In praise of the CD format by Darren Johnson


In praise of the CD: Seven reasons why CDs are my favourite music format ever. Not everyone will agree with this but here goes…

It was only a few years ago that people were finding it hilarious that I was clinging obstinately to the CD rather than embracing digital formats. Now, with the renaissance of vinyl, some still regard me as a Luddite dinosaur for not embracing the switch back to the 12 inch. Here are seven reasons why the CD is king for me:

1. I love physical product – I can’t excited at the thought of sifting through computer files for my listening pleasures. While the bibliophile gets immense satisfaction from browsing through a proper library of real books, I get the same pleasure from my physical collection of albums. I like the artwork, the lyric sheets, the song-writing credits, the information on who is playing what, on when it was recorded, who produced it and so on.

2. But there’s only finite space – I started buying LPs as a teenager in the early 80s but had switched over to buying CDs by the early 90s. However, even in that decade I’d amassed enough vinyl to still fill up three large cupboards today. If I’d carried on buying vinyl at the same rate I’ve purchased CDs over the past 25 years I’d have no room to eat, sit or sleep. For me the CD provides the perfect balance between the romance of a vinyl library and the efficiency of a digital library.

3. Sound quality is important to me – If you played me a brand new vinyl album and a CD, personally I’d struggle to tell the difference. But brand new vinyl albums don’t stay brand new for very long and I prefer listening to stuff without crackles, scratches and jumps. OK CDs can degrade you tell me but I’ve never had more than a tiny handful of CDs that have become unplayable and (with a quick spin on my £15 CD cleaning/repair kit) all but one of those was as good as new afterwards.

4. Jumping up and down every twenty minutes is a pain in the arse – Getting up to put a fresh CD on is fine. But it’s only when I’m playing some of my old vinyl that I’m reminded how ridiculously short the LP format was. When you’re reading or working or just chatting to your partner, having to get up to switch sides every twenty minutes or so is just a pain. I’m sorry.

5. I like the integrity of the original album – My retro tastes mean I listen to an awful lot of reissues but, unlike many digital fans, I love listening to albums in full in the track order they were released in when they were originally put out on vinyl – and this accounts for the vast majority of my listening.

6. Though I like all the extras too – While I like listening to albums in the way they were originally conceived, I also love all the extras the additional length of the CD format allows: the B sides, the acoustic versions, the missing songs restored to live albums etc.

7. But most of all – I’m 50 now. And after experimenting with cassette tapes and records in my early years as a music obsessive, I’ve simply lavished far too much time, money, attention and love on my CD collection to ever contemplate changing formats again now. Good job it’s the perfect format for me then…

For more discussions...

Tim Moose Bruce…  Im the same. Been getting a few cds of albums i already have on vinyl. I play them in the work van.

Alan Esdaile… You youngsters! Don’t really agree Darren. The clicks as the needle touches the vinyl and between tracks is something special and magical. Their is a market for the CD which work fine to a point (especially in the car) and sometimes interesting extra tracks that have been added. Mind you having said that their is a reason a lot of the additional tracks were left on the studio floor in the first place. Also some cd’s sound too clean compared to the original LP and lose something. Used to read everything on the LP sleeve, study the artwork, know the names, producers etc However now when I have a new CD the writing is small and sometimes difficult to read and when I’m playing I don’t even know the names of the songs and just flick through to the tracks you like. Mind you I prefer CD’s to cassettes which were a nightmare.

Darren Johnson… I’m definitely the CD generation. Can’t be bothered with vinyl and can’t be bothered with downloads! I do think CD artwork has improved vastly on those where they have stopped doing jewel cases and do the nice cardboard covers with a big fat information booklet inside.

Will Cornell… I agree wholeheartedly and am annoyed now because I am trying to get a 10 yr old unit fixed (can’t find parts) and if I have to buy a new one, NO brick and mortar retailer seems to be selling them. Guy at Best Buy said to wait 5 years…everyone will get sick of LPs again and the CD will come back.

Darren Johnson… I got my last one from Richer Sounds when I was still in London. Nearest to here is Tunbridge Wells though.

Will Cornell… So it’s the same all over the Western World I guess–Best Buy and Frys are the only stores left for electronics in Dallas TX and most of their stock is TV , computer, video game junk.. I’ll bet I can go into an electronics store in Hong Kong or Singapore and find several models to choose from at a great price. Tunbridge Wells…maybe that’s why Claude Rains’ character in Lawrence of Arabia would rather be there. You could find stuff in stores.

Darren Johnson… I went to the Record Fair at Ore on Sunday. The vinyl was going at huge prices and attracting the crowds.Hardly anyone was looking at the CDs and I picked up a load for next to nothing.

Will Cornell… I feel much better buying a used CD than a used LP. And there are reissue labels like your JSP and Proper based over there in the UK that have outstanding values on box sets. I have two Carter Family boxes that amount to 10 CDs, 25 cuts per disc….comes out to about 20 cents per song, beating downloads by a mile.

Tim Moose Bruce… Got the best of both worlds. Syill got my vinyl collection. Bought a 5 cd box set of the first 5 Rick Wakeman’s albums for a tenner in Asda a few weeks ago.

Teresa Bassett… I’m still a CD girl. Have several L P’s (that I could not throw away ) and no record player. Also have a few cassette tapes. For anyone under 30 this is what they look like..


Will Cornell… If you want to make a sampler of your own, I think the cassette was the best method yet. You could tell when it was going to run out, unlike a CD where it’s guesswork. And if you screwed up one song, you could just rewind and rerecord, unlike CDRs where you have to start all over. Best argument yet for the C-90: All three of the greatest Byrds albums ever, in entirety, could fit on a Cassette: Mr Tambourine Man, Younger Than Yesterday, and Notorious Byrd Bros.


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