Digital Dude

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When I was a kid, some people still listened to music on 78 rpm records. But a host of innovations in the Fifties brought music out of the lo-fi dark ages. Stereo high-fidelity recordings became the gold-standard; and for a particular segment of music lovers, they still are. Analog purists aside, most listeners prefer the convenience of CD’s.

I purchased my first CD player in 1986 – a Panasonic unit I still have – and it still works. I realized the big cost wasn’t the equipment, but the media, and I refused to buy any more LP’s or cassettes that degraded the sound with every play.

At the time, I was working on the construction of PARC recording studio in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The owner, Pat Armstrong, was a big-time record producer and manager of bands like Molly Hatchet, among others.

One day, I was sitting in his living room in his Rosemont condo trying to avoid stepping on a half-million dollar recording console that was awaiting installation in the studio once construction was completed. I mentioned that I thought the CD would revolutionize the music business. Armstrong disagreed, dismissing the CD as a novelty that at best might reach 50% of sales.

I thought Armstrong was crazy, and basically said so. I pointed out that vinyl sounded great the first time played, but that like cassettes (which were truly an awful medium other than convenience), every play reduced the quality of the product. That was true even if an LP was played on really expensive gear and treated with kid gloves.

I said the average listener, like me, was wiling to settle for a little less quality in exchange for a lot more convenience, and cassettes were proof of that. And I added that CD’s had vastly better quality than cassettes, and they were even more convenient.

I admit CD’s are a long way from a perfect medium – they are easily scratched, housed in a flimsy case, and of somewhat lower fidelity than the best of vinyl. But despite those shortcomings, CD’s have proven to be the dominant retail medium for pre-recorded music.

And I have proven to be a much better prognosticator than Pat Armstrong.

©2017 Tom Cordle

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2 Responses to Digital Dude

  1. Barry Hodgin says:

    Typical contrarian that I am…. ” Analog purists aside, most listeners prefer the convenience of CD’s.”…. Nope they prefer digital downloads… by a wide margin… mp3’s and variants killed the music biz of the 1940’s,50’s,60’s, 70’s,80s,and 90’s…. to the point of your blog they did not see coming ( or more likely they just wanted it to go away)…. ah yes there is another big music wave on the horizon line….neural audio…
    Barry

    Like

    • Tom Cordle says:

      Well, you got one thing right – you’re a contrarian 🙂 You’re also right that downloads and duping have killed-off a lot of greedy bastards in the record business. Got what they deserve, in my opinion, what with the scam they pulled of re-releasing vinyl on CD and charging through the nose for it.

      All that aside, my contention was and is that most listeners prefer the convenience of CD’s to the vinyl records. In essence, CD’s are mass market, and vinyl is niche market. Vinyl, once thought to be dead, is making a comeback, according to an article in Fortune:

      “Flash forward to 2015. Fueled by that unique sound quality and a nostalgia wave, sales of vinyl records were up 32% to $416 million, their highest level since 1988, according to the RIAA. (CD sales, while much higher in total income, were down 17%.)

      Like

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