Do you remember the days of flicking through racks of CDs on a Saturday afternoon, looking for the album of an artist you just heard about, perhaps a £3 bargain, or even just cruising for eye-catching covers? Bliss. While the advent of the iTunes store all but ended the need for physical media, there was for a short while an element of bragging rights attached to having a multi-gigabyte music collection on your iPod—but even the idea of owning digital music is fading. Our once-vast music collections have been culled in favour of convenient streaming music services that give us access to all the music we could ever dream of in just a few taps.
But were we better off before? I'm going to find out.
Let's make MP3s great again
My journey down the MP3 rabbit hole started during an afternoon spent reminiscing about the various music players I've owned over the years—the iPod Classics, an iRiver H140, a brief stint with a forgotten 20GB Philips box, and a Rio Riot, the Atari Lynx of unloved MP3 players. Each has a charm you no longer see, now that everything fits into an Android or iOS slab. Well, apart from the assortment of weird and wacky audiophile players (I'm looked at you Pono Player), some of which could have been beamed straight from 1998.