While hipsters make their own cassettes to hand out at guerrilla gigs, cool rockers bring out albums on heavyweight vinyl and pop stars look to MP3 sales and ring-tone downloads, spare a thought for the unassuming CD. In an era torn between the retro appeal of the C90 and the 21st-century kitsch of a USB stick buried in a gummy-bear skull, isn’t it time we stopped taking this almost perfect format for granted?
Many who identify as music lovers will try to tell you vinyl sounds better. Well, while there’s an unmistakable nostalgia to the crackle of vinyl on a vintage blues recording, neither those crackles nor the inevitable wear from a diamond stylus will, objectively speaking, improve the sound reproduction. The irony with most present day vinyl pressings is that at some point on their journey from the live performance to the listener’s eardrum, they have probably been digitised anyway. Why not deliver those zeros and ones and give the listener a chance to hear?
The current appeal of the cassette is due entirely to its being gloriously dated and a bit exclusive – how many people do you know who actually own a cassette deck? If you’ve inherited all your friends’ collections because your ancient car has one, you’ll be familiar with their propensity to stretch, twist, stick and tangle, and have learned to accept their limited lifespan. In their heyday most people accepted their sound quality was poorer than vinyl even when the magnetic head didn’t need cleaning. The appeal was that they were portable, and you could make them yourself. Like a CD, but without the crystalline sound quality, durability and a shape ideal for posting.
Both media at least had a tangible presence, and vinyl was once the best possible sound delivery method. A discussion of the relative merits of vinyl vs digital will rightly come down in favour of vinyl if digital is represented by the MP3 – a ‘lossy’ compression method which literally discards data to make the file smaller. It’s rumoured Steve Jobs was working when he died on a ‘vinyl quality’ digital format. One has to assume that was a compressed, quickly downloadable format, since there’s already a digital format that’s better quality than vinyl – the AIFF, used in the music industry to make CDs.
Do-it-yourself doesn’t have to involve sacrificing quality. Whether you make dubstep in your bedroom or swampy blues in a garage, if you want your audience to hear the sound you actually make, put it on CD. Offer people a solid item they can hold and put on a shelf, complete with cover art, rather than making claims on their disk space.
And no, you’re not going to have to sit at a computer burning them one by one. CD production services like the one offered by Duplication Centre are a cheap and efficient way to produce anything up to 1000 copies – perfect whether you’re self-publishing or just want something to send to venues and labels or give out at gigs.
Martin Jonson is director of the UK’s leading DVD/Blu-ray/CD duplication company providing exceptional quality at the lowest UK prices. He offers next day delivery anywhere in the UK and will complete your job quickly with the greatest care. You can connect with him on Google+.