The Wall Street Journal asks, Are Technology Limits In MP3s and iPods Ruining Pop Music? But man, couldn’t they find anyone who doesn’t sound like a complete “back in my day” fogeyist? Kids these days, I tell ya, they just don’t care about quality anymore. At least according to dudes who’ve worked with Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Cher, Michael Jackson, Santana and, ahem, Chris Daughtry.
The annoying thing is that what they are saying really is important:
Producers and engineers say there are many ways they might change a track to accommodate an iPod MP3. Sometimes, the changes are for the worse.
For example, says veteran Los Angeles studio owner Skip Saylor, high frequencies that might seem splendid on a CD might not sound as good as an MP3 file and so will get taken out of the mix. “The result might make you happy on an MP3, but it wouldn’t make you happy on a CD,” he says. “Am I glad I am doing this? No. But it’s the real world and so you make adjustments.”
This shift to compressed music heard via an iPod is occurring at the same time as another music trend that bothers audiophiles: Music today is released at higher volume levels than ever before, on the assumption that louder music sells better. The process of boosting volume, though, tends to eliminate a track’s distinct highs and lows.
It’s true, and it sucks. But they’re not going to convince anybody with that kind of tone.
What might convince some people is the audio samples they’re hosting that highlight the differences between mp3s and their uncompressed counterparts. For example:
Of course, as long as the CD you’re ripping wasn’t mixed to sound like crap, it is possible to create your own MP3s that actually sound good. It’s just kind of a pain to set up. And they take up more space. But when engineers mix for earbuds, we’re fucked. Garbage in, garbage out.