Japan’s quirks aside, what has me scratching my aging and balding audiophile head is how, in this trend-and-fad-happy country of mine, we keep bringing back vinyl (some of us never let it go) for its “superior sound,” while 99% of the time we half-listen to the crap sound of compressed audio through crappy earbuds or a crappy phone dock. I loves me my Spotify, but play a CD of the same recording (even at Spotify’s highest quality) through a decent system and there is no comparison. CD sound is much closer to vinyl than streaming could ever be, save for the boutique stuff like PonoMusic that normal humans aren’t listening to.
If we long for better sound, why not just keep the Compact Disc alive? Because it can be scratched if you’re a careless moron? Bullshit. It’s far more rugged and convenient than vinyl, most of those scratches are ignored during playback thanks to error correction (whereas all scratches and specs of dust are heard on an LP), and even with meticulous cleaning, utmost care and finest gear, the LP is subject to wear-and-tear. The first thing most of us old ’philes do with a new LP is dub a copy on the trusty old Revox. And, unlike vinyl, you could play a CD in a crap CD player with no damage to the source media for when you bought something better.
Everywhere you turn, we sacrifice quality for quantity, and music has been a fine example of that phenomenon. For a time, the Compact Disc brought high fidelity audio into the average home, but now it seems as if we’ve gone backward. Save for what is now becoming a pattern of occasional vinyl resurgence, whether by annoying yuppies or annoying hipsters.