iTunes Tag

OK, iTunes: It’s Not Me, It’s You

I gotta say, I’m starting to feel a lot like that dude in the recent Samsung Galaxy commercial—the one who’s been an Apple fanboy from Day One yet finally decides to make the switch to a Galaxy smartphone. Only, in my case, I don’t necessarily want to break up with my iPhone—I just want to break up with iTunes.


Almost every computer I’ve owned over the past 20-plus years has been a Mac. I do own one Lenovo PC laptop that I only use when measuring/calibrating display devices and checking any PC-centric things that might pop up when conducting AV reviews. But for the vast majority of my computer operations, I use and love my MacBook Pro.


Since its release in 2001, iTunes has been my music-management software of choice. I’ve ripped a lot of CDs using that software program. (Of course, I can’t do that anymore unless I want to buy an external disc drive—my one beef with newer MacBooks.) I’ve also bought a lot of music through the iTunes Store and still own a lot older, copy-protected AAC files. And ever since the day I purchased my first iPhone (the only smartphone brand I’ve ever owned), I have synced all that iTunes music between phone and computer.


These days, my iPhone is my primary music source. I use it in my car. I use it on my walks. I use it at home, streaming music via AirPlay to my Onkyo AV receiver and, more frequently, to a couple of excellent Oppo Sonica tabletop speakers. (Farewell, Oppo—I’m gonna miss you!) And you know the one thing I demand from my primary music source? That it works the way it’s supposed to, without hassle or complication.


For years, as colleagues touted the benefits of other music-management software, I’ve remained loyal to iTunes. Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe it’s fear of change. Or maybe it’s because for so long the syncing process between my Mac and iPhone was too seamless for me to abandon it. I didn’t want to mess with a system that just worked.

Then Apple went and messed with it. Again . . . and again . . . and again. Each version seemingly getting worse than the one before it. I blame the Cloud. The woes all began with the arrival of iCloud and the music-matching nightmares that go along with it.


So many things I would have done, but clouds got in the way . . .


There was a time when I could add a song to a playlist on my iPhone, and, when I synced with iTunes, it would just add the song to the same playlist on my Mac. I know this happened. I remember. Now, when I do this, I end up with two versions of that playlist on my phone: One with the song and one without the song. 


Then there are the times when I’ve synced my phone and computer and, for no reason I can explain, several playlists are completely empty on both devices. Just . . . empty.  Songs are suddenly grayed out and need to be downloaded again from the cloud. I regularly have to tell the iPhone to “trust” my computer again, even though these two devices have known each other for years.


Always something breaking us in two . . .


I think my favorite is when, out of the blue, I start getting messages that I can’t sync my iPhone because there isn’t enough space. (I assure you, there’s enough space.) I try various suggested fixes and ultimately have to restore my phone—that’s right, completely wipe it and reboot—to get the two devices to sync.


Maybe there are simple explanations for these problems. Maybe there are quick fixes I haven’t been able to find. Maybe it really is me after all. Maybe my older operating system just ain’t compatible with the newest version of iTunes.


The fact remains that I’ve officially reached the end of a very long and generous rope. My frustration now outweighs my laziness and fear of change. It’s time to find myself a new music manager.


Been down one time, been down two times, I’m never going back again.


Suggestions are welcome.

Adrienne Maxwell

Adrienne Maxwell has been writing about the home theater industry for longer
than she’s willing to admit. She is currently the managing editor and video specialist
at Adrienne lives in Colorado, where she spends far too
much time looking at the Rockies and not nearly enough time being in them.

The Top 5 Movie Streaming Sites

Top 5 Movie Streaming Sites--FilmStruck

Forget about Hollywood blockbusters—here are the Top 5 streaming sites for real movie lovers.


You can find Transformers, Star Trek, and Guardians of the Galaxy on every popular streaming site, from Vudu to Netflix to Fandango. And you can find them on iTunes too, but the site also features some of the most desirable recent independent movies too—some of which didn’t even have a theatrical release. Here are two of my favorites that did have a theatrical run:

Toni Erdmann

Last year’s Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film is a both heartbreaking and hilarious exploration of the relationship between a straight-laced executive and her non-conformist, practical-joker father. Not to be missed. (Directed by Maren Ade)

The Lobster

Another Best Foreign Film nominee for 2016. A thrillingly ambitious dark comedy about the pressure society puts on us to find a soulmate. The Lobster sets itself apart from other movies by refusing to cater to our expectations. (Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos)


Usually residing inside Amazon Prime Movies (and requiring an extra monthly fee), Fandor is the site for completists like me—cinema lovers who can’t have enough of one director after they discover their work. Having seen Toni Erdmann for the first time in Europe, I looked at Fandor for more movies by Maren Ade. To my surprise, both of her previous movies were featured on that site:

The Forest from the Trees (2005)

The story of a young idealistic teacher who tries to connect with her neighbors but with unexpected results.

Everyone Else (2006)

An emotionally compelling drama about a couple vacationing in the Mediterranean who see themselves drifting apart.

Warner Archive

This site is a true Nirvana for lovers of old Hollywood cinema. It offers a rotating repertory of some of the most sought-after titles of the Golden Age of American movies. As a bonus, a great number of classics can be seen in high-definition for the first time. For example:

Busby Berkeley

You can always find Busby Berkley movies in rotation at Warner Archive. The legendary director who revolutionized musical films in the ’30s and ’40s is currently represented with Dames and Gold Diggers of 1937.  Warner lets us see these movies in HD with image quality as sharp as when they were first shown in theaters.

Andy Hardy movies

Many of the Andy Hardy movies starring a young Mickey Rooney (with Judy Garland co-starring in Andy Hardy Meets Debutante) are shown in sparkling black & white prints and HD.


A brand-new streaming site that’s home to the most celebrated American and international movies of the past 50 years. The prints are stellar and the resolution is always 1080p. Very often, the movies are neatly bundled by theme, director, or genre. This month, I single out one of my favorite bundles.

Auteurs and Directors That Changed the Face of Cinema
Click this link and you’re faced with the improbable task of having to choose films from some of the most celebrated directors of the 20th century: Godard, Fassbinder, Tarkovsky, Lynch, et al.

If choosing among the many movies of a famous director is an impossible task, try some of the individual titles that rotate often and include some of the best-known arthouse favorites, such as Wim Wenders’ Alice in the Cities, Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito, Bergman’s Autumn Sonata, De Sica’s Bicycle Thief, Renoir’s Elena and Her Men, and hundreds of others.

Amazon Prime

Most of us think Amazon just caters to very popular tastes. Not true. When I can’t find a rare movie I really want to see on Blu-ray disc, I’ll often find it being streamed on Amazon Prime instead. You can rent most of these movies for less than two dollars—but what if I’m not in the mood to watch a particular title on a particular night? I can put it in my list of favorites—but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be available when I’m ready to watch it. If you don’t own it, a title can disappear as fast as it appears—and I’d rather pay to own a movie than run the risk I won’t be able to see it when I want to. I recently bought these rarities:

Like Cattle Towards Glow (2016)

Amazon describes this movie as a complex, intimate, strangely serene, and challenging exploration of sexual desire as a hiding place. I found it confounding in parts but always mesmerizing to watch.

Archipelago (2010)

The story of a family in an emotional crisis vacationing in gloomy Northern England, starring Tom Hiddleston and directed by Joanna Hogg. Hogg uses extended takes, minimal camera movements, and you can describe her style as a new kind of social realism. I had never heard of her—let alone her films—before. Ah! the pleasures of streaming. I was so impressed with her detached style of directing that as soon as Archipelago was over, I ordered her next film, Exhibition (2013), again starring Tom Hiddleston and also available on Amazon Prime. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet.

—Theo Kalomirakis

Theo Kalomirakis is widely considered the father of home theater, with scores of luxury theater
designs to his credit. He is an avid movie fan, with a collection of over 15,ooo discs. Theo is the
Executive Director of Rayva.