I admit it. I still buy CDs. I’ve been disheartened by the decline of the brick and mortar CD stores, first Tower Records and then Virgin Megastores. Those places used to be an oasis for a music lover like me. One of my favorite activities was browsing the isles, slipping on the headphones connected to the in-store displays of featured albums, and listening to a few tracks. Time seemed to fly by when I was CD shopping and it was one of the best ways to kill time before an appointment.
Despite the fewer outlets where I can buy them, I still buy CDs. Am I a dinosaur? I like to think of myself not as a dinosaur, but as an audiophile and as I wrote in my previous entry I believe I can hear the difference between CDs and even 320 Kbps MP3s on my home stereo system. Of course, I also buy tracks from iTunes, but typically only when I really want one song and want the immediate gratification of having it within a few minutes. If I like a song, typically I’ll want to hear more by that artist, which means waiting and buying the whole physical CD containing the song that got me interested in the artist.
I also like to read liner notes to correctly understand the lyrics to songs as well as discover all the many musicians, producers, and sound engineers involved in making a recording. I liked hearing the news that Apple is working with four major record labels to add enhanced liner notes to digital downloads from the iTunes store.
My current process for obtaining music and getting it into my mobile music collection is the following:
1) Buy CD
2) Rip CD at the highest quality settings to FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) using dBpoweramp http://www.dbpoweramp.com/. I store these in my FLAC directory on my external hard drive which is organized by artist with album subdirectories. FLAC provides a backup of my music collection should I ever lose a CD or should it become scratched.
3) Convert the FLAC files to 320 Kbps MP3 using the LAME encoder in dBpoweramp Batch Converter. I store these in an MP3 directory on my external hard drive organized by artist with album subdirectories.
4) Import the MP3 files into iTunes using File—> Add Folder to Library and selecting the folder for the MP3s I created in Step 3.
5) Sync with my 160 GB iPod Classic and iPhone (when there’s room)
I wonder how long it will be before I can download a CD quality lossless audio file from the iTunes store? Once that happens I’ll probably finally stop buying CDs and not have to go through steps 1-5