Compact discs account for 80% of all music sales in Japan, which experts attribute to bonus material and an aging population that grew up with packaged music.

Category: Music, Technology, Weekend

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10 Responses to “Why the Japanese still love music CDs”

  1. tlittell says:

    BR – There’s also the sound quality issue. MP3′s just sound lousy compared to cd’s. Maybe the country is filled with audiophiles? On that topic, have you checked out the PONO music player movement?


      • wally says:

        “Better than CD quality” is hype. CDs are already better than human ears can fully hear. But MP3 is lossy compression and does sacrifice quality for compactness.

    • I think a lot of the sound quality issue is due to low bitrate of MP3′s and/or low quality equipment in the headphones or computer speakers.

      I built a computer earlier this year to use as a media center with my stereo equipment. I have been slowly ripping my 700+ CD collection. At first, I was going to rip all my albums as flac files to have a good archival quality digital library. Then I realized how much hard drive space I would need to have to store my files and have a backup of my collection for when a hard drive failed.

      I decided to do a test. On foobar2000, I used the ABX Comparator to double-blind test between the same track ripped to MP3 at 320 Kbps and Flac at level 5. For the comparasion tests, I used a couple different tracks from artists such as Swans, Miles Davis, Portishead, and the Avett Brothers. I was trying to make sure that my sample tracks had different loud to soft dynamics, different instruments, and live or studio recordings. My over all average for the ABX tests was that there was a 69% chance that I was guessing when trying to pick which samples were from the same ripped file.

      • Jojo says:

        Your comparison is based on YOUR ears. And the older you are the more your hearing has deteriorated. There are cellphone apps that will test your hearing range. Mine doesn’t go above 12khz [sniff]. If you had a 15 YO kid do the same test, they probably would have gotten different results.

        Years ago I ripped my CD collection (~1100) to FLAC. Took about 350GB. Is that a lot? I don’t think so. With 1TB drives available for $40-60, the storage cost me maybe $15 or so. Double it for the backup. Plus the collection has been uploaded to Google Play (which converted them to MP3) and costs me nothing to upload or maintain there for online listening through my cellphone. Google Play allows you to upload & maintain 20k songs for free.

      • True, I forgot to say that that it was an anecdotal test for me based on my ears through my stereo equipment.
        I am second degree student working on a BSN in nursing. I also had that sniff when we did hearing tests on each other. Comparing yourself to people 12 years younger isn’t much fun. I am on a tight budget, so right now I am ripping albums from popular artists to MP3 and ripping the out of print / self-released albums that I have to Flac.

  2. Stuart Douglas says:

    I’m with the Japanese on this.
    I still like the feel of getting an object + liner notes + if my device / hard drive dies I have a physical backup.
    And yes, I guess I am part of an “aging” population. ; )

  3. BottomMiddleClass says:

    Maybe the Japanese just read the user end agreements on digital services and decide they’d rather actually own something.

    Because buying a digital movie on amazon is NOT just like buying a DvD….

    • PhilW says:

      Aging population? I guess the over 50′s are really into J-pop & K-pop. It could also be due to the Japanese love of flea markets, allowing them to easily resell CD’s. Then factoring in that knowingly downloading copyrighted music and video could get you two years in prison, it’s easy to see why CD sales are still high in Japan.

  4. holzter says:

    It’s been over ten years now since a German magazine rounded up a roomful of audiophiles and did a blind listening test, comparing CDs and mp3s using high-end audio equipment and a variety of musical genres. The result? At a constant bitrate of 256kbps, nobody could reliably distinguish between the mp3s and the CDs — i.e., the mp3 was chosen as best as often as the CD.


    As I understand it, anybody who thinks they can hear the difference between 256kbps mp3s and CDs is kidding themselves.

    Still, as somebody once sang, “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”