The 30-year-old iPod?

iPods are disposable tech, high-end audio lasts a long, long time. The Audiophiliac ponders why more folks don't buy for the long haul.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read

Does anybody buying an iPod in 2008 expect to get more than a few years of use out of the thing? My five year old iPod still plays, but I can't get it to work in newer iPod docks or iPod speakers. My iPod is too old.

Linn's turntable has been around since 1972. Linn Products

A good friend of mine plays his 30-year-old Linn LP-12 turntable almost every day. It was an expensive turntable in 1978 when it sold for around $1,200. But he's gotten 30 years of use out of the thing, and even now listens to a lot more vinyl than CD. So his $1,200 investment works out to around $40 a year to own the thing. Can you imagine anybody buying an iPod today still using it in 2038? 2028? OK, how about 2018? Hmm, I don't think so.

Linn still makes the LP-12 turntable, the model has been in continuous production since 1972, and most parts are readily available. How's that for customer service? My Linn LP-12 is almost brand new, it's just 13 years old.

OK, iPods aren't high-end devices, they're disposable technology. Fair enough, how much do you imagine you'll spend on iPods or their equivalents over the next 30 years? There was one guy who responded to my "How many iPods have you owned?" poll who has already bought 26. So he's already made Steve Jobs richer by many thousands of dollars. Over the next three decades he'll spend a lot more, and still wind up with a closet full of useless junk.

I get it. Convenience trumps quality in most things. Fast food vs. slow food; fresh ingredients vs processed, which is pretty much the same deal with music. CDs, once the height of convenience and advanced tech are now viewed as archaic. CDs are too big, too easily damaged, and cost too much--so lower-fi MP3s and iTunes have put the CD on the road to oblivion. But to vinyl loving audiophiles LPs still sound better than any digital format. Everyone else couldn't care less about the sound quality their music, it's just not all that important to them.

Or is it that people are so busy now they simply don't have time for quality. Strange, our affluence makes us go for the quickest, lower quality option every time. Back in the day writers would use the same typewriter for decades, but now we have to toss out our computers every three or four years. We're living in a disposable culture, so we need to keep buying new, ever cheaper stuff, but if you have to keep rebuying it, is it really cheaper? High-end audio can be expensive to buy, but not to own.

I'd like to hear from you guys about your turntables, have long have you had yours? Is yours even older than my friend's 30 year old Linn?