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Anyone find it far more rewarding listening to real physical CDs on a CD player, rather than using FLACs? And why do you find this?

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#1
I've spent the last couple of years ripping a lot more of my CDs (around another 1000 classical and jazz CDs) to FLAC. However, I sometimes wonder why I bother.

I've re-discovered in the last months that is it far more enjoyable to just play the original CDs on a CD player, than sending them through a separate DAC.

1. Having a real physical CD, allows the album to be objectified in the mind as a real object. This allows your mind to categorize your music, including where and when you bought the album (thereby associating the music to a specific time and place in your life).

The picture on the album cover also adds to this and helps to remind you of when you first bought the album.

2. Physically putting the CD in a CD player, allows you to pause and focus your intentions on what you are actually going to do - which is: listening seriously to music. Convenience can be a negative thing in this context, as it causes a loss of focus.

Listening to music seriously is like a meditative practice and you should focus on what you are doing.

The CD (or vinyl) format encourages you to focus on what you are doing, while playing on a computer encourages the opposite mentality. The "inconvenience" of the CD (or vinyl) format is also at least a little more similar to the constraints in listening to a live concert, and prevents you from rapidly switching between different genres or albums. Therefore it is more similar to the intentions of the composer, who would expect the audience to wait patiently in a concert hall before the performance.

This is important because music is better listened to distinctly - switching too much between different albums, can be like blurring together paint, creating a muddy mix of colours in your mind.

3. Having and reading the physical liner notes, is one of the great joys of a (at least classical) music collection. Why would anyone not see the loss of them as a huge minus? While the quality of liner notes varies, a lot of them contain excellent and informative writing, which can't be found anywhere else. For example, I particularly enjoy reading the liner notes in Colombia Jazz Albums. While I often enjoy Deutsche Grammophon liner notes for their focus on writing about the particular performance and performers (I can read about the composition in a book, but not about the particular performance).

4. One of the benefits of serious listening is to escape from the distractions of modern life, including the computer screen. A traditional hi-fi system experience can contribute to this, while playing FLACs forcing you back to interacting with a screen.

When I play physical CDs, I find that I'm encouraged to sit down and listen, or even to read a book. On the other hand, with FLACs - I often browse the internet while listening, distracting one's attention.

-------- ------------

Anyone else agree or have other observations, or is this just me?
 
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Inner Space

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#2
Not just you, Bobby. I'm the same. We all talk about sources, electronics, speakers and room, but I think by far the most important determinant of enjoyment is the listener's mood. I find the physical medium and its associated minor rituals promote a kind of focus and detachment from the day. It makes listening special, rather than just another screen-based and fragmented time-filler.
 

Alexanderc

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#4
This is great and I agree with everything you said, especially number 3. I would add one more number to the list: 5. Security.

About 15 years ago I began converting all my CDs to files for convenience's sake. The vast majority of my collection is classical and the metadata online is usually awful for that genre, so I spent hours tweaking the metadata, updating all the cover images, organizing it so it was searchable, etc. Eventually, about 5 years ago, the files got too big for my biggest HD and I needed the space to do other work (editing video), so I bought a new external HD. You all know where this is going...

About a month after moving all my files over and making sure everything was working properly, I deleted the files from the first HD so I could get my work done. The new HD promptly failed and I lost all my work. Fortunately I only had a few albums that were purchased digitally so I had the original CDs as backups, but probably hundreds of hours of work were just gone.

I play CDs out of a sense of security. Streaming services will come and go, files will be available as long as there is demand, but I feel like the only sure way to be able to listen to a particular album whenever I want for years to come is to own it. I have no desire to buy files after my experience, so I'll take my chances that the hardware to play CDs will be available for the rest of my life.
 

miero

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#6
You can ask your personal assistants: "Hey Siri, Google, Alexa and Cortana play my music" :)
 

watchnerd

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#8
I have reverted to CDs and LPs just because I find it more convenient and I don't get exasperated by tags, updates or having to boot some sort of device.
Put CD in player (or LP on TT) cue, sit down and listen.
About 1 in 5 updates to Roon causes it to loses visibility to my Devialet and I have to reset everything (power cycle wifi, amp) to get them to see each other again.

It's so annoying.
 

Promit

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#9
I think what you’re talking about is actually the major driving factor behind the resurgence of vinyl. If you’re gonna seek out tactility, may as well go all the way I suppose. Personally I’m vinyl or pure digital for music - my optical discs are games/movies.

I would suggest having good backup systems in place. I have a 12 TB array in my main desktop from a few years ago, and it’s on an unlimited automated cloud backup service. One of the drives went down and it took like a week and a half to restore but it did restore. I also just picked up an 8 TB desktop drive to avoid having to do that again for a normal drive failure.
 

sergeauckland

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#10
Whilst I understand the views expressed above, may I be permitted to propose an alternative view?

I ripped all my CDs (some 2000 between Jazz, Classical and what I have characterised a Rock/Pop/Folk/Blues) and don't miss playing the CDs at all.

Firstly, if I want to play an album, I just scan the library on my tablet, choose what I want to play and play it on my SBT.

Secondly, if I'm not sure what I feel like playing, I let the player choose a random playlist, and pretty soon it reminds of the album that track came from, so I stop random play and select the album. I also find all sorts of stuff I'd forgotten I had that way.

Thirdly, especially with Classical or Jazz, the sleeve notes on the CD booklet, if detailed, are too small to read comfortably, and reading with a magnifying glass is a pain. Much easier to look up the album on my tablet, using Wikipedia or Discogs etc.

Fourthly, having the SBT's remote control on my tablet, I can follow up an album in my library with another I don't have using Spotify.

Security isn't an issue as I have my library backed up to a second physically separate drive and to a third drive I keep off-site.

I do play LPs, especially Quadraphonic LPs, so I do use physical media, but at least with LPs, the sleeves are bigger so the sleeve notes more readable.

I can't think of any reason to go back to playing the physical CD, when playing on the SBT is so convenient, and it has also replaced my FM tuner as BBC Radio 3 is better quality on-line than on FM..

S.
 

tw99

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#11
For me using a streamer with my ripped CDs (and Spotify) gives the best of all worlds. I can play whole albums, I can play a random or other type of playlist, I can look at more information about the artist or recording that was ever contained on a CD case.

That said, there is something about looking at the physical object that can be nice, but I rarely bother these days.
 
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#12
I am not using any CD's any more.... so to speak.

I converted all those 2500 CDs to FLAC.

First thing I did when purchasing my first Hi-fi equipment was fighting the seller's insistence in my need for a tower with a tuner at the top, a double cassette deck in the middle and an equalizer at the bottom. Yes, I had to since I simply was in for a Denon receiver and a 10 CD changer from Sony to be heard thanks to a loudspeaker system made with silk, not cardboard, nor metal plates, and a separate subwoofer (just arriving from the Moon or Mars..] that still sings so well, so sweet and so mellow I cannot tell you. It all was meant to allow me attending a 10 cd music session non stop...

After the CD changer passed away I got many help, discovered the software, the remote controllers, and Android.

Now I can sit an place into those folders whatever I want. Not just the music itself, but also the picture of the box the CD came in, the lyrics, the sheet music, histories about the author, the director, the orchestra, everything I can. Even books such as the one that explains why Ravel's Bolero should last 17 minutes and not 13 minutes and 42 seconds... I even have some 20 different recordings of Orff's Carmina Burana, a separate folder with 20 versions of the very same song. I like one conductor at this song, but much more that other one conductor for that other track...One is heard with a OHHH CARMINA, BOOM but other plays OHHH CARMINA, BOOM-BOOM. Funny. Very funny. I prefer the double BOOM. Oh, yes...OHHH CARMINA, BOOM-BOOM. In a nutshell, I have 20 folders with a Carmina Burana in each of them and another folder with a mixture of them that makes good the Carmina Burana I love my best.

There was no way back, then...and now a 5 TB USB HDD turns out to be just 100$, packing, customs, taxes and delivery included.
 
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daftcombo

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#14
Browsing my computer folders instead of simply reach Youtube is already rewarding.
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#15
Although I have no problem playing vinyl and CDs I thoroughly now enjoy my ripped library and streaming services. Possibly some people who have gone back may subconsciously prefer the sound quality from disc.
 

tomtoo

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#16
When i was a very young man, i was already infekted by this hifi virus. And then when let's say Supertramp had a new LP you needet it.
When you had the money you were driving with the tram in the city in the record store hoping to get one. Than you did hold it in the hand with that great cover and you fu**ing had to drive back to listen it on your 'high-end' stereo. Is this from a emotional point of view different than press play on a streamservice?? I think so. ;)
 

Ron Party

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#20
3. Having and reading the physical liner notes, is one of the great joys of a (at least classical) music collection. Why would anyone not see the loss of them as a huge minus? While the quality of liner notes varies, a lot of them contain excellent and informative writing, which can't be found anywhere else. For example, I particularly enjoy reading the liner notes in Colombia Jazz Albums. While I often enjoy Deutsche Grammophon liner notes for their focus on writing about the particular performance and performers (I can read about the composition in a book, but not about the particular performance).

Anyone else agree or have other observations, or is this just me?
Addressing this point only: you could scan the liner notes then read them on your preferred display. Yes, this would entail more work initially. OTOH, you could blow them up on your display to a size much greater than the ~4.75" square pages you get with your CD liner notes, making them much easier to read. If like me you're in the reading glasses required club, this would be a plus. Tactile sensation would be different... pages versus something like an iPad.
 
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