against computer audio

Ok, the title is deliberately provocative, especially since I’m still on the fence regarding computer audio.

The advantages are obvious: you can find what you want, when you want it, and you can be done with so much…stuff.

At this stage of the game, computer audio can sound as good as/better than standard issue cd playback, even on modest (i.e. cheap) systems like mine.

So why am I not wholly in love with it? Why do I still cling to my stupid silver discs, which – while not vinyl – are the sweet spot for me?

I got a clue from this passage from Tom Piazza, a fine writer and thinker. (It’s from his book ‘Devil Sent The Rain,’ which is in paper.)

“The computer is neutral in that it gives you access to limitless amounts of information, but the one requirement is that you have to get it onto the computer. The information has no smell, no weight, no texture. Nothing that seriously impinges on your reality. People think it represents some kind of democratizing of information because everything’s the same size. But democracy is when things of different sizes get a chance to mix it up and work it out, measure themselves in their respective strengths. If everything is the same size, there’s no perspective.”

I think that’s about right for me; for a while I ran a Vortexbox in my office, loaded a bunch of albums onto it, fussed with tags, made it fairly right.

I found myself less interested; the music all seemed sorta the same, even though I knew it really wasn’t.

Again, I get the value of computer audio, and I understand that at the less than low end it holds the prospect of sounding even better than than what we have already. But to me, there’s an emotional flatness about it that I can’t quite get around, and that’s a shot at the heart of why I listen to music, to feel.

originally posted to the ‘AudioKarma’ web board


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