Harking back to January when I bought a digital-only album, I had a small epiphany in the days that followed.
Up until now I have made a point of buying a CD and then ripping it at 320kbps, without ever questioning the reality that my motives were based in. Now I’ve finally recognized the absurdity of my assumptions.
The expensive hi-fi at home? It sits gathering dust most of the time and has done for years. When my CD player finally gave up the ghost in 2008 after eighteen years of solid, fault-free service I failed entirely to replace it, using a combination of a cheap DVD player and an even cheaper portable CD player ever since.
From the beginning I refused to believe it was either big or clever to abandon physical product and switch to digital-only consumption. The idea of sitting in my house listening to a 96kbps MP3 through big speakers gave me a headache, yet here I am ten or eleven years later doing that very thing.
Have I trained my ears to not care?
To be honest I’m not sure. I can hear the artifacts still, the wooly bass, the shimmering cymbals, but I think it’s the ubiquity of the personal music collection, through MP3 players, that has changed my consumption of music: lessened it. Now I’m barely even hearing the old favourites, they serve their purpose simply by playing – what I’m hearing is a memory, effectively a quiet place for me to go inside my head. Peace.
A worrying development, I assure you.
But this development is not alone, it has a tandem, a twin, a parallel. After I realised that digital devices mean everything/everywhere/anytime (ahem, if you have charge…), and that hoarding non-rare tapes, vinyl and CDs is just pointless hoarding, I realised that my bookshelves are full of books (many very good, some, er, not so) that I will never open again.
Why keep them?
I’d downloaded the Kindle app and started reading a free book with that before the thoughts above struck me. And now I want an actual Kindle.
What’s a boy to do?