Monday, January 28, 2008

High End mp3 Speakers and Vinyl Revival

I was amused to see a review today of expensive ($400-$700) mp3 speakers, in light of recent discussions of just how bad music sounds when compressed to mp3 format. Sure, mp3 music may sound better on awesome speakers than through iPod headphones or computer speakers, but it's still inferior quality music compared with older formats.

A December 2007 piece in Rolling Stone "The Death of High Fidelity" provides a great overview of just why it is that today's CDs and mp3s don't sound as great as other formats (particularly vinyl). Records are being recorded louder and with limited range, meaning today's listeners aren't getting the same nuances and details that folks heard on high-fidelity vinyl.

So, it's really no surprise that there's been a flurry of trend pieces including "Vinyl Gets its Groove Back" in Time this month and "Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD's Coffin" in Wired in October 2007 about the resurgence and trendiness of vinyl records as an alternative to compressed mp3 recordings and CDs. Another article this month "Groove Yard: Rockridge shop sustains LP life even after MP3 success" profiles a Bay Area record store that still remains dedicated to vinyl.

If you're an independent musician, college radio DJ, or club DJ you know that vinyl has never gone away and that predictions about its comeback have come and gone. It's notable that a decade ago a New York Times piece "Fans Flock to Vinyl in the Era of CD's" also covered vinyl as an emerging trend. Many college radio stations never stopped playing vinyl, although recent releases are more typically found on independent record labels. This may be changing as even Amazon recently opened an online vinyl store where one can buy releases from the likes of Pink Floyd, Mary J. Blige and The Shins.

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