Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dinosaurs walk the earth!

While everyone has seemingly gone miniature and digital, there are still a lot of folks out there keepin' it real. Here, courtesy of the WSJ is one of them:

The article in the journal is unintentionally funny as it sets up a weird dichotomy between "$1 songs and $100 players" and "$20 CDs and $1,000 stereo systems".

People, if you are planning to spend $1000 on your home stereo, I'd suggest sticking to your iPod. Even going the used route, that is just not going to cut it. I built most of my stereo myself and even that won't get you there for $1000.

The article also implies that mp3 is the state of the art for portable digital recording which is far from the truth.


Robert S. Porter said...

If I'm honest, I think you've completely misrepresented that article.

The reference to $1000 players isn't arguing that $1000 dollars will get you a state of the art system, rather that people aren't buying the $100 players anymore. And that's true, I remember the prices people were paying back in the 90s. More to the point, the article emphasizes that one of the guy's "stereo system set him back several thousand dollars."

I would also disagree that the article implies that "mp3 is the state of the art for portable digital recording". Right at the beginning the article quotes someone saying "On an MP3, the sound is compressed", something I think you'd agree with. In fact it's undeniable.

The truth is that MP3 is just fine for almost very popular use. The sound quality difference between an MP3 and an uncompressed file is minimal, especially for the normal listener. There is really no reason to demand more. Yes, of course I could rip all of my CDs in FLAC, but that would be a damn waste of time and space. Not to mention that when compared you can hardly tell a difference. And don't even get me started on the overblown BS that is vinyl.

And yes of course you can trot out the argument that people just don't know what they're missing or are uninitiated in the world of hifi, but I would say that the enjoyment of music does not require an elaborate system and for almost everyone it would make no difference whatsoever. Sure if you want to spend your money on tube amplifiers and electrostatic hybrid speakers, be my guest, but the rest of aren't really missing anything.

Anonymous said...

There is good reason that the demand curve for stereotronics has a slope between 1 and 0... mp3 sounds like crap to me, but for most people it's fine. This makes sense because most people are listening to Lady Ga Ga which also sounds like crap to me.

Angus said...

Mr. Porter: tube amps and electrostatic speakers are fairly incompatible.

I do agree that MP3s are fine for enjoying music on the go. I have tons of them on my iPhone that I listen too a lot.

I am not sure how much better the CD they were ripped from would sound on a typical $1000 home stereo system.

However, on a good stereo system the sound difference between mp3 and a decently recorded (i.e. not pre-compressed in the studio) CD or LP is night and day.

I am able to enjoy both, but ceteris paribus, I much prefer the latter. I don't listen to my mp3 player at home.

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