MP3 versus CD (Vinyl rules!)

I’m open-minded when it comes to technology and music.

Yes, I’m still a dinosaur in that I prefer vinyl to any other form for music storage. I’ll go to my grave arguing that vinyl is warmer and much truer to life. In fact, I’ll argue that because of the limitations of vinyl, the studio engineering back then was often superior to what is produced now.

I won’t argue that CDs are crisper and more detailed. I still believe that because CDs are digital, and digital is broken down into 1s and 0s, and square waveforms, that there is something missing in that process, especially when ears and instruments are analog.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to digress into an argument on the relative merits of either, I own both and I’m gradually increasing my CD library if only as a means to preserve my more favored vinyl records.

Which brings me to the problems with MP3. I won’t pretend to know anything about the different forms of compression or what possible icky things happen to music when it’s copied and converted from one computer format to another, not to mention what happens during downloads. Suffice to say it can’t be good.

The problem I have with MP3 is the way it truncates songs. I have an MP3 player and I have CDs that I copy and convert from the CD to the computer for transfer over to the MP3 player via a USB cord.

The songs on the CD play perfectly, flawlessly, and uninterrupted from start to finish, just as the musician meant for it to play.

But when I transfer this same music from CD to MP3 it suddenly develops fits, with these glaring stops and starts that didn’t exist there mere moments ago. On the CD there is a seamless transition from one song to another, however, when it transfers to MP3 it has these annoying pauses as one song ends and the next one begins.

Two albums that this is most apparent and aggravating are Captain Beyond and The Beatles Abby Road, particularly the second side (for you vinyl users).

The uninterrupted sequence starts with Mean Mr. Mustard. On the album, or CD, when you listen to this section, it sounds like one long, continuous, uninterrupted song, (understand that it is several songs all blended perfectly together). To use a visual analogy, it goes like this: Mean Mr. Mustard Polythene Pam She Came in Through the Bathroom Window Golden Slumbers Carry That Weight The End. On the MP3 player it comes across like this:
Mean Mr. Mustard Po-STOP!
lythene Pam Sh-STOP!
e Came in Through the Bathroom Window Go-STOP!
lden Slumbers Ca-STOP!
rry That Weight Th-STOP!
e End

Each song ends abruptly even though you can hear the next one starting. There is a second or so delay, then the next song starts up more or less already in progress.

It’s annoying as hell because The Beatles meant for those to be one seamless musical composition. As one ends the other comes sweeping in, with no discernable beginning or end.

The same is true for Captain Beyond’s entire debut album. On vinyl it has one stop. Where you have to flip the record. Transferred to MP3 all these songs that blend and sweep and transition through each other now have these annoying stops.

Makes me want to throw the MP3 player across the room and lug around a CD player. I don’t know how some people can claim to have their entire music collection on their MP3 player because that sort of thing alone makes me not enjoy the technology.

Maybe some of you just don’t know any better. I feel sorry for musicians who try to be creative with song transitions only to have the whole thing bastardized by technology.

I may be a dinosaur, but I’m enjoying music the way it was meant to be heard.

Oh, criminey! Now I’m listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and I noticed the same disturbing STOP between Brain Damage and Eclipse, which are seamlessly tied together on the album.

Crap. I just noticed on Santana III when it goes from Batuka to No One to Depend On to Taboo that the smooth transition is gone.

*hurls the MP3 player across the room*

You brought that upon yourself!

-30-

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5 thoughts on “MP3 versus CD (Vinyl rules!)

  1. You old grouch.

    🙂

    When I want to hear a record like the Beatles’ Abby Road, then I play the CD on my bigger stereo, where I get some oomph from it. With the MP3 player, I can accept the split-second pause because it’s a small trade for the portability of my musical library. Which is really nice in long car trips, and better than my CD binder, which weighs umpty million pounds at this point.

  2. Yeah, I’ve noticed that pause on some Tool CDs, where the tracks are designed to blend smoothly into each other – but I do like the portability of the little mp3 player I have. It’s nice to take the music from my CD’s out to the garage for a few hours, or while I’m mowing the lawn.

    I don’t have any vinyl anymore, and nothing to play them on if I did. But I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t miss those scratches they’d get and all that skipping! 😀

  3. Well, I take my MP3 player to work. Its still annoying to have the stops, especially if I’m trying to concentrate on something and suddenly there’s nothing there where something should be there.

    And as far as vinyl, if cared for properly, they lasted a good long time. With proper handling, regular cleaning, you’d never get that hiss everyone associates with vinyl.

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