?  And I decided to start posting about it by subject area of gadget (insert nerdy librarian joke here).  I thought we could start with audio–how I create and consume audio (music, podcasts, webinars, etc.).  Other areas I’ve thought about are video, cooking/food, reading, internet/data, and the ever popular “random miscellany.”  If there are other categories you’re curious about, let me know and I’ll see what I have lying around.

So we begin with audio!

–First off: What do I consume?–

I listen to music a lot.  At home, in the car, at work, on the go.  I also listen to a lot of podcasts.  No audiobooks (I think the reader’s voice changes my interpretation of the words, and puts a spin on images or characters in my head).  I also create audio content for live webinars and I’m just starting to create a podcast series which may or may not have video.

Second: How do I consume it?

At home

Sonos system: I have a two-room Sonos system set up in my apartment.  It’s a wireless music system that feeds in whatever collection you have on your local computer as well as multiple streaming services (Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, etc.), plus radio stations.  It’s pretty cool. You can also control it w/ your smartphone so I turn the music on from outside the house so that something nice is playing when I walk in the door. It’s expensive, but totally worth it for music-heads like me.

Android HTC Thunderbolt smartphone: As stated, I control my Sonos subscription with my amazing Android HTC Thunderbolt phone.  I <3 this phone.  I use my phone for audio in other places too, in other ways, which I’ll prattle on about later.

Audio Receiver: I have my entire sound system in my house running through a pretty upscale Samsung audio receiver. I don’t know WTF I’m doing with it, to be honest, but I at least figured out how to get the speakers and various components hooked up. That does mean I need to keep it on at all times if I want to do the “turn on the Sonos from outside” trick.  I’m okay with that. And yes, I cabled everything up myself in my apartment from raw speaker cable. I am proud of that (w00t!), as evidenced by my ‘home audio porn’ shot on Flickr.

The speakers: I have four Bowers and Wilkins bookshelf speakers hooked up–two in the living room, two in the bedroom. These little tiny guys pack a heck of a punch. Awesome sound, great bass, probably enough that my neighbors want to throttle me. The sound in the bedroom is particularly good–probably because it is a somewhat smaller space, less echo-y.

Music collections and services: I use the iTunes library on my MacBook (which I have to have on for the Sonos system to be able to access it, logically), and I also subscribe to Spotify (all streaming music anytime) and Pandora (how to describe Pandora…customized streaming internet radio?), and also use the free Google Music service (which lets you upload your downloaded songs into the cloud and then access them from anywhere).

Podcast service: And I use Google Listen to subscribe to podcasts.  Love it.  Shows up in my Google Reader as a feed, and as an app on my phone.

At work

Heartbeats earbuds (Beats by Dr. Dre): I work in a large room with 4-6 other people, depending on the time of day.  So usually I use these lovely Lady Gaga Heartbeats earbuds to listen to music through Spotify or Google Music or my podcasts through Google Listen.  I like the Beats headphones for the bass, as I am an electronica fan and bass is a must.  I don’t give a crap about who made them, or that Lady Gaga put her personal brand stamp of approval on them.  I really thought they sounded the best out of all the earbuds I tried. I detest over-ear headphones as they end up hurting my head after a while. I don’t know why. I’m weird.

X-Mini Capsule Speaker: OK, this is one of those gadgets that I use in a crowd and people get all excited and go out and buy the next day.  This little X-mini external speaker (a mere $29.99  @ ThinkGeek) has the best sound of any small speaker I’ve ever encountered.  I use it to play music before classes, to play off my phone or laptop when I’m traveling, etc. It’s seriously that good.  You can also buy sets of more than one, and daisy chain them up for stereo or surround sound.  But just one will do you.  I bought a couple for my dad, a true audio nut, and he is in love with them too. That’s all the stamp of approval I need.


In the car

Android HTC Thunderbolt smartphone: I just hook up my phone through my nice little audio cable which goes into my MP3-in port on the car, turn on Spotify, Google Music, or Google Listen, and go. Easy peasy.

On the go

Android HTC Thunderbolt smartphone: I do not own an MP3 player. My phone is my music player. I have multiple audio apps on the phone (Pandora, Spotify, Google Music, Google Listen, Soundcloud, Slacker Radio, Sonos, and until recently Rdio too [before I decided to choose Spotify for sound quality]).  So I can get pretty much any song, podcast, or other audio entertainment when I want it.  The phone is small and lightweight enough for taking it on hikes, for workouts, etc.  Plus, it’s my phone so I already have it with me.

Heartbeats earbuds (Beats by Dr. Dre): Again, love these. Highly recommend.


And third, how do I create audio content?

Yeti microphone: I love this microphone.  It’s big.  It’s heavy.  It’s powerful.  It has easy-to-learn controls. And the sound quality is astonishing. You can hear each and every breath in, whisper, and tonal change.  It also folds down for storage and then pivots up for use (more than slightly phallic).  I love this microphone…after having unsuccessfully tried several others.  I got it a while back during some crazy one-day Amazon sale (for $90 instead of $199 if I recall).  So glad I bought it.

Audacity: Record into Audacity. Edit and mix in Audacity.  And you’re all done.  Whenever I show people how to record and edit audio for the first time, they’re super scared and don’t believe they’ll be able to learn how to do it.  But once you see that it’s really just highlighting, copying, pasting, dragging, deleting, and adding effects (just like in a Word document) all of a sudden they’re audio ninjas!  Ninjas, I say!  If you’re scared of audio or video editing have somebody show you the basics and I promise you that fear will go away.  I was scared.  But I learned, and so can you 🙂  I promise!  Sarah’s personal guarantee, good for your money back (oh wait, all this was free…umm, good for a cup of coffee?).

So what did I forget?  What devices do you use for audio consumption and creation?  What do you love?  What did you buy and later learn to dislike?  Bring it on!  Bring on the gadget wars!

“Sarah’s Gadget Showcase, Part 1 (Audio Gadgets)”

  1. Alvin Says:

    I use Amazon mp3 for song streaming. I just got an invite to Google Music, so I’m excited to try it out.

    I also use a Viewonic G Tablet with Cyanogenmod 7 to control XBMC on my computer. I’ve been thinking of making a little linux box with XBMC and streaming all my media to my TV, but I need to save some money.

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  3. Jimmy the Geek Says:

    Audacity ( rocks! I use it for everything from making ringtones for my phone to actually editing raw audio. It’s a great cross-platform app that works on Windows, Mac OSX & Linux. Open source software rules!

  4. Jonathan Says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m in the process of researching wireless music set-ups, and that Sonos system looks real sweet.

  5. Marsha Says:

    Good list! I like the idea of buying the X-Mini Capsule Speaker so I can listen to my iPod in my car without having to buy a pricey iPod adapter. The earbuds look awesome too.

  6. Alan Stolson (nerd boy) Says:

    Thank you in particular for the microphone endorsement. I’ve been looking for a good one for a couple of years, and now to have one that comes so highly recommended from the venerable LiB…I’m sold!! You are a technology goddess my dear.

  7. David Newhall Says:

    No NAS for your iTunes library? There are plenty of 1TB out there for $100 or so. Sonos works great off a NAS and it makes Time Machine worth using. Thanks for the X-Mini recommendation. Just ordered one.

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  11. Gwyn Stupar Says:

    We use the Yeti and Audacity for our Oral History Project. It’s been great. I would recommend the Yeti to ANYONE. Good to see it here!

  12. Maryanne Mills Says:

    Thanks for this great post. I have a naive question though. I thought you had to have an iTouch,iPhone or iPad to access content in iTunes. You say you have an Android phone. This works with iTunes? I know that you have to have an Android device for Google Music, so I just want to make sure you can use Androids with iTunes.
    I’m in the market to upgrade from my iTouch and little Nokia flip phone to a real smartypants phone (Android or iPhone) and I’ve always thought I HAD to go with iPhone in order to access my music.
    As far as my devices, well, I can’t compete with the likes of you!

  13. Sarah Says:

    @Maryanne – I uploaded all of my music from iTunes into Google Music. I access Google Music, then, via my Android phone. Does that make sense? It’s not iTunes directly, but almost second hand…

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  17. Printer Friendly Sabina Says:

    I like the Beats by Dre headphones, but when I plug them into my car speakers i find that they distort during songs with lots of bass. otherwise, very nice!

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