Crossing the streams

In this day and age, I still buy CD’s. I like them. I like that I can put them on the shelf at home and, when I look at them in years to come, they’ll spark a memory from the time when I first listened to the music on them. I like that I can rip the music from them and stick it on my phone, my laptop, my NAS drive at home, or any future device I might choose to listen to music on.

It’s that last bit that highlights a problem, though, in that for the most part I rip CD’s one time at a reasonably high bit rate and then they sit on the shelf gathering dust with the others. So, as much as I like buying and owning CD’s – not to mention the thrill of the chase in various music stores – they are but a conduit in terms of getting the music to me.

A few years back I bought the odd single from 7Digital – more because I either couldn’t find a CD in the shops or online, or it was too expensive when I did. Then, one day, I bought a whole album. I thought I’d miss having a physical CD with a nice booklet, and that I wouldn’t be happy with the quality unless I’d ripped it myself with my own settings.

The reality was that it sounded just fine and, as it only cost £5, seemed like a reasonable trade off in terms of convenience versus the lack of physical album. In the last three years I’ve gone on to buy quite a few albums under the condition that they’re worth it if they cost a bit less than the album would in the shop. £5 or less is the sweet spot – any more than that and I start doing all sorts of price-per-track and price-per-good-track calculations to figure out what business strategy folk would probably call the value proposition.

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