A recent story on NPR takes note of the 30th anniversary of the CD.
I remember when CDs overtook LPs in the NCPR control room. Late ’80s. CDs had been around for a few years, but we didn’t get serious about converting right away–in part, we still received a lot of free recordings from music companies and they transitioned over several years. Early CDs had somewhat inferior sound quality, but once I got the hang of using a CD player (not very difficult even for a tech-challenged person like me) I was a convert. Sure, it was fun to back spin an LP to cue it up, but WOW! with CDs, you actually had a reading on remaining time for a track, which made back-timing on the air incredibly easy. (Definition of back-timing: figuring out how many minutes you have until you have to hit an inflexible timepost, such as the start of a network program.)
So, the takeaway from the NPR story is that various audio technologies over the past 100 or so years have each had a lifespan of about 30 years. (Uh, the 8-track is certainly an exception.)
It was hard to let go of LPs–great cover art, easy to read liner notes. On the other hand, CDs eliminated the surface noise problem (even new LPs were often marred by scratches or hissing surfaces) and, eventually, we all got used to the little booklets that accompany CDs–chock full of information printed in the tiniest fonts.
Confession: I still play LPs during The Blue Note and, because I’m so used to CD technology, it’s my favorite at the moment. But I use it all: LPs, CDs, MP3s.
Like digital books, digitized music is convenient and offers instant gratification when you want to hear or play a particular tune. But, I still love browsing LP and CD collections, running my eye over the song titles or list of musicians, associating certain songs with the color of the case or photo on the liner notes. Kind of like handling an actual book…
Do you have a favorite audio technology? Vote below! And share any stories related to one or more of these technologies–the first LP or CD you bought, the first song you downloaded on iTunes, the record you discovered in your parents’ collection…