*NEW* Industry Opinion: The CD Is 30 Years Old!

Our new weekly analysis of the music industry will debate the latest industry news. This week: The CD is 30 years old, but what will music formats look like in the future? And how will the Universal merger with EMI affect regular music fans?

Ultimate Guitar

Welcome to our new weekly roundup of music business analysis.

Every week we'll be taking a look at the latest movements in the industry, but unlike regular news posts the aim is to extract lessons and insight to help you plan your future in music.

Of course, in typical UG style, we'll be poking fun at the barmy end of the music business when appropriate.

First, it's time to pay tribute to a music format which transformed music listening.

The CD is 30 years old today. Best of all, it remains the most popular album format after all this time, unlike singles which ran off to have an affair with digital stores like iTunes.

UG readers were concerned last year when we reported on claims that major labels planned to stop printing CDs by the end of 2012, but here we are in October and there's no signs of "disc-mageddon" so far. Still, streaming services have seen spectacular growth in 2012 and look set to become the dominant format before long. Spotify has been available in Europe for much longer than the US, and labels there are starting to see more income from streaming than physical releases. The tide has turned indeed.

But is streaming the ultimate format? Labels are already preparing the next generation of music format with a focus on HD audio. Apple has been nudging producers to submit high-resolution audio files to help future-proof iTunes all year, but Neil Young thinks it isn't enough.

Now Neil Young has launched his own ultra-high-resolution music player called Pono. It uses regular digital files, but insists on a staggering 192Khz/24bit resolution for all files.

There's a catch to Pono, though. Neil likes to argue that original tape recordings suffer in quality when they're "downgraded" to CD files, but this isn't true. Good mastering engineers know how to prepare music for a format without losing any quality, and the final CD format of 44.1Khz/16bit is enough resolution to capture every audible sound without a loss in quality. It's exactly why CDs have lasted so long.

Audiophiles like to argue otherwise, but in reality the vast majority of music wouldn't benefit from a higher resolution (and it's arguable whether other types would improve either).

Whether it's true or not, major labels are re-mastering their music in the Pono format to exploit listeners who don't know any better and are happy to buy into the hype.

We haven't even mentioned how ugly the player looks. Hey Neil, is that a Pono in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

Speaking of majors, Universal is about to become the big baddie of the music world now it's officially bought EMI for £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion).

But the rest of the industry isn't happy about the merger. The deal makes Universal the biggest label ever - it's basically Sauron from "Lord of the Rings" and we're all just hobbits without a clue of what dangers await us.

Why is this bad? Imagine you live in a country where everyone can vote, but one person has 10 million votes. That's Universal (alright, I made up the figures but let's keep this simple). You might think it was a little unfair for one person to have that many votes, and that's exactly how the rest of the music business feels.

It means that any future music platforms that launch will need Universal on side if it wants to succeed because it controls so many popular artists (The Beatles and Beach Boys are just two of the many artists it just nabbed from EMI, and that's before you consider everyone on Universal).

Universal's support will literally make or break a new service, which means it gets to decide the future of music and how it's delivered to listeners. In the age of the internet, this matters.

It always sucked that majors ran the music world, but for one major to be in charge? The consensus is universal: it sucks.

Thanks for reading our first weekly music business discussion.

We have a couple of questions to encourage the debate:

How long will CDs last?

Do ultra-high-resolution digital files really improve on CD quality?

Should one major label have a controlling vote in the music business?

Let us know your opinion in the comments. UG staff will be taking part in the discussion, so feel free to pitch some questions.

Tom Davenport (Twitter)

162 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I like my CDs. Some of my Black Sabbath CDs are 20+/-Years old. I like booklets and sound quality with CDs. So what if there old.
    Yeah, I agree. There's something to buying a CD that means more than just downloading an album off of iTunes. Maybe its the actual physical product you get or whatever, or the effort you made to get it. I don't think CD's are gonna change anytime soon. This new mp3 player won't really do much. Zune's sound quality was far superior to any iPod on the market, but it still failed in the long run because Apple's mp3 market is way too massive. This "Pono" idea might cause some hype at first, but give it a few years, it will be done with.
    i would also add, a severe lack of marketing killed the Zune, and it was vastly superior to the ipod in every way, the user experience was amazing! However, Zune is still there on Windows Phone
    I have a Zune HD, and the only thing I dislike about it is the small number of apps and accessories. The sound quality (last I checked, its been a while) is much crisper than the ipod. And the Zune program for Windows is very intuitive, graphically immersive, feature laden (like the music bios and 'related' music suggestions), and easy to use. Itunes sucks. I installed it and was rather underwhelmed by the interface, and the way songs are catalogued.
    I think a lot is better than the shrill, mechanical sound of the ipod. Ohh, also... it distorts very easily.
    You pretty much hit the nail on the head there. It is nice though, that all the apps are free, even though there isn't a lot. My only complaints are that there was no external speaker and the lack of apps. But really though, apps don't really matter anymore, I just love it for its sound quality. Plus, once it starts to get full, some of the songs get screwed up after you sync them, having parts of other songs in them or just not working in general. It's pretty irritating sometimes.
    I agree with u entirely, I am usually pretty selective in which cd's I buy however I think it's still is important to buy when in this day and age anyone can download music for free off the internet.Bands rely on that money and everyone should help contribute/support that band by paying for the cd if they enjoy their music .
    Diony x
    I cant be without CDs. If I listen music from iTunes, it doesnt feeel right. CDs and especially booklets are the best!
    I feel as though I don't own an album if it's a digital download. There's much more satisfaction in actually owning your own copy in my opinion
    Same here. Opening the case, flipping through the booklet, reading the lyrics, looking at the artwork... and even just physically seeing it on the shelf. But... for the last 3 years, every CD I buy, I immediately rip to mp3 (320 bitrate) and listen to it on my mp3 player or computer exclusively. Its been years since I've actually listened to a CD. Hell, I don't even own a CD player anymore. But I still buy the CDs.
    Buy a quality hi-fi and I guarantee you'll be enjoying the CDs once again.
    Haha... CDs are a long way from being replaced. You can't beat lossless quality, and you can find CDs the same price or cheaper than digital downloads quite often. Most digital downloads are still lossy formats and many stores still sell moderate-low bitrate files. Until there is the capacity to provide every bit of music in a lossless format and server costs are reduced, CDs have a place in the music market. I also like the idea behind Pono, but it looks like a brick and quite basic. I don't see the point of producing a player that supports high quality formats only to have a cheap onboard DAC and no way to connect it to a high quality DAC. Spotify capability would be nice too, and as far as portable music players go, it is too bulky. The triangular shape is just awkward. In short, we need that to have wifi, android so it runs streaming services, it to actually be of a portable size and a coaxial or optical out for use with a proper DAC. Until then, the ipod's good enough for the bus/travel and I'll stick with my squeezebox and audiolab DAC at home with my CD collection encoded in FLAC. ... and the Universal situation is worrying. A similar thing happened with Apple and the portable media player market. You have a choice of an ipod and not much else; there's been virtually no progress in that market since the introduction of the ipod touch, which focuses more on games than being a quality music player. I miss my old Cowon which sounded fantastic and was miles ahead in music and video playback, but the new android based Cowon Z2 took too long to be released and was too expensive next to the ipod. That being said, Spotify off-line mode is a major win with android and iOs devices. Anyway /midnight rant on music formats and portables
    You forget that CD's are just a way of storing music that is already in a digital format. As in, they are just a file being read by a computer. Every song that has ever been recorded and sold on a cd can be, and as far as I'm aware usually is, sold at the same quality online. That said, I will never spend money on a product I can't hold in my hands.
    Yes they are, but they are considered to be a hi-fi source. Now name a store which sells, say Karnivool's Themata in FLAC lossless format? I usually have luck with bandcamp for independent artists, but 7 digital, fairshare music and Qobuz do offer FLAC formats, but very few albums are offered in FLAC. The majority of what I wanted was in mp3. I just find it's a lot of effort trying to track down CDs I want in a lossless format on-line, and a lot is still unavailable.
    Okay, I'm mistaken on the "as far as I'm aware usually is" bit. But that doesn't change the point that CD quality is not inherently superior. But again, I agree, I would never buy music for download.
    Of course not. but it beats buying files reduced to 10% of the quality of a CD from itunes.
    There will always have to be some sort of physical medium for music. You can't hand out demo MP3's at your concerts.
    You'd be surprised. It wouldn't be hard to have a scalable QR code that gave you accesses to a downloads page.
    Yeah but it's more appealing to get a physical disc with art and whatnot. It's more down to earth than a black and white picture
    Maybe to you, but some people just want ease of use. It sucks, but it's the way things seem to be going.
    link no1
    If I was given some crappy download code at a gig rather than a demo, it would probably go straight in the trash.
    Yes, i would do the same too, but technology will advance, with or without us. Bands rarely sell many demo tapes at a gig anyway. The general rule of thumb is that 2% of the audience you're playing too will pay for your demo. gig of 100 people? 2 tapes sold.
    Well not to provoke a full blown argument, but how is it easier to flip out your phone, open an app and download the song (if you even have a phone capable of doing so) compared to taking a free CD and putting it in your PC/CD player?
    Because people want to use their phone for anything. That's why we have all of these shitty apps. they don't want to have to carry something the size of a CD around all night (The horror!). Look, I'm not saying this is good or ideal, I'm just offering a different perspective, something which UG readers seem unable to do. Also going back to your example of the CD player thing, most people will put it on their computer now so they can have it on their Ipod's or whatever the **** those hipsters are buying now. Let's face it, the majority of youth suck ass. Most of them will have an iphone 4 that their parents bought for them after their 9th blackberry went missing. My main point is that eventually the majority is just going to go with technology. It always happens. True, us more guitary lot might take longer than the average troglodyte, but eventually we will just have to knuckle under. CD's are a dying breed anyway, nobody will buy them when it's cheaper to buy them online or torrent them. once CD's become a thing of the past, the rest of the people will just move on. Why would a band that probably are broke after recording, pay even more money to sell CD's, when nobody is going to have the technology to support them. Granted that might be a bit further down the line, but it could happen. Sorry, i kind of ranted, not trying to arguing with you. But yeah, there could be a million other ways to implement something where you get a bands demo tape for download.
    I don't have a blackberry, I don't have an android, I don't have an iPhone 5 4 3 2 or 1. My phone makes phone calls, takes pictures, and texts. If I want to listen to music- I bust out my iPod Classic (I'd rather have decent memory than shitty gimmicky apps). By the way, I'm 19 years old and have had my own job since I was 15. To be honest most of today's 'youth' do 'suck ass', but that's due to my generation's shitty pop and rap music. Oh wait - did you have shitty pop music when you were young a couple hundred years ago? I bet you did?
    Oh wow you're so controversial. The point was that the majority is like that, but there always has to be one stuck up ***** who thinks that I'm applying it to everybody. And I never blamed it on music, the problem comes from the media.
    You kind of are applying it to everybody, making sweeping generalizations about "the majority of youth". Kids these days with their fancy I-pods and feeling-less "music". Do you have any idea how out of touch you sound?
    Some bands hand out usb memory sticks with music on.
    Why would bands do that? They would have to charge you quite a bit or they would be loosing money compared to handing out just demo cds
    I didn't say i understood it, i just know that some bands do it This Japanese band I like called toe do it.
    link no1
    I would love to see an unsigned band do that who aren't funded by their wealthy parents.
    I used to know a band who had all of their songs on a laptop, and would allow people to hook up their mp3 players to their computer so they could download some demo songs on them. The band broke-up, but the point remains that everybody at the show walked out with an mp3 file of the band's music. That wouldn't have happen if they handed out cd's, or gave out download codes.
    Not true. When I was at Warped Tour 2010 this local band gave me a card with a download code for their self-released full-length. Though, they didn't compress the files so it was like 30mb per song which was a total pain in the ass, but still, I've had it actually happen so this could be the future at some point. I pray it doesn't though, way too much effort. I'd rather just buy a CD and pop it in for a listen than go through a bunch of online bs.
    The front page news reports are particularly good today. A variety of humour [beiber], gossip band news [muse], and than this piece. It's a good variety that suits a larger demographic, yet still retains at least one article that I will enjoy. Better than having the front page filled with gossip about nickelback and the marriage plans.
    People always want higher quality audio, but I'll take recording tools from the 60's and back any day.
    That wasn't low quality, per-say. Just has it's own unique sound and was usually quite impracticable at certain things.
    Screw the Pono, I listen to Black Metal, like I care about low quality recordings!
    Way Cool JR.
    Damn! I remember when CDs first came out. They were a downgrade in sound quality compared to Cassettes and Vinyls. I will say they were more convenient since you didn't have to flip or rewind them and you could skip straight to a song of choice. But when they created the auto flip tape player that basicly put an end to fliping tapes and having to rewind them . Nowadays a lot of CD's are sounding a-lot better especially some re-masters of old albums that were originally recorded in all analog. But for the most part IMO cassette and vinyl are still a step ahead in sound quality over CDs. I have a nice collection of all three formats so I am not bias at all, just opinionated.
    Not really. Cassettes sounded terrible, but they were more portable, and you could record to them. The cassette hiss and degradation and maintenance required spoiled things. Vinyls may have sounded better on day 1 with the best quality player, but they don't last either.
    Way Cool JR.
    Since I was able to listen to both formats of the same albums(tape/CD) when they were new on a great Hi-Fi system. I can safely say the cassettes sounded better than CDs. The CDs sounded thinner and to trebley with a lack of bass, tho they were crystal clear. I have original prints of the same albums in CD,cassette and vinyl and decades later the Cassettes and Vinyls still sound better. But to be fair I have some newer reprinted remasters of the same albums on CD and the sound quality is amazing. They have all the great sound of the original recordings (older formats) but without the hiss. The hiss on cassettes is unnoticeable anyways when there is music playing you only hear it between songs. The whole maintenance thing is really null since one decent scratch on a CD can destroy it the same goes for records. And tapes can break or get eaten by the tape deck but both of those problems are repairable. If it's eaten you just wind it back in and it might sound a little warblie in that spot. And if it breaks you can just glue or tape it back together and it will just sound strange for a split second in that spot. The only maintenance for cassettes is you have to clean the heads in the player once or twice a year. That's easily done in a minute with a Q-Tip and some alcohol. I love/have all three formats and enjoy listening to them all, so it doesn't really mater either way to me. I am not a fan of downloaded music, most all of it sounds terrible. Especially since I listen to all my music on a (great) Hi-Fi system and goo car sound systems. I don't listen to music on headphones anymore, not since I was a teenager.
    I heard that the human ear can not even tell the difference between a 192kHz 24-bit file or a 96kHz 24-bit? Can someone elaborate on this?
    Both 96khz and 192 khz can accurately reproduce every audible frequency -- it means they'll sound exactly the same. Even a 44.1khz file can reproduce it, BUT... it's more prone to errors, especially if it's not converted by a very expensive converter. This is why people prefer to use 48khz or 96khz in the studio, so these errors are shifted above our range of hearing. No need to record above 96khz, but you'll never convince Neil Young of that. Hell, even tape can't reproduce higher frequencies, so Neil's argument that Analog is better resolution is bunk from the start. You might wonder, why does 192khz exist? Well, not all recording is for music. What if you're studying insects or bats and want to analyse audio higher than we can hear? In these instances (and probably many others) the higher sample rate is valid. With music? Not unless you're designing some next-level psychoacoustic stuff.
    Ok I've studied both digital technology and audio electronics in school and it is true that 44.1 kHz reproduce every audible frequency but by saying that your missing a huge piece that is the audio wave it self. Take a sine wave for example the most common wave in music and nature and it is absolutely impossible for a digital format to faithfully recreate that wave which directly affects the tonality. The faster sample rate and higher bit rate allows computers to get closer to that sine wave thus it sounds. I can't believe people don't understand this. Didn't you ever wonder why a distorted guitar sounds the way it does? same frequency altered wave. And plus if you ever have decent ears and a decent sound system you can clearly hear the difference between 16bit/44.1khz and 24bit/96khz. Never tried 96khz vs 192khz though
    I ought to avoid getting into detailed discussions, but will try to explain in brief. "it is absolutely impossible for a digital format to faithfully recreate that wave which directly affects the tonality" Only if we joined up the samples. It doesn't behave that way in reality; no one joins up the samples. Digital samples *look* like they're not smooth like a sine wave, but that's what comes out. If you filmed the speaker cones playing at an ultra-high frame rate, then watched it in slow motion, the speakers don't judder forwards in steps, they move in smooth curves like the original analog wave. Of course, all speakers sound different because they reproduce these curves differently from each other -- much more significant than any difference in sample rate above 48khz/24bit! As you say, some assume it still affects the tone, but we've already established how the only audible tones are already recreated -- every single one you can possibly hear.
    Edit: Digital samples *look* like they're not smooth like a sine wave, but that's NOT what comes out
    Yeah, the Digital to Analogue conversion process basically joins the dots and fits an analogue curve/approximation.
    that and the fact that a speaker can't vibrate fast enoguh to instantly skip between samples.
    The format you type in, the topics you discuss, the way you discuss them - and most of all, the specific comments you make - lead me to believe that you must have been browsing reddit.com/r/music yesterday, too.
    Not at all, though I write for several tech blogs too so maybe they were browsing my stuff
    I did know that speaker cones don't move as jagged as the digital wave but their is still missing information. This is music so don't look at it listen to it 24bit/96khz does sound smoother and clearer than 16bit/44.1khz. If you don't have a hi-fi sound system don't sweat it if you can't hear the difference. But once you do enter the would of hi-fi the difference can be quiet clear
    Thought I should point out "Take a sine wave for example the most common wave in music and nature and it is absolutely impossible for a digital format to faithfully recreate that wave which directly affects the tonality." If you look into harmonics, you will realise that a pure sine wave, or any sine wave really for that matter is very unnatural. it doesn't ever occur in nature. It's too perfect.
    You will hear the difference between 192kHz and 96kHz. The arguement is that people don't hear the difference between 192kHz and a higher quality unless they listen for it on purpose, until it reaches a limit beyond which nobody can hear it.
    Vinyl and downloading are the way forward. And in most cases with the latest vinyl, you get both for your money.
    Amen. Bigger album sleeve, better sound. It's not some hip thing that people buy vinyl sarcastically or something. It actually sounds much warmer.
    Bigger album sleeves is my selling point too. ha And you're right, even with a fairly average record player, it still sounds mint.
    I would actually love if we phased out the CD and moved towards getting high quality audio files (lossless or lossy depending on your choice, necessity) for the digital and then vinyl for the physical copies. Keeps a bit of the old and the new, and each format is very high quality with it's own different characteristics to thrive.
    I love my CDs! Can't wait until Holographic Versatile Discs start to become heavily utilized. I don't see CDs going anywhere in the near future, & besides, vinyl is still round.
    At least with one major label having the main influence in format, it helps to keep things consistent. Imagine if Warner Bros hadn't switched to Blu-Ray, thereby deciding the Blu-Ray vs. HD battle. You would have some movies released only on Blu_ray, and some only on HD. And besides, CDs and vinyl arent going anywhere anytime soon.
    You would sacrifice freedom of choice for consistency?
    Does it really make a difference which streaming site wins? Of course there are some that are better than others, but I don't want a dozen different streaming subscriptions just because certain albums are exclusive to one service
    CDs have great advantages over digital media. The most obvious one being the endless choice of file formats and bitrate/quality selection on computers, as well as also being nicely designed (limited editions or digipacks, for instance).Not to mention that, in many cases, I've bought CDs at much less of the cost of downloading them from iTunes/Amazon ect, and in these tough times, saving is everything. With companies like Apple claiming ownership of your downloads when you die, I'd rather physically own my music so I can pass it on to someone else for them to enjoy (Family or random strangers from charity shops, I wouldn't put it past my future kids to sell it all. Cheeky not-yet-existant f**kers). I'm not against digital media, especially for upstart bands and artists who can't cover the large costs of major physical production, but CDs are a long way from the format scrapheap.
    I'm a bit wary when Neil mentioned that the Pono Digital to Analog converter sounds more like the studio. Even onboard PC sound chips support high resolutions as well as iPods and most other music players. Sounds like Beats headphones saying more like the studio nope just boosted bass. There are plenty of affordable amps and DACs that measure extremely well. The Sansa clip /zip measures exceptionally well, and so does the iPod for on the go listening. Pair an iPod with some decent in ear monitors and you have a quality player. This is a decent article about how high res music can be either damaging (the inaudible frequencies negatively effect the audible) or totally overkill: http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/ne... I'll stick with CD, until we find something truly revolutionary. High res audio is just trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
    Although I must say for recording music it is a totally different ball game. All bands today will record in 24bit/48-192KHZ, as it allows you to make edits to the music with less damage, but from a playback perspective it is useless. A properly dithered 24bit down to 16bit file as the last step will sound perfect.
    yeah right, look at how long vinyl has been around and it's still popular. Cd's probably won't go anywhere in the near future. oh one thing though. I like vinyl, but why in the **** do people claim that "vinyl sound quality is better" when it comes to vinyl vs. cd?? I've never heard a record player that isn't at least a bit scratchy sounding. sure the sound might be "warmer", but cd sounds are flawless and not to mention its just so much more convenient to be able to move from track to track with the snap of a finger.
    Digital is amazing but I also like how my records are a little scuffed. The guitars sound fizzier because the surface has rubbed down a little, and sometimes the pitch warbles at the same place in a record. It's my fault for bashing them about, but it's part of their story. Every record is unique, which digital can't do (though I remember a glitch group who custom-scratched a tonne of CDs before selling them)
    I like CDs, they're compact, and the quality is excellent. Most of all it feels a lot more genuine than owning a download, I enjoy having a physical copy, not to mention that a music CD's got a cover which is nice to look at.
    First...this is an EXCELLENT article. This is a great direction for UG to head in. Second...CDs will remain for a while, but eventually it will all be digital. The "physical" music will likely be something in the form of a jump drive that will have an artist logo and album name, and all art, music, and other goodies will be on the drive. Otherwise, all will be downloadable. I haven't bought a physical cd in years, nor do I plan to. Even independent acts have a better access to folks with digital than any other media. 2 examples: -I am going to see Casey Crescenzo on Friday night and he has 2 local bands opening up. I was able to visit their facebook/myspace pages and listen to the music they offer as a preview. Moreover, one of them is pretty good and I may download their EP which is available through their facebook page for 5 bucks. In the CD world, I wouldn't have heard them until Friday night, and I would have to purchase a CD at the show, if they had them. Just because I'm a dick, I may have not wanted to wait around or find them after the show, and I would have just left. Now, anyone can download the music before or after the show. -Circa Survive just put out an amazing new album completely independent. To do this, they did everything through the website. They offered digital, cd, vinyl, etc. Come release day, they had problems at the printer for the cds, and they would be delayed for a week or 2. Sucks for the guy who ordered the cd. The digital copy arrived on my laptop that very day And that brings me to a final point I hadn't considered: instant access. Digital is the way it's all going now: movies and music. Just push some buttons and there it is on your screen or ipod.
    It's time to jack up the memory capacity so that mediums can support and hold more lossless files. A lot of live audio engineers still prefer CDs to test their PA. In the live audio world, we always say, "sh*t in= sh*t out". That also applies to playback. Speaker technology is becoming better, which means that over time, poor quality audio will become more evident. With that said, labels will try to control which medium to release, through marketing...to prevent pirating as much as possible. The quality will be compromised in the medium or whatever they replace CDs with. Examples of this is VHS (succeeded) vs. Beta (better quality), SACD (won, but not popular...better quality than CD) vs. DVD Audio (lost), CD (won, but the labels kicked themselves) vs. mastertapes (this would've prolonged the prevention of piracy...the original copy was the only one that could be recorded from).
    I love CDs, they sound awesome and I always enjoy the little booklets with the information inside and its great taking it out of the case and putting it in the player - same for vinyl.
    Other labels will just have to shut up and deal with the fact that Universal is now the giant of the music industry. IMO other labels could have prevented the take-over by jointly buying EMI together. As far as HD music is concerned, the human ear hears between 12Hz-22KHz (correct me if I'm wrong) so most people will fail to hear the difference in blind tests anyway. I think listening to a modern album on vinyl is just awesome.
    People usually say we can hear between 20Hz and 20,000Hz (usually shortened to 20KHz). Then again, your body can 'hear' lower frequencies through touch - ever felt the rumble of a car as it approaches your house?
    I can hear above 20khz, but thats because I have exceptional hearing. And the >20 khz frequencies aren't really all that pleasant to the ear IMO. Still, I'd rather my device exceeds the requirement.
    I personally don't have a use for CDs anymore, because when I buy them I just rip them to my computer and forget about them. If I'm going for a physical format, I want vinyl; the only advantage a CD would have for me is the artwork, and vinyl trumps CDs in that regard. That said, I only pay for downloads if it's through Bandcamp. I don't use FLAC for anything, but I like having it as an option, which iTunes and Amazon don't have.
    i think that the long-term preservation of recording is what really matters. i bought some old vinyl LP-s for a couple of bucks last month, and they sound great.
    Dave Frenzy
    Theres no reason why CD shouldnt last for a very long time. The human ear can only hear so many frequencies, these are the ones that get cut out/reduced in lower formats (as well as the Bits per second but thats another matter). this means that HD audio is pointless because what gets put onto CD's now is as much as you can benefit from anyway. and I'd put money on saying that the same people that buy that PONO thing are going to be the ones downloading MP3's from itunes for it (theres no point).
    Why does everybody believe this? If you think audio is only measured by the amount of frequencies it contains than compare some 8bit/44.1khz to some 16bit/44.1khz every frequency you can hear is in both those files If you can't hear the difference between 16bit/44.1khz and 24bit/96khz thats fine but don't true to ruin it for the rest of us and don't pretend that its impossible to hear the difference just because you don't notice it
    Dave Frenzy
    dude I understand about bit rates, I do Music Tech, I know there is a difference but about 80% of the market wouldnt hear the difference. hence why people are so in love with paying 10 to download an album from ITunes that is about 10% or less of the quality of a CD. A new format would be pointless because it would give music stores an excuse to charge people more for music. this would also increase piracy and would be another nail in the coffin. =/
    A couple things I would like to add that I never see when I read threads or hear discussions like this. First offso many people complain about the sound quality of MP3 and CD, but then they compress them for playback on EARBUDS. How much fidelity are you losing on those things? Or laptops? Unless you have a solid sound speaker system setup for a laptopthe speakers usually stink. iPads are the same thing. Secondlypeople complain that CDs take up space. Ok. What happens if your hard drive crashes or your iPod blows up? The physical disc is still there. If you take care of it (meaning avoiding scratches/cracks/etc.) they will last much longer than a computer or iPod. Better quality formats require more disc space, so unless drives are reduced in price and able to hold larger quantitieswhat is wrong with CD? Doesnt the quality of how the original music was recorded play into how the music sounds anyway? Garbage in, garbage out regardless of format. I find it odd too to consider files as your music collection. I have a rather large collection (nearly 30 years worth). Part of the enjoyment is reissues, upgrades. Are files going to get on that treadmill of remastering too? If soI fail to see the point. I see flash drives/USB or CD as a much more likely way to get music. It is universal in that way. I feel it should then be up to the consumer how they listen. Just all thoughts and ideas.
    Purchasing music at 192/24 is pointless. First of all, find me one person that could blindly listen to 192 vs 96 and tell the difference between the two. Second, most of the music listened to by a consumer is done on ear buds or terrible car speakers. Then you can add into the equation the acoustical properties of the room in which the music is played (if it's not played back on headphones). 192 will simply take up more space on your hard drive for no real return. 44.1/16 PCM audio (which is what's on a CD, not wav or flac, etc.) is more than enough, especially considering that the masses listen to heavily compressed MP3s anyway. As far as the end of CDs. I don't see it. It's something the consumer owns. I'm pretty sure buying music from iTunes is nothing more than a license to use the song for listening.
    i think they should do more to try bring vynal back, to me, and to alot of others, u cant beat the sound off them
    Vinyl! Without the ridiculous prices though, please. And sure, upgrade the audio quality if you want to. It means that the music industry can show that it still has something to offer. Just make sure it's a way to KEEP charging money, not charging MORE money. That's the problem with the industry. It has to understand that it's fighting for its survival, not to make another billion dollars every day.
    "...it controls so many popular artists (The Beatles and the Beach Boys are just two)..." Huh? If the Beach Boys are the 2nd most notable band Universal just picked up I think everyone will be fine.
    I picked two artists from a short list of EMI acts, and Katy Perry et al didn't seem as relevant to UG readers.
    Bring back cassette tape! And the phonograph! Zero resolution for everybody! It's the anti-resolution revolution! Aaahhhhahahahahahahahah....! Oh! Sorry, did I write that out loud?
    Shitty resolution has it's place, man. Don't go telling me that you'd prefer a well produced album from someone like Katy Perry over some really great Lo-Fi music, like Guided By Voices' album "Bee Thousand".
    you could at least use a valid argument. Obviously music taste comes first. but if you could choose between the same thing in either good or bad quality, which would you choose?
    Wow. The inability of the many to understand irony is the reason that I usually don't comment on articles. Thank you all for reminding me of that.
    Yeah, wasn't sure if it was sarcasm or not XD. People are still arguing for even cassette tapes.
    People are still playing records and they sound great... provided they haven't degraded. Since it's analogue tech, it does in-fact have zero resolution, but that's the best possible thing. After all, high resolution digital files are required to approximate the original analogue signal accurately. Also, for the majority of people who download 128kbps AAC formats on itunes... I don't think they have the right to knock physical media.
    Get it as crisp, clean and shiny as you like. Still ain't got shit on vinyl. Physical vibrations sound real, laser beam codes don't.
    CD's are 'fine', but honestly not the best. FLAC files are the best for sound quality, and its getting increasingly easier and cheaper to use them.
    What. The audio on CDs is in WAV format, with is just uncompressed FLAC. There is no difference. That's the point of FLAC.
    You're wrong. CD's are 16-bit 44.1kHz. You can make record an album or song at 24-bit 192kHz and convert it to FLAC.
    How are CDs only 'fine' while flac is the best when it comes to sound quality? Both are lossless quality. The only advantage is that .flac is compressed while .wav found on CDs is not.
    I rip FLAC files from CDs. Your move.
    Pretty sure he means FLAC files directly from the mastering sessions (some artists do release this). Those are a much higher quality since CD's have limited data space. Someone mentioned that above. Actually, I'd have less of a problem moving to digital if that became the standard for distribution.
    Only problem that comes with that is the space that loads of these would take up. Imagine the people who have like 50,000 songs on itunes. Lets assume they are all at, say 320 (to be generous) Their computer would die replacing that with flac.
    Yeah, the issue of storage will come into play. A TB hard drive is about $80 and that can hold about 10,000 songs, so 5 times as much as that can add up. Of course, FLAC downloads are usually more expensive also because of the storage of the file sizes. So I'd assume if we ever did move to a 96kHz+ FLAC age in music it would be when the price of the file hosting and hard drive storage would go down. This has been already happening though (I still remember when computers were standard fit with only a few gigs or less) so it is very possible within the next decade or so!
    I can't believe a site dedicated to music is ripping on a player that endorses higher quality music than the current medium. Maybe to most people the difference isn't audible, it's the really really subtle things you don't notice though that matter that come out when you actually listen on a good listening system for once instead of your crappy ipod headphones. It's time we got our music in the bit and sample rate they were actually recorded and mixed in instead of the lower cd rates. i'm done with this site, i'm never coming back to the news section. I've realized over the years of reading the news here you people obviously don't care about the integrity and art of music at all. **** off *****s
    "It's time we got our music in the bit and sample rate they were actually recorded" I think tape loses frequencies above something like 16khz, which is less than CD, and the equivilant bit depth of vinyl is something like 12 bit. That's fine, though -- those are both valid reasons to prefer old formats like tape and vinyl. But CD can still replicate their entire sound.
    Not to mention that as the grooves become thinner the farther into the middle you get, the bass reproductionaccuracy lessens, as the needle might have problem reading the grooves properly (as there is less space closer to the middle, so the needle will have to work harder).
    My main point with it was the lack of portability and concerns over support for streaming services which many listeners such as myself subscribe to. In addition, I am questioning whether it will have a decent quality DAC onboard, or a digital output for use with a proper DAC. I just don't see how it's of any use in a portable environment such as on a bus, you can't enjoy the quality there anyway with the background noise, or in the home when hi-fi enthusiasts would already likely have a DAC and computer connected to that.
    You'd be surprised with what you can do with technology. A band could just have a qr code on stage that you could scan and get access to downloads.
    Having files go from 16bit to 24 bit is fine. There's more dynamic range with 24bit audio files but anything past 48kHz is in my opinion completely useless.
    While going to 24bit would be fine, it will just take up extra space for no benefit. No CD uses the full 96db of dynamic range a CD can have, and most equipment rated at 24bit usually only achieves 90-115db at best, and that includes top of the range equipment. Also unless you want to explode your eardrums, do you really need 144db of dynamic range? That is silence to louder than standing in front of Lemmys amp. I can't think of a piece of music that will require that type of dynamics. 24bit-48khz would be reasonable though, once storage no longer becomes an issue.
    I can't see CD's going out anytime soon. I really believe we'll see a lot of "gimmicks" shortly down the road. Whether it be fancy little USB devices. I do see albums being sold in a gift card format similar to reloading mobile minutes or points/credits for a game, etc. We've already seen some of that if you purchase vinyl at all. But I really do think in another 5 - 10 years it will all be similar to the gift card aisles you see now at a lot of major retailers.
    I've said this hundreds of times to my friends; CDs will not die out for a long time. The quality and physical product are enough to stay around for another 30 years I believe. I have close to almost 300 CDs and still growing. I will never tire of purchasing a CD. Downloading feels cheap and I don't see why I would pay the same price for less.
    Well, I can understand why most people would choose their ipod when going out. But cd and even more vinyl is what makes music more special to listen to. Also, things like vinyl and cassette instead of cd or ipod, or vhs instead of dvd, has a longer expiration date as it's not digital. Digital stuff will some day, somehow be broken, these things are just a bunch of numbers that will just get erased. On the other hand, casstette, vhs and vinyl will only stop working if you break them physicaly like cutting of the tapes. Therefore, old-school technology is better. Well, cd does hold longer than a file, but not forever. SO WHY THE HELL SHOULDN'T WE KEEP IT?! It's like these people who likes digital books better, geez, does everything have to be digital?! Also it feels more special do get a cd and even more special with vinyl.
    But then the more you play vinyl, the more scratched and deteriorated it gets. And that's not to mentioned the troubles to be had keeping it dust free.
    What about memory sticks? Maybe when memory sticks will get cheaper, the songs or albums will be sold on them.
    I guess independent artists could buy $4.50 2gb SD cards and put FLAC, mp3, AAC files on them, as well as video clips, mini-games, wallpapers, pics, art, booklets and other gimmicks and give them a nice little sleeve/booklet... That would be a cool way to distribute, but CDs are mere cents.
    Vinyl > CDs I personally don't care whether the songs on my laptop/iPod came from a digital download or a CD. I really don't give a damn to be honest! However, if I really want to enjoy an album, I buy the LP, put it on to a decent stereo system, and enjoy the classic vinyl sound. It's kind of funny how a lot of people say that "I like flicking through the booklet and admiring the physical album/artwork." Most 'vinyl purists' believe that this died with the advent of the CD! If you really want to enjoy the album art and the 'emotional side' of owning an album, forget about digital, buy the freaking LP!