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