As years go by, technology increases. People use either an iPod or Smartphone for listening music but CDs can still be seen everywhere. In fact, a huge number of people are still purchasing CDs. Is it still important to record at CD quality?
Based on the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) record in 2014, the global sales of physical music in which most are CDs has reached more than 50 million units. Though the digital options are widely available for music procurement, tens of millions of CDs are still sold around the globe. The CD buyers? Well, the largest group is the music consumer or, let’s say, music lovers.
However, CDs weren’t the only thing in this world nowadays. Vinyl, high-resolution audio, and MP3s are widely spread for making quality recordings too. We can ask now, does CD recording still matters? Let’s see.
An audio that uses a higher sampling rate (than CDs and MP3s) when it comes to encoding and music playback is called High-Resolution Audio. What does higher sampling rate mean? Well, it means that when the original analog sound is converted into a digital form, more samples per second were taken.
Generally, High-Resolution Audio files are provided with a sampling frequency of 96 kHz/24 bit. It is significantly higher than the CDs which have 44.1 kHz/16 bit sampling frequency. When translated into the human’s listening experience, High-Resolution Audio listening lets you pick up on the subtle details as well as the nuances of the real recording studio.
With High-Resolution Audio, you can hear every note of the soulful, impressive range of a performance. This analog sound can be converted to digital formats such as CDs but the purity of the original signal can be compromised.
MP3s are being compressed by an algorithm. Algorithm throws away parts of the sound that could not actually be heard. With MP3s, you’ll find the impressionistic sound of an MP3 which is effective at providing emotional hit as the photographic realism of studio recording.
When listening to a very high-quality speaker, going from low-quality MP3 to high-quality one, is difficult to discern a sharp and noticeable difference as the difference is commonly subtle to ears. However, using a kind of compressed, middling MP3 that is commonly downloaded from the major platforms has a distinct quality difference.
Is the sound of vinyl records better? Well, it depends on which you’re comparing it. Bear in mind that the analog and digital recordings have differences. A vinyl is an analog recording while the CDs and DVDs are digital recordings. Of course, the original sound is an analog by definition.
On the other hand, a digital recording takes snapshots of the analog signal at a definite rate (for CDs: 44,100 times per second) and it measures each snapshot with a definite accuracy (for CDs: 16-bit). This means that base on the certain rates and measures; a digital recording is not capturing the sound wave fully.
When it comes to a vinyl record, it has a groove that mirrors the waveform of the original sound making all the information intact. Since the output of a record player is analog, the vinyl can be fed directly to the amp. With vinyl, the waveforms can be much more accurate and the sound can be heard with richness.
Vinyl also has a downside; any dust flecks or disc damages can be heard as noise or static on the recording. The noise may be heard over the music even during quiet spots of the song. This is opposite on digital recording as it doesn’t degrade over time and there will be no noise in areas that are silent.
CDs are known to produce both better-sounding audio and a more portable audio device and player. Though CDs drop its sales compared to the first time it was released, it is still a thing for most music enthusiasts since it is selling over a million copies per year. This is enough to believe that CDs are not about to die. Recording companies continue to make CDs because this is in demand.
CDs are far from dead and that’s something hard to believe. In fact, CDs make a lot of sense from musician’s perspective. CDs were also very cost effective. For growing bands and small music levels, they can be an affordable thing to purchase.
CDs may not be that good at replicating the original signal but recording industries continue to find ways to improve the quality of a digital recording.
Clearly, CDs still matter. Even just looking at its average copy sold per year, it is enough to believe that a CD is still a thing these days. People can seamlessly buy and play digital music or make vinyl record collections, but why do they still want to buy CDs?
People just like CDs, what is your problem with that?