Do you still buy CDs? And why?

This topic came up on social media and in real life recently: do you still buy CDs, and why?

I do. I buy some stuff on iTunes and Bigpond Music (which sells MP3s), and buy some stuff (particularly older material) on CD.

Why? Because I prefer the softer, warmer, fuller sound of CDs to the harsh sound of MP3s.


Actually three main reasons:

  • A lot of older material out there is substantially cheaper on CD. You can often find classic albums for $10 or less; the same would cost you around $16 or more on iTunes
  • I don’t mind having the physical media, including the booklet… although admittedly this is causing me some storage issues in my livingroom
  • I have CDs going back to when I first bought a CD player in 1988. And they still work fine. Will all of my iTunes downloads still be intact in another 24 years? Dunno. I’m not sure I trust it that much.

Perhaps the rarest CD I have is the out-of-print Doug Anthony Allstars album Icon, originally released in 1990. I notice it’s now available on iTunes. If it didn’t hold sentimental value (and if Paypal hadn’t decided to refuse service to me — that’s another story), that’d be one to sell on eBay, I reckon.

What have the rest of you done? Banished all CDs and gone purely digital? Or do you still buy them? Or have you gone really retro and are growing your stock of LPs, 8-track tapes and wax cylinders?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “Do you still buy CDs? And why?”

Nowdays I only tend to buy a few things musical each year, but it continues to be CDs for me. You have the best of both worlds, a CD you can rip and a hardcopy for the collection. My work bans USB devices for security reasons so I find it easier to just use a CD player on my desk. I still have a collection of 400 LPs too, which I occasionally add to via ebay..mostly indie stuff that I doubt I could get on ITunes.

Until recently I would rummage through the CD bins at Cash Converters, as a way to cheaply build up my classical music collection. I haven’t bought any since I got onto Spotify, though.

I still buy CDs but I also buy songs on iTunes. I buy second hand records at times, too. I’m not concerned about the sound quality – iTunes AAC files are indistinguishable from CD audio on nearly all equipment in nearly all listening spaces with most people’s hearing – but I like to have a physical product with colourful printed material to go with the music.

I still buy CDs, mostly because it’s so handy to have a backup sitting right there on your shelf. Plus, you often get little extras with CDs that rarely turn up when you download mp3s.

Since getting rid of (losing) the iPhone I don’t buy anything at all through iTunes. I’m not prepared to buy my music, tv shows or movies from a store that locks me into Apple devices, or at least tries to.

I don’t buy CDs because to me they’re simply digital copies with extra waste and I see little advantage to them.

I am however, a sucker for vinyl. I like the feel of it, the feel of hunting through crates, the process of turning the record over halfway through. Essentially the ritual of it. So lately I’ve been buying vinyl, which more often than not I’ve been finding includes a feel digital download. I usually select FLAC.

The other newer model I’ve been supporting a lot lately is Bandcamp. I know I’m buying directly from the artists so I’m helping stock the coffers of crappy record labels that have been screwing artists for decades and I can often name a price I feel is fair.

I’ll also admit that I pirate a lot of mp3s. It’s the quickest and easiest way to discover whether I like something I haven’t heard, and I don’t feel guilty about it because it’s precisely what leads me to buying vinyl, and going to live shows. Both of which I do often, and I must spend close to $3,000 a year doing so.

I will buy new CDs of my favourite 10 or so bands/artists. I like having a physical copy of my favourite music – it’s a more fun experience.

With my top 5 or so bands/artists, or just albums that I love, I have them in vinyl (usually as well as CDs, sometimes instead of). Vinyl really does have a superior sound to CDs and MP3, and for that it’s just something I can’t walk away from.

I buy a CD once in a very great while to listen to in my car. I have only ever bought 1 CD since I moved to Australia over 4 years ago. I brought the rest of my CDs with me from the US. I don’t have a CD player or even a sterio in my house and I don’t own any portable device with headphones (or even want one) like so many people do. I have never bought or even used digital/mp3 music. I guess music is not all that important to me and just about the only time I will play music or listen to the radio is in my car and I only drive about once per week or so.

iWhatnow? CDs play in every CD player I’ve got. I can rip them into any music format I like, to play on whatever machine I have. The same cannot be said of iTunes.

That said, it’s been a few years since I’ve had the spare cash to buy CDs. So most of my new music over the last few years has been from YouTube or friends.

Musical compact discs give me two huge benefits:

(1) Format shifting is easy, so I don’t need to worry about DRM;

(2) Once I buy it, it’s mine. Forever. I don’t ever need to worry about some company taking away my rights to listen to the music;

I stopped buying CDs when given an iPod ‘Mini’ (which now looks enormous) a few years ago and spent a very boring weekend burning our CDs and adding them to the playlist.

The CDs were still kept though – like you, collected since 1988 and of sentimental value. They’re now in my parents’ garage while we live in a different hemisphere, but I suspect that they’ll be binned when we return.

I enjoy having a physical product and also supporting the musicians I know locally. I wish my CD player would play CDs more than once without skipping though. I am running out of places to put CDs and also DVDs.

Also I don’t have to turn the computer on to play a CD so I can put it on and go to bed without having the blue LED keeping me awake.

I do have an ipod, but it is only a shuffle and does not really have much capacity.

I go to over 100+ gigs per year to see live music and take photos.

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