Simanaitis Says

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HOW WE LISTEN TO MUSIC

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, a local newspaper, publishes well-executed infographics of one thing and another. A recent topic struck a note close to my heart: The way we listen to music.

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Images from The Orange County Register, February 10, 2017.

The article, “FOCUS: How Streaming Music Has Become the Leading Format,” was assembled by Kurt Snibbe and the OCR staff, with various sources including Music Watch, the Recording Industry Association of America, Nielsen, Edison Research and others.

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Full Stream Ahead. The RIAA monitors sales of various music formats.

My listening experiences appear to leap ahead of and then lag behind the times. I wonder if yours do too?

I was heavy into West Coast Jazz during the vinyl LP heydays of the 1950s, stereo appearing in 1958, and 1960s. Even when my tastes broadened to Bach, Beatles and Elton John (11-17-70!), I persisted with LPs.

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The original edition used Brit/Euro-style date.

My LPs were (and are) plagued with inevitable scratches, surface noise and odd “pre-echoes,” faint passages heard one revolution prior to their correct occurrence. Also, of course, LPs were anything but portable.

Thus I was an early adopter of portable cassette players. I recall bringing a Philips back from Europe several years before Sony introduced its soon-to-be-ubiquitous Walkman in 1979.

Travelers had two problems with these gizmos: How to carry more than several cassettes on a trip? And, if in a car, how to protect the cassettes from extreme temperatures.

When the portable CD player came out in 1984, I rejoiced: I had a little pouch that held the player and perhaps 10 CDs (sans their jewel cases).

My CD pouch traveled with me long after other travelers started toting tidy little MP3 players in 1998. I gave in, eventually, though today I’m only on my third MP3 device (two of them, iPods).

I’ve written about the resurgence of vinyl here at SimanaitisSays. I confess to a personal audiophilic handicap in not sensing the “inherent warmth” of vinyl versus CD. However, à chacon sa ouïe.

In 2003, the uploading, sharing and streaming of music were introduced. As shown by the inforgraphic, streaming is far and away the most popular music delivery system today.

Traditionalist that I am, I continue to opt for the CD rather than a download. I know: CDs use precious resources, take up space and, indeed, I’m likely to transfer many of my favorites to my iPod and iPhone anyway.

But when the iPod, iPhone or computer goes belly-up (which each has done), I still have the CD. Perhaps without “warmth,” but sans pre-echo.

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A stacked timeline of music listening over the years.


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And aren’t these infographics from The Orange County Register splendid! ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017

7 comments on “HOW WE LISTEN TO MUSIC

  1. Henry Nelson
    March 2, 2017

    Interesting to see your mention of the pre-echo. I’ve wondered (since the 50’s) if it was a symptom of bargain LPs. Never saw it mentioned before.

  2. Mike B
    March 2, 2017

    I have a bunch of old vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, and skipped the mp3 player for the one in my phone.

    Internet Radio is good once you find some “stations” you like; main issue is that most run at a relatively low bit rate (128K or less) which limits the sound quality to perhaps top-40-station equivalent. While I’m not an audiophile, and my ears have declined over the years (including several one-time-damage events due to Harley pass-bys), I do like good sound. There are a few 320K free internet streams that sound pretty good – Linn Radio from the UK and Audiophile Stream Network from Greece are a couple I like. Then there are all the unusual things that get streamed to the internet, like theater organ radio. Embarrassment of riches…and you don’t always have to pay for it.

  3. simanaitissays
    March 2, 2017

    Mike,
    You jog my memory on another aspect of music delivery in the general sense: FM and satellite radio. The OCR didn’t cite these two, which are important to me. KUSC, 91.5, is our Southern California classical FM station. And SiriusXM is running at our place almost 24/7. I am addicted to “Radio Classics,” “Symphony Hall,” “Metropolitan Opera,” “Sirius Sinatra” and “BBC World Service.”
    What’s more, these are not ephemeral: Often I’ll hear an old radio show or music and then add it to my own permanent collection–on CD. And, yes, I’ve downloaded a couple too.
    Again, thanks for jogging my memory.

  4. Gary C
    March 2, 2017

    Yes, yes…I still own and listen to vinyl, cassettes, and CD’s, and I often record on mini discs to listen to while I walk (my Sony MZ-R70 is said to play for over 30 hours on a single AA battery!) I own two iPod “Classics” and I stream music while work via Spotify. Recent listens: “The Max Roach Trio Featuring The Legendary Hasaan”, Beatles “Abbey Road”, Crosby Still Nash and Young “Deja Vu”, and Haydn String Quartet No. 60 in G Major. A little bit of whisk(e)y always seems to take the sting out of any listening “disturbance” caused by scratches, pops, wow or flutter.

  5. sabresoftware
    March 3, 2017

    Music that I buy these days is via iTunes, but I always make a CD witha jewel case complete with cover art as my archive.

    Still have vinyl, but only really use them to upload as MP3s via a special turntable that hooks up to my computer. The high quality turntable sits in a closet.

    • sabresoftware
      March 3, 2017

      No mention of 8-tracks. Haven’t seen the roadside 8-track cartridges with yards of tape spewing out for years now!

  6. gottacook
    March 6, 2017

    The OCR infographic claims that RCA introduced 8-track tape in 1958, but that may be an error; I thought Bill Lear or his Lear Jet company invented the continuous-loop 8-track cartridge and its player in the early 1960s (I still have my dad’s Lear Jet-branded player for home stereo, circa 1965). Optional (and pricey) 8-track decks started appearing in American cars in 1966-67; the last new cartridge I bought must have been around 1980.

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