Originally Posted by DaveBSC
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.
I suppose I'm not going to be convincing anyone since it's more of a personal thing, but music is a major part of my life. Looking at booklets on a screen is just not the same, plus I can hardly find cover artwork online for some of the stuff I listen to let alone booklets. CDs may be a hassle, but it's a hassle worth putting up with IMO. Physical copies are a must for me, I don't like the idea of having an album I really enjoy, that all traces of it would be gone with the click of a delete button. Having the physical copy shows more 'dedication' if you will, but that's probably me just being a metalhead.
It kinda goes back to the old 'music vs. ideals' argument in the metal scene. I honestly can't enjoy music if it's preaching ideals I don't agree with, and when I'm listening to an album I don't have a physical copy of it bugs me. Though I'm a bit of a music collector as well, music has gotten me through some ruff times and is a big part of my life. I relate to the music as well as the artist, I'm not just in it for good sound.
I don't know how good high rez music sounds because I don't listen to audiophile grade recordings or productions. Cassette and vinyl in general sound better in my experience because of the mastering. You can't just crank up the volume without consequence. Unfortunately some of my cassettes have taken this to the opposite level. The things are recorded so low the needles on my deck don't move and I have to crank the music and the static to hear it. Cassette could have really gone somewhere if it wasn't for tape his, you can fit a good 180mins on the high capacity tapes, and with an auto reverse deck it's even less hassle than a CD as it takes up less space. CDs max out something around 75 minutes I believe. Still there aren't many albums that would go on that long even if it were an option. Long cassettes like that usually have a full album each side. Tape decks have dolby B and C to reduce the hiss, but it saturates and adds artificial warmth to the sound in the process, so it's a no go for me. I'm not a tube guy as you might be able to tell. I don't like anything that overly smooths or warms the sound. And honestly on most audiophile headphones I can't hear the difference between VBR LAME and FLAC. Lower quality MP3s sound abyssal though.
I'm going to have to call you out on the argument that 1K today buys more than 15 years ago. The cost of my whole rig right now is $500. Stax SR-5 and transformer box $400, Sherwood amp $40, and let's say I didn't get my CD player free, $60. If we were going based on the new prices of this gear, the CD player and headphones were probably about $400 a piece in 86' while the amp was about $220 in 74'
Compared to my last system with Ultrasone PRO2900($550 now, you can get them for $400 if you're patient.) and Burson 160DS $850 my vintage system walks all over it. It's not even close. Considering that my Sherwood is still running on it's original, near 50 year old caps that are acting up and probably about dead it sounds great. 1-2K of vintage gear will get you TOTL and fully restored gear, considering I have an entry level amp from the 70s and it's this good, I'd assume that the best value is probably found in vintage gear up until you start hitting the really high end stuff.
And just because I've gone on so long, I just want to point out that I don't mean any of this as an attack on anyone. Right now, music pretty much is my life despite the fact I couldn't play an instrument to save my life. I tend to get passionate about it. I get that CDs can get in the way, I've got stacks scattered all around the place and they can get a bit annoying(especially when a good 25% of them arrive with damaged cases).