will the day come when?

Do my fellow Audiogoners think there will come a day when we won't even be able to give our CDs away, because they will be considered an inferior audio product compared too?
No. Two trends are colliding: better hard copy formats like DVD-Audio, SACD, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, and vinyl versus low res downloadable formats, like MP3. The low res formats will win popular volume, effectively beaching the hi res formats with fewer and fewer buyers. CD's will be considered amongst the high quality versions of performances for the more discerning audiophile. (Note that well done CDs are already there, like XRCD and HDCD.) They will become collecter's items for high end hard copy aficiondos.
I agree with Jameswei.We audiophiles are a minority.All the young people are beeing raised on computers and mp3.My twenty six year old nephew paid me a visit the other day.He has a small system and has always been interested in my sytems over the years.I ask him if he had bought any new equipment lately,he replied he had not touched it or his cd collection in months.He told me it was easier to download songs off the net by computer to his mp3 player,then listen through head phones or play it through an adapter through his car or home system.I don't see any of todays youth buying real home audio systems much at all unless it is low-fi surround systems.In fact none of my sons and daughters friends that are in their twentys and thirtys are buying serious audio systems at all.It's just cheaper and easier to go the pc/mp3/with in ear headphones.I think one day cds will be collecters items.Why the audio manufactures can't see the light and decide on one type of cd or digital format is beyond me.Seems they are cutting their own throats with the red book/sacd/hdcd/blueray war.What do the rest of you guys think?
If you look at the fact that good old RB cd sales have stood up to over 20 years of other formats coming and going (eg. DCC, minidisc, and even mp3 and the recent stalling popularity of HDCD/SACD/DVD-A), there's your answer.

Given the size of the CD back catalog & individual CD collections, plus the backward compatability of DVD players and the simplicity of use, I can't see CD's being made redundant in my lifetime.
Just look at what happened to vinyl! haha
I do think it's likely that used CDs -- the pop stuff anyway -- will lose value down to a dollar or so, what with so many people putting them on hard drives and such. Dave
C'mon guys, CD's ARE low res. Records and tape are as good and they are fifty plus year old technology. Downloading can provide multiple formats easily and cheaply if there is demand. No hardware format will be able to compete.
I see direct sales in multiple formats over the internet from the musicians themselves. I can't wait.
Thanks for the topic Schipo.
Whether us audophiles like it or not, downloading to a music server connected to our system is inevitable and hard copies of music will soon be looked upon as sort of archaic. Of coarse there will come a day when CD's will be almost worthless because of lack of demand from the masses.

"because they will be considered an inferior audio product compared too?"

Music servers!

Get used to it and long live vinyl...
One big change that no one has talked about is that since the Redbook format was introduced in the mid-80's, the music market has totally changed. It is now a global market - using globally standardized components - marketed by all sorts of low cost general (as opposed to specialized) retailers.

A $300 system today is in fact a whole lot better then a $300 system was then. It's more compact because nowhere else in the world do people have the luxury of space we enjoy in the US.

Add to that what we have seen in telecomm. Emerging nations are not building phone infrastructure with poles and copper. They are doing it using cellphones and GSM and WiFi. People are communicating using Skype because it makes the most sense.

Convergence of media is well under way - take a look at the soon to be released iPhone and the many musical phones already available. People want to be able to access and share without regard to whether it is a music file, a movie file or a still picture.

All of which is a roundabout way to getting to how people want to buy and store and manipulate music. It is going to be digital because it is cost effective, it is environmentally sound and above all because it is convenient. No one listens to an entire side - and digital is certainly an easier way to make a mix tape then the countless hours we used to waste making cassettes.

Which leads to my final points.

So far, digital formats do not seem to be any harder or easier to pirate then disc based media. Counterfeiting is an enormous problem - from the point of view of the content owners, any thing new will have to have very robust DRM without pissing off the consumer who wants to buy once and use it everywhere.

Next, because this market is ever more about volume, I don't think there will again be the critical mass to establish a new music only physical format. I tend to think that the work will be in the BluRay/HD area - that is to say a more flexible format which can be used for many kinds of media and perhaps with write many capability as well.

Finally, to get back to Schipo's original question. I think the time will come (soon) where you can't give the CDs away - not because they are sonically inferior by audiophool standards but because in their own way they are every bit as cumbersome as vinly was when CDs were introduced.

Hard as it may be to accept, people want to hear what they want to hear, when they want to hear it, where they want to hear it. They want to share it with their friends wherever they are in the world. No physical medium can deliver all that. Just look at how fast the iPod and its brethren replaced the Sony Walkman...
Please continue, this is an ear full. I for one am amazed at how cheap used cds have become. Just the other day in pawn shop in the Atlanta area I was visting, I picked up a number of reference,telarc,and harmonia mundi for 2 bucks each. I remember just 5yrs ago paying more than triple for many of these discs, and when I asked the owner I was told they were laying in the cardboard box for sometime.
Many insightful and compelling thoughts above -- well done. CD's will
become a fringe audiophile/ecclectic thing like vinyl is now. All but a handful
of the audiophile grade CD recordings will gradually become worthless accept
to a fringe minority (us).

I converted my digital front-end to a computer music server (lossless files)
over two years ago. I still have only downloaded a handfull of albums because
they come in a compressed format (AAC on iTunes). When CD quality
downloads become more common I will move in that direction. That said, I
have a second computer that has my lossless collection in AAC for my iPod.

CD is fast becoming an audiophile format -- strange isn't it?
When in the year 2028 a new all-encompassing copyright law passes, and all use of any material is illegal without immediate direct payment to MEGA CORP. (the only company left... it bought up everybody else, including holding the entire U.S. deficit.. so the gov. is in their pocket...)
CDs will be a contraband item. Owning one will be punishable by a $1,000,000,000. fine per offense.
Everyone will have a chip installed in their brain to monitor copyright infringement.
Excellent Elizabeth - a truly cheery outlook. It perhaps will finally be the brave new world so with a steady ration of soma I am not sure I will care.

To Pardales point - an interesting experiment has begun. EMI has relaxed the DRM rules on the iTune store. For a modest premium you can download your song in higher quality with fewer restrictions on its use. The million dollar question in my mind is 1) what percentage of total downloads will be in the better. freer format and 2) will people be paying for the increased flexibility or the improved quality...
I won't hazard a guess as to when CDs will completely disappear (probably never) but I do expect them to give way to electronic distribution. We're almost ready to see movies distributed this way but network bandwidth is restricting that market right now.

Here's what I WISH would happen with music distribution and this assumes we can overcome the DRM issues. Music labels could store the originals in a suitable hi rez format and allow buyers to pick the format and resolution they wanted to download. The product could then be sent in full resolution or converted and downsampled on the fly to the selected format and resolution. The fly in this ointment (so to speak) is what will be the incentive for labels to put the time into producing well recorded product if most buyers are downloading at a resolution that won't show the advantage of the extra time and effort.

I must admit that the Sonos controller looks really cool and intrigues me. I get really tired of putting on glasses so I can squint at the track list (usually printed in gray on black or some other idiotic combination) on a new CD to figure out what song is playing. They're also going to have to figure out how to distribute albums that have no gaps between tracks (e.g., live albums and some classical) - that's very irritating (at least to me). EAC-type image rips to wav with associated .cue files are one way to get around this.

Note that I see this as different than the change from vinyl to CD. That was a fundamental change in the way that music was recorded and the carrier that it was distributed on. The change from CD/SACD/DVD-A to hard drive is much less dramatic. Essentially the data stays the same, it's just distributed differently.

Note also that I still listen to LPs and don't expect this will change. Whether I rip my CDs and switch to electronic distribution will probably be determined by whether the industry can overcome the shortcomings I mentioned above.

I wonder about the cd question all the time.

Even the CD format now isn’t used to its fullest extent. I listen to a lot of reggae on cd and 99% of the CDs sound like garbage compared to something like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Fox Trot (from a recording and production stand point). Most of the CDs in my collection have large variations in their sound quality. Until all popular music it being recorded in a fashion that is fully utilizing the technologies that is already available I don’t think there is any sense in even considering changing from CDs.

As far as every thing going to the internet, that is doubtful there are still a lot of people without broad band , cable modem etc. and without that you cant be buying music online.
So lets all look back and see how long it will take for the last hold out company to stop making cd players. I personally give it less than 10yrs.
Somewhere in Las Vegas Nevada, I am told there is a small factory which presses new vinyl. I sure in the future someone will provide a wide range digitally formated disc, for a price. The internet makes it easy for companies to reach a small niche market. Heck look at vinyl, without the internet it would still be in the back of a few specialty magazines.
Discrete CD players may become hard to find, but I reckon decent Universal DVD/Harddrive players will be around for a long time.
Given the amount of money MR & MRS Average (like me) have invested in CD's and DVD's over the past 20+ years, it would be a brave manufacturer who stops making backward-compatible players. I know how popular mp3 is now, but as was pointed out already, broadband/cable internet is still being rolled out. And if you make up your own mp3 library, where are you likely to rip from? Your (and your friend's) CD's, where you can set the compression you want.

Personally, I can't be bothered with audio files. I have an mp3 player that now mostly gets used as a radio, because I don't want to spend ages in front of a computer ripping CD's or downloading & transferring files, to then try to listen with headphones on a noisy train. Why would I, when I can listen to crystal clear music from my CD's through my home system.

Maybe I'll get a hard drive server one day and dump all my CD's uncompressed, but I'll still want it to have a decent CD player built in.
For me, one of the most fascinating things about Audiogon is how multiple threads run in parallel exploring a single theme from different perspectives. Here is one running concurrently on the impact of iTunes on contributors listening habits.


Each to his or her own of course, but the thread makes it pretty clear that most (not all - most) people really prefer the convenience of the hard drive based interface once they get into it.

There is no doubt that the CD will last for a long time - but the original premise of the thread was "will it be replaced by something better". Inevitably of course the answer is yes. But I think that the consensus is that it is unlikely that it will be a physical (platter based) format.
i'm not convinced most a goners prefer hd approach tho. when i listen to music i do nothing else really. i enjoy the ritual and try to replicate a live musical event in my listening space. as noted earlier, pc generation and MOST people listen to music with a different mindset. convenience, to me, is hardly in the picture. i am convinced that I am in the minority when it comes to this tho. i would like to think most a goners feel the same way?. but this too will change....