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Is the Sound Quality of CDs and MP3s Hindering Sales?

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  • Is the Sound Quality of CDs and MP3s Hindering Sales?

    There are a lot of reasons why CDs aren't selling like they once did: Digital downloads, piracy, competing forms of entertainment, etc. But I wonder if any of you think that the sound quality itself is affecting sales. MP3s seem to be a major form of distribution, and while they sound "okay," they're not as much fun to listen to as a well-mastered CD (assuming you can find such a thing these days, of course). As for CDs, well, the overcompression thing has gotten out of hand.

    Do you think people care? Do they consciously say "This doesn't sound very good" and move on? Or do you think it's more of a subconscious thing? Or do you think most listeners aren't sophisticated enough to tell the difference anyway? Just wondering...
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  • #2
    do you think most listeners aren't sophisticated enough to tell the difference anyway?


    This gets my vote.
    Even if they can tell the difference, they won't care.

    The price of a CD is no match for free pirated music, even if the CD is relatively affordable.
    www.guslozada.com

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    • #3
      Most people care more about convenience (and price) rather than quality. CD quality was already overkill for most people, as it turns out.

      Terry D.
      Telling Stories releases 2nd CD, see our WEBSITE! Please check out my GROUPIE STORY and Tales from the Road.

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      • #4
        I disagree, I think a well made MP3 can sound fine. After all plenty of people got turned on to music via AM radio or cassette, too.

        I do think sound quality is making sales suffer, but I think that what happens further up the chain matters a lot more than the end distribution medium. In other words if there is a band playing through crappy gear and it's recorded and/or mixed crappily and compressed to death in mastering, it's going to suck. In fact if any one of those things happen, the whole thing is going to suck. And usually these days at LEAST one of those things is happening. Something could even make it all the way to mastering without sucking (which is difficult but still happens) and then it gets squashed and that's that - it sucks. And it's all the more heartbreaking the further down the chain it got before it sucked.

        I don't think listeners consciously know the difference, but I do think the overcompression causes ear fatigue and "mental fatigue" and they just want to turn it off, and/or not want to listen again enough to make them want to buy it.
        What The...?
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        • #5
          I think that the sound of CDs, as they are mastered 'for radio' today, is one of the causes of slackening CD sales.

          For me: It's the one major reason I don't buy anything till I've heard it on a good system.
          I find the over sibilant, over compressed, overbearing cymbal crashes, and overhyped highs annoying and distracting.
          I make it a practice to leave when it comes from a live act, and carefully avoid adding such noise to my music collection.

          It's simple: they can crank up the treble till it hurts, so they do.

          Its verifiable: hook any RTA to a system, play a song you love from vinyl, then play a song you love from CD. Note the difference in levels between 4K - 20K.

          The last new CD I bought was from The Mates, our own Macle... Funny how it's possible to make one that sounds so good... I wonder why no one from the labels bothers to try that.

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          • #6
            Craig,

            I have come to the conclusion that the state of sales (the decline) has nothing to do with sound quality, but music quality. There just isn't all that much good music out there - compared to a few years ago.

            It is (hopefully) just a temporary lull and within a few years, there with be a plethora of music out there in whatever format is the hot thing at that time.

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            • #7
              i think crappy music being produced by the major labels are making sales suffer.

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              • #8
                The reason that the sales of CD's are declining is, that many record companies do not produce products for the consumer and age group who actually have the money to buy it.

                .

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                • #9
                  II find the over sibilant, over compressed, overbearing cymbal crashes, and overhyped highs annoying and distracting.



                  I think that trend is changing at last.

                  recent productions from Mitchell Froom (Missy Higgins, Crowded House) for example are sounding really nice, smooth high end, use of dynamics etc.
                  I'm noticing many tracks these days sounding much better and finally bottom end is back after years of rolloff to be louder.
                  Recording Studio Design Forum
                  Design Site

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                  • #10
                    I think that trend is changing at last.

                    recent productions from Mitchell Froom (Missy Higgins, Crowded House) for example are sounding really nice, smooth high end, use of dynamics etc.
                    I'm noticing many tracks these days sounding much better and finally bottom end is back after years of rolloff to be louder.


                    I can only hope this is true...

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                    • #11
                      check Missy Higgins out here

                      http://www.myspace.com/missyhiggins

                      crowded house

                      http://www.myspace.com/crowdedhouse
                      Recording Studio Design Forum
                      Design Site

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                      • #12
                        Very nice! Thanks for the link!

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                        • #13
                          The "there's not good music" argument always comes up, but it's just not the case. For one, there is good music, it's probably just not what you consider good music because it's mostly for the teen generation. Some of us continue to enjoy what's out there, but most folks, as they get older, will inevitably say the same thing (and the generation that came before them said the same thing about their's and so forth.) People don't still billions of tracks of stuff that they think sucks. They steal it becasue they like it. And those few remaining folks that actually buy their music do it for the same reason. There's plenty out there, if you care to find it.
                          Dean Roddey
                          Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems, LTD

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                          • #14
                            Dean,

                            You are right, there is plenty of great music out there. One needs to find it by themselves, though, as the commercial label-based radio-driven distribution model is in a state of latent collapse.

                            It takes some digging, since there are around 500 new albums coming out every day....

                            O brave new world, where such music lives!

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                            • #15
                              The "there's not good music" argument always comes up, but it's just not the case. For one, there is good music, it's probably just not what you consider good music because it's mostly for the teen generation. Some of us continue to enjoy what's out there, but most folks, as they get older, will inevitably say the same thing (and the generation that came before them said the same thing about their's and so forth.) People don't still billions of tracks of stuff that they think sucks. They steal it becasue they like it. And those few remaining folks that actually buy their music do it for the same reason. There's plenty out there, if you care to find it.


                              except most of what i buy probably isnt reported to soundscan [or whoever is keeping track these days].... the comment is really directed towards what the majors are pushing now. it for the most part is **************** music and kids these days are smart enough to just steal it.

                              as demetri martin told jon stewart "you buy music? you ARE old"

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