Thursday, May 02, 2013

Throw away your CDs, but keep your tapes

I helped a friend move house the other day. One of the last boxes we heaved into the back of a Zipvan (great service, very Grand Theft Auto) was a heavy lot and I asked him what was in it: “Oh just CDs,” he replied. I let go there and then, letting the whole box come crashing down:

“What the hell did you do that for?” he shouted.

“CDs?! Are you mad?” I yelled back.

Ok this bit didn’t happen, but it did in my mind, for who in their right mind keeps CDs nowadays?

With music now all digital, why would you keep plastic cases and linear notes you’ll never, ever read, when you have all your music stored in invisible digital files on your iPod, iPhone, laptop and accessible on services like Spotify? Stick it all on an external hard drive and you’re sorted.

If you must keep the discs, buy a single travel case for keeping the discs as back up, just in case.

My friend disagreed, but it got me thinking: why do people care for CDs? They have none of the aesthetic appeal of vinyl, or that lovely timbre and hiss, and none of the nostalgic appeal either. To my mind, the more beguiling, fading format is tapes.

At home we still have a car that only takes tapes and I love driving around with old random mixes (sorry record industry) that have no way of being controlled beyond a blind fast-forward/reward. Of course, I enjoy this partly because it’s a novelty and I much prefer the digital control in the modern world, but there’s much more fun to be had with tapes than CDs.

As for vinyl, lovely as they are, why anyone would buy them now is beyond me. Inheriting a collection from parents, for example, is one thing, but to actively seek out old albums in massive formats that will often scratch and be unplayable and require heavy, expensive kit to play them, makes no sense to me.

And that’s the thing about music – it should be based on cold, hard, rigid logic.

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