Recently I bought a CD. When I sat down to listen to it on the stereo in my home office, it skipped in several places in track 2. Then it started skipping a lot more in track 3. I took it out, wiped some dust off it, tried track 3 again. It started skipping again at the same point in the track. I took it out again, ran a lens cleaner in the player, tried again. Same deal. Tried it the next day in my car player and it played fine, even though I know from experience that other CDs I have have a high tendency to skip in that player, and it gets especially skippy when driving on bumpy streets. The only theory I can come to about the home player is that some heavy bass frequencies in the music on the disc itself are causing vibrations that throw the player off. I think it’s absurd that a device intended for playing music can be thrown off by vibration, because after all, music is vibration, duh!

Record players are even worse. I enjoy listening to an LP on my turntable until my wife gets up and walks across the room or my kid starts jumping around and the needle jumps. But at least a record will still play continuously if it gets a speck of dust on it. It’ll just make some undesirable additional surface noise for each speck of dust, yeah that’s great. Anyone remember when CDs first came out and the instructions they would come with? You have to hold it veeeery carefully by the edges; don’t let it get any dust on it; and then if you do get something on it and you try to wipe it off with something, the thing you wipe it with just ends up depositing more crud on it! Don’t let it lay around outside its brittle plastic case and get scuffed up, either… any of that stuff happens and it won’t play right at all. It’s as if the inventors of the format expected all of us to be doing all our music listening in a laboratory cleanroom. Ridiculous.

Tell you this, though: I ain’t never heard a tape skip.

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Podcast episode 2

Published on January 06, 2018