CD or Not CD? That Is the Question…


By Bokonon

So, here’s little informal Nippertown survey. It’s the dawn of another year, so I’m doing some housecleaning (while listening to Billy Bragg, naturally), purging and so on. As I look at my shelves of books and records, I’m thinking again of selling a bunch of CDs. I’m curious how many music fans over the age of, say 35, have gone completely over to files (by ripping and selling their collection) or have dropped CDs in favor of Spotify or a similar service.

So, who still has CDs, and who doesn’t?

  1. Michael Hochanadel says

    Got CDs, got vinyl (33 and 45 rpm) – but you knew that

  2. Kirsten says

    My general plan is to keep all the stuff that I can honestly say I still like or listen to, or that has some sentimental or archival value. Computers and hard drives crash too easily. Seems better to have a physical backup (with art and liner notes as bonus). Also unless you digitize in a lossless type format, someday you may regret not having the files in a higher quality rate. So my plan is to get rid of all the other stuff that I don’t care that much about, either on Amazon/Ebay (if a CD is out-of-print and in demand, you can still get some cash for it) or at DiVinyl/Last Vestige. If no one wants it, then it gets donated to the library book shop. At least that’s the plan. Right now I have a lot of CDs in boxes and piles waiting to be categorized.

  3. Gil says

    I’m maintain an allegiance to CD’s for a variety of reasons:

    > Cover art – I still believe that a well designed cover is part of an album’s mystique. Think of any classic record pre-2000 (St. Pepper’s, Nevermind, London Calling), and the cover art is a big part of the album experience.
    > Liner notes – I like listening to music, AND I like reading about music. Who were the performers, what’s that weird instrument, what’s that word in the third line of the chorus, what was the inspiration behind that song, etc. That’s critical information!
    > It’s personal – Whenver I visit someone’s house, if they have CD’s (or albums) on display, I immediately walk over to look at them. You can tell so much about someone by what music they listen to … even the way they display their music (my collection is alphabetical and chronological, of course). It’s not the same as scrolling through a phone or iPod.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love my iPod, and I transfer many of my CD’s onto it, but I’m not ready to give up those CD’s yet. And besides, if you want a whole album (as opposed to one or two songs), the CD is typically the same cost as the full download. So why choose one when you can have both?

  4. Michael Hess says

    The best sounding music format is the vinyl L.P., The digital revolution has never come close to the original warm sound of the L.P. You can not compress recorded music and expect it to sound good when replayed. The digital revolution has made the recording process to exact. The old mixing boards and amps sound better than today’s equipment. Many years ago i contacted Last Vestage Music about getting rid of my vinyl (3000 L.P.’s) They came to my house and bought my whole collection. This was a huge mistake on my part. I am now buying Vinyl again. The quality of the vinyl today is awesome, thick like it use to be. I own 1600 C.D.’s, i do not download from the internet. I collect music, i don’t own a I Pod.

  5. Robert DuPont says

    I prefer vinyl, and I am interested in high resolution audio. I still have some CD’s, and I will keep those CD’s where there is no vinyl or hi-rez available.

    Most recent CD releases are becoming brickwalled and compressed. Mp3’s sound terrible. It’s funny that after all this time, and all the technological advances, vinyl is still the preferred format for a more natural sound. Analog is still better.

  6. Roger Noyes says

    Whether vinyl or digital, I prefer having something physical because, as Gil says, the liner notes/cover art matter to me. This is especially the case with jazz records where one sees a lot of crossover work by musicians, and it is important to know who is playing on what record.

  7. LP says

    Doing a clean and reorganization now also….and I love LP’s and CD’s and find that I just can not part with a single one……so I just went out and got 2 more solid wood cd racks to organize the new overflow …..yeah they take up space but the digital thing just does not work for me…..the quality is just not there….I want to look at it ….touch it … it ….enjoy the art……and know it won’t suddenly vaporize…..

  8. Newland says

    Classical and jazz on CD … other musical genres – MP3s are fine for passive listening but if I find myself really listening to an album, I’ll buy the CD … as already mentioned, cover art, liner notes and the physicality of the CD …

  9. Seth Rogovoy says

    Earlier this year I had to scramble to deaccess my 5,000+ CDs I had amassed over the years. I think I had about 1/2 to two-thirds of them already ripped to iTunes. I scrambled and ripped some more of the most valuable ones, but in any case, they were all gone within about a week, ripped or not.

    I have about 160+GB of music altogether now in iTunes (I know because it won’t all fit on my iPod classic, so I have one for classical and another for everything else). It’s also backed up to an external hard drive.

    I don’t really miss the CDs at all. And now i subscribe to Spotify Premium, which has revolutionized the way I listen to music anyway, and I find it’s very efficient for my needs and lifestyle. I don’t even want CDs anymore – I’d prefer to have a download link, or even better, just listen on Spotify (download links always work funny, or don’t work, with iTunes).

    The one remaining question I haven’t answered for myself yet is whether or not and if so which service I should select to put my collection in the Cloud through some sort of matching mechanism, the two main ones being iTunes and Amazon. Both have their pluses and minuses. In the meantime, I have my collection, but mostly use Spotify on all my various devices (computers, iPad, iPhone with headphones and/or through car radio) and that seems to serve me really well.

    Oh, in case you are curious, I think I unloaded my CD collection for an average of .30/CD. a lot of them were real junk; i insisted they all go as a collection, as I didn’t want to be saddled with garbage. The moving or disposal costs alone would have been staggering.

    And, yes, I did save all my CDs by one artist in particular. Anyone who knows me can probably guess who.

  10. Rose says

    IMHO – Hoarding the CD’s after giving all my vinyl away during last move eight years ago. I’m over 55 and I still don’t have an Ipod/MP3. Not bragging, just like the cell phone, I hate staying “plugged in” a majority of my time. Life happens too!

  11. Ritch says

    I made the conscious decision earlier this year to stop buying CDs and to only purchase vinyl (most of which come with download codes). This gives me the best of both worlds.

  12. emg says

    I like having the *thing* to hold in my hands. It changes the experience. When I buy music digitally, it just goes into the vast ocean of my digital collection. I listen to it a couple of times and then probably won’t pay it any special attention, it will just come up randomly in an iTunes shuffle.

    When I buy a CD, I typically stick it in the car player and leave it there for a couple of weeks. I wind up learning all the words, all the nuances of a recording. When I listen digitally, we become mere passing acquaintances, like most of my facebook friends.

  13. Rudy says

    I will not give up my CDs and vinyl even though I am not quite as an active a listener of recorded music as I once was. I have less than 1/5 of my CDs ripped onto Itunes for convenience which I have on as background music. I really prefer the sound of live music, which I have seen more of in the last few years than I did previously.

    I seldom have time to be the serious listener, but I do like having the album art and the liner notes available should I want to see them.

    I guess old habits die hard.

  14. dan hogan says

    I sold most of my records this past summer. I haven’t played a record on my turntable in about 5 years. I have about 2 thousand CDs in the garage and most are now on my computer and about 140gb of that is also on my iPod. Once I lost it all with a hard drive failure and then I did it all over again, but this time I bought a back-up service (Carbonite).

    I loved LPs growing up — you could put a lot of great art on a sleeve, plus the liner notes. CDs often have great artwork and liner notes but you need a microscope to read some of the stuff — plus try finding a CD by looking at hundreds of CDs lined up or stacked together! Living with my wife and kids I seldom get to play music as much or as loud as I like and now that I am almost 56, and have high frequency hearing loss so the difference you hear in the sound is often lost on me. though I have been impressed with the sound of ALAC and FLAC files of live shows — there I can hear a difference.

    All the liner notes,art and info — more than I ever could have imagined as a kid — are on the internets so if I need it, it’s there. Also, last year I was able to finally buy and download all the albums by Max Webster, some of which were never available as CDs in the states. Now I would only buy a used CD for cheap, but download everything else.

    I want to give a special shout-out to the NYS Senate which made me go to a week of classes before giving me my first IBM PC (I think it had about 20mb of hard drive!) back in the 1980s and releasing me from my fear of technology.

  15. -R. says

    I have around 300 CDs and and approximately 4000 LPs. My analog system is so vastly superior to any digital format that my CD player has been sitting unused for the better part of five years; I never bought into the “perfect sound forever” myth back in the 80s, so even during the dark days of ‘no vinyl’, I still continued to buy used, from independent labels, etc. Despite my penchant for procrastination, I will eventually liquidate most if not all of my CDs, burning to computer those that have sentimental value, were recorded by me, or are unavailable in the preferred format. As far as MP3 and the like – I feel extremely sorry for everyone who has never experienced music in an uncompressed format, and via a high quality playback system. The kids just don’t know what they’re missing, though fortunately a few are (finally) starting to come around. Pull out those earbuds – demand higher quality!

  16. J. Welf says

    This thread delivers!

    Any info about where to get good record shelving?

  17. Skeletons in the Piano says

    Our band still has quite a large CD collection that we pass around to each other, because we all love each others taste in music. We have a collection of music files as well(ITunes and such) but we really all agree that the physical aspect of owning a CD is great. Our new album, “Please Don’t Die” that we are releasing in (fingers crossed) March will be our first release in Digital download format, but we are also releasing it on VINYL, which we are super excited about because of the physical product to buy. ( and, c’mon, it’s vinyl!) I don’t think we will ever fully get rid of our CD’s but the times are a changing, so you gotta change with them. We feel that physical copies of albums can exist in tandem with digital downloaded music, especially if mediums like vinyl records are making a viable comeback in the music landscape today.

  18. Mr. Eck says

    As far as record shelving, try Huck Finn’s Warehouse in downtown Albany. They used to have very nice wooden cube units.

  19. Trevor says

    I’m in my 40s and still collecting CDs. Started with vinyl in the 70s, cassettes in the 80s, CDs since then. I’ll only buy downloads if the album isn’t distributed on CD…then I end up burning on CD. I buy from local shops when possible, but it’s tough. I’m one of those guys who stops at every hole-in-the-wall music store when I’m out of town. And I’ll order CDs online only if it’s really good deal or I can’t phisically find the CD in stores. My collection is on shelves, alphabetical & chronological (as someone mentioned above). I usually spend several hours a week listening to CDs on my tower floor speakers from the Montgomery Ward scratch & dent section.

  20. -R. says

    Regarding record shelving – a lot of folks use the Ikea Expedit shelving, but I would be careful regarding weight load and being certain it can’t tip over. Since it’s modular, you can expand as your collection grows. There is also this company which builds a decent LP storage cube:

    I myself built from scratch using 2×12 pine, using dado joints to hold everything together; it’s a simple and rewarding woodworking project for those so inclined. I’ve built a few of differing sizes for other folks who seem to like them as well.

  21. J. Welf says

    I will try Huck Finn. been a while since i have been there.

    No reason why bands shouldnt be putting out cool limited vinyl with download cards. I get that Cds are real cheap to make and you get more of them but man i had so much fun doing my own record, screening the covers (and download cards), bagging them up.. its a lot more work but DIY is the way to go and in the punk scene anyway people are into that a lot more

    My Cd rack broke when i moved 4 years ago. i threw all the CDs in a laundry basket and havent looked at them since. Most were already ripped to computer (and have on vinyl…stupid addiction). Ipod is great for the car not needing 1,000 CDs all over, but at home vinyl rules.

  22. Ted says

    I have all of Linda McCartney’s CDs. And I’m keeping them.

  23. Stanley Johnson says

    How did I miss this discussion until today? Oh yeah, the flu. Well, I’ve still got 33 and 45 rpm vinyl, cassettes, Cds, Dvds, mini-discs and even a few VHS tapes. I’ve probably spent something like two or three houses worth on music during my lifetime, so I have absolutely no qualms about downloading as much free music as I possibly can get from the internet. It’s fools like me who made rich bastards out of all you rock stars, so no apologies nor regrets. Now I listen to everything, and I mean everything, in mp3 format, burned on Cds or Dvds, because my hearing is shot and I can’t tell the difference between analog, digital, live or memorex. As long as SONY makes Dvd and car Cd players that will play mp3s I will be able to more or less listen to music, even if my three turntables, two cassette decks, three mini-disc players and two backup hard drives all crap out at once. I have to wear earplugs at all concerts and sports events (pretty much every night of the week and weekend) so that I can wake up and drink coffee in the morning without an earache. I record my own music live on mini-disc, the best recording format ever invented, although I no longer bootleg anybody else’s shows. In fact, I rarely go to shows unless I can get in free, because I just can’t afford the tickets, you rich bastards. But I still have hundreds of cassettes of rare, live music that has rarely been played, much less circulated. Anyone interested in uploading these to the internet? It’s too much work for me and who really gives a crap about audience recordings anymore? There is simply not enough time anymore to enjoy my collection, which, as many local record show attendees are aware, has been practically given away for most of my life. I should have been greedy and priced the stuff higher, but I hope you got a good bargain, because I’m not giving the stuff away anymore, you cheap bastards.

  24. J. Welf says


  25. Richard Brody says

    I lost my 45s in a move some years ago, including my first purchase “That’ll Be The Day” and although I use iTunes I have had more than a few problems with it. Sometime last summer half of my library got lost and the iTunes instructions for finding the files has not worked. This has confirmed my lack of faith in technology and my utter incompetence in all things technological. And as an old guy I want something that I can hold in my hands so I know that it’s real. Hey we all need some illusions and this is one of mine. I have about 1200 CDs, about 600 vinyl, and my question for all of you is how do you find the time to listen to all of your music because I can’t seem to find it anymore.

  26. Rich says

    I agree with GIL on all accounts.
    Also in the past 8 to 10 years I have sold or given away all my main stream music and now only buy Christian Music on CDs… see and click on artists.

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