Monday, November 19, 2007

Vinyl as "Nail in CD's Coffin"?

So sez Eliot Van Buskirk over at Wired. Seemed to make sense to me.

Why? Well, it's pretty simple. CD music is a digital medium. They're just a stream of zeroes and ones. Now, a LOT of things are streams of zeroes and ones these days, including these here blog post. The plastic discs aren't important, they're just a storage medium. Since the information on a CD can be reproduced and replicated anywhere, though, there's no reason to keep the plastic discs around if a better option presents itself. And, honestly, it has, in compressed music files on flash memory. (Otherwise known as an iPod.)

If you have an iPod, or indeed a computer with a decent sound setup, why keep CDs around? Why not just leave the plastic behind?

Vinyl analog records, though, is different. It's been known for a long time as having a warmer, richer sound than CDs. Even if the fidelity can be a bit of an issue and if they're harder to care for, if you want that warmer, richer sound, there's nowhere else to go: you can't reproduce the sound, because the sound is part of the medium; they're pretty much inseperable. They also tend to have better range, because you don't get the sort of space-saving range compression on records that can often ruin the sound of a CD.

They're also absolutely vital for the club scene, as you can't "scratch" a CD with anywhere near the mastery that you can a record. Yes, there are devices that mimic scratching, but it isn't remotely the same, and no self-respecting DJ would claim otherwise.

So, yeah, there will always be reasons to have vinyl records. CDs, though, became technically obsolete as soon as a better option presented itself. It did. People aren't so dumb as to not notice that. They're acting on it, and those in the music business had best start paying attention.

(Not that--at least from what I saw of the article--the RIAA is doing anything of the kind. Honestly, at this point, is there any organization that deserves to exist less than the Recording Industry of America Association?)

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