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CDs are the most under-appreciated music format, fight me


Vinyl is booming, streaming services are more popular than ever, and we’re all depressed. This means one thing and one thing only: it’s time to reassess CDs.

Yes, friends, you read that correctly. The humble compact disc has been unloved for far too long. And I’m here to change that. And your opinion. After this you’ll no longer view CDs as a boring bit of old technology. Instead, you’ll view them as a medium we should all value and throw ourselves at the feet of.

Probably. I’m not in control of your mind. Whatever.

Anyway, I’ve gone in so hard on CDs I’ve even made a video about it. Which you can watch above — and I implore you to do just that. We put a lot of effort into making that.

But let’s say you have some aversion to video? Maybe moving pictures get you really riled up? For those people, we also have a whole article for you. And, believe me, it is a beefy one.

With all that in mind, the piece is split into a few broad sections, which will go as thus:

  • An explainer on music quality, including breakdowns of sampling rate, bit depth, lossy vs. lossless files, and bitrate.
  • An analysis of CDs’ qualities and why they shouldn’t have a bad reputation.
  • How to properly appreciate CDs.
  • A short review of a CD player, the Marantz CD6007.
  • Some thoughts on whether you should start collecting CDs yourself.

Anyway, let’s get into this — because it may take a while.

Defining what we mean by music quality

We can’t really talk about music — especially digital music — without the topic of quality coming up. In this first part of the article, we’re going to concentrate on what that actually means. This will help us understand where CDs fit in the ecosystem.

First off, I think you can split understanding of music quality into three main sections:

  • Quality of recording: as the name suggests, this is how the piece has been recorded. The production. The mix. All those elements that you, a listener, have no control over, but are integral to how the track sounds.
  • Quality of listening equipment: basically… how good is your gear? If you’re listening to something on a $10 pair of earbuds, you aren’t going to get the same experience as someone, say, using the Focal Radiance.
  • Quality of the file or format: finally, what’s the quality of the actual thing you’re playing? How accurately can it reproduce the original recording?

Here’s a picture breaking that down: