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Are my CDs obsolete, or do I keep them?

The history of the compact disc format

The compact disc format goes back to 1982, the year before Lady Diana and Prince Charles' wedding and 35 years ago now. The format was co-developed by Philips and Sony and quickly became the handy, go-to music format, smaller and more portable than vinyl albums. Their popularity continued to grow and reached 30 billion discs worldwide sales by 2004, jumping into 200 billion by 2007. By the early 2010s CDs were increasingly being replaced by other forms of digital storage and by 2014 revenues from digital music services matched those form physical format sales for the first time. But, is the compact disc dead, or will people continue to demand CD players and that tangible disc option, like vinyl, amongst their music playing options?

The popularity of music streaming options such as Apple Music, Shopify and Deezer seem to be the more prevalent way of listening to music these days, but our customers seem to still enjoy playing their favourite CDs. We’ve seen a steady demand for our CD player systems here at 3wisemonkeys, so are continuing to order our customers favourite models in. We thought we’d look in to what’s happening out there and who still loves to play CDs and why.

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So why do people still want to use CDs?

A survey in January 2017 over in the states amongst a surf guitar music website surfguitar101, asking “Are CDs Obsolete?” showed that 48% of members still prefer CDs and buy them, 28% buy certain bands CDs, with 23% never buying them. CD lovers cited benefits like physical CDs having full quality files, they’re permanent, tangible, they like the overall feel, the cover art and the booklets.

James Vincent wrote in theverge.com site last year that he was thinking of switching back to CDs. He told us that he travels a lot and without a stable mobile connection whether in a hotel room or on the tube he finds himself locked out of his music that he’s paying for on the streaming sites. As well as the reliability factor, he admits to a nostalgic feeling for the CDs he bought in his youth, he like many of us doesn’t buy many new music releases, likes the feeling of seeing his collection lined up and of putting the CD in the CD player and going to the disc he wants, the portability of them and the clatter and clicks of CDs and cases.

Motherboard, a tech and science publication in the US asked in 2016 “Why are CDs still a thing?” and stated that CDs are still being sold in their millions. They find that they're cost effective for bands, beign a cheap and quick way of getting their music to fans, people have a nostalgic feeling for them, they love to play a full album in their car and you can pick them up really cheaply in second hand shops. Motherboard state that beyond the desire to listen to CDs in the car and nostalgic appeal, research suggests that the sound quality of CDs themselves could be a big reason why some music lovers cling to the CD. They cite the 2014 Cambridge Silicon Radio Limited (CSR), a U.K audio and communications technology developer survey of 2,000 people who listen to music at home in 2014, which found that 77 percent of at-home-listeners wanted better sound quality from their music.

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Sony state on their website now, that CDs have a sampling frequency of 44.1 KHz/16 bit and that popular streaming websites like Spotify and Pandora typically use a bitrate of 160 kbps, which is less than that of MP3s too. They tell us that if you go for Spotify Premium, you’ll still only have access to 320 kbps tracks, which is equivalent to MP3s and that Tidal is one of the only streaming websites that streams in CD quality.

The HuffPost UK wrote in 2016 that "So the answer to the question, it seems, lies in quality. While people historically liked to show off the look of their speakers, today they value sound. It’s this desire for quality sound that is key to understanding the resilience of CD sales."

Our most popular CD systems right now 

So, like our customers and the millions out there who still love the CD format, it seems that we should hang on to our good quality CDs and keep on playing CDs when we want to or need to. Here are a few of the most popular CD systems with our customers right now. Do let us know what you think of them.

The Denver MC-5010BT CD system at £24.99 +P&P, is a Bluetooth enabled compact, wall mountable stereo with CD player, FM radio, clock alarm and remote control. The MC-5010BT has a contemporary styled black, brushed metal effect front with white lettering LCD display, for a crisp clear digital read out.

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The Denver MC-5220 pink CD player, at £31.99 +P&P, is a wall mountable micro system with an FM radio, alarm clock, headphone jack and also comes in black, white and purple. You can programme up to 20 CD tracks, connect to your MP3 player via the aux-in jack, or stick with your favourite radio station.

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The Grouptronics GTMC-101 CD player also at £31.99, comes in piano black and in white, is wall mountable or table top ready and has detachable twin speakers and built-in alarm clock. The front loading CD player can be flipped open to play your favourite discs and the aux-in socket enables phone or MP3 connection, for a choice of your downloads.

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The Denver MCA-230 CD micro system at £31.99 +P&P in a glossy black and chrome finish, has a top loading CD player and is compatible with CD-R and CD-RW discs. You can play music as standard, on repeat or programme up to 20 tracks, connect an MP3 player, phone or iPod via the aux-in socket or plug in the TV or record player for enhanced sound. Other features include a PLL FM radio with 20 pre-set stations, a 24 hour alarm clock with snooze function and sleep timer, LCD display, remote control and headphone jack.

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Have fun digging out your favourite CDs!

From the team at 3wisemonkeys

Additional sources: surfguitar101.com , theverge.com , motherboard.vice.com , huffingtonpost.co.uk , sony.co.uk

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