Audio Asylum Thread Printer
Get a view of an entire thread on one page
|For Sale Ads|
For me CDs were never a replacement or alternative to LPs, so a lot of these CD versus vinyl arguments are historical wrong. CDs were a replacement for cassette tapes, which for me was a no brainer. I had good luck with R2R recorders but I never had a cassette tape player that did not eat some of my tapes. Whether in the home or in my car, it was always a pain when the cassette tapes would jam or get destroyed in the players. Both cassettes and CDs were compact , portable and allowed mobile playback. But by contrast, cassettes were fragile and CDs were indestructible.
As for sound there was never any comparison between CDs and cassette tapes, just like there is no sonic comparison between CDs and vinyl. Analog tape and vinyl provide a superior facsimile of real instruments and music than CDs, though that gap is closing.
And it is not about analog versus digital, for when I digitize my LPs to DSD128, you cannot tell which is analog or which is digital. Back in the day some of the most impressive LPs were Telarcís digital Soundstream recordings. Fast forward to today and you may find some of the most impressive digital recordings are the Reference Recordings HRx discs. Of course these are 24/176.4 high resolution digital instead of just 16/44.1 CD resolution. Well IMO audiophiles and music lovers are always better served by analog or digital studio masters, than some other downsampled or converted format.
tom.denny and mls-stl,
You two are much closer to a wide product innovation truth than you may realize. Not only is convienence the primary driving factor of consumer audio formats, it is the defining characteristic of the most financially successful product innovations, in any industry.
The digital camera revolution was driven by convience. Early digital cameras had much worse photographic quality than film based cameras of the time. Digital cameras enabled one to be certain that the shot was captured as desired, and made viewing instantly available. McDonald's didn't invent a better tasting hamburger than was available from the many drive-in burger joints and dinners of the day. McDonald's made getting your hamburger a more convienent (radically faster) experience. The personal computer wasn't better at performing computing functions than was an IBM mainframe or DEC minicomputer located in a company's data processing department. The PC made computing more convienent for users. This list goes on and on.
Certainly, there is a market for better performing, or lower cost products. The best money making business opportunities, however, almost always have some convienence advancing innovation at their center. As you have pointed out, audio is no different.
"Certainly, there is a market for better performing, or lower cost products. The best money making business opportunities, however, almost always have some convienence advancing innovation at their center. As you have pointed out, audio is no different."
I do think it's different with video products....... In contrast to audio, the advancements in performance of consumer video playback has been staggering.
At first glance, it might seem so, but I'd argue that video innovations also have had convenience at their core. One huge aspect of video convenience is the explosion in the number of available broadcast channels. Digital coding and compression is utilized not primarily for improved quality, but to deliver more channels. The introduction of the videocassette was totally about convienence. It enabled consumers to time-shift progams and to watch what what the wanted when they wanted. The video performance offered was actually worse than what was available via analog broadcast at the time.
While disc based video, first, analog laser disc followed by CD-video, DVD, and now BluRay offered increasing video quality, they also offered increasing convienece. Video discs enabled random access to programs, unlike tape which had to be fast-forwarded or re-wound to access a given spot, and are much more convienent to store or transport than VHS. Although discs were a step back in their lack of re-recordability, a problem addressed by hard disk based video recording. even among tape technologies, performance wasn't the driver, as VHS overcame the higher performance of Betamax in the marketplace.
Flatscreen TVs are also an interesting example. The early flatscreens offered standard definition video. What drove sales was their ability to be easily handled (low weight and compact form-factor) and low floor space (or, on wall) consumption. Video quality was definitely inferior to the better analog monitors of the day, particularly in contrast ratio and color accuracy. Yes, High-Def has a performance driver, but I find that this ivory much driven by the sex of the consumer. Most women I know are only marginally concerned about the size of the screen and it's resolution. My wife is quite happey to watch her soap operas on a noisy, low res VHS tape which gets re-recorded over every day with the next episode. Women seem much more interested in access to certain programming, and that the display not be an eyesore. Men seem to be more focused on the video performance qualities.
The most killer new products do combine convienece with either some superior performance aspect, or low cost. McDonald's combined burger convienence with a very low burger cost. Their limited menu concept was the key which simultaneously enabled both. High-Def TVs offer something similar, combinng convienence with better performance.
I never thought about it that way, but the comparison to cassette tape really chrystalizes the concept that the audio CD was an innovation of convenience, not fidelity. And now the CD has been trumped on convenience by compressed digital and seems destined for obsolescence.
I bear the scarlet M of a company in the automotive infotainment business. If you need any further evidence, look at the instrument cluster of your car. Cassette players in automotive OEM systems were replaced by CD players. Now disc players are disappearing, replaced by iPod/USB ports. CDs had a good 25 year run, but the end is in sight.
> > ... but the comparison to cassette tape really chrystalizes
> > the concept that the audio CD was an innovation of
> > convenience, not fidelity.
The thing people forget is that your statement true of every consumer music format ever invented.
The LP vinyl record standard was put together by a committee in 1948. A LP inherently contains a number of variables that compromise fidelity - you want increased play time? Your S/N ratio or bass content suffers. The RIAA equalization curve spans a cut/boost range of 40 dB and the physical format is easily compromised by material quality, shortcuts during stamping and careless handling afterwards.
The consumer format of open reel was compromised when they went from half track to quarter track and also the oft-used 3 3/4 ips speed in order to gain playback time.
8-track tapes were perhaps the ultimate expression of convenience. True "plug and play".
Now people may have their personal preference for one music storage format over another, or believe that one set of compromises was better than another, but this underlying implication that something in the past was faultless is just wrong.
"As for sound there was never any comparison between CDs and cassette tapes"
Good cassette tapes on a good cassette player can beat most CDs when it comes to musical sound. They also can have better high frequency extension.
While I agree that cassette tapes are fragile (old ones can become horribly fragile) it is not the case that CDs are indestructible.
"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar
"Good cassette tapes on a good cassette player can beat most CDs when it comes to musical sound. They also can have better high frequency extension."
Cannot agree here....... Although cassette recordings have the advantage of no active digital conversion and zero RFI, even when using a top-of-the-line Tandberg or Nakamichi cassette deck, the HF extension is awash, the dynamic capability is limited, and the noise floor is a good 20 dB higher...... Relative to CD.
Highs to 23 K on my Nak CR-7 and without typical glare from CDs of the 1990 era. (CDs have to roll off (apodize) below 20 K for them to sound decent.)
Cassette S/N ratio (especially with metal tape and Dolby C) is more than adequate for most acoustical music, and not that different from 14 bit digital sound typical of that era.
"Diversity is the law of nature; no two entities in this universe are uniform." - P.R. Sarkar
I'm getting good to great recordings straight from my Sony XDRF1-HD tuner to a Teac AD600 cassette/CD combo with fresk TDK SA-90 stashed from many years ago. I'm getting equally as good to great recordings from vinyl or YouTube (source-dependent) to 24/196 to schiit bifrost to the same cassette deck. I have a huge cassette archive that is well-stored (cool and dark), and I'm constantly finding new-old stock at the thrifts. I make compilation tapes, then burn CD's with a pro recording machine and get great results. This stuff is plenty obscure so for the small tradeoff in SQ I have my dearest rarest classic rock nuggets analog-preserved, then digitized for another layer of archival safety.
Freedom is the right to discipline yourself.
Post a Followup:
Post a Message!
This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors: