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Old 07-15-2016, 02:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is buying music on CD, vinyl, cassette or via download best?

I prefer CD out of all of these, but a lot of people now seem to download their albums, and many audiophiles claim that vinyl sounds best (which I disagree with). Below are the advantages and disadvantages I see of each format:

Advantages:
CD - Gives optimum sound quality for most people, is a widely supported format, and can be converted to download-quality MP3 format (in most cases)
Vinyl - May give superior sound quality if kept in good condition and played on the highest end equipment
Cassette - Can be easily recorded to
Download - Often the cheapest option (CD not far behind), no hassle of ripping

Disadvantages:
CD - In rare cases the audio data can become corrupted
Vinyl - Can become scratched or warped easily
Cassette - Is very easy to stretch or break the tape
Download - Can be infested with DRM, and typically distributed with fewer rights to the customer than a physical copy.

Which of the four would be the best in your opinion? And will CD and vinyl die off in the near future? I've never really understood why in 1985 a record was around $5 and a CD $15 ($10 and $30 today) yet today the record is nearer to $30 and the same CD only $10.

Last edited by RJDG14; 07-15-2016 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 07-15-2016, 03:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm pretty sure vinyl will never die.

I download music, and if I love it, I buy it on CD.

I have a record player--and nice one! My friend died, and I got it, plus the small collection of her albums, but I just can't afford to start a vinyl hobby. If I had the money, though, you can bet I would go all vinyl!

And, no, I'm not selling my Magic: the Gathering collection to get into vinyl because ked would be sad.
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Old 07-15-2016, 03:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I like my Cds. I prefer it that way. Vinyl's buzz annoys me, and digital downloads feel to in personal to me. If someone else likes those, that's fine. But they're not for me.
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Old 07-15-2016, 04:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Vinyl rules, bitches.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Each has its respective merits and caveats - those you've cited and others I'll touch upon. The choice of one format over another is mostly preferential based upon one's circumstances.

CDs suffer the usual limitations of physical media - entropic decay, storage is limited forcing albums to restrict run time, jewel case hinges are incredibly breakable. Early CDs were horrifically mastered resulting in tinny, shoddy sound. Title availability is limited to commercially-viable recordings.

Cassettes two primary advantages are its portability and, more importantly, the participatory factor of the mixtape - a cultural phenomenon which permitted the listener to contextualize and identify with their music and to share it with others. This also created an environment for DIY home recorded genres like punk and were critical to the development of independent music.

Vinyl's allure is largely fetishist and a placebo effect. Young listeners enjoy the format as it provides a tactile and real-time listening experience and it gives a (literally) substantial value to music they would otherwise perceive as common, elemental, and plentiful as air and water. Gatefold artwork is often breathtaking and elegant. Sound quality is dependent on a combination of the mastering process, the condition of the disc, and the playback equipment utilized. Selection of tables, tonearms, cartridges, interconnects, preamps, power amps, and speakers each play a role in the resulting sound. However, the nostalgic "warmth" described by many vinyl lovers is simply a distortive property of the medium - a characteristic of playback altering the true audio signal of the artist, producer, and engineer.

MP3 offers the convenience of compression and shareability and was the first widely successful non-physical format. They offered the same flexibility as mix tapes with the added bonus of storage tens of thousands of tracks on a small drive, plus the post-scarcity economic quality of being infinitely duplicatable at no cost to the user. There was a brief "dark ages" of digital music in the early days of Napster with no bitrate standard and file exchange systems based on tracks instead of albums or discographic archives of artists or record labels, but this quickly passed as technology progressed to appease more discerning listeners who demanded standardization of formatting and v0 compression.

Still, some listeners prefer archival quality audio and have no use for single-track exchange networks. This is where my preferred format factors in. Private FLAC-based trackers offer an incredible value to these users with meticulously-structured and uniformly-extracted FLAC+.CUE + .log packages for all available libraries. Complete discographic archives are instantly accessible whether showcasing a single artist or composer or an entire record label or theme. Finally, a format arrives which offers a truly contextual listening experience, complete with catalog numbers and uniform metadata for well-organized libraries and enhanced accessibility.

And best of all, these communities offer vastly larger libraries of content than commercial channels which focus only on licensed recordings. FLAC communities offer artist demos, developmental works in progress, live performances (whether sourced from soundboard or field), and an array of other non-commercial recordings not available to the public at any price.

Vinyl will retain an audience of collectors (like myself) who desire a tangible connection to their music. CDs will experience a nostalgic renaissance as all things do 20 years after their era. Cassette culture is already on the rise, albeit a niche. But FLAC is an EAC format which addresses all of my desires... at least until the next format revolution arrives with even greater compression!
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Old 07-15-2016, 10:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I won't lie. I've pretty much digitized all of my listening by like 95%. As soon as I move back out of the house I grew up in I'll start my vinyl collection again. I do prefer to listen to an album on vinyl if only for the aesthetic, but really, digital just kind of takes the cake for me
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Old 07-16-2016, 05:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by innerspaceboy View Post
Each has its respective merits and caveats - those you've cited and others I'll touch upon. The choice of one format over another is mostly preferential based upon one's circumstances.

CDs suffer the usual limitations of physical media - entropic decay, storage is limited forcing albums to restrict run time, jewel case hinges are incredibly breakable. Early CDs were horrifically mastered resulting in tinny, shoddy sound. Title availability is limited to commercially-viable recordings.

Cassettes two primary advantages are its portability and, more importantly, the participatory factor of the mixtape - a cultural phenomenon which permitted the listener to contextualize and identify with their music and to share it with others. This also created an environment for DIY home recorded genres like punk and were critical to the development of independent music.

Vinyl's allure is largely fetishist and a placebo effect. Young listeners enjoy the format as it provides a tactile and real-time listening experience and it gives a (literally) substantial value to music they would otherwise perceive as common, elemental, and plentiful as air and water. Gatefold artwork is often breathtaking and elegant. Sound quality is dependent on a combination of the mastering process, the condition of the disc, and the playback equipment utilized. Selection of tables, tonearms, cartridges, interconnects, preamps, power amps, and speakers each play a role in the resulting sound. However, the nostalgic "warmth" described by many vinyl lovers is simply a distortive property of the medium - a characteristic of playback altering the true audio signal of the artist, producer, and engineer.

MP3 offers the convenience of compression and shareability and was the first widely successful non-physical format. They offered the same flexibility as mix tapes with the added bonus of storage tens of thousands of tracks on a small drive, plus the post-scarcity economic quality of being infinitely duplicatable at no cost to the user. There was a brief "dark ages" of digital music in the early days of Napster with no bitrate standard and file exchange systems based on tracks instead of albums or discographic archives of artists or record labels, but this quickly passed as technology progressed to appease more discerning listeners who demanded standardization of formatting and v0 compression.

Still, some listeners prefer archival quality audio and have no use for single-track exchange networks. This is where my preferred format factors in. Private FLAC-based trackers offer an incredible value to these users with meticulously-structured and uniformly-extracted FLAC+.CUE + .log packages for all available libraries. Complete discographic archives are instantly accessible whether showcasing a single artist or composer or an entire record label or theme. Finally, a format arrives which offers a truly contextual listening experience, complete with catalog numbers and uniform metadata for well-organized libraries and enhanced accessibility.

And best of all, these communities offer vastly larger libraries of content than commercial channels which focus only on licensed recordings. FLAC communities offer artist demos, developmental works in progress, live performances (whether sourced from soundboard or field), and an array of other non-commercial recordings not available to the public at any price.

Vinyl will retain an audience of collectors (like myself) who desire a tangible connection to their music. CDs will experience a nostalgic renaissance as all things do 20 years after their era. Cassette culture is already on the rise, albeit a niche. But FLAC is an EAC format which addresses all of my desires... at least until the next format revolution arrives with even greater compression!
By early CDs, do you mean any made prior to the mid 1990s, or only those from the early 1980s?
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Old 07-16-2016, 06:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Exo View Post
I won't lie. I've pretty much digitized all of my listening by like 95%. As soon as I move back out of the house I grew up in I'll start my vinyl collection again. I do prefer to listen to an album on vinyl if only for the aesthetic, but really, digital just kind of takes the cake for me
Bitch don't lie, you thought the plural of vinyl was vinyls.
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Old 07-16-2016, 08:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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By early CDs, do you mean any made prior to the mid 1990s, or only those from the early 1980s?
The consensus appears to be that the many of the earliest discs (roughly 1981-1989) are the ones to be wary of. Listeners often complain that these discs sound "tinny", "bright", or "thin".

However, a quick search reveals intriguing opposing views, suggesting that the supposed poor sound quality of early discs may be a myth after all. It is important not to mistake earlier, quietly-mastered CDs as inferior. Podunk from the quartertothree forum offers the following:

"...mastering techniques have changed a lot since the 80's and early 90's. The most significant change is the tendency of mastering engineers to apply a lot of compression or hard limiting to final mix, which greatly decreases the dynamic range of a recording but makes it sound really loud and punchy. Recordings from even the early 90's sound much quieter than modern recordings because of this practice. The advantage to that kind of aggressive compression is that our ears initially percieve loud recordings as sounding generally better, bassier, punchier, etc. Also, a loud recording will reveal fewer of the weaknesses of a cheap cd player/receiver/etc, because you don't have to turn it up until you start to hear the background noise from your system. The disadvantage to that sort of mastering is that listening to a recording with very little dynamic range is fatiguing, but at first blush, that is probably the #1 reason that a new CD would sound better than an old one: at the same volume level, a new one will sound much louder and punchier."

Ethan Winer of Music Player Network agrees, stating that some early CDs were poor due to improper mastering, but that these are the exception rather than the norm. During the early days of CDs some engineers directly used "...master tapes meant for vinyl records, with treble added to counter the known high-frequency loss of LPs." Alan Cross published an article on 10 of the Worst-Sounding CDs of All Time, which includes the terribly hissy My Aim is True by Elvis Costello. But you'll find that each of the early albums on his list is an example of shoddy production work at the hands of the studio and not limitations of the format or technology.

Another factor to consider is that early 80s music itself is characteristically bright and tinny, further contributing to the perceived poor sound quality in comparison to post-loudness-war era recordings. Personally, I delight in the sound of early synth-pop albums and their characteristic brightness, and if I elect I can simply adjust the equalization to taste - far better than having to deal with the over-compressed dialed-up-to-eleven victims of the loudness war!

I hope this helps to answer your question!
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Last edited by innerspaceboy; 07-16-2016 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 07-16-2016, 10:05 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Bitch don't lie, you thought the plural of vinyl was vinyls.
It was a brain fart. Things happen.
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