CDs vs. Vinyl: The Future of Music

Velvety, organically warm, and smooth crackles of vinyl bleed through the air, appealing to a new audience in recent years. Vinyl has gradually worked its way back into media and pop culture circulation, begging the question: what’s next? 

With the rise of vinyl, it’s hard not to wonder if CDs will follow, as many of vinyl’s appeals may also be applied to CDs. The digital qualities of CDs are comparable to analog (vinyl) in the way their art is tangible, CDs hold an experience. Simply putting a playlist on shuffle doesn’t have the same effect as softly placing the stylus on the record and listening to its smooth cracks and pops, or putting in a CD and sitting quietly as you hear the disc spur to life. While some might say CDs don’t have the same effect as vinyl since CD quality and streaming quality can be manipulated to sound the same, listening to music on a CD player today offers a certain charm. The experience of physically traveling to a CD store to buy an album or compilation, secondhand or new, offers activity and a feeling that streaming simply just doesn’t have.

Music listening can be defined as ever-changing, new ways to listen occurring and becoming popular frequently. CDs were released in 1979 to produce high fidelity clean, pristine sound that vinyl lacked, and then, in the early 2000s, the iPod was made. Sold to have the same quality as CDs but simultaneously having the ability to hold up to 240 songs, making the CD obsolete almost completely. Around 2010 streaming apps such as Pandora and Spotify became mainstream. In years since many have realized that they miss the sound of vinyl and its many elements of beauty, such as the rich, warm sound and the collector value, qualities that CDs, too, have.

Additionally, the juxtaposition of analog and digital is presented in the audible similarities and differences. Vinyl exudes a soft and smooth crunch and crackle, while CDs ooze an eerily beautiful feeling rather than sound, coursed with a gentle and comforting static. To analyze the future of CDs as a result of vinyl, you must analyze and contrast their differences. CDs hold practicality over vinyl, with an increased lifespan. Excessive playing of a record can dwindle the quality of the audio, while CDs never diminish in audible value.

The allure of CDs arrives with cheap pricing, too. In 2007, records averaged at $5, since soaring 490%, in 2017 averaging at about $28. Comparably, CDs can be found at around $13, plummeting in demand, at precisely 34%, according to a statistic taken by CNBC

A debate between audiophiles examines the probability of CD’s future value, whether they’ll soon be obsolete and their gain in popularity is short-lived, or whether their financial worth will take a sudden uprising due to their low cost and appealing sound.

For music lovers who value collecting and the experience of listening to music, CDs might be for you, as records continue their egregious price increase, and CDs decrease in theirs, 2021 is the perfect time to start, or continue, a CD collection. 

Although, solely because CDs remain the practical option, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the demand for them will boost. One of the most accessible options for buying CDs, and most popular, is local thrift stores, and as buying second-hand will fail to increase demand, CDs might become obsolete, (in new profits) after all.

TREMG news

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