Melissa, I agree with all of your key points, but I don't think you are typical of younger folks
today (indeed, none of us on this list are likely typical of our age group because from the outset
we value recordings and sound more than the typical "civilian" -- the "civilian" may well value
music more or less than any of us, but I'm talking about recordings and sound).
Regarding the iPod, I actually think it's one of the greatest innovations of this century so far. I
love the darn thing. So much music with me at any time. And what really sold me was podcasts. What,
convenient time-shifting of radio programming and some TV shows? Deal me in! I can't believe no
one's come up with a viable competitive product, but give credit to Apple where it's due. As one who
embraced cassettes (made by me, not junky mass-duped tapes priced like LPs) for on-the-go listening,
and as a charter member of the "Walkman Generation," this was a logical and much-appreciated next
step -- the equivilent of a giant tape cabinet or record shelf in one little thing I can plug into
my car or listen in yard or pop into a speaker in the kitchen. It could have all been done better
(higher-rez downloads from the get-go, default ripping at least 256k from the get-go, iTunes
software sucked at first, the database groups -- cddb/Gracenote and freedb -- have been Amateur
Night in Siberia from the get-go and continue to be despite Gracenote's for-profit operation). But
I've been happy with each evolution, there's added functionality and the sound quality has improved
somewhat (256kbps iTunes and Amazon downloads definitely sound better than 128kbps, but they are not
CD quality). All in all, I'd say the iPod Era is in many ways a dream come true for music lovers. I
didn't say recordings and sound lovers, I said music lovers.
Now as to your comment about CD's and physical artifacts -- totally agree. But this is not mutually
exclusive to the iPod Era. More than 95% of the nearly 160gigs on my iPod is ripped from my own
CD's. Just like when I made cassettes of my LPs to take on the go (but oh so much easier!), I keep
my physical artifacts with their graphics and liner notes for when I can sit down and LISTEN, at
home, usually on big speakers in a good room. So OK, that's maybe 25% of my listening time, at best.
For the other 75%, the iPod Era has made my music life more diverse and convenient, and the sound
quality of 256kbps is already better than cassettes and at 320kbps it's pretty hard to tell the
difference over headphones on a train from a real-deal CD.
As for mastering, or lack thereof, you are 100% correct. I've stepped on a high soapbox about this
many times in this forum, so I'll refrain now except to say that no non-deaf human wants to be
aurally assaulted with zero-dB dynamics and toothpasted fuzz-distorted sound.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Melissa Widzinski" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:44 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The TV thread...
> Speaking as one from "the younger set," I will say that I always purchase
> new recordings in CD form. I see mp3 or any other compressed digital file as
> a devaluing of the art. Additionally, with a digital file, one doesn't get a
> physical product or any details of the recording along with the file besides
> basic metadata. The file simply enters into a sprawling digital music
> library such as iTunes, and more likely than not gets forgotten about in a
> few weeks. As much as iTunes is trying to become a visual music library,
> with its "Cover Flow" feature, it cannot compare to a real music library
> (particularly with all of the errors in automatic album art downloads that I
> have noticed in the new version of iTunes.)
> Am I saying that I am going to go and destroy my ipod? No. I think that it
> can be a very valuable educational tool, particularly coming from the
> perspective of a former music major. Using it, I was easily able to do score
> studying while in the practice room, complete music theory assignments that
> involved transcribing recordings, and to reference and review recordings in
> chamber ensemble rehearsals (integrating with the speakers installed in the
> rehearsal rooms by the school.) However, I would not prefer to do primary
> listening using my iPod.
> That being said, my biggest gripe with the music of today is the big range
> of "acceptable" mastering quality (or lack thereof). No matter what format
> on which a recording is distributed, I feel that not enough attention is
> given to this step in the recording process. I think that since making
> recordings has become something that can be done cheaply, the average
> quality of recording output has also diminished. Because of resources
> available today through the internet, novices making recordings can easily
> distribute their recordings without even considering a mastering step. The
> volume of poor material that is floating around out there is also adding to
> the devaluing of recorded music as art, IMHO.
> I also enjoy fine wine.
> -Melissa Widzinski
> On 12/8/10 3:43 PM, "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> So the younger set prefers to download instead of buy CDs; easier to
>> shop, easier to use. Not necessarily better or better sounding, just
>> easier. That's one thing I liked about CDs over LPs, that they lasted
>> longer, didn't wear or scratch given reasonably careful treatment, but I
>> set the limit there. I still don't like MP3 files if I have a choice and
>> I like owning CDs. Like just about everyone else in my generation.
>> joe salerno
>> On 12/8/2010 1:16 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> Not sure what you're saying that's that much different from what I'm
>>> saying. My main point is that the younger generation seems not to mind a
>>> lower-quality experience with media (and many other things) as long as
>>> it's cheap, plentiful and convenient.
>>> That said, when I was a young-un, the typical teenager had a Walkman of
>>> one Japanese brand or another and a pile of really bad sounding
>>> fast-duped cassettes. Those of us who made our own cassettes from
>>> better-sounding LPs were in the small minority. And believe me, if there
>>> had been pre-recorded cassettes priced comparable to LPs that sounded as
>>> good as LPs, I'd have stopped buying LPs immediately. Why? Cassettes
>>> were more convenient and portable. So perhaps it's been ever thus.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "[log in to unmask]"
>>> <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 12:29 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The TV thread...
>>>> There is another viewpoint to this argument. Wine drinkers want what
>>>> Tom has defined or simply to numb their senses. There are different
>>>> kinds of wines. Young people may want a caffeine buzz. Different
>>>> There are plenty of young people at movie theatres, which is one
>>>> reason I don't go there much anymore. I dislike crowds, cell phones
>>>> shining in my eyes, and people talking or smacking on popcorn while I
>>>> try to watch a movie that I paid too much to see in the first place.
>>>> In the day of real film (not digital projectors) add to this list the
>>>> wretched condition of the print after it has been run for a while. And
>>>> the lousy sound quality of some theatres. I learned a long time ago
>>>> that all the arguments for film being superior to TV jut don't hold up
>>>> so well in the real world.
>>>> joe salerno
>>>> On 12/8/2010 9:18 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>>>>> It's all about convenience and ubiquity with the younger generations.
>>>>> They don't really care about media quality as much as they care about
>>>>> media quantity and accessibility at all times and in all places. It's
>>>>> like thinking about fine wine (here made akin to high-resolution media
>>>>> played back on good equipment in a comfortable but not necessarily
>>>>> convenient location) vs. Coca-Cola from a vending machine. It's are you
>>>>> thirsty or do you wish for a deeper sensation of taste and feeling? I
>>>>> think younger people don't even know the deeper experience is out there
>>>>> because they are drowning in a sea of thirst-slaking. This argument is
>>>>> made by high-end audio mags and dealers all the time. They say if you
>>>>> expose your average younger kid to better sound and video, they'll want
>>>>> it, they just didn't know it was out there. I haven't seen any
>>>>> large-number evidence of exposure translating to desire, however. The
>>>>> sea of junk-media is time-sucking and all-encompassing, so when is there
>>>>> time to enjoy "fine wine"?
>>>>> -- Tom Fine