The Art & Science of Audio & Video

Convenience vs. Quality (finally getting the attention it deserves)

I have long be an advocate that MP3’s and all other heavily compressed audio formats have been the downfall of quality audio. I have been pleasantly surprised to see that some of the mainstream magazines both published and online have joined the crusade and are speaking out on their concerns as well. I recall back when we chose our CD players depending on whether or not it had Burr Brown DAC’s and who made the transport, is it direct drive or belt drive. Why did it matter, well because we were looking for the best possible audio quality for our dollar. Any more, decisions are made on whether or not you can change the background image or whether t will hold 9,000 or 30,000 songs. Now days arguing with someone in their twenties that a $5000 Wadia CD player will bring life to their recordings that they’ve never heard before with their $39.95 player they picked up at Wally-World is about as futile as arguing about the color of the sky.

I once had a band-mate that swore on his life there was no way you could possibly identify the difference between a CD and a compressed audio file format. This seemed absurd to me until I found out that his only reference was his laptop speakers or if lucky some $20 PC speakers. An entire generation has been brought up to believe that these dreadful formats sound good because it’s all they’ve ever known.

I fully admit that it’s a generational phenomenon and one that even I experienced. I thought my parents were crazy for keeping vinyl until I actually sat down and listen to a couple of records on a nice turntable. The dynamics, warmth and full bodied rich sound was unlike anything I had ever heard.

So where will this lead? Will the major labels stop fronting artists with huge recording budgets because they know it’s all being done in vain? Why bother with thousands if not millions of boutique and state of the art recording equipment and facilities if it’s going to be regurgitated as an overly compressed and converted to a squashed file through laptop speakers or a set of $9.99 earphones?

by Jason Levert


March 23, 2008 - Posted by | A/V News, Class: E=MC2(+/-3db) | , , , , ,

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