#757: The Demise of CD?

GETTING MORE TALE #757: The Demise of CD?

I don’t know if you’ve heard.  There’s this newfangled audio format that’s all the rage.  It’s called the “record”, or “long player”.  “LP” for short.  The technology is actually ancient.  It’s based on a needle running over a groove, picking up the vibrations, and converting it into sound.

Certainly not as sophisticated as the digital music that most of us consume today.  There are none of those pesky 1’s and 0’s being decoded.  It’s simple tech and maybe that’s why the LP has become so popular in recent years.  We’d never disparage the use of the LP.  It’s a physical medium, and it’ll last a lifetime if properly cared for.  Physical product is everything to the true music lover.

But what of the CD?  The compact disc has been our friend and companion since 1982.  Like many friendships, we have had our ups and downs.  For many of us, the CD still reigns supreme.  It’s smaller than an LP.  It’s easier to keep in mint condition than LP.  On a typical non-audiophile household setup, it sounds better than LP and is certainly superior to mp3.  For convenience, you can convert the CD to mp3 files and take it with you in just one click.  It’s a lot trickier to do that with an LP.  For many of us, the CD is the perfect format.  Plus they have all the bonus tracks, bonus discs, and musical extras that are rarely included on the LP versions.

Canadian comedian and rapper Tom Green recently announced his very first solo album.  It is being produced by Ship to Shore Phono Co.  It will be on green vinyl…but there will be no CD release.

Here we are in 2019, and Tom Green is releasing his solo debut…with no CD release.  This isn’t some indi artist.  This is a well known comedian who started in the CD age, made it big on MTV, and later became a fan favourite on Big Brother.  No CD release, just LP!  Cool, right?  Sure, but what does this mean for the beloved compact disc?

I’m not entirely sure.

These things go in phases and there is always a chance that CD will experience a nostalgia phase like LP is right now.  But it’s hard to get nostalgic about that little silver 5” disc.  Kids of today know them as those quaint things their parents had lying around but they weren’t allowed to touch.  Are these signals for the beginning of the end of CD?  Will there ever be a special “CD Store Day” for those of us who still think the silver discs are superior?

Time will tell.

25 comments

  1. I’m not a vinyl nut by any means, and it’s an incredibly rare occurence that I ever get to sit down with a record. However, whenever it does happen, I always find myself captivated with the music. More than digital. Maybe it’s the novelty of not playing them neaely as often anymore, but I don’t think so since tapes don’t give me the same feeling. I find myself able to listen to music more attentively for longer periods of time when I’m listening to vinyl.

    I think part of it is the break in sides, which people today might see as a pain in the arse, but I think having to interact with the format creates a more immersive listening experience. In that brief time between the end of side one and dropping the needle on side two, you have a natural rest to contemplate what you just heard instead of just shoving more in your face immediately like CD. The break makes the album easier to digest, as you can see yourself making physical progress through the record. I also like the sound very much. It may be technically inferior to digital, but the analog sound is usually pleasant, as long as there’s minimal inner groove distortion.

    Funny how I don’t feel the same about flipping media when it comes to movies. I have this really old DVD of the 1984 biopic Amadeus. The DVD was released in 1997, and it is the last time the original theatrical cut was released on home video. Thankfully, it’s a 16×9 letterbox so the aspect ratio is correct and it’s not further reduced on widescreen TVs. DVDs then we’re still single layer, and this movie is so long (the original cut is 160 minutes), that it is split up between two sides. So at about 103 minutes in, you have to flip over the disc to watch the rest of the movie. I find this disruptive. Rather than enhancing the experience, it’s just a very minor annoyance. I don’t know why vinyl would evoke such a different reaction. Maybe because it’s only music and it was originally intended in many cases for old records to be heard one side at a time? While I’m sure Milos Forman wanted his masterpiece viewed all together and from start to finish. Maybe that’s the difference.

    P.S. I think it’s a travesty that the superior Oscar winning theatrical cut of Amadeus hasn’t been available since the other version came out on DVD in 2002. Also, the bloated, meandering, poorly edited, director’s cut is rated R (14A in Canada), while the original is only PG. Seems like you’d have a bigger audience for the original cut also, but what do I know? The 1997 DVD obviously doesn’t have super great picture or sound. I’d just like a good copy of the classic as it was seen originally. Maybe the folks at Criterion will do us a solid and remaster both cuts in 4K on Blu-ray?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. What LP is that? I’ve got shitloads. I’m very fond of my quadrophonic pressing of Alice Cooper’s Muscle of Love. My original pressing Japanese import of Cheap Trick’s At Budokan in mint condition is pretty wicked too.

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        1. Mine is an Australian pressing of Maiden Japan. I bought it despite having a soundboard bootleg of the show after it, and after buying Purgatory/Maiden Japan. I bought the LP just for Wrathchild and so I could say I have it

          In short, not a vinyl nut, but definitely nuts

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        2. I usually prefer CD because it’s more stable. What do you think about LeBrain’s idea for us to have a show together? I think it would be interesting. Because of our different accents people would probably only be able to understand one of us anyway, so we’re reaching more people by teaming up.

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    1. Wow Holen you have given me a lot to digest here. Sure you don’t want to do the Harrison & Holen Show?

      I know what you mean about breaks between sides. I think I have probably mentioned that before on some album reviews. However when I’m digesting music in the car, I need a steady flow. I need “Drop Dead Legs” to right in to “Hot For Teacher”, knowmsayin?

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  2. For me it’s about being lazy. Flipping the vinyl over is just too much bother. Not to mention I usually clean the side first and then play it and repeat it again for the other side. Being lazy means that I often times just keep playing the same side. Anyone else feel this way?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, this keep playing the same side keeps happening to me. I recall listening to Cheap Trick’s Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello and only playing side A. And then I did again with Battle Beast’s Unholy Savior. U sure this hasn’t happened to you?

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  3. I hope its not the death of the CD. I still buy them, especially for versions that are not in vinyl and for huge box sets that don’t give you everything on vinyl so the CD is the best and most cost effective option. Hell, I am still wanting to have a CD player in my car when I buy my new one, but it isn’t looking good.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Leppard boxes are a great example. How awesome to have perfect digital CD copies of those rarities? And a cheaper option too.

      Remember back when CDs cost twice what an LP did? Or even three times?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My entire music collection is cds. I love them and I’m constantly adding to my collection. I even have the audio book version of The Mist by Stephen King on cd. I keep them in a really cool cd binder that I bought from Amazon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m still a CD guy first and foremost. Would not be pleased if they disappeared… I like vinyl but if it became the only remaining physical option I’d end up buying a lot less music. I’ve bought so many great CD boxsets in the last few months and on vinyl the equivalents would just be unaffordable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES SCOTT! This is what I’m talking about. Our music collections are doubtlessly far richer than if we bought LP exclusively. You could only afford one or two box sets a year!

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  5. I don’t really buy CDs anymore, but I’m not against them. I listen to them in the car, but rarely at home.

    I prefer the ritual of listening to vinyl… and getting into vinyl really got me back into being passionate about music again. Before that, I had stacks of unopened CDs. I just wasn’t listening to them… and when I was I’d potter about, so albums were getting no more than a cursory listen.

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  6. The end of the CD? Quite possible, in my own lifetime, I’ve seen the demise of the 8 track and the cassette tape. CDs were always better than the more primitive tapes to have in the car and I have a feeling that when I buy my next car, hopefully not for a few years, that it will have the port.

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  7. If I had to give an opinion on the matter, I would say that streaming has killed the CD, not records. Records are an arguable novelty, and that’s part of the equation behind their resurgence. The other part is that people just getting into audio seem to buy into the misconception that the fidelity they experience with a random record and cheap turntable playing to a Bluetooth speaker will be better. Indeed this is definitely a myth. They are experiencing nothing if not a loss in appreciable quality by doing so. But, the novelty of owning physical objects is pretty cool.

    I think laziness/convenience on the part of the average music listener has removed the “consumer” segment from the CD market. The audiophile segment left the room as soon as we realized streaming could actually get us better fidelity than a CD could, on average. The only advantage is if you like CD quality, you can build a library on a hard drive somewhere :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this awesome comment Rowan.

      I love owning my music physically. Perhaps I’m a luddite in some regards, but what I do works for me.

      When I was on Twitter and I asked if the Tom Green LP was going to get a CD release, I was really surprised. I get that some things are exclusive to vinyl for niche reasons, but I didn’t expect the Tom Green record to be one of them. Especially since he really is a CD-age artist. I worried it was a harbinger of things to come, and so I wrote this!

      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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