First you have to make the choice between spending mainly on the music itself and spending on the equipment playing the music. I find that spending more on the equipment reveals more layers in the music (sometimes 6 or 7) compared to the 3-4 (vocal, guitar, drums, bass) that a standard retail CD player reveals.

As for the music itself, there are several ways to get it (aside from live concerts)

  • I could buy it new. Spending $15.98 on a single CD is just not in the cards, when …
  • I can buy it used. I mostly do that on amazon, but only when I’m desperate. The cost of shipping is $2.99 and the cost of the CD is typically $4, so that still comes down to several dollars, so instead …
  • I prefer to use swaptree. That way I only pay shipping ($1.68) and I can always find one of my CDs that I no longer listen to. (I check “last played” in my iTunes).
  • This costs about as much as buying a single song on iTunes, but that is of course an alternative. It works best for those into hit music and compilation. I’m more of an album kind of guy.
  • I have a (naked) DSL connection, so by giving up a little choice in exactly what I want to hear, I use Pandora. By giving the website thumbs up or thumbs down on what it plays it will analyze your taste and often introduce me to new artists. Of course this makes me want to acquire the corresponding CD — that is their business model — which I then put on my swaptree wishlist.
  • The final stop is the library. Our local library does not have a great selection of music. Maybe I should donate some music there and try to get a trend started.

Out of those options I focus almost exclusively on swaptree and pandora. I recently bought a pair of Grado SR60 headphones, which I play out of my computer (iTunes). I have considered getting some headphone amps (there are now many companies that make tabletop DACs for exactly that purpose).

Originally posted 2009-02-01 08:28:53.