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Compact Disc Turns 26, Has a Bright Future 487

javipas writes "The Compact Disc was created 26 years ago, but apparently it is as healthy as 15 years ago, when computing versions of this format (CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW) made the market explode. Nowadays CD has been replaced in some segments, but not on the music industry, that continues to support it massively. The shy return of vinyl and the absence of real competitors make CD's future very bright, so it seems this birthday will not be by any means the last one we celebrate. Happy birthday!"
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Compact Disc Turns 26, Has a Bright Future

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  • by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:10PM (#24691719)

    ...except mp3s...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by obergfellja ( 947995 )
      since I am only 26, I have to ask, is there anything before CD's?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by cyberzephyr ( 705742 )
        Yes it's the casette tape. Happy birthday CD!
      • by tristian_was_here ( 865394 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:18PM (#24691829)
        You mean like was there anything before DVD's?

        I head about VCR's but I believe that's only a legend.
      • Yea, wax cylinders or analog reel-to-reel (which, IMO, is still the most fun way to record audio).
      • by MilesAttacca ( 1016569 ) <milesattacca@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:23PM (#24691931)
        Forget not the humble 8-track tape! I have a few hundred of them (before you call me old, examine my UID...I'm 17). For tapes that were made in the age of "disposable music" up to 40 years ago, and as early as 20 years ago, they've really held up to the test of time. And unlike digital, a scratch can't ruin the entire product; at 3 and 3/4 inches of tape per second, minor blemishes don't matter and you can even cut out and resplice segments of tape as needed when a tape does get "eaten" by its player. That being said, my music collection is a healthy mix of 8-tracks, cassettes, vinyl, CDs, and of course several thousand MP3s.
        • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:49PM (#24692347) Journal

          Forget not the humble 8-track tape!

          The eight track is a format best forgotten, as I said in Good Riddance to Bad Tech a few years ago. []

          The 8-track tape
          This sorry piece of crap is proof positive of American stupidity. The cassette - the (now obsolete) four track, two-spindle, 1/8th inch, 1 /78 IPS shirt pocket sized tape cassette was produced before the 8-track. The four track cassette was originally made as a dictation device, but advances in tape manufacture and head design soon gave them a frequency response that came close to human hearing's limit, signal to noise ratio low enough that you had to turn it up very loud to hear the hiss, and inaudible harmonic distortion which made them ideal for music.

          Nevertheless, the 8-track was born anyway. With its transport speed at twice the 4-track cassette's speed, it should have been audibly superior. However, the "powers that be" decided that 8-tracks were going to be for automobiles, which at the time were not as well insulated from outside sounds and wind as today's cars, and with the auto's horrible acoustics, it was OK for a car's music to sound like effluent.

          But the deliberately bad sound wasn't bad enough. The eight track tape had a single spindle, a very clever design where the tape fed from the center of the spindle, around a capstain roller inside the housing and back to the outside of the roll of tape. This made for an expensive setup, and one that was prone to wow and flutter, as well as having the tape get "eaten" by the tape player. And unlike a cassette, if your 8-track got ate, you might as well throw it in the trash.

          But wait, there's more! This thing was deemed to be for the car, while cassettes were going to be (by about 1970 or so) for the home.

          This made no sense whatever, since the "portable" eight track took up as much space as four cassettes, without being able to play any longer than a cassette. In fact, you could buy a longer playing cassette than 8-track.

          But the one thing more than anything else that made 8-tracks suck like a Hoover was the fact that it had to change tracks four times during an album. This usually necessitated at least one song and usually more being interrupted in the middle!

          Folks finally, after about ten years, started figuring this stuff out for themselves and replaced their 8-track cartriges with 4 track cassettes. Me? I never had an 8-track, although all my friends did. I, the geek, used the far more logical cassettes since about 1966 or 7. Hah! The geek gets the last laugh again!

          Oh, btw I am old!

        • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:52PM (#24692403)

          Forget not the humble 8-track tape!

          I've tried. That, along with mullets and a few other things. ;-)

          I have a few hundred of them (before you call me old, examine my UID...I'm 17).

          Congrats! Since you're old enough to drive, it's time to start saving up for that used Firebird to go with the 8-track tapes. Alternatively, a fully decked-out van would work, though if you live down south, an old pickup truck might be more appropriate.

        • by Mix+Master+Nixon ( 1018716 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:57PM (#24692467)

          Mod parent funny. 8-track tapes were a mountain of shit. No rewind. Terribly narrow tracks combined with slow tape speeds resulted in asstacular sound quality. The bits of foam glued to the plastic cartridges that pressed the tape against the heads would lose their springiness over time or simply come unglued. Head alignment in players was a major problem. Four "programs" per tape resulted in long songs getting split into pieces. The metallic splice in the loop that triggers the program switch would come unglued, resulting in a loop that was no longer a loop, merely a bunch of tape being pulled out of a cartridge, into a tape deck, and not being returned to the cartridge - an eaten tape, in other words. No rewinding, it's worth mentioning it twice because it was so damn irritating. They get credit for being cool looking. Nothing more, and nothing related to its performance as an audio format.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Yes (to all the other posters, not just you), I realize the technical deficiencies and maintenance problems of the 8-track. In fact, toying with those is part of the appeal of the hobby. Some people buy and rebuild old cars. I buy and fix 8-tracks, since my budget is less spectacular. Even recognizing that 8-tracks never benefited from the technical improvements that the cassette received, I must correct you on a couple of technical details. First, 8-tracks used 1/4" tape, and 4-track cassettes use 1/8" ta
    • by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:13PM (#24691769)
      Basically....there's no competition because it would be pointless to waste money on a new physical media format with the primary intent of content distribution.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You mean like Digital Audio Tape?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:16PM (#24691807)

      Sadly greed killed off DVD-Audio and SA-CD.

      They could be the standard today, offering a real benefit over MP3s being shared online, but they're nowhere. Presumably that's because the licensing fees were too high, and then the media was too expensive on top.

      So CDs it is.

      • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:33PM (#24692077)

        Well, for starters, most studios don't even use the full dynamic range of CD, so DVD-Audio or SA-CD are kind of a waste... they'd just compress the audio to make it sound loud and we'd be in the same boat that we are with CDs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rgviza ( 1303161 )

          Yes, you end up with an average dynamic range of 4db (maybe 3db by now?) with most popular music. The medium is capable of 90db(usable) at 16 bit. The dynamic range is there when it leaves the studio for the mastering desk; that's where people who care nothing about sound quality, but have all the money, pencil whip the mastering engineers into ruining it with extreme overcompression in the name of being "competitively loud". The mastering engineers have to make a living so the grudgingly comply, despite kn

      • by FLEB ( 312391 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:44PM (#24692273) Homepage Journal

        I suspect you would still have the same apathetic response that HD disc media did (where "BluRay and HD-DVD fought it out, and SD-DVD won"), where the increase in quality isn't dramatic or important enough to warrant the move to a new media, new players, and (often) new DRM. The future is not in another 12cm disc media-- 12cm disc players for current formats are widely owned, a wide base of tools exists to work with the formats-- even CSSed DVD, and the quality is more than adequate for all but those who spend more time analyzing sound than listening to it.

        I suppose multi-channel audio could be one exception, although that still would struggle to make it out of a niche. It's a matter of relatively few multichannel PCs and stereo systems versus an overwhelming base of stereo receivers, players, boom-boxes, and portables.

        If anything, the evolution of media is going to focus on physical form factor, deliverability, and perhaps durability. Sound quality is a finished game-- the challenge is now convenience and usability.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

        Sadly greed killed off DVD-Audio and SA-CD.

        Yep, but you're wrong about which kind of greed []:

        SACD has several copy prevention features at the physical level which, for the moment, appear to make SACD discs impossible to copy without resorting to the analog hole. These include physical pit modulation and 80 bit encryption of the audio data, with a key encoded on a special area of the disk that is only readable by a licensed SACD device. The HD layer of an SACD disc cannot be played back on computer CD/DVD drives, nor can SACDs be created except by the licensed disc replication facilities in Shizuoka and Salzburg.

        Overpriced media that I can't copy or digitally rip, and that is locked in a deadly stranglehold by a tiny cabal of manufacturers? Sign me up!

    • You can put mp3 files on a CD, and play them in a CD player that has a mp3 codec in its embedded firmware.

      Of course, .WAV or FLAC is better quality, but no one cares about quality for it to affect the market, apparently.

      CDs compete with Flash memory and hard drives.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:13PM (#24691763) Homepage

    More and More car stereos, even factory stereos will play from an ipod or better yet a usb memory device filled with mp3 music. In fact Clarion recently released 2 new car stereos that cant play a CD, only digital memory formats.

    I see the CD going away slowly as digital downloads become more and more popular, but that is completely dependent on DRM going away. I have enough friends and customers that are pissed at itunes DRM right now that they will not buy another song.

    • Not only does DRM need to go away, but with ever-increasing bandwidth there's no reason to NOT sell lossless audio.

      If labels would sell music the way NIN has for their last two albums (Ghosts / The Slip) and include the artwork and all those goodies, I'd probably never actually buy another CD again.

      Until then, it's rip to FLAC.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timster ( 32400 )

        Bandwidth isn't the issue so much as the migration to flash-based portable players. The iPod Touch for example is 32GB max with an 8GB option still available. When storage is that constrained many people will be space-limited and would be able to carry many fewer songs with FLAC.

        As flash sizes increase and prices go down I wouldn't be surprised to see lossless formats crop up. At the present, though, the decision wouldn't make much sense for a large group of users.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @06:04PM (#24696515) Journal
          Remember, though, that compute power is also cheap and getting cheaper. FLAC isn't a good choice for anybody's 2gig jogging mp3 player; but buying FLAC and producing compressed versions for your space constrained devices, as needed, is fairly practical. It would even be easy enough to have the process happen automatically in the background; just assign an optimal supported format and desired quality for each device, and let the sync process produce whatever compressed copies it needs.

          I don't know if anybody has made this task droolproof at the consumer level; but I've seen menu options pertaining to it in Amarok, and anybody with the slightest script-fu can obviously do it with a few minutes effort.
  • IMHO the iPod et al spells doom for the CD. As soon as 'the kids' can transfer music phone 2 phone there goes the music biz.
    However, as burning and archive mechanism, why not, but no room there for the 'labels'

  • by Lucid 3ntr0py ( 1348103 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:16PM (#24691803)
    I think Cds have remained so popular because they're cheap to make, small enough to be convient, and simple to lock down.

    Why shouldn't we switch over to flashdrives? They're even better than CDs(smaller,more space, very cheap and getting cheaper,can't scratch)But they're easier to modify. It's hard for the average user to jailbreak/mod a CD. Not so much for new forms of media.

    Although the hyper vigilance of Blu-Ray firmware updates may seem to contradict me...
    • Are you perhaps conflating CDs with optical media? Otherwise your post doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

      Flashdrives have fairly slow read/write speeds, they only last a certain number of read-write cycles, they're more expensive per unit, they are easier to lose (if you've seen mine, let me know!), and let me know how many average users can modify a flash drive.

      • Their slow speeds compared to a CD, I am not sure about that, CDs aren't that fast.

        The numbers of reads-writes before they die, is actually quite high, I havn't seen one go on me yet. Besides you can only write to a CD once (for the cheap types) the more expensive only a few times.

        Easier to loose, I would say about the same. It is just that the CDs scratch so easially we take better care of them. But you will be supprise when I reorganize or clean up how many Linux CDs that I burned I find. They just slip

  • 26th? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spankophile ( 78098 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:17PM (#24691821) Homepage

    Who the hell celebrates a "26th" anniversary?

  • by RobBebop ( 947356 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:18PM (#24691833) Homepage Journal

    I am shocked that the summary lists the music industry as the reason that CDs have endured as long as they have. The music industry enjoyed record CD sales during the 1990s. Those days are long gone. Online distribution is the medium of choice for that.

    CDs have been relegated to the ranks of $0.50 disposal media storage for 650 MBs at a time. When this disc space is used so ~200 Mp3s can be "backed up" in case of Mp3 device or harddrive failure... then you can argue that the "music industry" is being supported by the continued usage of CDs. But don't be fooled... the only reason to keep CDs around is because of the need to cheap, disposal media distribution. Neither e-mail, online storage, or UBS memory sticks quite fit the same niche as the standard CD.

    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:35PM (#24692119) Homepage

      The music industry enjoyed record CD sales during the 1990s. Those days are long gone.

      And if you listen to the RIAA, then the sole reason for that is online piracy. They always point to that peak in the 1990's as being the point that CD sales should be at (or higher) if piracy was stopped. However, it is more truthful to say that it was a temporary high point in sales and that sales dropped afterwords due to normal market forces. (Normal Market Forces including piracy, but not as the main component... probably not even as a major component.)

      • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:49PM (#24692345)

        Here' an example:

        The Beatles, Hard Day's Night, the movie on DVD is twelve bucks at Best Buy. [] It pretty much has every song on the album in the movie. Twelve bucks.

        The Beatles, Hard Day's Night, the CD. Has all the music, none of the movie. Price? Fourteen bucks. [] Same thing, but on media with less scratch resistance, less storage space, and oh yeah - no movie.

        The reason why people aren't buying music is because it's not worth it. The price is artificially inflated, which makes consumers grumpy and unwilling to buy.

    • But don't be fooled... the only reason to keep CDs around is because of the need to cheap, disposal media distribution.

      Well, that at the fact that everybody is set up to handle this particular kind of media.

      Seriously, my car, my computer, my CD changer, the stereo in my living room ... they all support the physical medium. Coming out with the "new hotness" of form factor and expecting everybody to re-tool everything is stupid. Even if we can do better, CDs have the advantage that everyone has the gear to

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @02:01PM (#24692539) Homepage Journal

      Online distribution is the medium of choice for that.

      You can't buy online music from a band at 1:30 am inside a bar as you drunkenly stagger and give them the ultimate praise: "You dudes rock!" But you can reach into your pocket and pull out a $10 bill (you've been doing that all night anyway as you buy beers) in exchange for a plastic box.

      CDs aren't going away yet. They, combined with T-shirts, are an important part of offsetting some bands' travel (and drinking) expenses. How can you replace that? Bring a laptop along on a night of drinking, and hope the bar has free wifi, so you can say "you dudes rock" as you peer at a little screen and give them the satisfaction of seeing you click on something, so that the band can then collect the money after they've already spent it on beer and gasoline? I don't think so.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DorkRawk ( 719109 )
        Digital download cards. My band [] is planning to release our next EP entirely digitally. Because of this need to sell a physical product at shows, we will be selling digital download cards (like gift cards) to buy the music from our site.

        The new fan receives something tangible and the benefit of full album artwork. The band gets cash in their hands on the spot with a decreased cost of physical overhead.

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:18PM (#24691843) Journal

    You used to have to buy writable 650Mg CDs for $1. Now you can get a gig of flash, near infinitely rewritable for $7 []. Impervious to scratches, can survive several trips through the washer, and have fast read/write speeds. I cannot understand how TFA is so optimistic. When CDs came out, it would take weeks to download a full CD, now I can download a 720p torrent in an few hours. My HDDVD player has a Ethernet jack... so how long until we stop spinning discs and start slinging bits?

    • so how long until we stop spinning discs and start slinging bits?

      When the auto industry gets their heads out of their asses and home media servers are as easy as an external hard drive to set up and as cheap.

      We're finally getting to the point of optional iPod factory head units for autos now. Up until a year or two ago you had to go third party for that kind of thing. Once a universal standard comes around for portable media players they're will be a surge in head units supporting this. Until then there
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MPAB ( 1074440 )

      Too bad AOL stopped giving away media before flash cards replaced CDs.

    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:43PM (#24692239) Journal

      You used to have to buy writable 650Mg CDs for $1. Now you can get a gig of flash, near infinitely rewritable for $7. Impervious to scratches, can survive several trips through the washer, and have fast read/write speeds. I cannot understand how TFA is so optimistic.

      Personally, I'm not going to lend someone my flash drive.
      They're small, easy to lose (though I keep mine on a lanyard) and I have other stuff on it.

      You burn someone a CD or DVD, it doesn't take all that long, it's cheap, but most importantly, you don't expect it back. IMO, CD-Rs and DVD-Rs are disposable in a way that even a cheap flash drive is not.

    • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:51PM (#24692385) Journal

      Now you can get a gig of flash, near infinitely rewritable for $7 []. Impervious to scratches, can survive several trips through the washer, and have fast read/write speeds. I cannot understand how TFA is so optimistic.

      Why is there a market for paper plates when you can use ceramic ones over and over? Because you can throw it away.

  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:18PM (#24691847)
    The truth is that vinyl never went away.

    A few years ago someone at worked asked me what the last Rush album was that came out on vinyl and after some poking around I found out that they all had up to the latest (Vapor Trails, IIRC). The thing is that many people lost touch with vinyl but the die-hards* kept with it. I don't know if it's the nostalgia factor or even if it's true that vinyl is making a comeback but the bottom line is that it wasn't a matter of the vinyl not being there but rather listeners who didn't know where to look.

    * Yeah, if you're one of the small percentage of all people over the age of 17 who can really hear the difference. Otherwise you're probably only fooling yourself.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm a vinyl nut, but there are many albums I don't want on vinyl including many of the later Rush albums. The reason is simple: You can't get more than about 40-45 minutes on a single LP without serious quality loss (quick explanation: the louder the music is on the LP, the better the S/N ratio but the more space the groove modulations take up). These full-length 55+ minute CD's on LP sound awful unless they make it a double LP set.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      But can I get the latest Hannah Montana in vinyl? That's what I really want.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:21PM (#24691921)

    I bet there is some occasional unexplained knee pain. And for some reason, compact disks can no longer eat bananas without violent diarrhea.

  • Unfortunately (Score:3, Insightful)

    by k31bang ( 672440 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:23PM (#24691933) Homepage

    Unfortunately we can't sing Happy Birthday to the CD without paying royalties. Such a cruel world. =/

  • Does anyone know how the CD came to be 5.25" in diameter?

    Were the designers intentionally working with from the size of the floppy disk, which happened to be right for car CD players?

    Or were they working to fit the same size as car stereos, which happened to be the same size as 5.25" floppy drives?

    Or did they ignore both and just happen to end up that size?

    Or did someone happen to have a 5.25" floppy drive in their car, and thought it would be great to read more than 1.2mb worth of data on a disc?
    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:44PM (#24692261)

      Does anyone know how the CD came to be 5.25" in diameter?

      Um, mine are all 12cm?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 )

      Wikipedia is your friend []

      The partners aimed at a playing time of 60 minutes with a disc diameter of 100 mm (Sony) or 115 mm (Philips).[8] Sony vice-president Norio Ohga suggested extending the capacity to 74 minutes to accommodate Wilhelm Furtwängler's 1951 performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Bayreuth Festival.[9] [10]

      The extra 14 minute playing time subsequently required changing to a 120 mm disc. Kees Immink, Philips' chief engineer, however, denies this, claiming that the increase was mot

  • by Seakip18 ( 1106315 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:26PM (#24691969) Journal

    but how the heck do I return an MP3? When on the road, I've always turned to renting audio books from cracker barrel.

    It's great because, depending on my time, I stop and get a new book if I want one. I couldn't do that with an MP3 or USB stick without my computer. I know ATT would pitch a fit if I tried downloading 12-16 Cd's worth of book Over-the-air.

    I know of nothing online that rivals something like what Cracker Barrel has going on for $4 a week.

  • As a huge fan of DVD-Audio, it saddens me to see plain old CD still cleaning house. I guess the public at large just does not care about audio fidelity, or an immersive music experience.
    • I guess the public at large just does not care about audio fidelity, or an immersive music experience.

      The public at large cannot and will not pay for the immersive audio music experience and even less of them have hearing capable of enjoying it.

      Let's be honest, for most people the 10 USD ear buds is more than enough in their opinion. Tell them you own a 600 USD set of Sennheisers and you'd swear that you just told them you just paid 600 USD for a candy bar.

      Quality playback equipment is expensive. Most p
  • Bright future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fri13 ( 963421 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:33PM (#24692083)

    CD is still good format for storing normal data in offices. I dont now mean any games what needs DVD's or HD movies, but normal office data. For sending photos it is great because you need to store photos in JPEG (or other) format so you get them to small size. CD is good unless you need to send all RAW photos what you toke in weddings or other similar situation.

    What I really like about CD, is it's lifetime. It has be used to store music what can be still played. Only thing what makes it worse, is these new ideas to push DRM's to them what makes CD's more like use-and-throw-away medias. That is the about on music business. That feeling I have got from music corporations.

    So I can still listen those 15-20 years old CD's on my computer or car stereos, but I am not sure can I listen CD what I can buy today from store.

    Same thing is happening on technology, television gets digitalized and all standards starts to be changed every 3-5 years. Reminds me just from the Microsoft Office format.
    I hope that Blu-ray disk is now such media, that can be keeped next 20 years. Altought personally I am scared that there is coming next media around a 2015.

    Is it really so that old medias actually stored the data better way because it could be used longer? Like VHS, CD, Vinyl, paper etc? The problem is not the technology itself, it is on companies who wants money and more money by "inventing" better versions after a next one and pushing them out faster rate.

  • Someone recently asked if I'd send them a CD of some pictures. I looked at them funny, and then realized that not everyone realizes CDs are dead yet. It's like when Grandpa's on Life Support in the ICU, and the Brainwaves aren't registering, but you still go in and say goodbye. The best uses of CDs now is Skeet targets, and decorations. I just want a car stereo that can do DL DVDs for Mp3's and gives me options to play through a directory structure, and make / edit playlists on the fly QUICKLY. Then, I

  • Ripped Off (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @01:44PM (#24692265)
    It may have a healthy future, but now it's severely overpriced. Initially they were expensive because it was new technology and expensive to build plants to manfacture the raw blanks, master, and press them. Over time we were promised that the price would come down drastically as the process matured. That was proven true with CD players.

    Of course that turned out to be a lie with the media itself, and prices have risen steadily while the costs of production have plummeted. And the artists will tell you that they're not getting any more money out of them in mechanical royalties than before either.

    Evidence of how badly ripped off you are in CD's is evident by the healthy profits made by DVD's which contain far more content, and cost far more to master and press, yet sell for nearly comparable prices. Until we Just Say No to overpriced music CD's we might was well just open our wallets to the recording industry and say, "Just take what you want."
  • Look to Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrazyTalk ( 662055 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @02:10PM (#24692699)
    Apple seems to be a good job of predicting (if not causing) future trends - first mainstream computer with a 3 and a half inch floppy, first PC to ELIMINATE the floppy (original iMac), and now first computer to get rid of the CD altogether (Macbok Air)
  • Praise for the CD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @02:36PM (#24693081)

    The CD is still arguably the best premium format for buying and collecting music. They can be made inexpensively, they're pretty durable, you get some artwork and liner notes (though not as good as with vinyl), they're reasonably compact, and the audio quality can be very high indeed when it's mastered right.

    The mastering process has become the weak link, with the ongoing "loudness war" where dynamic range of music is routinely compressed all to Hell.

    The attempt to introduce Super Audio CD and DVD Audio turned into a farce. First strike against them was the ridiculous format war. Second strike was the ridiculous DRM they were saddled with. Third strike was their dependence on superior audio quality to sell the product -- something most people couldn't even hear, and the rest of the industry didn't care about. (If they cared, we would never have got into the aforementioned loudness war.)

  • by lawaetf1 ( 613291 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @02:51PM (#24693335)

    I'm sure it's a technical answer but why can't, with 700mb of space available, one lousy kilobyte be reserved for metadata? If older players wouldn't like it, I should think it could be "hidden" after the last track.

    It just seems silly that my CD player can't scroll the title of the track being played. Or that my computer can't pull titles and even album art without an Internet connection.

    • It's called CD-Text (Score:3, Informative)

      by brentrad ( 1013501 )
      Music CD's DO support metadata, and have since 1996: CD-Text. []

      "CD-Text is an extension of the Red Book Compact Disc specifications standard for audio CDs. It allows for storage of additional information (e.g. album name, song name, and artist) on a standards-compliant audio CD. The information is stored either in the lead-in area of the CD, where there is roughly five kilobytes of space available, or in the Subchannels R to W on the disc, which can store about 31 me
  • by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Thursday August 21, 2008 @03:26PM (#24693953)
    No really they were, I used to program/build CD players for my job for >5 years.

    The old mechanisms were lovely metal framed affairs will bushed bearings, metal worm drives or fast moving arms for the optics. The optics were proper optics on well balanced, nicely made actuators and the whole thing just stank of quality components and care and attention. Because they were well made, the characteristics of the system was consistent from one unit to the next, and the analogue servos were all tuned to match the system. They could play CDs with horrible scratches on them much better then modern ones and the sound quality was generally better because they had a proper DAC.

    When I left that field we were using "low cost" mechanisms. This mean moulded plastic gears, one single senser fits all (if you know how long it takes to reach the end of the disc, why bother with a sensor? just ram it against the end stop) The lens is bubble of resin, the actuators were often horrible. On top of this the tolerance in manufactruing was bloody awful. The resonances, the bandwidth changed considerably between units so the SW was expected to compensate and that was almost impossible with any degree of succcess. They'd hobble through a CD painfully, but put on a scratched disc or one with defects and all bets were off. Thats what a $15 CD player gets you. And do not even get me started on "1-bit bitstream DAC" rubbish.

    Then there is the cost reduction on CDs themselves. Old CDs were nice thick well pressed affairs made of quality layers. They has a nice satisfying gap between songs (incidently this allowed the original analogue CD systems to jump from track to track looking for a certain signal from the subcode in the pretrack gap as it skipped across the disc surface - on the datapath/audio was digital in those days).

    Last but not lesat is CD cop yprotection that erodes the CIRC scratch protection systems, if I start on that I'll begin ranting - thank god thats dying a death.

    When I get a CD these days, when it is shiny and new I rip it, MP3 it, and then put it on the shelf where I look at it wistfully. I'm afraid, I'll scratch it and rended it paperweight.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"