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Poll: What do you miss most about the pre-MP3-download era?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / April 23, 2008 7:57 AM PDT

Read CNET editor Donald Bell's MP3 Insider blog: '98 to '08: What we lost along the way, to get a better feel of this poll:

What do you miss most about the pre-MP3-download era?

Album artwork. (Please explain.)
Liner notes. (Please explain.)
The social aspect of it. (How so?)
Tangible aspect of actually owning something. (How so?)
Going to music stores. (Please explain.)
The new album "smell." (Please explain.)
Potential resale value. (Please explain.)
What are you talking about? Buying music online is all I know. (Do you even own a music CD?)
I don?t miss any of it. (Really? Why not?)
Other (What is it?)

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I don't miss much
by ktreb / April 23, 2008 12:02 PM PDT

I guess the only thing I really miss is going to the record store and searching through bins for artists I've never heard of. I'm kind of still mourning the loss of Tower Records. Not too much, I suppose. I really haven't bought many cds in the last 5 years and most of what I did buy I got from Amazon.

What I definitely don't miss: spending $11.99-$17.99 plus tax for one or two (if I'm lucky, three) tracks I really want while the rest of the cd worthless. Now I can pick and choose which songs I want. Every once in a while, I will buy an entire album download and even a cd. I have more options now.

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Tower records! I spent more time there than in class ;-)
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / April 24, 2008 4:51 AM PDT
In reply to: I don't miss much

I loved Tower records and Rasputins! It's too bad Tower folded, it was one of my favorite music store! When Tower records folded, I knew it was the sign of the times of online music eventually dominating the music industry... ah the good old days. Happy

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Tower records vs MP3 players
by GR_MIMI / April 24, 2008 11:09 AM PDT

I doubt that there are many operas or classical piano concertos available on MP3. The joy of browsing through Tower Records was the discovery of a composer I had never heard of. Yes, we can still order classical records from Amazon but it's a lot more difficult just to browse. After Tower closed, we still had Virgin Records. Had, but now they are gone too, unless we want to go to London. At least, I assume they are still open in the U.K. Pop music is fine but very few of the artists and their songs last as long as something by Ravel or Purcell.

Grandma Mimi

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Classics on MP3
by LawrenceHare / April 25, 2008 12:48 AM PDT

Ah - but there are! Classical and operatic options on mp3s, just about anything you want! I invested in SONOS and have never regretted it. It hooks to the internet and I get great selections of on-line radio and so on, but what is really the most amazing thing is Rhapsody! Just about everything I have ever wanted is there, and usually with multiple artists, performers and locations. SONOS is hooked to a network drive with all my own personal music on it, and it is hooked to my home theater which has a turntable so it can play all my LPs, CDs and our old tapes. SONOS is expensive, and it has taken a number of years to finally get the system I wanted - but, by gum, is it worth every penny!


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I miss gatefold albums, Albums that clock in at 45 minutes..
by drjudsjr / April 24, 2008 8:44 AM PDT
In reply to: I don't miss much

a SQUARE FOOT of artwork on the front... that feeling of anticipation when you hear the needle touch down for the first time, then the RECORD takes you off to another place...

oh and I also miss my 1200 MkII's...

the cool thing about mp3's though is just letting it go on shuffle for days... yet still being able to hear a whole album, (minus the crap that gets shoveled on in the era of 70 minutes being normal length)

yes, I bought CD's, I Bought Tapes, I buy Mp3's, and I still Buy records... I remember thinking people were nuts when they said we could store music on a chip...

I also miss Free Form FM (not JACK or BOB or Hank or whatever radio) when the DJ got on and played a basically a set opening up our ears to new music and old...

I miss Radio Doctors, a place where one day I bought Ronnie James Dio, Kraftwerk and Chicago at the same time, and I never heard Kraftwerk before I walked into the store...

There really is a simple beauty about hearing something new that blows you away especially when you already are looking for something new...

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sound quality
by stevenstlou / April 24, 2008 6:59 AM PDT

I may sound ol but you can't beat the sound of a good old Album! The true bass and the warmth. Rock n Roll doesn't sound as good on CD or mp3 but that is what we have today.

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Miss the tangible owned product
by killianred / April 24, 2008 7:14 AM PDT
In reply to: sound quality

I do miss the record stores. I still have all my albums, but no record player. No MP3's. I do buy CD's when I find them for my car's 6 cd changer, oh how I do love that little machine. I listen to the 60's-70's via my DirectTV subscription and today is the 60's. Great listening on XMradio...I get lots of housework done. I still have a big stack of cassettes, and listen to them on the patio when working outside really loud too....I miss a lot of what is gone, and going to be gone. Shoot if the gasoline keeps rising, we all will be riding bicycles to get around...LOL

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Exactly! The sound quality!
by robwired / April 24, 2008 8:03 AM PDT
In reply to: sound quality

MP3 sound quality is inferior to a hard-copy CD, so I still buy CDs. Now, I may not buy so many of them, but that has more to do with the formula for success: to sound more like everyone else than everyone else does. But that goes for the music as online digital media, too. I do have iTunes on my computer, but Lou Reed said at SXSW that if you want a sound you can listen on your computer, you've got it:
"You have the world open to you now; you can get almost any song in the world as an MP3, and I suppose if you like it you can go out and try to find a version you can actually listen to -- if you like good sound. If you don't like good sound, none of this matters for a second."

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sound quality
by Steven8557 / April 24, 2008 2:04 PM PDT
In reply to: sound quality

I agree! I have a great media player (iriver clix) but it doesn't come close to the sound of a great old stereo using records or CD's. It seems even the best downloads don't come close to the sound reproduction, even with SRS, WOW, or adjustments available on media players. Sometimes I miss the old school bass, treble, and balance knobs.

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Re: sound quality -- Yes!
by doremifaso / April 24, 2008 3:34 PM PDT
In reply to: sound quality

I wholeheartedly agree with you that the sound quality of vinyl is superior to that of digital. The warmth of the music is indeed sadly missing on CDs and mp3s. Neil Young once explained this phenomenon during an interview, mentioning how with digital all you have are 0's and 1's, whereas with vinyl you get everything inbetween. (Or something like that...I'm no expert but it makes total sense to me!) :- )

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by Wordman1 / April 24, 2008 5:13 PM PDT
In reply to: sound quality

Ask the guys in the studio what they listen to. They're used to the best sound, that's what they sink their time and money into, and stake their reputations on. At the end of the day I don't hear anyone who raves about the latest mp3 they've downloaded.

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Physical media
by boatboy_srq / April 24, 2008 7:12 AM PDT

What I miss most is the anticipation of a new release, and actually making the effort to go and pick it up. Ownership of the disc/tape/whatever wasn't so much the big deal: it was the level of effort required to obtain it. Admittedly, the effort was only driving or walking to the music store and picking it out, but in comparison to today's download-it-now simplicity that's a substantial difference.

Also, obtaining physical copies meant that one interacted with the shop staff and with other buyers in the same space. Having a human to discuss one's listening preferences is substantially different from having a computer guess by genre: there's a subjective quality in the comparisons a human could make that a computer will never hear.

I think I blame iTunes and Amazon most for killing off so much of the ability to do this. Even the few remaining music shops (outside Virgin) rarely cater to a discerning listener out to explore and not necessarily shopping for a specific artist or title. Without that interaction, one either falls into the trap of staying with what one knows, or submitting to what the search engine computes might be "interesting" to you. That's a very cold method of expanding one's music library.

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Sound Quality
by electron2002 / April 24, 2008 7:15 AM PDT

The glaring thing that is missing from this list that is more important than anything else is sound quality. Isn't the entire reason you listen (and buy) music is for the audible enjoyment?

For me the inferior sound quality of downloaded music has actually caused me to buy music almost exclusively on CD. After I get an album I typically rip it to 320kb MP3. If they can bring up the quality of downloads to match that sound quality, I'd consider them. But for now, I'd rather pay the couple extra dollars for the superior quality.

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Sound Quality is All About the Music
by paoconnell / April 25, 2008 8:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Sound Quality

I also buy all my music on CDs. Downloads just don't have the sound quality that CDs do, even if they're saved as MP3s. I still have my music on clean CDs. That quality is still there if someone invents a music player format that's better than MP3. I also have about 50 albums left out of 300 I used to have, and now have an Ion turntable to move those albums to digital format (many of them are no longer in print).

Incidentally, I miss the art of many LP covers, which are far larger and more detailed than CD covers of course.

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The Loss of the Concept of Right and Wrong - Theft is Theft!
by PeakedWidow / April 24, 2008 7:16 AM PDT

The intangible quality of digital music has led the majority of people to forget that unless stated otherwise, it is protected under some form of copyright or license. In that respect, it is the same as a CD, vinyl record, or whatever example you will. Downloading from torrent sites, ripping music not labeled "for free download" by means of recording from soundcards or the use of software "grabber" programs is theft.

The musicians I count among my friends, along with their colleagues, are primarily independent. The money to record comes from their pockets, directly or indirectly. Thousands of downloads generally lead to the loss of sales. Unlike the recent "mainstream" artists who apparently can afford to give away excess material, these gifted, independent individuals cannot.

Having worked in an old-fashioned record store many years ago, I know the protocol for anyone attempting to walk out of the door without stopping at the cash register. With the advent of digital music, consciences have been reprogrammed.

For the individuals who find other means of acquiring digital downloads with virtual price tags, I have a name: THIEF.

BRN Communications

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The vaunted music CD, cassette, LP and 8-track
by maldelus / April 24, 2008 7:18 AM PDT

I don't miss having any of it as I had to get used to not having music that I could only get on LP's. Like all of Lynn Anderson's Chart music. I was running out of room to store the stuff and then have to locate it when I wanted to hear it. Now I can save it digitally and just magically call the song up.

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I don't miss CDs
by Bageech / April 24, 2008 7:18 AM PDT

I don't miss CDs because I haven't left them. What is an MP3? What I would miss is the physical liner notes. I still play LPs and cassets. I don't want to spend the time learning about digital downloads, etc. when I am happy with what I have.

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I don't miss CDs
by irdac / April 24, 2008 5:11 PM PDT
In reply to: I don't miss CDs

Like Bageech I have never left them. My collection is of classical music which does not date. I can enjoy them for the rest of my life. MP3 quality is so inferior and DRM is so restrictive that rather than be a criminal I just stopped buying music.

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I miss all of it
by garylea / April 24, 2008 7:20 AM PDT

I know, I'm really old. I still have vinyl, reel to reel tapes, cassette tapes, CDs and I also have some MP3s. I can still play it all except the reel to reel. My tape deck needs a new belt. The sound of the vinyl was great but nothing could beat reel to reel. MP3s (and even CDs) still sound tinny to me, even though I have been listening to them for awhile. But the vinyl albums were superior at showing off the album art. Someday I'll convince my wife to allow the old electronics stuff back in the house. It'll probably take a year just to do the maintenance on it all so it'll sound good again.

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sound quality and the album as a whole
by kjhiggins / April 24, 2008 7:26 AM PDT

I have to admit I don't buy music online but when I transfer a CD to my mp3 player I do notice the sound degradation. I've tried many different formats but any that provide reasonable compression don't give consistent results even across songs on the same CD. The other thing I miss is the concept of an album as an entity -- when you can buy just a few songs I think you tend to miss some of the best songs on an album. Some of my favorites are songs that I had to listen to several times before I really appreciated them, and if I base my download decisions on a 30 second sample I know I would miss songs like these.

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by fliersrr / April 24, 2008 7:27 AM PDT

I just miss the nice, state of the art, turntables!

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Sound quality!
by blantto / April 24, 2008 7:27 AM PDT

Mp3's just do not sound very good, but they do allow for easy sampling of the music. If I like the album I go buy it because the sound quality is so much better. I don't use mp3's on my particular portable, I made sure it played flac files because the quality of sound is so much better. I use a Cowon Iaudio F2, in my opinion it is one of the best sounding I have heard and it plays flac files.

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Record store bliss
by yabyum / April 24, 2008 7:29 AM PDT

What do i miss? I miss "the search". "The hunt". The experience of driving all over town (or across state lines) in search of something obscure or rare or that you didn't even know existed by one of your favorite artists. I miss going and traveling to various record stores and chatting with the KNOWLEDGEABLE sales clerks that would turn me on to other artists I might not have been aware of otherwise. The move to the 'convenience' of shopping online has taken the joy out of browsing record store bins. Mom and pop stores can no longer afford to stock a ton of cd's by lesser-known artists, nor can they afford to carry much of a back-catalog. There's something to be said for having to WORK and make an effort to track down your favorite music, and the thrill of cracking the seal or holding it in your hand for the first time. That can never be replicated.

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What I miss most - The album package
by AMSRay / April 24, 2008 7:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Record store bliss

With vinyl you were getting a package - a multimedia experience with what was often excellent creative artwork on the over, the liner notes with background stories, pictures and lyrics to the songs. Think about Electric Light Orchestra "Out of the Blue" with the snap-out mobile. Just because the media got smaller with CD's, doesn't mean that they had to make the packaging smaller and lose all the neat extra goodies. You feel like you're getting less with CD's and digital music, why should they not charge less than they did for Vinyl?

I keep hearing that vinyl will make a comeback and CD's will die off, leaving digital for the mainstream consumers and vinyl for the audiophiles, but they want to see sales go up they need to upgrade the purchase experience with more physical extras and a more appealing packaging.

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by MsDoright / April 24, 2008 8:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Record store bliss

Well said.

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record store bliss
by mas215 / May 8, 2008 10:40 PM PDT
In reply to: Record store bliss

I can't agree more. I used to drive to center city Philly to go to 3rd Street Jazz, a great record store (all types of music) with knowledeable clerks who introduced me to a lot of great music that I would otherwise ignore. And just getting home with a new album, sitting back and reading liner notes, something missing in today's instant download, mp3 world. Too bad.

boynton beach fl usa

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CD's - I still play cassettes
by wylla / April 24, 2008 7:29 AM PDT

Although my freinds laugh at my 220,000+ miles truck, that plays cassettes and doesn't have power anything, and they laugh when they realize the cases of cassettes I still have, besides the cds,
nothing replaces the memories that I have that came with that music. And although I bought my first computer somewhere around 1879 (Atari 400, soldered the memory up to 48K or ram), and still have computers all over and would be lost without them -
nothing takes the place of the music that is on them, or the memories of getting them, enjoying them - and making special tapes (or cds) that were the perfect mix. OF just listening to music, instead of **** it while multi-tasking (as a middle school teacher, there isn't any other state in my life)
AND I OWN them. and see no reason to replace things that still work perfectly well.

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Tone arm envy
by BruceKaplan / April 24, 2008 7:30 AM PDT

While I admit the MP3s sound cleaner, and I don't miss the pops and the hiss, I really miss the individuality and personality of the stereo system. At one point I had a stack of power amp, preamp, tuner, cassette deck, cd deck, A reel to reel, huge speakers, and my beloved Denon Turntable. I miss the careful hand placement of the stylus, the respect you had to show for the fragile vinyl records. Except for obnoxiously expensive equipment today (and I challenge anyone to honestly hear the difference) everything else is sonically transparent - it all sounds the same - all good, but all the same, probably as it should. I miss the magic, but I respect the technology.

Bruce Kaplan
New York

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I miss a good Turntable too...
by drjudsjr / April 24, 2008 8:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Tone arm envy

But I'm not gonna go out and pay a grand for a two ton Tessie to drop a record on... oh and I still have to restore a Victrola, if ya wanna talk about tinny...

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I don't miss CD's much and this is why....
by Propoghandi / April 24, 2008 7:34 AM PDT

1. Easily damaged -- No matter how hard I try to protect my CD's from scratches, eventually my CD's get to the point where you can't listen to them anymore because of the skipping.

2. Capacity -- I've been rocking mp3 capable stereos in my vehicle for years now. Nothing beats being able to cram 200 mp3's onto a CD-R vs. the 20 (+/-) songs available through CDDA format.

3. Custom recordings -- I can pick and choose, mix and match the music I want to listen to without having to fumble around for CD's.


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