MP3 is a deeply compressed, lossy, stop gap measure that is good for what it was intended, namely providing a decent, listenable and reduced file size to transmit data without eating up too much bandwidth.
It is acceptable for spoken word or for anything that you just need to try or sample. ‘Do I want to buy the CD or LP?’ ‘well let me listen to the MP3’.
But MP3 shouldn’t be an end format onto itself. It’s proprietary and the quality is not there. So it shouldnt be an item that Itunes an Amazon is selling.
You want to sell a digital file then provide the wav or the flac file. But paying for an MP3 song or album is like buying a book with the pages faded. You can read it sure, but when you can get it brand new, with the ink not faded, why would you buy the inferior one.
So Cd vs MP3… no brainer… CD wins.
However I am a person who believes in quality and the best bang for your buck, and in an age where people watch movies on their phone, a lot of people choose the quick consumption of a thing rather than a deep introspective sit down consumation with it. Seek brevity over depth. Music requires attention.
And these days many people only give a cursory skim of anything, in their rush to the next thing. The decline of CDs tied in part to this rise in instant satisfaction you get by buying this Itunes File or Amazon File.
But the world being cyclical, a generation raised on this inferior mp3 music, and these inferior rips from CDs, will begin to seek that music in a format that actually sings. So a generation of hipsters begins to discover this discarded medium, these records.
They discover in their parents basement and flemarkets and online, these records and record players…and they love it. Compared to the almost immediately inconsequential Mp3, the record provides a process that is quite sexy and addictive, the beauty of the packaging, the loveliness and intimacy of these huge liner notes, and photos, the taking the time to read the thoughts of the artist.
The Tactile experience of handling and playing and flipping and storing the record. Its a very tactile and human experience, and as a book reader, its the appeal of a book over an ebook. Its the smell of the record, and the warmth. And for a generation raised on mp3s, the sound is revelatory. There is a sexyiness to the record experience that quickly becomes a religion.
Any thing that gets people back to listening to music that is not in Mp3 Form, I support. However that said there is a reason the LP was supplanted by the CD. The CD can grab the highs and lows that are lost to the lp, and is not prone to the playback issues that made pops and hisses an accepted compromise of the medium.
The CD without argument is the superior playback medium, what drives LP sales today is a lot of people raised on the worst type of digital, mp3s, making a religion, fad, passion of Analog. I get it.
I was there for the lP craze when it was new in the 20th century, and I was there for LaserDisc, and ultimately both were good Analog formats, and both are formats I loved, largely because they were works of art as much as works of music, but the truth is technology has moved on, and a well mastered Bluray will give you a better picture than any equally well mastered laserdisc and a well mastered CD will give you a better sound, than any similarly well mastered LP.
I think if they were to start making longer playing Cds the size of LPs, with those wonderful album covers and photos and liner notes, and players that supported them (without needing to flip it like a record, or suffering from a records length limitations, and warping and needle issues), you have now a product with the sexyness of an LP, but the strengths of a CD, and you would now find that those hard core LP evangelists… would jump ship for the new hotness. The way their father and granfathers did, giving up 8tracks, and casettes, and records… for CDs.
Don’t believe me? Check out this LA WEEKLY article as well:
A nice summation of the CD, LP controversy.