Projects, Technology

Dearly Departed

Those that know me well know that there is one device in my possession that I hold high above all others – namely, my iRiver iHP-120 (renamed to the H100 later). When I purchased it in the Summer of 2004, it was one of the few products that had the features that I desperately sought in a portable audio device (PAD™). Roughly in order of priority, they are:

  • Ability to record to an uncompressed or losslessly-compressed format with reasonable quality
  • USB mass storage-class device (for drag-and-drop between the device and any computer with a USB port)
  • Ability to play, at least, MP3 as well Ogg Vorbis-formatted files
  • Reasonable amount of storage capacity

The iHP-120/H100 was the only PAD™ on the market at the time that met all of these requirements. After acquiring it, I discovered that, not only did it meet these requirements, but it did so with flying colors, mā shā ’Allāh. I thought I couldn’t be happier with the device. This proved to be true until I discovered Rockbox. After loading Rockbox onto my PAD™, I was in an entirely new world of bliss. Not only did I get the warm-&-fuzzy feeling of using a free-&-open-source product on my PAD™, but Rockbox took away the built-in limitations that came with my PAD™ – most importantly, the time/size limit of any single recorded file (in WAV format). A later revision of Rockbox introduced the ability to record directly to a WavPack format, which meant even greater space savings and fewer disk writes – theoretically, this could save additional battery power, but I never evaluated whether or not this was truly the case. But I digress…

The majority of my usage of my PAD™ was in playback – either lectures, Qur’ān recitation, or previously-recorded sessions (could be either of the previous two examples). Other than playback, I have used my PAD™ to master many live recordings. Many, many recordings that I’ve posted online, either on this or other sites, have been recorded through my PAD™, and there remain many more that I have yet to post (though they are mostly of me, and therefore, have dubious value…).

After all this gushing, surely you can imagine my chagrin when I first started to experience drive-based errors on my PAD™. Though they were fleeting and infrequent at first, they unnerved me. The frequency of these drive errors increased with time until it actually prevented me from using the device altogether, and even being able to turn it off became an exercise in precisely timing a hard reboot along with hitting the power button as soon as the PAD™’s firmware could receive commands but before it had a chance to attempt to read the disk. This culminated in the PAD™ becoming utterly unusable. My heart sank.

After a few attempts at trying to manually re-seat the disk drive (after hunting for the right-sized Torx screwdriver), I realized that perhaps it was time to move up in the world of PAD™ recording. Therefore, recently, I have come across several devices that may possibly serve as a replacement to my PAD™ in the capacity of its usage as a recording device, mainly for spoken events, such as lectures or Qur’ān recitation (e.g., during tarawīḥ). The results of my ongoing search for a replacement to my PAD™ can be found in an upcoming post, in shā ’Allāh.

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