I’m an 80’s/90’s kid. I’ve bought music in various formats over the years including 8-track, vinyl, cassette, CD, and digital. While there are some pro arguments for digital music, including its ease of portability, this list explores the advantages of CDs versus digital files.
1. CDs sound way better than a digital file (usually). So many people are obsessed with these super-compressed file formats, but sometimes music just needs to breathe. Don’t believe me? Find a quiet place, grab a pair of really good headphones and listen to a downloaded version of a song then listen to the CD version. I’m talking over the ear studio-style headphones here, not those in-ear buds. Any person who considers themselves an audiophile should be able to tell the difference immediately. Sure, not every release by every band is available on CD but if you have the option then a CD should be a no brainer.
2. Digital files have no resale value in the market place. Even when you “buy songs” on iTunes, you don’t own the files but are merely just paying to license them for personal use. CDs can still be sold to a third party, legally. If you are caught selling digital music files, even if they are ones that you ripped directly from a CD you purchased, you are subjecting yourself to legal action as a “copyright infringer” or “pirate”, at least that’s how it is here in good ole ‘Murica. You can’t sell a digital music collection on eBay, but you CAN sell your CD collection (if you wanted to). Granted, the average market price for used CDs has gone down a bit since the digital revolution, but they’re still worth more than MP3s.
3. It’s technically two-for-one when you get a CD. The reason for this is because you already get a digital copy of the album when you purchase it. Not only can you “rip” it to your computer as digital files, but a lot of music retailers such as Amazon and Bandcamp are now including a free digital version of the album when you purchase a CD.
4. There is a sense of satisfaction with a large CD collection. One thing I definitely miss having is a huge CD collection. Regretfully, it was sold off in chunks over the years for reasons I’d rather not get into. However, there was a sense of pride with my CD collection, a vast library of multi-genre audible escape forged by nobody but myself. I was proud to show it off to friends and acquaintances. You don’t really get that with a hard drive full of music. Saying “I have a collection of over 1000 CDs” means something….it’s an accomplishment. But saying “I have over 20,000 songs in my iTunes” is just lacking in the wow department. These days, you don’t even know who purchased their music and who pirated it. So, to applaud someone with a large digital music library just seems unnatural to me.
5. Liner notes, pictures, and lyrics….oh my! This is cool if you really like the band and want to know who wrote each song and see exclusive photos and artwork. Sometimes you get the lyrics too; which is great for fans of Metal bands whose vocal deliveries may not be that comprehensible, as awesome as those bands may be it’s nice to actually know what they’re saying. Sure, you can probably just look up the lyrics online and sometimes you get additional content with an album download that has all the stuff in the CD booklet, but it’s just not the same. It’s so much easier to read a CD booklet on the shitter than it is to try and poop with a computer on your lap. I guess a tablet on the toilet wouldn’t be too bad, but not everyone has those. There is always the phone, but you put that up to your ear and near your mouth….do you really want to be touching that while you’re pooping? I sure don’t.
6. You can hold it! On the surface this may not seem like a big deal, but for some reason there is a greater sense of satisfaction when you can hold a CD and its packaging in your hands after you buy it. At least for me, there isn’t really anything you can see for your money after downloading an album other than the tracks being listed in your media library. You can’t hold a bunch of digital coding in your hands. Well I guess you technically are doing that with an iPod, but one iPod isn’t as impressive as 500 CDs when it comes to having a “collection.”
BONUS REASON: If you have access to members of the bands you can have them sign your CD booklet or tray insert. You can’t really do that with an iPod or MP3 player.
Want even better high definition sound? You might want to give vinyl a try. Read our post about vinyl here.