Originally Posted by MohawkUS
This hobby has never been about efficiency. Besides, don't you like actually having a physical copy of something from an artist you like? As much as it is about the music, it's about the artists themselves too and it's interesting to see what they put into the booklets and stuff. Plus, not everyone has an internet like that. Most people don't, downloading a 700mb album on my connection would take 4 hours and while my connection is slow, I don't know many people with much better.
And I think you should listen to some stuff from the 'good enough' era, you'd be surprised how many things today are about maximizing profit instead of quality. Excluding the high end, the quality of amps, speaker and headphone, has been going downhill, and I'm sure we all know about the loudness war. I've found that the most transparent CDs I have are from the early 80s to the mid 90s. Blockbuster failed because people don't want to pay for packaging for something that they are only renting, physical media still has a long life ahead of it, no one is forcing you to use it, so what's the problem?
The "physical copy" argument just doesn't work for me. Booklets can be scanned and appreciated without having to actually hold them (do you print out every picture you ever take so you can hold it in your hands?) and ultimately physical copies just take up space. A basic 1TB hard drive can hold some 1500 completely uncompressed albums within the space of a few inches. How much space does 1500 CDs take up? Most people have some type of broadband. My phone can download 700mb in less than 4 hours. Further, even if it does take 4 hours, so what? Most people buying CDs will be ordering them online, and while have to wait at least 24 hours, or maybe days if they don't want to pay more for shipping than the price of the CD itself.
What does the supposed declining quality of entry level and mid-price electronics have to do with the CD? Portable CD players started out as precision machines and became plastic commodity junk, yes. Nobody uses portable CD players anymore. They are inconvenient for the exact same reason that CDs are inconvenient at home, just more so. Otherwise I don't buy that argument. $1K or $2K buys you a lot more today than it did 15 years ago.
The loudness war and crappy pop music production has nothing to do with the CD being alive or dead. As I said, the CD is just a 700mb delivery mechanism for PCM digital audio files. It's no different than a USB thumb drive, or 350 floppy disks.
The best sounding album I have is the Bill Evans Trio - Waltz For Debby on the Analogue Productions Limited Edition 24K Gold CD. This was released in 2002. It's WAY better than the 1992 Original Jazz Classics 20-bit remaster CD release (OJC releases with rare exceptions tend to be lazily produced and sound mediocre). It also beats the Riverside 20-bit K2 and JVC XRCD from 2000. Further, it beats Analogue Production's own SACD from the same year. How is that possible? Isn't SACD supposed to sound better? It's possible because both the CD and SACD are just delivery mechanisms. There's nothing inherently good or bad about them, they are just containers. It's production and mastering that wins out, and the Doug Sax "mastered on tube equipment" master on the AP Limited Edition disc is incredible. The other discs don't have that master on them, therefore they don't sound as good.
Doug Sax also did a vinyl release for AP in 2008, which I haven't heard. It could be better than the LE gold CD, or not. The problem with vinyl is that the sound is as interpreted by your cartridge and table. You're not really hearing what the engineers heard in the studio, you're hearing what your cartridge is telling you. That being said, there are plenty of cases where the vinyl master stomps all over anything that was ever released digitally, so the vinyl wins out pretty much no matter what, even on tables that cost a couple hundred bucks.
Waltz was recently released again, this time for HDTracks. The quality of HDTracks releases is all over the map, but that has nothing to do with them not being physical objects. The only thing that matters is where'd the tape or digital recording come from, and whether the engineers did their jobs properly or not. I haven't heard the HDTracks version yet, but I am curious if Paul Stubblebine's transfer from the original tapes and his mastering job beats Doug's.