Sunday, 17 November 2019

A Physical Presence

For a blog that is meant to be about my iPod I do seem to spend a lot of time talking about physical media. As everything physical ends up on the iPod at one time or another I make no apology for this.

I follow Cloudland Blue Quartet on Twitter, and listen to his podcast, which you should also do. He ran a poll recently and out of 98 votes 58% went to CD 41% to vinyl. The interesting part though was the comments. The main vinyl supporters' arguments were based around sampling rates and kilohertz. That or have a valve preamp etc etc. The CD advocates talked about convenience.

Back in the mists of time, 1983, I worked with my Dad selling 78 records, valve radios and wind up gramophones. Every so often some high quality vintage hi fi kit would come along which would get snapped up by collectors. They would spend a lot of time telling me that it was far batter than anything you could buy new. Then the 78 collectors would come along and tell me that an HMV model 194 was the gramophone to have. In fairness a decent condition disc played on one of these things did sound ok. They weighed about the same as a small car however.

What this all says to me is that the hobbyist will always find a way of adding complication to the simple matter of sitting down and listening to the music. Their choice of music seems to be usually dictated by the "quality" of the recording rather than their connection to the music or words. I love The Nightfly (one of the audiophile gold standard albums) but it doesn't have the incendiary quality of the first Clash album with its cardboard box drums and
patchy (at best) mixing. Oh and my vinyl copy of Donald Fagen's album had pops and clicks and muffled sound. My CD has lasted since about 1990 and still plays perfectly.

I know 'each to their own', and 'live and let live' may be unfashionable views these days but let's embrace them. You play your vinyl, and I will carry on with CDs. Just please don't try and convince me that something that reproduces music by dragging a piece of diamond across a bit of plastic has some mystical "better sound".

The other thing that makes CDs the way to go is that they are cheap. There are some great second hand shops spread around the country, some of which I've mentioned here before, but also charity shops. I love charity shops, the thrill of the chase as you can never tell what you are going to find, and the chance that you will happen upon a collection having been deposited there by someone's ex spouse or whatever. I could tell you about some finds, jazz, prog rock, obscurities of all sorts. The only disappointment is when a shop, usually a books and media outlet has been rooting around on Ebay and massively overpriced something otherwise desirable. Yes I'm talking about you, Oxfam record shop Byres Road Glasgow.

So until the world notices I will carry on picking up CD bargains, and experimenting with new music, including after a bit more study of Mr Quartet's twitter, the undiscovered country... Classical Music.


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