Tuesday, May 19, 2009
BBC Radio Free Is A Real Revelation
The continuing cultural genocide at BBC Radio 3 has forced me to experiment with alternative music sources in the car. My Overgrown Path company car (106,000 miles on the clock and about to make its twelth trip to mainland Europe!) doesn't have an auxiliary jack on the audio system, but it does have good speakers and a decent amplifier. So I bought the Griffin iTripAuto seen together with my iPod in the photo above. The iTrip concept is very simple; it takes the iPod output and broadcasts it as a low power signal on a vacant FM frequency to the tuner in your car stereo. Power for the little transmitter is supplied by the car cigarette lighter and it takes just a few minutes to get working.
My expectations were not high, after all the iTrip costs less than £12 in the UK. But the performance is surprisingly good, and is certainly far better than acceptable. Yes, there is low level background noise, and it is not ideal if you exist on a strict diet of clavichord recordings. But I am more than happy to accept a little background noise in return for being rid of BBC Radio 3's vacuous presenters and bland programming.
Life on the road with the iTrip has been a real revelation, although there are some relatively minor wrinkles. It does not recharge the iPod Nano, although other iPods are recharged; but given the exceptional battery of the Nano that is not a problem. You need a passenger to act as DJ on long journies unless you playlist your music in advance. But the shuffle mode is always there; on the trip back from the Bern Ballet at Snape it entertained us with a particularly felicitous sequence of Gregorian Chant from Solesmes, followed by Dylan, then one of Silvestrov's Stille Lied.
Probably the biggest problem is that the iTrip is not legal in all countries. No problem in the UK, but it is outlawed in FM frequency challenged France. We will be spending a fair amount of the summer away from the computer and in France with the car. So I should be able to report back first-hand on how strictly that particular law is enforced.
* Background to my header photo is The Envy of the World - Fifty Years of the BBC Third programme and Radio 3 by the much-missed Humphrey Carpenter. Given the title it is quite appropriate that the book is out of print. Read more on renaissance man Humphrey Carpenter here.
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