Vinyl On Pace to Outsell CDs: Here’s What That Means

Christopher Bradley

Christopher Bradley

Christopher is a lawyer from NEPA, aka, Pennsultucky, He is an avid baseball fan, audiophile, and dog owner. He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and daughter, reading, listening to music, watching baseball (except the Yankees) and writing.

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83 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “if you understand economics the way our diaper-filling president does,”

    why

    did this need to be hereReport

  2. Christopher Bradley Christopher Bradley
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    says:

    If y’all can’t look past an off-the-cuff remark like that then: 1. thoughts & prayers 2. you’ve made my point by amplifying and then complaining about the singular comment. 3. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯Report

  3. Avatar Fish
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    says:

    RIP iTunes, indeed. What a craptastic piece of software.

    I do use streaming services, but I use it more like a radio (SiriusXM, Amazon) than anything else. I maintain my own mp3 library (ripped at the highest bitrate available) so as long as my iPod has a charge, I have music without having to depend on an internet connection. I try to avoid buying physical copies whenever I can–those things take up too much space!Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Fish
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      says:

      The mainstream streaming services suck for classical music. I have heard that there are some specialized ones, but I simply stream classical music radio stations. Different stations have subtly different emphases, so rotating through a collection results in a wide variety. There also is a stream from American Public Media (one of the non-NPR public radio outfits) that replicates a good classical station.

      My only complaint is that if I wake up one morning with a hankering for obscure Baroque music by Bohemian composers, none of these options work. You can sort of get this from YouTube, but that has its own set of issues, including that if you start with any Baroque composer and let it drift on its own, you will eventually, and not too distant an eventuality at that, end up with an endless loop of either Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Pachelbel’s Canon.Report

      • I use The Classical Station’s stream frequently, they do a decent job mixing it up, and the sacred music on Sunday’s is a welcomed addition with the choral and such. Classical on streaming depends, Pandora’s managed to keep mine decently aligned, but I’ve found whatever algorithm they use has a hard time lumping older (Mozart, Bach) with the newer stuff I also want (Copeland and such) and that is a problem.Report

        • I struggled with Pandora trying to make it give me coherent streams, but never managed it. Partly it is the problem that they thought that one movement of a piece is a “song,” having no particular connection with the other movements of the same piece. This is a defining characteristic of a bad classical feed. But mostly the problem was that they had their idiotic algorithm of musical elements that are supposed to figure out what I want to listen to, when if instead they had decently designed metadata, much of it the information on the back of a traditional CD, then they could let me simply tell them what I want to listen to. “Italian Baroque liturgical music” is a coherent body that I might want to listen to that day. Whatever musical elements they think are found there, and also elsewhere so they will give me that other stuff too? Not so much.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Richard Hershberger
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            Oh yes, Pandora is a train-wreck for classical music.

            I have a Baroque morning music feed that I’ve been working on for about 3-yrs… still plays Debussy, Brahms, various themes from the Lord of the Rings and other 20th century show tunes that are decidedly Romantic.

            With aggressive up/down voting it’s now about 70% Baroque, but its as if a blind drunk toddler is picking tunes out of a basket marked “old music”

            The problem isn’t new, its all about the metadata and the absence of a proper standard. It can’t tell if Brahms is the artist, composer or conductor… same with, say, Karajan… so if Karajan conducts Brahms and then does Bach and you like the Bach, it thinks you’ll probably like the Karajan Strauss Vienna Waltz too (which I do, but…)

            Basically anything more complex than 2 levels of hierarchy is beyond all music services: Artist, Song Title. That’s it. The metadata in the industry is shite.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Marchmaine
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              says:

              And if you like that Karajan, surely you’ll like …

              Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Marchmaine
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              says:

              My wife, who is not a classical music program, was early in our marriage mystified by the information the announcer would give on my favored radio station: the piece itself, the composer, ensemble, conductor, and maybe soloist. Occasionally also the record label. This just seemed pointless and excessive to her.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Richard Hershberger
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                says:

                Oh yeah… let’s not even talk about different ensembles.

                The optimistic side of me thinks that in the rush to digitize music for services all the could afford were interns keying in garbage. As things mature and, dare I say it, ML gets better, they will be able to create some proper hierarchies and get the metdata sorted. Then I’ll be able to sort by country, time period, ensemble and all good things.

                Heck, a proper date would be incredibly useful even for pop songs… its funny how every written before, say, 2010, has a Spotify publish date of 2012.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                I am reminded of Google Books. Google was so sure that it had unlocked the universal secret to metadata that there was no need to waste time with that useless stuff librarians had put in the card catalog. The results were sadly predictable to anyone not a True Believer.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                Might be the “publication” date for when the Spotify version was licensed and created. That’s separate from the (possibly much older) copyright date on the underlying material.Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Marchmaine
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              says:

              My wife, who is not a classical music person, was early in our marriage mystified by the information the announcer would give on my favored radio station: the piece itself, the composer, ensemble, conductor, and maybe soloist. Occasionally also the record label. This just seemed pointless and excessive to her.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    …the… fidelity of LPs is unmatched.

    Nonsense. A recording technology that starts by running the signal through a nonlinear frequency response filter (RIAA equalization) to compensate for the limitations of the medium, and then requires the signal be run through another nonlinear filter during playback to correct the intentional distortion, unmatched? Perhaps compared to other analog media, which have to resort to similar tricks, eg, the various equalization filters for magnetic tapes. Not compared to good quality uncompressed digital.

    TTBOMK, all of the subjective preferences for analog media have been tracked down to preferences for specific distortions of the signal, not superior accuracy.Report

    • I’m sorry that your very relevant comment got pushed to the bottom of pile of crap above, but I kind of allude to how some equipment has a bearing on the sound quality and fidelity too. We could also get into original pressings v repressings, etc. I’m not subscriber to the more quality digital files, FLAC, etc. They take up too much HD space. If you were to take the pepsi challenge and hear the same song through my mid-level hifi system compared to just my basic computer speakers, I would have a hard time believing you don’t hear the difference.Report

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Christopher Bradley
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        says:

        You should absolutely check FLAC out over mp3. HD space is so cheap these days. It’s like comparing a CD to a wax cylinder.Report

      • That’s hardly a fair comparison, is it? Better would be a standalone USB DAC with a price tag similar to what you paid for your turntable and cartridge, and running the signal through the same power electronics and speakers.

        Since we’re talking about dedicated music hardware… the sweet spot on price per GB for hard disks is about 6TB these days, $150 for a 6TB disk. That will hold about 7,500 uncompressed CDs. Maybe 12,500 if you use FLAC. Some ridiculous number if you use Opus for compression, but I wouldn’t store my archival copy in a lossy format if I could avoid it. You’d want a separate backup disk, of course: screw up an LP or CD and it’s one album; screw up the hard disk and you could lose everything. A ten-inch touchscreen, a Raspberry Pi, the 6TB disk, a bit of software, and 12,500 CDs plus search, loop, randomizer, individual track picker, and whatever other software you want all fit in a package the size of a trade paperback*. Within a couple of years the sweet spot will be 8TB; call it 17,000 FLAC-compressed CDs then.

        * You could piggyback a DAC on the Pi and the whole shebang could be picked up and taken anywhere there’s an amplifier with line-level inputs. I’m not a fan of just slapping analog and digital electronics together, there’s too many tricky ways to compromise the analog. You want someone who really knows what they’re doing to design the power arrangements, shielding, etc, etc.Report

  5. Avatar J_A
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    says:

    At the risk of derailing the discussion…

    Last Christmas, the 22 y.o. son of friends I was staying with decided that a turntable would be “the” gift for his girlfriend.

    His father and I watched him assemble the thing (it came out in pieces, apparently you can’t ship an assembled turntable via Amazon and have it survive the trip), and then the dad grudgingly agreed to find out some old L.Ps from the attic.

    Hilarity ensued when we all realized the son, born in the late 90s, hadn’t actually touched an L.P. In his life, much less played one. It took a couple of hours to walk him on how to handle the LP (from the edge), how to raise and drop the needle (with the little lever, and not your hand), that the dark bands in the vinyl separate the different songs, that no, you can’t (*) seek a particular track with a fast forward button, that unless you are a trained DJ you don’t touch the LP when it’s turning, that the lyrics are printed in the box.

    Equally funny was watching the boy repeat the lesson to his girlfriend on Christmas Day (with his dad correcting him when he had something wrong.

    And for us it was a bit shocking that something that was as common air when we were growing up had completely disappeared to the point our adult children had never been exposed to it.

    (*) yes, I know certain fancy 80s turntables had detectors that could recognize the track dividers (most of the time). I had one of those. The guy in the history’s turntable didn’t have that feature.Report

    • Christopher Bradley Christopher Bradley in reply to J_A
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      says:

      The effort is what counts in my eyes, even if the person is clueless at the outset. That’s really how any hobby works, some may not like or take time to learn the proper ins and outs, but at least an effort was made. Great anecdote.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to J_A
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      says:

      I’m the guy who as recently as 3 years ago had a collection of 8-Track tapes and a player in the garage.

      What’s weird, is that the music- Blondie, Ramones, Sex Pistols- was current while the technology was ancient.Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        A friend of mine collects and restores old electronics (1940s to early 60s).

        And he has boatloads of 8 tracks and 45s to play in his toys.

        He actually hooks his Alexa to the Aux input of these players. The audio quality is extraordinaryReport

        • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to J_A
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          says:

          But the clicks in the middle of tracks! Ugh.

          I think the audio quality speaks to the modern recording preference for loudness over fidelity.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Slade the Leveller
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            says:

            For you youngsters, 8-Tracks actually had 4 sections separated by a thunking noise the machine made when it manually slid the tape head from one to the other.

            And the section breaks quite often fell in the middle of a song so like if you were headbanging to Bohemian Rhapsody you might have to freeze frame for a half second then resume screaming “gallileo”.

            There’s…often a very good reason some technology is discarded.Report

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