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[P]
Still Clinging to Your 45's?

By Crashnbur in Technology
Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 07:33:06 PM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)
Music

Throughout the 20th Century there have been all sorts of mediums (or media, if you prefer the proper plural of the word) for music. Typically we are familiar with records (33's and 45's), 8-tracks, audio-cassettes and CDs. I'm probably leaving out a few other mentionables, but I'm only a teenager, so my knowledge of the musical mediums of the past is limited. Take note, however, of the life-span of each - the time in which each dominated the music industry. If you look back, you'll notice that each had served us well for between ten and twenty years before the next big thing took over. That is, except for CDs, which are currently still the big thing. Since their invention in 1984, CDs have taken over the music market and dominated. With the ability to go directly to any track, the world said hello to the new music that broke all the rules. However, now that it's been a solid fifteen years, one can only wonder what is to become of the CD...


There are a few options, three in particular that I'll discuss.

The first is simple and probably the most likely: The CD will stick around a little while longer, despite the fact that technology has surpassed it, and we will continue to hear our music through stereo systems that are simply getting better and better by the day. I prefer this option of the three. I like the idea that I will still be able to play my CDs on a very nice CD system in the future, not to mention the extra functionalities that the systems will no doubt pick up on the way.

The second option is the least likely at the current time - the emergence of a new digital or other musical medium. A higher-density CD? DVD? A hard disk? Any number of things could happen, but the bottom line is that some new digital medium for music will be developed and supported by someone, and it will be up to us to decide whether or not it will dominate. If this were the way to go, I would most like to see a higher quality of music on DVDs. One major contribution to the life-span of CDs is their varied usages, including computer software. DVDs could easily be used for such a purpose, and in a time when hard drives are only getting bigger and bigger, sooner or later we're all going to want bigger disks to accomodate.

The third option, and most likely to take effect if the first doesn't, but even more likely to work side by side with the first - mp3. Computers. Digital music. Unless the RIAA works its black magic and criminalizes digital music, I don't see it going away for quite some time. It will last at least until the next big convenient way of acquiring music comes along... And one's imagination can only take off with ideas for that!

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Poll
Which do you think it will be?
o CDs will stick around. 27%
o CDs will gradually be replaced by DVDs or something similar. 34%
o Some all new medium will pop up and dominate. 14%
o Mp3s will dominate for years to come. 13%
o It's all about the benjamins, baby. 12%

Votes: 100
Results | Other Polls

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Display: Sort:
Still Clinging to Your 45's? | 90 comments (83 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Fifteen years, but... (3.25 / 4) (#1)
by Smirks on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:09:28 PM EST

I don't think the CD really took off until the early 90's, partly because of the price. On the other hand, vinyl is still used today. I for one buy all my albums on CD and also on vinyl if I can find it. Why? Well, for some reason I find the audio quality of vinyl far superior to any digital medium.

[ Music Rules ]
The Price (4.00 / 1) (#8)
by Crashnbur on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:41:20 PM EST

That is the biggest complaint I have concerning CDs. The price. The average CD costs 17 to make, another few cents for the insert, inlay, and cd label, and a few cents for the jewel case. Altogether, each CD takes just over $1.00 to manufacture. Then they turn around and sell it for $15.99. I have read of legislation being passed that will help reduce the price of CDs between 10 and 40% in the next couple of years, so be on the lookout for that. (It's not set in stone, so don't blame me for getting your hopes up if it never becomes a reality.)

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
More costs (4.57 / 7) (#14)
by iGrrrl on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:25:28 PM EST

Although you priced out mass-market (>100K unit run) production costs reasonably well, you missed a lot.

  • recording costs
    Studio time is not cheap, and the costs include producer, engineer, session musicians, tape, space rental, and the flunky who brings you coffee. All this has to be paid for. Say it's only a $100K (most cost more like $500K).
  • graphic designers
    Major labels do not use cheap houses, or if they use in-house, they have to maintain a shop. Hard to estimate, but upwards from 10K.
  • advertising
    How do you get anyone to buy your disc if they don't know about it? Promotional copies of discs, radio and print ads, and the all important videos. My guess is that this is the biggest add-on to the "cost" per unit.
  • artist payment
    This is generally the smallest extra. Big names can get a dollar per disc royalty, small names get less. In truth, they get little to nothing.

    And remember, all of the costs I mentioned above are recoupable -- the artists owes the record label for recording and promotion. The only risk the label takes is in the physical manufacture of the discs, which is the least part of the cost.

    As soon as I finished typing this, I realized that Courtney Love did a much better job explaining this back in June. Salon Magazine reprints her speech to the Digital Hollywood conference. Well worth reading. I've served as production manager for four small-run CD's, but she knows the business at the big label level.

    --
    You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
    remove apostrophe for email.
    [ Parent ]

Studio time is artificially high. (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by bored on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:22:03 PM EST

A decent studio can be built for $50k+monthy rent of a couple thousand $ in your local business park. The really high end ones only cost a few million. Think about that! A few million dollars in startup costs, a decent sound engineers salary and you could match the quality of the best studios. Now all you need is to pay a label 75% of what you make in recording time to get them to send their recently signed up bands to you. These bands of course were just forwarded half a million to a million dollars.

[ Parent ]
Um (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by Crashnbur on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 05:18:08 PM EST

I included all of that, I just didn't state it. As many CDs as they produce, and as much money as the artists make with their tiny little cuts of the profits, you know that the CDs are selling for at least two times their worth. Just my opinion.

CDs are similar to gasoline in that we can't live without them. The prices have remained high because we don't know how to combat them. I don't ever expect gas prices to go back to the sub-50 range, do you? Nah...

crash.neotope.com


[ Parent ]
not that I could see (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by iGrrrl on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 07:12:56 PM EST

Fewer than 10% of all CD releases manufactured sell more than 10K copies. If you estimate a print run of 100K copies, just the $100K in studio time adds a dollar per disc to your estimation. There are also shipping and warehousing costs, which you didn't factor in but are part of a record company's overhead.

I don't argue that CDs are somewhat overpriced, but OTOH, and in my experience, your numbers were not entirely inclusive of cost. Far be it from me to defend record companies.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Solution (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by kagaku_ninja on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 08:37:02 PM EST

  • recording costs
    Home studio for $5-$10K, or rent a low-budget studio.
  • graphic designers
    Call your buddy who knows Photoshop and has a Mac.
  • advertising
    Sell the CDs at your shows and on the net.
  • artist payment
    100% of profits.


  • I always try and buy CDs direct from bands (they usually sell at lower prices too, $8-12). The fact that I despise corporate rock helps here...

    [ Parent ]
    Some of my experience. (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by iGrrrl on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:21:53 AM EST

    Reasonable points, and we've certainly done that. I've production managed 4 CD's -- 2 in specialty packaging, one in jewel case, and one in sleeve. Most of them have been recorded at a very inexpensive studio with pretty decent equipment, and none have been advertised other than off stage or on the web.

    The first two CD's costs were never really figured out. The whole thing was an experiment, but I'll guess that they were close to $10/unit, one over and one under. The studio time was cheap cheap cheap. The majority of costs were packaging.

    For the latter two where the studio time doubled in price (to a mere $25, engineer included):

    The entire production cost for the jewel case disc (recording and manufacturing) was just under 10K for a run of 1K discs. Sice so few discs sell even 10K copies (and certainly not if you're selling them off stage and off the web), a larger run doesn't make much sense. You're generally lucky if you sell a thousand. Yes, yes, there are lots of success stories and I've heard them, but they're the exception rather than the rule. At cost base of $10/unit, we have to sell 2/3 of 1K at $15 just to make break even.

    For the sleeve-packaged disc, the cost per unit (recording, graphics, manufacture) was $2.5K/1K production run, but there are only 5 songs on the disc and we did the graphics ourselves. We can sell the product comfortably at $5 each but still have to move 500 to break even.

    Here are a few points about these last two discs:

    The audible substandardness of the recording and production on the first one shows how quickly and cheaply it was done. It's obviously a rush job on a budget, and that never shows the music to its best advantage.

    The graphics on that disc were professionally done, yet, because of the production, it's a case of gilding the sow's ear. (overstatement -- my apologies to the artist)

    The graphics on the sleeve CD are OK, but you can tell they're not professional. You can always tell.

    There are many ways to make and distribute CD's, from the small label level to the big guns. Some strategies work for some people, and some don't. It requires money up front, and the big labels exercise money as the hold they have over new artists who want to break nationally. There are a thousand wanna-be Ani DiFrancos, but they don't all have the talent, business acumen, or drive in the abundance she has to make the self-label work that profitably.

    --
    You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
    remove apostrophe for email.
    [ Parent ]

    Higher Profit == More Music (4.00 / 1) (#34)
    by HypoLuxa on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 04:19:56 PM EST

    One of the things that gets ignored frequently about the CD "revolution" is how much more music is produced on CD than on any other medium. The reason for this is that since you get a high margin on each unit ("How many unit did you move this week, Mojo?" - a nickel for anyone who correctly attributes the quote) you are able to sell far fewer and still have a profitable release. Think about that next time you are in a large record store. Look around at the world music section, the gospel section, the classical section, and the jazz section. Most of those relatively smaller genres have been well served by the higher profit margins of CDs, and that larger profit margin has allowed much more of popular genres to be produced and released as well. We would have far fewer musical choices if we were still buying relatively more expensive LPs and cassettes.

    --
    I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
    - Leonard Cohen
    [ Parent ]
    How many unit did you move this week, Mojo? (none / 0) (#59)
    by PenguinWrangler on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 06:09:33 AM EST

    Damn. Can't remember the Mojo Nixon song this comes from and I'm at work so I can't dig out my Mojo CDs and check them out.
    Mojo Nixon RULES!

    "Information wants to be paid"
    [ Parent ]
    Ain't Got No Job (none / 0) (#65)
    by HypoLuxa on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:24:23 AM EST

    from "Frenzy" - Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, I think.

    --
    I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
    - Leonard Cohen
    [ Parent ]
    cd prices (none / 0) (#76)
    by superfly on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 05:36:15 PM EST

    New discs here in Vancouver, Canada are usually about $13 to $15. At an exchange rate of 0.66, that's about US $8.50 to $10. I've often heard that Vancouver is one of the cheapest places in the world to buy music. Certainly the discs I've bought in Europe are far more. How much does it cost you guys to buy new music? Napster comments can be left out...

    [ Parent ]
    quality of stereo systems (3.50 / 2) (#2)
    by ODiV on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:12:15 PM EST

    Maybe this is just nostalgia talking, but it seems to be that the systems are getting worse. Older stereos with CD players tend to be more tolerant of scratches and also have more input/output options. Maybe this is just the low end stuff that I buy, though. Anyone else notice this?



    --
    [ odiv.net ]
    Not really (3.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Crashnbur on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:45:11 PM EST

    I've noticed that some players and some brands of players tend to not deal with scratches as well as others. Personally, I've found that AIWA systems are great at ignoring them. I've had the same AIWA 3-disc changer for about six years now - bought it for $249 six months after it was put on the shelves and just after a new AIWA system was set beside it. My dad has a fairly recent JVC system that I don't like too much (he doesn't either, but it was a gift), but it reads CDs fine. It seems a bit more prone to skipping, though. My mom has had a Sony five disc changer and her new 50 disc carousel, both of which are incredible.

    Anyway, all I'm in need for now is a stellar portable CD player that isn't prone to skipping. The last one I got sucked... but I hear that technology has gotten much better.

    crash.neotope.com


    [ Parent ]
    If a CD walkman is what you're after, get a Sony (4.00 / 1) (#61)
    by iainl on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 07:08:25 AM EST

    The latest Sony G-Protection walkmen are really good, as they refocus the lens in time to jogs, rather than relying solely on a read-ahead memory like the competition. I've not had mine jog at all; apparently they were demonstrating the new mechanism to the trade by sticking one in the mouth of an Aibo and programming it to do backflips all day.

    [ Parent ]
    The physical medium will go away. (4.50 / 6) (#3)
    by ucblockhead on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:23:21 PM EST

    If you look at the way hard drive capacities and bandwidths are increasing, I think you've got to figure that physical media is going away entirely.

    Imagine a world ten years hence. Continuing on their current rate, 6 Terabyte hard drives will sell for $250 and 6 gigabyte portables will be the norm. With that sort of hard drive, you can store something like 9000 CDs worth of music completely uncompressed. With that sort of RAM, you'll be able to store 9 uncompressed CDs of music on a portable device. Add to that increases in bandwidth, and I think what you'll see is everything working "online" and all music stored in internal memory, like today's mp3 players, but without lossy compression.

    Instead of going to the store, buying a CD and putting it in your stereo, you will connect your stereo to the internet, navigate some menus, and download the music into it. (Or perhaps just stream the music through it.)

    That's really the last media you'll ever have. Once things are entirely digital, then nothing can ever really get lost on old media because it will be a simple matter to write conversion routines whenever a file format changes.
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    Yeah, but the infrastructure will change, too. (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by ghjm on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 06:30:26 PM EST

    You're assuming everything stays mostly the same except the capacities increase; i.e. we still have desktop PCs and portable music players, they're just bigger. But what happens when you have pervasive broadband wireless, which could potentially happen within the next 10 years?

    Today, you use a service like Napster to find and download music that you want to keep; then, you maintain it in local storage, dribbling out little pieces to a portable player. It's all a bit kludgy and you wind up spending a lot of time just pushing your songs from here to there, as opposed to listening to them.

    There are many possible future worlds, and in at least some of them the fight over intellectual property will be won by the good guys. Given a reasonable legislative environment, why do you need to download and hoard the songs? If you trust that the music will always be readily available on the servers, then you don't need to store it locally.

    So why not just have them available on the record company's servers, at a known URL? Then, what you do is build playlists from your portable, and pull the music over the air, on demand. Instead of having your personal library of 1000 CDs (or whatever), you have immediate access to ALL recorded music; your biggest problem becomes navigating to find stuff you like.

    And maybe you pay somebody a few bucks a month for access to the database. The artists get a tiny handout and the record companies get the rest. But if you could really have something like this, it would be worth a few bucks, no?

    -Graham

    [ Parent ]
    Yup (none / 0) (#42)
    by ucblockhead on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 07:01:48 PM EST

    That's true, but that's really all part of what I was saying. Whether the music is stored in your stereo, or streamed on request, it'll just be bits. It won't be stored on anything physical removable media, even for portable play. Why mess with CDs if you've got a portable player that can hold 50 albums?
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]
    I'll mourn the loss of physical media... (4.00 / 1) (#54)
    by SIGFPE on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:46:31 AM EST

    ...because I love record sleeves and now CD booklet thingys. (What are they officially called?) To me, the artwork that goes with the physical medium is an important part of it. Just downloading a .jpg from a website along with a .mp3 or .wma just doesn't cut it. I hope we don't ever lose cover art...
    SIGFPE
    [ Parent ]
    Physicality (3.00 / 1) (#60)
    by PenguinWrangler on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 06:15:27 AM EST

    What he said. There are two things I look at when in someone else's house. Their books, and their CDs (or records). I thought it was a great loss when artwork designed for a 12" sleeve had to be shrunk down to fit in a CD box. Getting rid of the physical object to replace it with a bunch of bits on a hard drive just doesn't appeal to me at all. I like to slot that CD into the player, and take out the inlay and look at it, read the lyrics or whatever.
    MP3 just doesn't have the same ritual associated with it. It doesn't feel like a possession.

    "Information wants to be paid"
    [ Parent ]
    This is a problem for a lot of people (none / 0) (#66)
    by ie on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:45:50 AM EST

    Music (and books) are not just mediums; they are also status symbols and ways to express personality. How many people buy coffee table books? How many never read them? How are you going to replace that with e-books?

    Same with music. An album/CD collection makes a statement about the owner. For some people, the statement is more valuable to them than the music.

    If the music/book industry could find a way to accompany the IP with something physical, they might have a way to subsidize free digital music/e-books, at least until a subscription based model could be established. Unfortunately, I think the words "value-added" are anathema to those industries like garlic to vampires (yes, analogy chosen to make a point).

    It would be an interesting experiment or survey (though I doubt the accuracy of a survey) to see exactly *what* kind of value-adds would encourage sales with simultaneous free IP.

    It would also be worth looking for creative digital value-adds, since they cost less to produce. But since anything digital can be copied, it would need to have value in original form, but be worth less if copied. A physical example is artwork. Only a few people own a Monet, but lots of people own copies. For most people, the print is good enough, but for art lovers than can afford it, having the original is a status symbol. A more mundane example is a signed book copy.

    [ Parent ]

    Id3 V2 (4.00 / 1) (#69)
    by ucblockhead on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:19:01 PM EST

    For what it's worth, the latest versions of the ID3 format used in mp3s as well as Microsoft's WMA format have provisions for all sorts of data, including graphics, to be included in the file itself. In theory you could put the lyrics for a song in the mp3 and have a player that did a "bouncing ball" sort of thing with them. The biggest limiting factor is that few players look for this info, so few files have it. Were music companies smart (which, of course, they are not) they'd be pushing "extended" mp3s with extra information like this. The technology is already there.

    Also, forgive me for throwing in a plug, but the company I work for (kick.com) is attempting to build a business on providing extra information about music as it is played. I do think that's the wave of the future, but I'm obviously biased...
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]
    Change for different reason (4.50 / 4) (#4)
    by General_Corto on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:23:38 PM EST

    Each of the technologies that you listed in the article had a solid consumer-oriented reason for their introduction: LP because of the (relative) longevity, 8-track for the convenience and ease of use, cassette for greater convenience, ease of use, greater storage capacity, and CD for high-quality (I'll pretend audiophiles don't exist, seeing as this is a mass-consumption market) and greater resilience.

    Given the technology that we now have at our disposal (i.e. CD and further digital formats), we don't really *need* a new way to distribute music. More importantly, the MP3 movement has been a paradigm shift for the market - prior to this, it was the industry that was pushing to bring out new media formats; now we do it ourselves.

    Because the CD is a ubiquitous format (i.e. it's a standard for computers and music), I'm sure that there will always be a requirement for backward compatability with it (btw, 'always' means 'ten years minimum').

    If the music industry is to force us to buy into another media, it's going to have a very uphill battle on its hands. People won't be able to tell the difference between the music on CD and the new format, and adding other value to the content (i.e. visuals) is only useful in certain situations, and it nothing that can't already be achieved through the net.


    I'm spying on... you!
    Man.. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Crashnbur on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:37:48 PM EST

    You could have written that response as its own article... I think I agree with every word you said. :-)

    crash.neotope.com


    [ Parent ]
    Quadraphonic sound (none / 0) (#26)
    by bored on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:07:42 PM EST

    Is pretty cool so people will tend towards a standard that supports it because it has cooler effects.

    [ Parent ]
    You mean... (none / 0) (#53)
    by sec on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:19:34 AM EST

    just like they did in the 70's, when quadrophonic systems first hit the market?

    [ Parent ]
    For the record... (4.62 / 8) (#5)
    by djx on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:24:53 PM EST

    As a (somewhat) still spinning DJ, I can't get enough vinyl. It totally rocks for doing live sets. There's just something about a stylus on a platter that is magic. That, and the ability to scratch in. I know most pro DJ CD decks have a "scratch" function and beat matching and all that crap, but nothing beats real scratching.

    Plus, nothing whips crowds into a frenzy like watching a good DJ (not trying to plug myself, just in general) spin and mix and scratch. I've seen it, vinyl is magic.

    Now for the pro-CD side of things: CD's are small, they (for the most part) sound the same, regardless of the deck you play them in, and well, they're more durable than vinyl. There are problems with the length of the medium (like being limited to 74/80 minutes [or something like that]), but that really doesn't come into play with a DJ setup. But, your point is there. For a home listener-type who is just sitting there, this could become a problem. But, I don't think it's a serious enough problem to merit a medium switch.

    Well, darnit, I've gotta go to class... More later...

    x.
    -<end of transmission>-
    NO CARRIER.
    DVD audio (3.66 / 3) (#6)
    by Potsy on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 01:27:20 PM EST

    I think DVD-A is the next thing. Sony's super CD format is proprietary, so it will not be good for consumers (a format owned by a single company never is).

    All the major manufacturers so far come out with at least one model of DVD player that has DVD Audio capabilities included, including some 5-disc changers (like those from Onkyo).

    I predict that a year or two from now you won't be able to buy a DVD player without DVD-audio capability. It will become a "me-too" feature that every player will have to have in order to sell. Once the players are ubiquitous, the market for the discs themselves will explode from there.

    DVD-A not likely to become popular (3.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Hillgiant on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:07:28 PM EST

    For two reasons:
    1. No significant benefit over existing CD technology.

    2. Vynil offered premanency, 8-track offered portablility, cassette offered rewind, and CD's offered digital music and instant seeking. DVD-A (at this time) only seems to be offering more music. Which is nice, but how many double CD's do you see now in record stores? How many artists even use the entire 74 minutes they have now? There are exceptions, but not many.
    3. DVD itself has issues.

    4. The many concerns about the DVD encryption format and the growing trend to restrict ouptut formats add ethical and practical deficiencies to the DVD-A format.

    I further do not think that DVD players bundling the DVD-A format will lead to market penetration. Recall that CD's did not gain widespread acceptance until the introduction of mobile players (disc-man, car players, etc.) Personally, I am unlikely to embrace a format that I can't take with me.

    -----
    "It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
    [ Parent ]

    DVD audio (3.00 / 1) (#44)
    by enterfornone on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 07:19:22 PM EST

    I belive that DVD audio has better sound quality, dsurround sound, as well as the ability to get more than 70 minutes onto a single disk.

    I existing drives can easily be made to play audio DVDs there is no reason why it won't take off.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    Significant advantages (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Potsy on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:22:32 PM EST

    No significant advantage? What about multi-channel (5.1)? Also, more bits will probably be popular with the "golden ears" set. Note that I'm not so keen on the higher sampling frequencies, due to the Nyquist theorem and all, although there is the problem of having to build a perfect low-pass filter when your format has just barely enough frequency range to cover everything, as is the case with CDs (DVD-A's higher sampling frequency will give mastering houses a lot more headroom).

    No, the increased dynamic range given by the extra bits-per-sample is what really makes me want to hear DVD-A. I know there are some people who will say "but CDs already have more dynamic range than I need -- I'm constantly turning CDs up and down to keep the volume at a reasonable level!" But there is more to it than that. Having a bigger dynamic range is useful even if most recordings don't make full use of the 144 dB space. The fact that there are more levels inbetween means that each sample does not have to get rounded off quite so much. That will make the sound much more vibrant and life-like. Based on some of the reviews I've read, even people who were skeptical that the sound provided by CDs could be improved upon are impressed by DVD-A. I'm really looking forward to it myself.

    And you're right, the portable market is important, but I can imagine that drive manufacturers will stop making CD-only devices at some point, and start making only combination DVD/CD drives, just because that will be easier. It will be similar to the situation with networking devices: you can hardly even find a 10 Mbit/s-only ethernet device these days; everything is combination 10/100 Mbit/s. I think that eventually, the same thing will happen with CD/DVD drives. After a while, even portable disc readers will be combination DVD/CD. It'll happen at some point.

    Even so, I think there is enough interest from audiophiles and others such that DVD-A will at least become a fairly large niche market, even if it never fully replaces CD (which I think it will, given enough time).

    [ Parent ]

    Still skeptical. (3.00 / 1) (#51)
    by sec on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 11:49:06 PM EST

    No significant advantage? What about multi-channel (5.1)?

    IIRC, quadroponic sound was tried sometime in the early/mid 70's, and never caught on.

    Also, more bits will probably be popular with the "golden ears" set.

    Oh, of course. Something of a niche market, though.

    Not to mention that these 'golden ears' types often don't perform very well in double-blind tests.

    The fact that there are more levels inbetween means that each sample does not have to get rounded off quite so much.

    In other words, the quantization error goes down. But, consider this: the signal to quantization noise ratio of a 16 bit system is 98.08 dB, and of a 24 bit system, is 146.24 dB. This may sound impressive, but consider this: The difference in sound pressure between a jet airplane taking off at close range and a sound just barely loud enough to hear is only about 100 dB.

    I seriously doubt anybody will notice. Indeed, I've seen double-blind tests showing that people have a lot of difficulty distinguishing between DVD-A class audio and CD-class audio. I'm not surprised.



    [ Parent ]

    To put it another way... (none / 0) (#52)
    by sec on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:13:24 AM EST

    Say the amplitude of your signal is equivalent to the distance between the earth and the sun. In that case, the quantization noise level of a CD would be equivalent to about 5 feet. The quantization noise level of a DVD-A would be about 0.5 mils (ie. thousanths of an inch).

    Sure, the DVD-A quantization noise level is better, but both are utterly insignificant compared to the distance to the sun.



    [ Parent ]

    Bad analogy (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by Potsy on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:05:39 AM EST

    But if I'm dealing with an instrument that is sensitive enough to detect something smaller than 5 feet, then yes, I do need that extra quantization accuracy, regardless of how impressive the comparison to the distance to the sun is.

    The point is not whether you can come up with an analogy that has a big visceral impact, it's whether or not the human ear is sensitive enough to hear the difference. And it doesn't matter if some or even most people fail to notice the difference some or most of the time. The accuracy of the quantization should be so high that nobody can hear the difference under any circumstances. Why settle for less? Why not go for broke and make absolutely sure even people with the most sensitive ears in the world can't tell the difference?

    One thing I've never understood is the utter contempt some people seem to have for those who don't like digital. I'm not saying you're one of those people, but I do sense a bit uppitiness. Some people just say to themselves, "Well I think it sounds good enough, so anybody who disagrees must be crazy!" What's wrong with a bit of skepticism going in the other direction? Let the people who claim that digital systems have "enough" bits prove their case, rather than forcing disbelievers to prove theirs? Technically literate people who try to remain unbiased will usually admit that complaints about CDs have a basis in scientific fact, and are not just some crackpot fantasy.

    There is also the "headroom" issue that I brough up earlier. If the system has just barely enough bits to cover the limits of human perception, then we become too dependent on people mastering the recording to maximize the potential of the medium. Making sure that there is actually room for error is a good thing. 24bit/96Khz may be a bit of overkill (then again, it may not; I'm not convinced that the details and limits of human auditory perception are fully understood), but if it will help reduce the number of recordings coming out that fail to maximize the potential of today's audio systems, what's the harm in that?

    [ Parent ]

    All for one... (none / 0) (#74)
    by sec on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 05:07:19 PM EST

    I'll deal with all of your comments here... As for references, I did a quick search on the web, but didn't find anything. The test I read about was in an issue of Sympatico Netlife magazine, can't remember which one.

    But if I'm dealing with an instrument that is sensitive enough to detect something smaller than 5 feet, then yes, I do need that extra quantization accuracy, regardless of how impressive the comparison to the distance to the sun is.

    Don't forget that it's not just your ears that matter here. The CD/DVD player's analog electronics, the amplifier, and your speakers/headphones must all be up to the task as well.

    The point is not whether you can come up with an analogy that has a big visceral impact, it's whether or not the human ear is sensitive enough to hear the difference. And it doesn't matter if some or even most people fail to notice the difference some or most of the time. The accuracy of the quantization should be so high that nobody can hear the difference under any circumstances. Why settle for less?

    Heck, then, lets go for 64-bit, 512KHz digital audio :)

    One thing I've never understood is the utter contempt some people seem to have for those who don't like digital. I'm not saying you're one of those people, but I do sense a bit uppitiness.

    I'm certainly not against digital. What I am against is throwing a lot of bits (about 3x as many) to solve what, even at worst, is a very minor problem.

    Technically literate people who try to remain unbiased will usually admit that complaints about CDs have a basis in scientific fact, and are not just some crackpot fantasy.

    Interestingly enough, the problem mentioned by your link would tend to have the biggest effect on classical music. But it isn't usually the classical music people that I hear complaining about CD audio quality. :)

    There is also the "headroom" issue that I brough up earlier. If the system has just barely enough bits to cover the limits of human perception, then we become too dependent on people mastering the recording to maximize the potential of the medium. Making sure that there is actually room for error is a good thing. 24bit/96Khz may be a bit of overkill (then again, it may not; I'm not convinced that the details and limits of human auditory perception are fully understood), but if it will help reduce the number of recordings coming out that fail to maximize the potential of today's audio systems, what's the harm in that?

    It certainly makes sense to make the master recording at 96k/24, and, AFAIK, that is how it is done today. But the extra headroom is only really useful in preproduction. Once the recording has been produced, there's no real advantage in it -- indeed, there's often too much as is, which sometimes necessitates fiddling with the volume control to keep the sound at a comfortable level.

    Perhaps DVD-A will catch on; it's too early to say for sure. If it does, I doubt it will be because of the increased audio quality -- most people will not have either the expensive equipment or the 'golden ears' necessary for them to percieve any difference at all, and even then, the difference will be slight.

    Personally, though, I wouldn't object to being able to store 3.5 hours of CD-quality music on a DVD, though.



    [ Parent ]

    ...and one for all (none / 0) (#87)
    by Potsy on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:27:25 PM EST

    Don't forget that it's not just your ears that matter here. The CD/DVD player's analog electronics, the amplifier, and your speakers/headphones must all be up to the task as well.

    Of course, I understand that. But I can always upgrade those components and get better sound. What I can't do is increase the number of bits in the recording. The sample size/rate of the format places an absolute, hard limit on how good the sound reproduction can be. No matter how much money I invest in reproduction equipment, I'm stuck with those parameters. That's why I want them to be good.

    Heck, then, lets go for 64-bit, 512KHz digital audio :)

    Sure, why not.

    I'm certainly not against digital.

    Say what? I think you meant to type something else there, perhaps? I was sort-of accusing you of being just the opposite -- of being so pro-CD that you look down on people who don't like digital (i.e., people who still listen to records).

    What I am against is throwing a lot of bits (about 3x as many) to solve what, even at worst, is a very minor problem.

    You might think it's a "minor" problem, but what about other people? As I mentioned, with a standardized digital sound format, everybody has the same limits placed on them. The "good enough" rule should not be allowed to decide in those cases. That's why I get so upset about things like this. You might decide you don't want those extra bits, which is fine, but when people push back on a standard and say, "that's too many bits", then they are trying to force everyone to be stuck with more limitations, and that's something I object to.

    Interestingly enough, the problem mentioned by your link would tend to have the biggest effect on classical music. But it isn't usually the classical music people that I hear complaining about CD audio quality. :)

    Well, I don't care what you "usually" encounter, I'm a classical music listener who wants better-than-CD audio quality. I don't know where you got the idea that classical music listeners are generally satisfied with CDs, because I don't think that's true. They're certainly happy with the low noise floor, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't like some improvement.

    Bottom line is, I'm not convinced that CD-quality digital audio is reaching the limits of human perception, and I want some improvements. Digging around on the web, I've seen people mention various research projects where people found that parts of sound that humans are supposedly unable to hear actually do have an effect on the brain, but I can't find any of the actual research. I really wish I could find some of those papers on the web. That's really what I am interested in: hard scientific evidence as to whether or not the limits of human hearing are met by CD-quality digital audio. I have a feeling the answer is "no".

    And I have to say, I sense a bit of condescension in the tone of your posts. Please tell me if I'm wrong, but it really seems like you think I'm stupid or ignorant.

    [ Parent ]

    Reference? (none / 0) (#58)
    by Potsy on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:55:50 AM EST

    I've seen double-blind tests showing that people have a lot of difficulty distinguishing between DVD-A class audio and CD-class audio.

    Do you have any references or links for this? I'd be interested in seeing this, too.

    [ Parent ]

    Forgot to mention (4.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Potsy on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:18:26 AM EST

    ...a lot of difficulty distinguishing...

    I should have mentioned: So what if it's "difficult" to tell the difference? I want it to be utterly impossible! I want there to be zero cases, none, where somebody can tell the difference. Until we've reached that point, there is still some room for improvement left.

    [ Parent ]

    Sony (3.00 / 1) (#45)
    by odaiwai on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 08:19:34 PM EST

    What is with Sony and their approach to intellectual property?

    First they have Betamax, wouldn't license it and an inferior technology took over. Then they had Minidisk - 100Mb of rerecordable media smaller than a 3.5" disk. Just think of your pc having a 100Mb floppy disk. MDs have fizzled out.

    Based on Sony's previous media formats, I predict crashing and burning.

    dave
    -- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
    [ Parent ]

    Don't forget Stupid Stick (none / 0) (#80)
    by dgwatson on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:11:04 PM EST

    Oh, sorry, I mean Memory Stick. WHAT IS WRONG WITH SONY? It's like they are TRYING to sabotage themselves! Or is it just some strange Japanese thing? (runs for cover)

    [ Parent ]
    RIAA (4.50 / 4) (#11)
    by B'Trey on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:15:57 PM EST

    You sort of touched upon it but the next medium will probably be a political choice rather than a technological one. There's no telling how succesful DAT (Digital Audio Tape) would have been if the record companies hadn't killed it because of piracy fears. If the RIAA gets its way, the next thing will probably be a digital media with built in copy protection that restricts copying. (It remains to be seen how succesful such a product can be.)

    As a poster below noted, I'm hearing more and more skipping with my CDs. One thing I'd like to see is a larger format (likely a version of DVD) with two copies of each song on it. With a read-ahead buffer, a player could detect a faulty read and transparently switch to the other track.

    This is called a back-up (none / 0) (#20)
    by Wah on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:47:45 PM EST

    "One thing I'd like to see is a larger format (likely a version of DVD) with two copies of each song on it. With a read-ahead buffer, a player could detect a faulty read and transparently switch to the other track"

    But you'll probably have to fight for your right to make one in the future. And you'd definitely want one for any digital media you buy. I'd try and avoid any that makes it overly difficult.
    --
    Fail to Obey?
    [ Parent ]

    Not quite... (none / 0) (#68)
    by B'Trey on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:09:28 PM EST

    A back-up is great but I'd really like something that works transparently on a single system. The error codeing discussed in the above comments is either not implemented very well or doesn't work very well. Also, some of my CD's don't just skip - they hang, almost like a scratched record. You'd think that would be fairly easy to detect and correct but neither my Sony car player or my (cheap) Magnavox home player does it.

    [ Parent ]
    if you make a straight copy of the cd (none / 0) (#70)
    by Wah on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:47:58 PM EST

    it should work fine. The scratched ones I've copied still record the scratches, but just play them like normal. If the first thing you do when you get a new CD (or whatever) is copy it, then use the copy, you can keep the original pristine. I think that solves the problem without having to have some double track mechanism which would still be susceptible to scratching.
    --
    Fail to Obey?
    [ Parent ]
    Or better yet... (none / 0) (#35)
    by MrSmithers on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 04:41:30 PM EST

    A format similar to CD-ROM (forgot what color book that was :) that includes error correction. Red book CD Audio has no error correction, so a scratch will cause a skip. The CD-ROM format includes CRCs and some redundant information so that the data can be verified as accurate or reconstructed if a reasonable amount of data is damaged.

    This all means that CD-ROMs have a higher tolerance to physical damage corrupting the data, whereas with Audio CDs a certain amount of incorrect bits is considered "acceptable" for the average consumer's untrainted ears. Because of this, cd-ripping programs like cdparanoia typically read digital audio data multiple times to ensure that it is aligned properly and there are no errors (physical defects on CDs usually show up as different bits each time they are read).

    Unix: where /sbin/init is job 1

    [ Parent ]
    This is incorrect (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by roystgnr on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 09:04:13 PM EST

    CD Audio has no error correction, so a scratch will cause a skip.

    Ok, this one line isn't hard to experimentally falsify. I only buy used CDs, and the number of disks I get which are horribly scratched up yet still rip perfectly is surprising.

    CD Audio uses a Reed Solomon code, with interleaving so that a scratch would have to be parallel to a CD track for some distance to wipe out enough bits to render a block undecodable. A Google search for "Reed Solomon" "CD Audio" brings up details, although no uber-authoritative site. I did read that the CD-ROM format has an additional layer of error correction coding, though.

    with Audio CDs a certain amount of incorrect bits is considered "acceptable" for the average consumer's untrainted ears.

    This would make sense if incorrect bits meant low order bits. But if you've got 16-bit CD audio and you flip the highest order bit, you're going to notice the pop.

    [ Parent ]

    Ripping and paranoia (none / 0) (#85)
    by b1t r0t on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:06:30 AM EST

    Because of this, cd-ripping programs like cdparanoia typically read digital audio data multiple times to ensure that it is aligned properly and there are no errors (physical defects on CDs usually show up as different bits each time they are read).

    No, the real reason they have to re-read the digital audio data multiple times is because the time codes are only accurate to the nearest second. So you have 75 (I think) sectors with exactly the same time code, and the only way to be sure you haven't missed one is to back up if you don't get all 75 together in one stream read surrounded by two others with adjacent time codes.

    -- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.
    [ Parent ]

    cd oxidization (4.00 / 3) (#12)
    by rebelcool on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:16:15 PM EST

    one of the downsides to cd's is that after about 15 years or so they start to oxidize..i doubt they'll have the longetivity as vinyls unfortunately...

    I think for archival purposes they'll have to make music open. For example, its very difficult to find equipment to read some datatapes from 30 years ago (nasa ran into this problem i recall..they ended up digging a machine out from the smithsonian to try and copy the tapes to another medium). If you use elaborate encryption methods, 15+ years after the machine that can read them is obsolete and almost all of them are broken, that information will be more or less lost, except to those that have the time and patience to crack the encryption. This is why zero-encryption is the way to preserving information for future generations.

    COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

    CD Lifespan (4.00 / 2) (#23)
    by ucblockhead on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:55:53 PM EST

    I've heard this about CDs, but in my experience, CDs do pretty well over time. I bought my first CD player in 1987 and just four months ago, went through a ripping process where I ripped most of what I owned. I had no age-related problems that I could discern. The few CDs that I had troubles ripping were fairly scratched up, and weren't necesarily the oldest ones. I've got plenty that are nearly 15 years old and work perfectly fine.

    Who knows what'll happen in another fifteen years, though.
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]
    Code reuse, how about title reuse? (4.50 / 2) (#13)
    by finkployd on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:21:18 PM EST

    This title could easily be reused for a gun control story if anyone wants to submit one. :)

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    Incidentally... (none / 0) (#21)
    by skim123 on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:53:17 PM EST

    Incidentally, that's what I thought it was going to be about, at first. I figured it was some, "Bush is in power, hang on to your weapons" kind of thing. Oh well. :-)

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    My biggest gripe with CD's (4.00 / 5) (#15)
    by Skippy on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:25:30 PM EST

    I think minidisks are just about perfect media-wise (although I've never owned one). Put a small diameter DVD in a minidisk case and you'll have a ton of space for whatever digital format you want on it (mp3, cd audio, dvd audio whatever). On top of that they come in that nice little protective case. You can pull one out and throw it in the back seat of your car like you used to do with cassettes (if you're old enough). Try that with a CD and you'll have a coaster after the first time.

    I guess my point is that most of our music is going to be digital in some format. We should have a better PHYSICAL media to carry around our digital music on. I'd love to see CD's get replaced. They're too big (diameter) and too fragile.

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

    Minidisks aren't as good as you think. (4.00 / 2) (#16)
    by FeersumAsura on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:38:45 PM EST

    Minidisks have the same problems as audio recorded in mp3 format. It sounds terrible. Compare a CD to a minidisk where the cd player and minidisk player are of equal quality (220 approx) coupled up to a good amp with high quality interconnects and ecellent speakers and the difference is very easy to tell.
    I do own a minidisk (portable) and love it to bits. It's just as good as a portable CD player and much more useful. Minidisk is not suited for high quality systems in my not so humble opinion.
    While I have never worked in a sound shop I am an hi-fi enthusiast and friends have worked in the higher end stores (Serle Audio). As for teh car thing my glove compartment's full of the little things.

    I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
    [ Parent ]
    Problem... (3.50 / 2) (#17)
    by Electric Angst on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:40:23 PM EST

    If I'm not mistaken, minidisks only sample at about 128khz, which is just barely good enough for the general public, and makes the typical audiophile cringe...

    I agree, there needs to be a more physically durable medium avalible, but Minidisks just aren't it.


    --
    "Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
    [ Parent ]
    I was under the impression (none / 0) (#18)
    by retinaburn on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:45:25 PM EST

    That it was "near" cd quality. I cannot tell the difference between listening to a stereo and my minidisc player. (either one). Of couse I am not a 'phile of any kind ;)


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    WTF? (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by kagaku_ninja on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 07:37:18 PM EST

    CDs only sample at 44.1k. If you mean frequency of sound, they go up to 20khz. Either way, 128khz would be a massive improvement...

    [ Parent ]
    Lossy compression (4.00 / 2) (#19)
    by retinaburn on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 02:47:42 PM EST

    The real problem I discovered with Minidiscs is the lossy compression. You loose data when you put data on the disc, so you are limited to audio as far as I know. I always wanted a way to put hard data (documents, video clips etc) on the discs (74 min of audio space is decent) but I was told this was impossible to do lossy compression.

    Of course theoretically you could create your own "compresser" that translated the data to distinct tones that the MD would not lose.


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    Also a reply to the others (4.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Skippy on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 04:54:03 PM EST

    Ok. Think minidisk as FORM FACTOR ONLY - an optical disk inside a sturdy outer casing. If you read my post I said mini-dvd like media inside. Multiple layers with a short wavelength laser would yield a MUCH higher storage capacity than an actual minidisk does (I think - see sig below).

    Furthermore I wasn't suggesting that the audio be stored in whatever format minidisk uses. This is digital audio we are talking about. The minidisk just has to hold whatever format the player uses. What I want is a high-capacity, relatively sturdy read-write media that is ubiquitous. If everything used these mini-dvd disks then I could put mp3s on it for my mp3 player, full sample no compression audio for my audiophile market player using the same media, or use it to store my digital photos from a drive in my computer.

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
    [ Parent ]

    minidiscs (none / 0) (#50)
    by mikpos on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 11:25:46 PM EST

    Mini-discs (or at least the last time I checked) aren't optical; they're magneto-optical. This sounds like nit-picking, but what you're describing (using shorter laser wavelengths) really don't transfer over entirely to MO media, not the least of which because the MO drive doesn't use the laser to read (I think).

    Are you talking about a higher density MO disc or a miniature DVD disc?

    [ Parent ]

    I was thinking DVD (none / 0) (#64)
    by Skippy on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:28:27 AM EST

    See, I WAS talking out my ass. I didn't realize the minidisks were MO. I was thinking more like a small diameter DVD-RAM inside a minidisk case. Even if it required a special drive write but could be read by anything, that would be ok.

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
    [ Parent ]
    MO process (none / 0) (#79)
    by dzero on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 07:00:41 PM EST

    According to this page on the mechanisms of MO disks, actually it is true that the laser is all that's needed to read the disk.

    (I am not trying to be a dork - I love MO technology and just want to spread good info about how it works)

    Now I am paraphrasing the link above (which has more information about the medium in addition to the process):

    In the write phase, an electromagnet is used to alter the polarization of the disk surface. The polarization change of the magnetic film on the disk is localized by the laser because, conveniently, the magnet can only change the polarization when the magnetic surface is heated -- it's heated by a laser. One would assume these polarized areas represent bits of data.

    To read, all that's required is the laser at a much lower power. (maybe you've noticed portable MD machines can play for longer than they can record -- running that laser to heat the surface, and running the magnet, undoubtedly uses more energy than just the read laser) The magnetic properties of the areas on the disc surface cause the reflected laser light to be optically polarized differently depending on what the magnetic polarization was on the surface. Thus you just detect the polarization of the reflected beam and -- presto -- bits.

    Hope this is useful or interesting to somebody. I am always amazed by these things...



    [ Parent ]
    Minidisc Compression (3.00 / 1) (#67)
    by guinsu on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:30:21 AM EST

    I've thought for a while that Sony should throw out the compression system they are using now and switch all minidisc players to MP3/MP2. They would have huge public acceptance. After all, lots of people are looking for a MP3 player for their homes and cars. I think MP2 would be a good idea also so it would have compatibility with DVD Audio formats.

    [ Parent ]
    Legacy issues. (none / 0) (#77)
    by static on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 06:43:51 PM EST

    Sony have unfortunately snookered themsevles with MiniDisc. The default format uses a compression algorithm called ATRAC which functions more-or-less just like MPEG audio. MiniDiscs get about 5:1 compression.

    Naturally, research hasn't stood still. There's an upgraded and reworked version of ATRAC that gets 10:1 compression. Sony use it in their portable digital audio players (the ones with the memory stick). It is not, however, backwards compatible with MiniDisc's ATRAC... unless they introduce a "long-play" facility which uses the new one and retain support for the older standard. Some MiniDisc recorders do this now. :-)

    Wade.

    [ Parent ]

    Good tech + Bad marketing = I cry (data MD) (4.50 / 2) (#78)
    by dzero on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 06:47:27 PM EST

    I am a big MiniDisc fan and own a currently broken (non-recording) sony mzr50. I love MD because of the cheap blanks, the exceptional quality (for what it can do and how convenient it is, anyway) and the pure and simple cuteness of it.

    What I am sort of mad about is that Sony never managed to push MD as a data storage medium. I know there are MD data drives out there, but look who won -- Iomega and the evil Zip. I cannot count the number of friends I have who've lost files from Zip disks, or who've had to recover files from damaged Zips. (Come on, Zip is basically no better than those nasty old Bernoullis and it's pushed as a modern technology!)

    I used to use an old Pinnacle 230mb magneto-optical drive, and that thing was a real trooper. MD is the same technology -- magneto-optical -- and stores around 128 megs of raw data per disk. This is on par with Zip and blanks are $2 or less. It just makes so much sense... *sigh*



    [ Parent ]
    SACD - High Density CD's (4.50 / 2) (#25)
    by farl on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:02:05 PM EST

    This format being pushed by Sony and other manufacturer's is simply amazing. I have used an SACD player and the quality increase is simply breathtaking. It also manages to play regular CD's too (in a hybrid machine) at a much higher quality. Check it out at your lcoal electronics stores.


    Farl
    k5@sketchwork.com
    www.sketchwork.com
    SACD is Sony proprietary? (none / 0) (#49)
    by Potsy on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 10:40:03 PM EST

    I thought the SACD format was Sony proprietary (the real reason why they are pushing it so hard -- after they were unable to get their proprietary ATRAC encoding to be the standard for DVD-Audio). Somebody should make a poster like that MP3/communism thing that says, "Remember folks, when you use SACDs, you're saying it's okay if Sony 0wnz j00!"

    [ Parent ]
    HDCD -- High Density Compatible Digital (none / 0) (#55)
    by Mr. Piccolo on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 12:48:54 AM EST

    I prefer HDCD. As its name implies, it's backwards compatible with regular CD players, so you don't need to run out and buy a new one. To get the full 20 bits of resolution, though, you need to buy the special player. Supposedly, Pacific Microsonics has licensed their chip so that mass-market products will be HDCD ready Real Soon Now...

    The question is: Does it Work? I don't actually know, I don't have a real HDCD-capable player. However, the two HDCD recordings I have sound noticably, well, smoother than normal CDs, even on my junk equipment. Could be the higher-quality mastering though.

    The downsides are that it doesn't compare with SACD or DVD-Audio at "only" 20-bit 44KHz resolution. The question would be whether the difference would be noticable on standard equipment (not a $32,000 power amplifier!)

    And... Pacific Microsonics, the developers of HDCD are owned by... Microsoft.

    So choose your poison: RIAA, MPAA, or the Evil Empire. Who do you trust to provide tomorrow's audio?

    I say go back to reel-to-reel tape ;-)

    The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


    [ Parent ]
    CD's will stick around (4.00 / 2) (#28)
    by madams on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:15:14 PM EST

    Just like records and tapes, I think CD's will stay in use for quite some time. I think the only thing that will kill the CD would be a ubiquitous digital music format. What I envison is a system that stores all the music you own, and which is accessible from almost any device anywhere in the world.

    Your stero system at home, the stereo in your car, and the portable music player you carry around with you, would all be hooked into such a system. Imagine going to a friend's house and being able to log their stereo into your digital music library. I think such a system would definitely kill the CD (purists will still make and buy records, however).

    --
    Mark Adams
    "But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

    The Next Medium (4.00 / 2) (#29)
    by reshippie on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:15:59 PM EST

    I think that CDs will stick around for a while. Companies have been able to make new technologies, but have yet to really kill any. People still want record players and tape decks. Though I guess reel-to-reel and 8-track are pretty much gone.

    In the future, I'm leaning towards mp3. It's not going to happen, though, until they make a good home setup for it. They've also gotta figure out a decent way to get the mp3s to you. Mp3 players are cool, but until they have more removable media versions, they won't really hit the big time.

    I'm waiting for the day when you can go to the store and get a Flash disk, or something like that, of a new album for $10-$20, instead of the CD.

    Ok, I'm rambling, but basically, the next medium will need to be removable, and available for home and travel.

    Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)

    well personally (3.00 / 2) (#57)
    by 31: on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 03:41:56 AM EST

    I'd be quite happy to buy a cd and have mp3s on it... no need to change the distribution, some people still like going to record stores (One of my favorites is picking a random cd from a bin, you get a lot of crap, but every once in a while you'll get something good... much harder to do with normal mp3 distribution methods [and paying for it forces you to listen to it, unless you can throw away $15 bucks])

    And they could do it now... after all, most cds don't have that much music on them, it would be nice to have high-quality mp3s with no crackling/popping immediatly after buying the cd...

    And cd players are starting to come with mp3 decoding capacity... between all that, and people being able to write cd pretty cheaply on their own now, that seems like the best way (rather than some special sony media you need yet more hardware to deal with) And I guess I should give the obligatory ogg vorbis reference... may as well hope for an open music standard.

    -Patrick
    [ Parent ]
    Empty space (none / 0) (#72)
    by reshippie on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 02:54:29 PM EST

    The reason I thought of Flash media, is that you would fill up the entire disk with the album. If you compress 60 min of mp3 audio, it takes about 64MB, right? Roughly, a minute a meg. I can't think of ANY musician that could create a 650 min album. And I'd feel ripped off to have a whole cd, with only 1/10th of it used.

    Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)
    [ Parent ]
    transitions and more (3.00 / 2) (#73)
    by 31: on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 04:12:17 PM EST

    But using a cd would mean it would be easier to do a transition between the 2... and it would make it so you could have a huge playlist on your normal speaker system (which is for most people at least better than their computer's), and it would make it so after they're on a strictly digital system, they could start adding more features... buy the single, the video for it's there in high quality... maybe vh1's behind the music on the group (since it seems they're trying to cover everyone...)

    And I guess the last concern is how much do flash cards cost to produce? With cds costing 17 cents, if flash cards are much more, it's going to make the record companies unwilling to use them...

    -Patrick
    [ Parent ]
    CD with MP3s on it: See MP3.com (none / 0) (#81)
    by pin0cchio on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:13:15 PM EST

    I'd be quite happy to buy a cd and have mp3s on it

    MP3.com places an Enhanced CD data track on each CD it sells through the D.A.M. system, containing 128 kbps MP3 files of the audio on the CD.


    lj65
    [ Parent ]
    DTS CDs (3.50 / 4) (#31)
    by fluffy grue on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:33:45 PM EST

    One thing that a lot of people don't know about, which does seem like a Good Thing in terms of sound quality and the like, are DTS-encoded CDs. They use normal CD media and a normal CD player (with an optical output), and you have an external decoder (which is in most stereos these days) which decodes its datastream, which is basically a 5.1-channel MP3. I believe DTS CDs are encoded at the full 1200Kbps data rate (seeing as how the CD still plays at the same speed that it normally does).

    I have major issues with DTS being used for home theater audio, but for storing music, it seems like a Good Thing, mainly since it still uses the existing media and transport, and can thus even be done with existing equipment (including CD-R drives). The only disadvantage is that DTS (the company) probably wouldn't go out and release the CODEC algorithms anytime soon...

    As far as the fact it can still only hold 74/80 minutes, when was the last time you heard an album that was even that long? Single album releases are normally around 45 minutes, simply because if you want to release an album a year and have a relatively high level of quality in your music, that's about how much music you produce for an album. Also, trying to listen to anything longer in a single sitting tends to become quite annoying.

    The only disadvantage (to listeners) I can think of offhand is that even after being compressed it's the same bandwidth as a normal CD, it'd have to be downsampled/downmixed to fit any decent amount of music on one's computer, and chances are people would just be listening to it as stereo MP3s anyway, so that's not really a major issue (though being able to decode the audio to rip it IS).

    Another thing, though, is that stereo sound is quite sufficient for most performances. Typically, the only reason for quadraphonic sound (barring trippy sound effects) is to get the completely immersive feeling of being in a concert hall where they're performing, and that can easily be done with a DSP. Also, some CDs are being put out Pro Logic encoded, and Pro Logic has the very nice thing about being EASY to encode, and both easy and unnecessary to decode (if you don't decode a Pro Logic signal, it sounds like a very spatialized stereo signal).

    Also, with a properly-mastered album, you don't NEED 4+ speakers to get the immersive feeling of 'being there' - two speakers, or better yet, headphones, are enough.
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]

    Bad Premises and a Prediction (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by HypoLuxa on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:56:18 PM EST

    Your estimation of 10-20 years I think is kind of flawed. First off, phonograph records (whether shellack or vinyl) have been around for a century, and really only started to decline in the past 20 years. Vinyl alone has been around for 50 years and still moves. Also, as some other DJs pointed out, vinyl records are still in wide use for certain types of music. Second, of the four different media you are comparing, only one really fits your model. Records, as stated above, have been useful and popular for far longer than 20 years (take the turn of the century to about 1975, and there was no real competition). 8-tracks were far more short-lived than 10 years, and were never a market leader. Cassettes fit right into your model, being a popular choice for about 20 years, and selling as much if not more than other competing media. I think it's too early to tell how much longer CDs will be around, so it's hard to press them into a finite time-frame model.

    Personally, I think that the next thing that will define music distribution is codecs, not media. The digital world is moving into divergent paths for data distribution, and music will be no different. If you are able to get music via your phone, you computer, your wireless connected home stereo, you car stereo, your CyberFannyPack Eight Million, or on an actual piece of laser burned plastic, then the actual media is pretty irrelevant. What is relevant is the codecs used, and how it's transferred to the listener. That's where the next hot spot is going to be for music distribution.

    --
    I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
    - Leonard Cohen

    Interesting (3.50 / 2) (#37)
    by jdtux on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 05:01:01 PM EST

    +1 to section

    Seems like an interesting enough topic.

    Personally, I think mp3 players are going to be the next big thing. Or some other kind of digital music.

    Viva la vinyl (4.00 / 2) (#56)
    by slakhead on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 01:10:38 AM EST

    This from Pearl Jam's fanclub site:
    Is the Christmas single a vinyl record?

    Yes, all of the Christmas singles are on vinyl. The band has always had a love of vinyl. A visit to the Library of Congress where they learned that the government only keeps music on vinyl (it lasts forever and isn't biodegradable) cinched their decision.

    Interesting although I can't find anything to back it up. Apparently, the Library of Congress has quite an extensive CD collection. Oh well.

    "A CD is like bad acid: not for production or consumption."

    One format I wish I had a player for... (4.00 / 2) (#75)
    by cr0sh on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 05:30:23 PM EST

    Sure, you can get turntables cheap enough to play 33's and 45's - but does anyone know where I can get a cheap turntable that with play 78's? I have a copy of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue that I want to update to MP3, if I can - but without a turntable I am hosed. I have given thought to playing it at 45 RPM, then frequency shifting it, but I don't know how well this will really work.

    My parents have an old turntable in a console stereo - it had the record changing bit and everything - the funky thing is that it had speeds well above 78 rpm, and speeds well below that of 33 rpm - does anyone have links or info on what those speeds were used for (and what the standards were)?

    Artists can only produce so much (4.00 / 2) (#82)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:43:37 PM EST

    Musicians can only produce so much music in one go. Indeed, a lot of them stick more stuff on (e.g. data tracks) simply to fill up the space. We don't need bigger formats like DVD because we don't need to fit any more music on one item of media.

    Having said that, Parkinson's Law (human waste expands to fill the available space) applies. If audio DVD becomes popular, labels will simply fill the rest of the disk with crap. Unnecessary multimedia presentations, copies of video clips, interviews and so on. All the sorts of things I don't care about when I want to listen to some music.

    BTW, I still buy vinyls too, but not because of "superior quality". Sometimes I prefer the old mix as opposed to the "digital remaster", but usually I prefer the cover artwork. CD covers are just too damn small for the covers of albums like Sgt Pepper, Five Miles Out or Hotel California.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    Better sound quality, hopefully... (4.00 / 2) (#83)
    by bscanl on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:37:25 AM EST

    People who think MP3s and CDs don't degrade the music
    you're listening to noticably, aren't listening. Please, don't quote me figures stating hz, and what the human ear can hear etc. - When you listen to CDs, you can't hear as much *texture* in the sound - When listening to My Bloody Valentine on CD, you can't make out the screeching guitars as well, it sounds like white noise. On vinyl, you can hear the distinct noise making guitars. On vinyl, I can easily hear Joni Mitchell's breaths and the sound of the clunk as the piano key is depressed - You can kind of make out those sounds on CD, but not as easily.

    CD kicks ass for portability and burning stuff, naturally, but for proper listening of music, analog's yer only man. Don't even suggest mp3 as a good medium for properly listening to music, far too much texture is lost. At any byte/s.

    Networking (4.50 / 2) (#86)
    by Joshua on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:22:41 AM EST

    We do not need yet another physical medium, especially not yet another digital one, for distributing music/movies/whatever. Computer networking is reaching a level it's never reached before, and the internet is going everywhere. Eventually, it'll be on my person wherever I go, it'll be in every town and village and household and city in the world, and we will use it to tranfer and distribute all kinds of data. Then we will realize that music and movies and books and whatnot are simply another kind of data to be stored, and we will work on new data storage mediums in general (new hard drive technologies, as well as solid state technologies, and others we haven't even thought of yet). We won't have separate mediums for different types of data, just data, and one medium.

    However. I do not think records will ever go away, just as I think books will never go away. I do feel, and I have no real reasoning behind this, it's just something that I feel. I feel that there is something very beautiful and good about an analog recording, such as a record. That there is elegance in a hard-bound book. Anyway, that was a rant, but whatever.

    Cheers, Joshua

    CDs (3.75 / 4) (#89)
    by kaitian on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:11:08 PM EST

    I hope CDs stick around as long as possible because whatever replaces them probably will be encrypted and have some from of copy protection on it. The next RIAA endorsed music format will just be bad news for me because after I buy it I'll still be having someone telling me what I can and can't do with the it.

    DVD Audio may become popular. (4.00 / 2) (#90)
    by meldroc on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 10:27:25 PM EST

    Regardless of the popularity of MP3s, Ogg Vorbis, and other compressed digital audio formats, they all have the weakness (some more than others,) of compromised sound quality, which really annoys the audiophiles.

    DVD audio will bring improved sound quality, as the sample rate goes from 44KHz to 88KHz or higher, with more bits per sample. As it is also backwards compatible with CD Audio, it will probably gain popularity.

    Still Clinging to Your 45's? | 90 comments (83 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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