With a renewed interest in music on vinyl records, and with consumers having nearly fully embraced the convenience of music downloads and streaming, we have in recent years heard claims that the death knell of the CD has been all but rung.
In regards to vinyl, we can find abundant testimony from those that would promote the notion its sound quality is superior, and that it reproduces a “warmer,” more authentic sound, while CDs compromise quality for the sake of portability and convenience. Just how accurate are these claims, and should they cause you to run out and trade in your CDs and CD player for old-school records and a turntable?
The fact of the matter is industry professionals, such as recording engineers, will readily state that vinyl has inherent deficiencies that digital recordings (CDs) do not, with problems in reproducing both low and high ends being the most significant.
This, in part, happens because the vinyl disc is a steadily collapsing medium – as the record plays and the needle gets closer to the label, “information” becomes more and more compromised and high frequencies get lost.
Another glaring issue with vinyl is distortion. Anyone who has played a record on a turntable is all too familiar with the clicks and pops that come with listening, and knows that these increase in number and audible volume the more the album is played.
While this may be the most obvious distortion heard, other forms have already been mentioned, such as the inability to accurately reproduce high end, with this particular failure of the medium being what many interpret as the “warmth” that vinyl delivers.
The comparison between vinyl and CD can go into minute detail, but let’s move on to music downloads vs. CD. Downloads come in more than one format, the most common being the MP3, which is classified as a “lossy” audio data compression, with compression allowing for more data (or music) storage.
One byproduct of this compression is reduced audio fidelity, and while this format might deliver “good enough” audio, the “lossy” term alone should serve as a warning to those looking for the high fidelity experience.
While today’s CDs may provide a far more accurate reproduction of what is heard in the studio and in the concert hall than do vinyl records or MP3s, there is another medium that provides an even more accurate representation of what is being reproduced: high definition or high resolution music.
Also downloadable, music files in this format cannot be stored on devices like smartphones or tablets and must be stored on external hard drives, computers or music servers.
This is due to files being extremely large because of the amount of data required to reproduce music at this standard.
Whether you’re looking for convenience or the ultimate listening experience, the only way to make the best choice is to get your ears involved and visit your local audio showroom to hear demos and to pick the brains of experts in the field.
Carlos Ramos is the sales and marketing manager with Custom Audio Video in Bluffton.