Strong opinions, weakly held

MP3 is for audiophiles (of the future)

People who are accustomed to listened to music in MP3 format prefer it to other, higher quality formats. This mirrors the phonograph affectation that many audiophiles have:

I remember wondering what audiophiles were up to, buying extremely expensive home audio systems to play old vinyl records. They put turntables in sand-filled enclosures with elaborate cabling schemes. I wondered what they heard in that music that I didn’t. Someone explained to me that audiophiles liked the sound artifacts of vinyl records — the crackles of that format. It was familiar and comfortable to them, and maybe those affects became a fetish. Is it now becoming the same with iPod lovers?

One wonders whether, when MP3 is eventually supplanted by a lossless format (it’s bound to happen when we have mobile phones with a terabyte of music storage), people will preserve their MP3 files for nostalgic reasons. Or will there be an MP3 filter in software that plays music that enables you to listen to it in the manner to which you are accustomed?


  1. I would guess that by the time we have terabyte storage on our phones, they’ll have the processing power to do realtime encoding to MP3 while simultaneously doing realtime MP3 decoding. Then it could be genuine MP3 compression artifacts for those who want them!

    And then someone will make a killing selling different MP3 compression and decompression options in software plugins, so that your 2015 phone will let you choose “encoded by Amazon MP3 store” as a simulated compression system and “played back through a 3G iPod Shuffle” as playback.

    I love business models built around pure wastes of CPU cycles.

  2. yeah, I had a CD given to me that I eventually replaced with its commercial equivalent because it clearly had “tape hiss” — I presumed that that was the mark of a poor CD burner, but perhaps it’s also a mark of MP3 acclimation to imperfect sound…

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