Physical Media vs Digital…

A question that music lovers still ponder!

Over the last week, and honestly the last year, I have been trying to wrap my head around the age old debate of what is better: digital or actual physical media. Collectors of media, especially vinyl, will say that vinyl is the best; but just recently I have read an article that states: Audiophiles claim that analog playback sounds better, even though this is scientifically untrue. According to science, a CD and a vinyl record being pulled from the same original material are mathematically identical. Without going too far into it, suffice it to say that the 44.1 kHz/16-bit CD-quality spec isn’t random—it’s based on sampling theory, which proves that given that the highest frequency you can here is 20,000 Hz, using a higher sampling rate or resolution is mathematically inconsequential. Some people choose to dispute science and instead trust their easily deluded senses, or maybe they just like the sound of a record scratching on the surface of a record.

For me, I don’t think it has been a matter of sound as I honestly don’t hear the difference. When iPods first came around, I was one of the first to jump on board; because living the music, you want it with you every place you go and cassettes and mixed CDs just didn’t cut it anymore. I digitalized all my CDs and vinyl and then purged because why in the hell do I need all this clutter when everything I own is in my pocket, plus I have a backup of it on my hard drive.

Now I am rethinking my decision.

I look at my collection and worry because some of my songs and albums are so rare that they are not on digital media. Let’s take some very obscure groups like “Pares Y Nones” and I wonder if there is actually anything about this group online. Doubt it. But the 5 girl group hailed from El Monte, California and made one record that sold in the old Menudo store there because the man who ran it, also was the manager of this pop group. It was released on a small label that might have had only one or two acts. There is no way this will ever find a digital play or the fact that I will probably never see this album again. I pray that my 10 digital songs stay with me because this is the only way I have this music. So now I am trying to see if digital is the way to go with the music.

One of the hardest things to do is go back, especially in the US, this music is extremely hard to come by. This would require many trips across the border and lots of dollars because Mexican sellers know how hard it to locate these items that they are putting a pretty penny on it. That all fine for older stuff, but Mexico and other Latin American countries are not embracing the resurgence of vinyl like the US and the UK. Artists like Flans, OV7 and even CD9 are still pushing digital downloads of their music. Most artists are pushing downloads instead actual CDs. It’s quick and easy, and ready for instant comments from their followers.

I am finding new artists left and right because of social media and outlets like Spotify that lets me listen to music for free; but dammit… I want to have more ways to purchase music other than downloading. Or is it just the way it is and I have to deal with this? My girlfriend says format doesn’t matter because if what matters is truly the music, then why worry about all these new artists and finding their CDs…just download the music and enjoy it or hate it. Whose right and whose wrong. While I don’t know either or right or either or wrong… I think it comes down to what is easier to get sometimes. Why work so hard to get your music?

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