So... What Comes After The CD?

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Unfortunately, I see the following:

As many people keeping up with music industry news should know by now, the sale of CD's has been in a steady decline, dropping faster than ever over the past 10 years or so. Also, unfortunately, the rise of illegal downloads has increased inversly. (I don't claim to advocate them, but I can't say much...) At the moment, it looks like this may be the end of physical music distribution. But what if there was something new to come along? I was thinking of something comparable to the rise of Blu-Ray discs over DVD's. Could there ever be something like a Hi-Definition CD as the popular media format?

The quality of CD's could be better than they are, yet the only way to get the highest quality out of music at the moment appears to be lossless downloads, usually from the artist's (or company's) website. I forget who it is, but some musician is trying to get a group of other musicians together to start making higher quality CD's. Is this the future of music?

Or are we going to go back to vinyl? With everything going on, several people are going back to vinyl albums, which they claim sounds better ("warmer") than their partner CD's. While I seriously doubt that it is possible for the mass public to start listening to records again, it remains a slight possibilty that the now niche market could expand.

Whew, after all that, my question is pretty simple: with the growing want of portable music (and the decline of the want for higher quality), what is going to replace the CD (or download, at this point) as the popular format for music distribution?
The dystopic future of music, as I see it, is summed up in a very few words:
DRM-enabled subscription model.

Think Netflix meets Slingbox meets RealPlay 500 (I think that was its name; it was a DVR for TV that let you share videos with other users). Add in a hefty helping of DRM, coupled with audio and bitstream watermarking, and you've got a reasonable view of the future as I see it.

In effect, this would expand the "subscription model" of living and remove yet another arena of purchased items ever being owned by an end consumer.

Quality won't go anywhere (as the audio engineering on today's music is, IMHO, done with a heavy paw), and there's no incentive to release audio compilations longer than 74 minutes (this length of the CD was chosen to accomodate a 73-minute+ Bach symphony) and most labels/managers seem to follow the 10-14 songs per album format.

Vinyl's nice, I agree, but I think that the consumer will ultimately trade quality for the promise of portability/accessibility and will fall for the snare of "unobtrusive" DRM (or just not be told).

Just my $0.06. Hopefully I'm wrong.

For the record, what I want to see is bands/labels/sound engineers making use of all our multi-channel surround sound technology. It's terribly interesting to listen to some items in my collection and find myself actively attending to different speakers as the sound moves and shifts across the soundstage. I just don't see this coming back (at least in this country) as the consumer is on a steady diet of crap. Oh, and I also want to see Fair Use make a comeback - specifically, the portion about being able to make a backup copy of your purchased media for yourself in the event of degredation or damage. That'd be nice.
 

d4l

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Simple there will never will be anything past cds. The music industry is too stuck to cds and anything new that does come along will be denounced as illegal and stealing as did with mp3s. Mp3 players i think is as far as we will go until the recording industries get their act together.
 

paddedhawk

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I think that eventually everthing will be downloaded and saved to a hard drive. as for the file types someone needs to tell everybody about .ogg files as well as lossless files. .ogg (and .flac for lossless) are opensource formats so nobody has to play to encode or play them. (Yes you still have to pay for the music)
 

Point

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Well, crap. I just ordered four CDs from Amazon. Does that mean I'm obso1337 now?

All doking aside, um, I don't know where it'll go. I can't stand the "99 cent downloads omfg" because I can't stand having incomplete albums. If I find a song gets lost in transmission when I move all my files at once, I will spend as much time necessary to get the song. I hate it when people have like, 3 songs by a band on their iPod. I know a lot of music isn't easy to like right away and that's why people only buy a few tracks. But there are a lot of people who, like me, can't do without the whole album.

Only recently have I been interested in buying CDs (mostly ones torrented) because they're nice to have. I don't care for quality as much as good music, but CDs are a trophy and, better yet, mobile!

Minidisks may be the next step. I mostly like the case with CD, but CDs are becoming quickly obsolete :(
 
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alaninnc

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I am old enough to remember the 33 1/2, 78, 45 rcords, then reel to reel tape to 8 tracks and cartridges. The same thing has happened with videos from VCR, Beta,laser disc and now DVD. I am sure technology will never stop and things will get easier to use and small.
 

Target

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I don't know what will come, but I'm sure that CDs will never disappear.
take an example. In music, before CDs there were MCs And before them Vinyls.
Think about collectors; there are people who want to collect all merchandise from a particoular band, so they will be always in search of things.
producer knows that these people exist, that's why some bands actually release copies af singles on vinyls too. It's all marketing.

Maybe the future will be a card with a chip or a chip itself loaded with all information/music we want
 
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gamebaby

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well i like the idea of having a beter cd or way to listen to music. but maby we will get chips implanted in our brain to remember evry song and play it in our heads so we can still hear evrything else. but you could have diles on your ear to turn it up. if that hapens tho have fun thinking.
 

Fire2box

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well i like the idea of having a beter cd or way to listen to music. but maby we will get chips implanted in our brain to remember evry song and play it in our heads so we can still hear evrything else. but you could have diles on your ear to turn it up. if that hapens tho have fun thinking.
We are not up to that point and if we were I would not want any type of computer chip in my body no matter how much I love tech and computers.
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Now playing: Dave Matthews Band - Dave Matthews Band - Wild Horses (acoustic)
via FoxyTunes
 

whitefox

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At the moment, it looks like quality over quantity for most people. I did some calculations (sort of) a few days ago, and found that the average size of a 4 minute song in AAC format (iTunes) at 256kpbs and 44.1 sample rate (hZ, I think) is 8MB. It's pretty much twice the length of the song, so 5:20 would be around 10MB, or 6:31 would be about 12.6MB.

With the normal 128 kpbs, a 4 minute song is around 4MB. On that thought, with a 30GB iPod, or any music player, you could store 7,168 four minute songs, or at the higher quality, 3,584. That's a pretty big difference.... While I'd like to have the best quality possible, the little difference it makes with AAC might make me choose quantity at the moment.
 

kite

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i predict they're going to move to "rented" media. downloads and thumbdrives with drm'd media that will be timed to delete when moved after 24 hours. they already started doing it at staples with rented dvds.
 
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i predict they're going to move to "rented" media. downloads and thumbdrives with drm'd media that will be timed to delete when moved after 24 hours. they already started doing it at staples with rented dvds.
Oh good - we've come philosophically full-circle to CircuitCity's DivX contribution[1] again. Those ones, for the record, actually oxidized a pigment layer on the disk itself - within about 3 days, the media would be black and unreadable.

[1] I mangled the reference, above. CircuitCity used a dial-in check to (re)authorize DVD rentals. Flexplay are the ones with the self-destructing disks
 
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Darkfinn

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Oh good - we've come philosophically full-circle to CircuitCity's DivX contribution again. Those ones, for the record, actually oxidized a pigment layer on the disk itself - within about 3 days, the media would be black and unreadable.
So we are going to become more of a throw-away culture than ever? Lovely...
 

whitefox

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At this point I'm not quite sure how that's possible.
 

Aki

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Yeah. I have a feeling it's going to be all digital from here. Buy flash drives in the store, or download it online. The days of physical music distribution are numbered.
 

andysetra

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I have an issue with how compressed music is getting (not talking physical size, but the removal of loudness variations). It makes all new music (and rereleased music) sound like crap. Honestly, I have scratched up vinyl that sounds so much better than the compressed release on CD... MP3's and digital downloads (although convenient...I guess...) are a step backwards for sound quality (the other type of compression...file size related), so if we do head in that direction it's going to really suck if you have a good sound system...either that or we'll be downloading 300-700mb albums :p
 

Sawaa

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Ever heard a well mastered SACD? That ought to be the future, omigosh. With most BluRay players able to play these marvelous discs, hopefully we'll see a bit more uptake~
 

Fire2box

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Hard Drives and even Flash Drives are getting so big now you should not need any compression on digital music if you don't want it. Of Course you will never fit the same amount of music on your players then people that don't care for compression at all. The next computer I will get I'll be building and I am going to buy at least one TB hard drive for it.
 

Spirit

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I don't think there will be any new technology that will surpass the CD. It will all be online or "push" content.

If you think about it, there really isn't anything that can surpass the music CD. However, high-definition content (Blu-ray) will still go strong for a long time, our bandwidth still isn't enough to shove them through at a solid speed.

Speaking of bandwidth, I was reading a magazine (PC Authority I think it was), there was a large article about how the internet can become "full". While the internet itself may be virtual, it's storage isn't. That problem is all attributed to the "last mile", that is from the node to the premises.

While this article discussed fears that the internet as a whole could slow to a crawl, again this is attributed to the last mile. So come on, Telcos, give us phat pipes!

By the way, raw CD audio isn't exactly "compressed" if it's 14 times larger than a typical MP3...
 
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I have an issue with how compressed music is getting (not talking physical size, but the removal of loudness variations). It makes all new music (and rereleased music) sound like crap.
Hear, hear! (no pun intended)

To my ears, it seems that music now is like an endless Billy Mays commercial - IT IS ALL EQUALLY LOUD AND FLAT, TO THE EAR WHAT TYPING ALL IN BOLD CAPS IS TO THE EYE. And this means that nothing sounds really different anymore.

About the most fantastic mix on CD I've found (outside of Alan Parsons Project CDs) comes from Happyhead and their one CD, Give Happyhead. Teeth-shattering highs (Hurt, Dirt, and Desire), gut-rumbling bass(Atomic Candy), and clear midrange vocals give the album an incredible sense of range while the audio engineer actually brings the master volume back from "11" and varies the track layout accordingly.

I'm currently in the process of collecting samples from the 1920s onward to see if this is just a case of me getting older and more irritable (you know, against these darn kids and their boom-boxes!) or if there's really something to it.

Honestly, I have scratched up vinyl that sounds so much better than the compressed release on CD... MP3's and digital downloads (although convenient...I guess...) are a step backwards for sound quality (the other type of compression...file size related), so if we do head in that direction it's going to really suck if you have a good sound system...either that or we'll be downloading 300-700mb albums :p
I use FLAC to encode the things I really want to preserve, but also want somewhat portable. I find it better than MP3 while still within the "spirit" of media storage.
 

andysetra

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By the way, raw CD audio isn't exactly "compressed" if it's 14 times larger than a typical MP3...

I'm referring to a different type of compression (audio level compression), whic is not related to digital file size:


Dynamic range compression - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

h3g3l said:
I use FLAC to encode the things I really want to preserve, but also want somewhat portable. I find it better than MP3 while still within the "spirit" of media storage.

I've started to use FLAC a lot more in the last year. There is a clear difference, and it's more noticeable, the better the speakers are.
 
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