I might just have to rekindle my love affair with CDs. Here’s why.

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

I first saw my first compact disc in March 1983 when the radio station where I was working got its first player and half-dozen discs.

We were so enamoured with the new technology that we launched a Saturday night album feature program when we played a CD in its entirety. It was a useless exercise, really, given that the high-fidelity capabilities of the CD far outstripped those of an FM radio signal.

Still, it was cool to be on the cutting edge of something.

We — and I cannot emphasize this enough — were also DONE with vinyl. It’s no exaggeration to say that the records we were buying in 1983 were far inferior to those purchased in 1969. The quality of the material that went into making vinyl records had plummeted since the oil crisis of the early 1970s. As oil became more expensive, so did petrochemical byproducts. And that meant looking for ways of trimming manufacturing costs for records.

The standard procedure was to use recycled polyvinyl chloride, which introduced impurities into the mix, resulting in clicks and pops right from the pressing plant along with annoying low-frequency rumbles.

Records were thinner, scratched easily, and wore out more quickly. “Cue burn” — that annoying scratchy, crackly sound that you heard when you first dropped the needle on a record — developed sooner. So when CDs came along with the promise of perfect sound forever, music fans were seduced.

I’m not sure when I started falling out of love with CDs. 

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “I might just have to rekindle my love affair with CDs. Here’s why.

  • February 14, 2022 at 9:13 pm
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    I’m a thrift store music digger, and CDs are my bread-and-butter nowadays as people ditch their old collections and the medium has little value to the average consumer. And I know 100% that in a few years after the streaming services balkanize, raise prices and cut selection and Millennial nostalgia for the late 90s and early 2000s kicks in that CDs will become what vinyl is today for the collector’s market.

    Until then, I’m happy to pick through the box sets, deluxe reissues, import singles and obscurities for a buck or two apiece.

    Reply
  • February 15, 2022 at 12:52 am
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    I love my CD’s, but your piece fails to mention that even their durability has its limits. Disc rot is real and the varied quality of manufacturing means there’s no way of knowing a CD’s average shelf life. I’ve already lost a few discs of unstreamable classical albums due to wear and tear. It’s best back everything up as soon as you buy it.

    Reply
  • February 16, 2022 at 11:17 am
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    It could be some form of a mid life crisis but I’ve started to collect CDs again. Being an 80s baby, CDs resonate more with me than vinyl and can be found dirt cheap in the second hand market.

    Great article but a part of me hopes CDs remain a little “less cool” for a little bit longer so I can round out my collection.

    Reply

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