Originally Posted by email@example.com
I had the good fortune to be able to run a direct comparison among the following media with my 28 y/o daughter and her fiance':
I used my main system with a Sony SACD/CD player, Placette line stage, custom ultra-linear tube amp and Harbeth 40 speakers for the test. Analog was a Linn with Itok Arm and Grado cartridge.
I happened to have a recording in CD, SACD and Vinyl of a Stones album and my daughter had the same on her iPod in MP-3 format (CD Red Book is now available on iTunes).
My daughter and fiance' are NOT hifi folks... just your average casual listeners.
So, we have
CD Red Book
Simply put, they were astounded in the difference in sound quality among the media!! And to their profound amazement, the differences were not subtle... their rankings:
Vinyl...... SACD.... CD.... MP-3 Enough said.
I said the same thing in my post on p.5 of this thread (though I didn't mention SACD's or MP-3's).
I've tried super-expensive CD players (McIntosh/Marantz/Mark Levinson/Meridian) and in my system, vinyl still trumps CD: Vinyl simply sounds more "real" than any CD I've listened to. And sounding more "real" to me is what this hobby is about.
I now use a Sony SACD player as a transport and run the two-channel digital output through an Adcom 700 DAC because I do prefer HDCD encoded CD's over any other digital format I've heard.
IMO, SACD was simply a crass marketing attempt by Sony to extend their royalty revenue from the sliver discs after their CD patent expired. But like the entire recording industry, they got blindsided by iTunes and downloads. Consider this: One day's revenue from the iTunes store equals the total annual sales of SACD for 2008. Consumers have voted for convenience over sound quality and I find that sad.
And there is much good classical music and opera music to be had on vinyl that will never be transferred to CD.
As for new music, well, IMO not much really good material has been produced since the late 1970's: Go into the music section of any Best Buy, Target, etc. and you'll always see a huge assortment of "commemorative" reissues of rock classics from the 1960's and 1970's, like the recent Woodstock reissue that Target had an exclusive on. The major labels have discovered they can make more $$$ by re-issuing previously recorded material (and calling it "undiscovered") from their blue-chip artists than by finding and promoting new talent.
I think the music industry killed themselves in many ways, some of which include:
1. Cutting back on their A&R departments to find new talent - The major labels got fat and happy from the earnings of their established artists and forget they had to keep replenishing their talent pools. Yes, there were feeble efforts with talentless artists and genres such as "grunge" and "punk rock" but they had no sticking power. And now there is hip-hop and rap, but this genre sells far fewer albums than C&W so it is a niche genre and not one that appeals to the masses.
2. Their unmitigated arrogance in trying to force consumers to buy albums when what they wanted was singles.
3. Their silly war on MP-3 and downloading - This was a major distraction that re-directed their management's focus from growing their business to a feeble effort to stop downloading. The only people who made money here were the lawyers who collected their fees from the major labels while the settlements the labels received from the cases they won came no where close to covering their legal expenses.
4. Producers insistence on mixing almost all new CD's with little dynamic range so they would sound "louder" when played on FM and cheap stereos.
5. FM broadcasters insistence on cranking their Orban's for maximum compression in an attempt to be the "loudest" station on the dial.
6. Failing to recognize that DVD's with as much a 4 or 5 hours of material are a much better entertainment value than a 74 minute CD - Particularly when both are available for the same price.
You want more proof? Well, look at the artists now that now bypass the traditional music industry distribution channels and sign exclusive distribution deals with WalMart, Target and Best Buy.
I think the graduate business schools in the future will use the actions of the music industry in the 1990's as a great case study of how to kill a business by alienating your best customers by suing the and by forgetting they were in the entertainment business, not necessarily the album business: They literally gave away their entertainment business to the movie companies with their DVD's and they gave away their music business to Steven Jobs because he "got it" that people wanted songs, not albums.
As always, YMMV, of course. But I feel no pity for the music industry. They did this to themselves.
© 2009 Timothy M. Britt (MusicIndustryMaven@gmail.com)