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Virgin stores closing, download overtakes CD sales, what of full CD quality music?


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#1 of 4 ONLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted February 26 2009 - 07:01 AM

I don't normally post in this section of the HTF. So forgive me if this topic's been discussed. And I suspect it has been.

I saw on the news that the San Francisco and New York Virgin stores are closing. Reasons cited was the increase in downloads from iTunes and Amazon. The sales figures have overtaken the sales of CD's. Record stores are closing up, I miss Tower Records!

An analysts interviewed for the news story, which was on the local San Francisco ABC affiliate station I view, felt the music industry has been on the decline for a long, long time and this is no surprise. I can't recall exactly what he said, but it was that music sales are like the razors and razor blades. The real money is the products related to the music and not the CD or music itself.

What got me to post about it was a concern that I've seen for many years. The younger kids are happy and love the convenience of iTunes. They buy the music, or single song and download from the convenience of their home. And they interviewed a very young girl in front of the store who loves it. I think that's cool too. I have 4 iPods and rip CD's at no less then 192 and will raise that shortly to a higher rate.

But I am thinking that if downloads are the future, this whole generation won't care or know what full resolution music sounds like. I'd been tinkering with my audio system recently and some friends came over to compare the sound of SACD, very well mastered Steve Hoffmann CD's, and lossless music files from an iPod to my pre-amp and a laptop to my pre-amp. We were trying to see if Lossless was comparable to CD's.

I prefered the CD's mostly, but the lossless wasn't bad. So the question is, if downloads become the future, what chance do we have of getting high resolution music files from iTunes of other vendors? Or full files at CD quality. Maybe it's already possible today. I don't look for these things myself.

And to add to that, the unfortunate tendency for modern studio engineers to bump the dials when mastering music today. This leaves no dynamic range. What's so good about the Steve Hoffmann CD's I recently discovered was how much better they sounded. They are not shrill or boomy. They are tight and smooth and balanced.

I'm by no means a huge CD collector of music, but the ones I do have, I like to enjoy in it's best form as possible! And I've been considering the purchase of an SACD player, but those discs seem very limited to what artists are on them.

For the time being, I suppose Amazon and some B&M stores will continue to sell CDs for a while.

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   AnthonyC

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Posted February 26 2009 - 11:29 AM

I'm not an audiophile by any means--I think I hear a difference in stuff downloaded from iTunes and stuff from a CD but I don't know if I'm just convincing myself of it or if I actually do hear it. That said, I am a collector, and as long as there are people like me who want a tangible product, CDs will still be alive. Unfortunately we're a dying breed. I'm all about conserving shelf space, but that goes for my hard drive too.

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted February 26 2009 - 12:45 PM

I insist on CDs even if I'm going to rip them straight to my HD. It's a sickness. Anyway, even though I rip at the highest quality in most cases, I find that mp3 just can't handle certain things. My western songs from the '30s and '40s sound just terrible when I rip them. They sound just fine from the original CDs. Our old friend Randy Salas actually had a syndicated column about this today (some genres not lending themselves to ripping), but he had other points to make and didn't really help me solve the problem. Bottom line: I'm all over physical media until they take it away from me.

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Mark_TS

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Posted February 26 2009 - 06:52 PM

I suspect that brand new lossless masters are made for iTunes and the like-the ones I have sound as good as CDs.
It really is too bad that the CD Red book consortium had to settle for 44khz sampling-when 48-and higher are available. DVDs are 48khz. (why not 64?)

I DL'd a concert from the Official Tori Amos site which was in the lossless FLACC format which I had never heard of, and of course since it was authorized-they put care into it -so it sounded fantastic-just like if it were a CD from her ex-record company, Epic.

She was lured over to UMG-Universal with hints of some kind of brand new format/presentation style, which I guess will be out by June

what amazes me is the gigantic comeback of LPs-now on '180 gram vinyl'-of course if they just rip them out like they used to, without care-it wont matter if they use 180 pounds of vinyl-crap is crap-which is why I used to buy my LPs from the UK or Germany when I could-even for domestic stuff



You are going to see a collapse in CRE soon (Commercial Real Estate) because of the huge amount of speculative over-building- from 2005 until now- and the negative profit margins for maintaining large malls and buildings- like Virgin-vacating -and as these malls and buildings empty-leaving even more excess inventory- a downward spiral of worth.
That 4 floor monster Virgin on Market street must have cost $200 per square foot-with rising fuel costs and other prices + competition from DLs-could not sustain itself

There is even a website devoted to this- pictures of malls that are like 75% or more empty -www.deadmalls.com i believe

But yes I too miss going to Tower to browse-their prices were high-but they had people in there who REALLY knew music -thus the buyers would order arcane/rare stuff and imports you would never see anywhere else-so it was always an adventure going in there on Tuesdays... to spend an hour browsing
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