While CD album sales decline year after year, the US market still managed to gobble up 140.8 million CDs in 2014. That's still a big number, but LP sales got a lot more media attention, because 2014 vinyl sales numbers were up an astonishing 51.8 percent increase over 2013! When the smoke cleared, actual LP sales totaled 9.2 million in 2014, and that pales next to 140.8 million CDs, so where's the love for the CD?
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see vinyl getting so much coverage on mainstream media, but it's more than a little ironic that the still very significant CD sales numbers are completely ignored. Yes, CD sales are down, but download sales are heading south as well -- they were down 9.2 percent in 2014. CDs were, as you may recall, the original consumer digital format, and they dates back to the early 1980s! Long before there was FLAC or ALAC lossless digital, CDs were uncompressed (lossless).
As for CD sound quality, it's only gotten better over the years, thanks to ongoing improvements in analog-to-digital, and digital-to-analog conversion technologies. Tidal recently started streaming CD-quality 44.1 kHz/16-bit FLAC files for $19.99/£19.99 a month in the US and UK.
The PonoMusic store has gained some attention for touting high-resolution downloads, but looking over the offerings I don't see too many high-resolution albums; most are CD quality 44.1 kHz/16-bit (or 24-bit) FLAC files. In my opinion, high-resolution audio sound quality benefits start with, at a minimum, 48 kHz/24-bit files, and up until recently most audiophiles considered 88.2 kHz/24-bit high-resolution files the starting point.
That's all well and good, but for most people CD quality is more than acceptable, and more music is available on CD than any other format. I own thousands of CDs (and LPs) and see no reason to abandon either format. With 2014 US CD sales of 140.8 million (and many times that worldwide), I'm hardly alone in supporting the CD format.
The music industry's sales slump is tied to album sales figures, 257 million albums in total -- on CD, LP and digital - that were sold in the US in 2014; that's an 11 percent drop from 2013's 289 million tally.
If you buy CDs or LPs, go ahead and share your thoughts in the Comments section.