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ARSCLIST  January 2008

ARSCLIST January 2008

Subject:

Re: The "dumbing down" of Downloaded Recordings

From:

Malcolm Davidson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 25 Jan 2008 11:45:58 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (145 lines)

Jim,

you describe what many people within the industry have felt for a long time.
Unfortunately it is but " a symptom of a greater malaise", and that malaise
is that the public in general are living even faster and more superficail
lives than ever before.  They are racing to fill a void which the capitalist
system says must be filled with "stuff",  with the mistaken belief that
somehow they will feel happier.  This overtly superficail lifestyle leaves
no time for contemplation or an appreciation of the true beauty of
something, within the artistic domain.  Young people have no inclination to
appreciate the real aesthetic of a well crafted recording played through a
high quality playback system.

One of my step daughters used to do her homework whilst listening to MP3's,
the net result was that she didn't do well with either. Many young adults in
the UK spend their money binge drinking today whereas in the 1960's and
1970's many young people spent their hard earned cash buying records and
subsequently enjoying the music on the stereo;  long before computers cell
phones and ipods.

There is an excess of external stimulation in the 21st century and it is a
race to the bottom, via quantity over quality.  The music industry had an
opportunity with high resolution audio, but the competitive nature of
business resulted in a format war, DVD audio versus SACD, with the result
that both camps lost out.  Many people don't even know that DVD stands for
Digital Versatile Disk.  (not video)

The fragmentation within the marketplace is reflected in the fragmentation
of the mind and being of young people today, who have a plethora of choice
which makes discernment incredibly difficult.  The music companies and the
hardware manufacturers have to realize that a community approach which is
more coherent can offer up a simpler, more standardizing offering to the
public which can ultimately enhance the listening experience.

Regardless of quality,  (192 KHz 24 bit, all the way down to 128 Kbps MP3
rate) our industry is market driven not quality driven.  As mentioned in
response to Jiim, education to both the public and the music industry
executives is important if we don't want the innate joy and beauty of music
to go the way of the dodo.

Storage capacities and download speeds continue to increase and the
opportunities will be there to sell quality products.

In any offering it would be nice to have a choice of product; all neatly
labelled.

High Res:   [packaged goods with liner notes]      [download]        (full
album or track by track)
CD            [packaged goods with liner notes]      [download]
(full album or track by track)
Compressed    (full album or track by track)
Streaming    choose your quality?

The technology and source material is available for this kind of collective
coherent offering; it will be up to our industry at large whether we can
jointly make the step to embrace improvements.  I can envision one day when
someone creates a state of the art listening room for an audience of say
40 - 60 people and puts on concerts of classical music streamed from a
central site. (with the requisite rights being honored)These recordings
would be high resolution multichannel and either streamed or downloaded for
playback.  No doubt there are many ways that can be envisioned for
maximising the technology available and the listener experience for the
benefit of all.

Jim, thanks for reminding is of the slippery slope!

Malcolm Davidson

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Lindner" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, January 25, 2008 8:54 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] The "dumbing down" of Downloaded Recordings


> Is it just me who wonders about this? With the hundreds of articles I
> have been reading on the changes in media distribution (literally
> hundreds and is this a REALLY big surprise??) I have not read one -
> not one - that makes any mention of the fact that the quality of the
> recordings being distributed by download are significantly compressed
> and poorer then those distributed on media. Of course it does not
> have to be this way - there is no reason why .wav files could not be
> being downloaded instead of AAC or MP3 - but no one seems to care -
> at all.
>
> I figure that if anywhere - the members on this list should care. I
> don't get it - why aren't people complaining? Has our benchmark for
> quality become Apple Ipod earbuds? Tell me it isn't so. While people
> are spending untold thousands on Krell's and esoteric speakers what
> we are witnessing here is a recording media and quality implosion and
> I for one am concerned that getting a recording that is of the former
> relatively high (ok we can debate that but this is not the real
> point) quality of recordings on CD will become an impossibility in
> the not too distant future. How come there aren't a bunch of
> audiophiles - or professionals - or both - speaking up and saying to
> the downloading public and to the distributors - hey wait a minute -
> if I am paying the same prices for downloading as I am for physical
> media - the least you can do is give me the same quality.
>
> All I hear is - silence. To me this is a HUGE threat - even short
> term - to what you are going to be able to listen to, and the quality
> of what you will be able to listen to.
>
> So, members of ARSC - I ask you - to discuss this - and - OK I will
> say it - as an organization - take an actual position on this subject
> - let the world know that this is a BIG issue. That is right - I am
> actually advocating for standing up and talking out loud - not to our
> group but to the rest of the planet. If we are not going to take a
> stand on this -  what will we take a stand on? Get some manufacturers
> behind you - you know the Krell and "monster cable" kind of folk that
> have lots of marketing smarts - because there really isn't any point
> in spending thousands of dollars on esoteric gear when the quality of
> the recordings will not let you hear it anyhow. They have allot to
> lose also. What we are talking about here is the dumbing down - the
> AAC'ing of all distributed music and I for one think this is an
> issue. Does anyone agree?
>
>
>
> Jim Lindner
>
> Email: [log in to unmask]
>
>    Media Matters LLC.
>    SAMMA Systems Inc.
>    450 West 31st Street 4th Floor
>    New York, N.Y. 10001
>
> eFax (646) 349-4475
> Mobile: (917) 945-2662
> Office: (212) 268-5528
>
> www.media-matters.net
> Media Matters LLC. is a technical consultancy specializing in
> archival audio and video material. We provide advice and analysis, to
> media archives that apply the beneficial advances in technology to
> collection management.
>
> www.sammasystems.com
> SAMMA Systems provides tools and products that implement and optimize
> the advances in modern technology with established media preservation
> and access practices.
>
>

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