Skip Navigation

The CD isn't dead
Thursday 16 July 2009 15:40:17 by John Hunt

Two thirds of music lovers prefer CD's over digital downloads according to research by media and technology research agency, The Leading Question. A survey of over 1000 music fans showed that 73% were still content to buy CDs rather than download music. 66% of 14-18 year olds also prefered CDs, and 59% of music fans still listen to CDs every day.

The research showed that music fans with a digital music subscription spent more on CDs each month than most music fans. Also, music streamers also spent more on CDs and downloads than most music fans.

"Digital is still the future but rumours of the death of the CD are premature. The continued popularity of the CD should be looked upon as an opportunity. We believe that labels and online stores could and should be doing more to build on music fans’ familiarity with CDs to provide them with additional digital content and to use the CD as a bridge into the digital world. Music fans have spoken and digital is evidently not the clear cut replacement to the physical CD."

Tim Walker, (CEO) The Leading Question

Perhaps one reason for the continued sale of CDs to music fans is that those with high-end audio equipment don't have a computer or media player connected to their set up, whilst others can't get the quality form downloaded music. Napster's music download service will deliver songs in 192Kbps WMA format whilst the iTunes Plus format is better at 256Kbps, but neither offer a lossless format craved by audiophiles which CD's do deliver. Whether the statistics above pass on to the average music listener isn't clear.


Posted by JohnUK over 7 years ago
With speeds ever increasing and space cheaper than ever why is it so hard for retailers to offer FLAC or APE lossless downloads?

Toslink/Coaxial Digital outputs MP3 players as standard would be nice to so that music systems can be properly digitised and that the music isn't converted into analogue until it hits a nice DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) on proper CD Player or in a AV Reciever Amp from a digital source much like digital surround outputs have done for years.
Posted by JohnUK over 7 years ago
There by removing the gross amplifcation from a PC/Laptop Stereo Jack or a MP3 Player (and the feeble DACs they have) to a speaker system where so many flaws are introduced.

Having lossless downloads and mobile digital output devices should kill the removable media for Music in the long term.
Posted by judosoft over 7 years ago
Could it just be that CD from stores like or amazon are still cheeper than itunes unless you want stuff that is in the charts.
Posted by keith_thfc over 7 years ago
Where's the incentive to pay for downloads while CD's are the same price?
Posted by kozmyk over 7 years ago
CDs have to sound better.
They are digitised versions of the original recording.
MP3s, however high you take the bit rat,e can never compete because they remove 90% of the information.
Of course it is done very cleverly and the results are OK but never as good as the CD versions.
Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
mp3's, lossless etc all have there place. it will be a long time before cd dies. lossless files for me are still a stumbling block with the size of them.
Posted by bosie over 7 years ago
I only buy CDs unless I can't find what I'm looking for. I'd love to reclaim some of the space they take up in the house though so I'd jump on an Apple lossless service.
Posted by mustang_john over 7 years ago
I will always support the bands I listen to. Part of the pleasure of buying a CD is getting the booklet out and looking at the artwork, lyrics etc. You don't get that when you download. If you have a decent HiFi, CD is the only way to go at present, IMO.
Posted by timmay over 7 years ago
Why would you buy a virtual copy at lower quality when you can have the real thing on a physical disk? That is why the CD is here still and will be for some time!
Posted by Curzondax over 7 years ago
CD's rule and Sony's SACD are even better. I SPDIF either Coax or TOS link my computer to high quality audio, and mp3's sound gross, even at 256kbps. 128kbps is evil sounding as the top end swishes with distortion. That goes for .wma as well. If you can't hear above 10kHz, you won't know what I'm talking about. I just about cope with .wav files, so it's lossless or CD's for me. It's a shame some older stuff is no longer available, as I would buy it.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
on a side note not regarding music cd's, I had to spend an hour or so yesterday getting my usb stick to boot to ms-dos, seems modern drives wont allow boot cd's to work anymore.
Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
there are distinct camps when it comes to this stuff. Personally i think younger generations don't appreciate high end hi-fi because they are so used to cheap mp3 players and small loud mini systems. i have been fortunate enough to be in a position to own some high end hifi so it's painful to listen to mp3's though it's a necessary evil during journeys in to work. i can think of nothing better than unwinding at the end of a day to my favourite cd's.
Posted by najarak over 7 years ago
Is it not the fact that any CD plays on any CD player anywhere in the world, no-one ever has to worry about whether or not it will play.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
chrysalis - Older SATA CD-ROM?
Posted by nstrudwick over 7 years ago
Very much agree with the above, especially the lossless quality, although it does depend on the individual's hearing ability!

With a CD you have a ready-provided backup copy, so there is no need for further backup if you also put it on a computer. Although DRM appears to be on the way out, I don't like others controlling what I can and can't do with it. And lastly, just the fact of having the notes, lyrics etc is of great benefit, particularly for archive material or classical.
Posted by nstrudwick over 7 years ago
PS: Cover-wise we lost a lot from the LP to the CD, but it was arguably made up for by the better quality and reliability. Just compare Jethro Tull "Thick as a Brick" on LP and CD!
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
dawn is a 1 year old pata dvd burner. I have the same issue in my other desktop pc with another but older dvd burner. Basically they will read boot dvds no problems, however they get stuck trying to load boot cds, maybe a motherboard issue I dont know, but something on modern hardware stops it working.
Posted by dougk over 7 years ago
I would rather buy CD's and have something physical. However if downloads were charged at a reasonable price, say £2.99 per album or 30-50p per track maximum I may download some.
Over priced Cd's and downloads and they wonder why people using filesharing etc
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
chrysalis - That sounds very much like a drive firmware issue. But if boot DVD's work you can allways slipstream a windows install onto a DVD.

dougk - Check out and's selection, a lot of songs (except the current bestsellers) /are/ in that range these days.
Posted by volatileacid over 7 years ago
Just to go over what John said, FLAC is a lossless codec - (FLAC is compressed (for most tracks it reduces the size to about 60% of the original size). This compression does not result in any loss of quality.)

Now getting the lossless audio over to the Hi-Fi in the front room or elsewhere in the house is another issue!... One that could be solved using a 802.11b/g Logitech (formerly slimsdevices) 'Squeezebox' receiver that connects to your hi-fi. I've got one - and it's good!
Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
you'd potentially end up with lossy again because of the wireless! i can only speak from experience trying to use the squeezebox in my gets what you pays for i guess.
Posted by kawasakiMan over 7 years ago
The cd is dead....many music producers are already signing up to produce albums on flash based memory cards. No loss in quality, cheaper to produce, but no doubt dearer to buy !
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
kawasakiMan - are these memory cards with wav or MP3 files?
Posted by Colin_London over 7 years ago
Having lossless formats is one thing - getting the files to some HiFi audio equipment that can reproduce it well is another. Playing it direct from a PC is usually not going to be worthwhile unless you are in the same room as the HiFi, and can pipe an SDPIF output from a soundcard straight into the HiFi seperate amp.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.