Stripped of essence or just economical?

When I got my first car, it was so old that there wasn’t a place for an aux chord. Instead, I was forced to go back to my mom’s old CD collection from 2005 and choose six CDs that I wanted to have in my car on rotation. Coming from a world where every song is at your fingertips in mere seconds, this was not ideal. The advancements in technology have allowed for new formats, such as mp3s, to take up less space and thus provide more options than the CD, cassette tape, or record. For my generation, mp3s aren’t just technology, they’re cultural artifacts.

One of the ways that mp3s are able to take up less storage is due to the fact they are engineered differently. As a musician, this fact shocked me because I have never been able to tell the difference between a song off of a CD and a song coming from an iPod or iPhone. Part of the song is sacrificed without us being aware. There is both a psychological and biological element to what is being heard and more importantly, to how it is being engineered so that we think we hear everything without realizing there is something missing. In an article from The Guardian “How much difference is there between MP3, CD and 24-bit audio?”, the author notes that when listening closely, it is easy to discern the poor quality of mp3s when held up against their competitors. However, hi-res music is both more costly and consumes more space than an mp3.

In the video above, it is explained how some of the sound is removed from the file of the mp3 and shows what exactly is removed. It sounds almost as if the song was coming from a very far distance and is cluttered with static. It is very difficult to notice this missing piece of the mp3, so why not continue to use something cheaper, less space consuming, and that sounds just as good to the everyday man’s ears?