A company whose primary business was once in high-end CD players for audiophiles says the CD player is done for.
Glasgow-based Linn is essentially saying what consumers hooked on iPods and iTunes have known for years, but Linn’s customers are different. They’re big spenders who will pay thousands of pounds for a system with superior audio quality, as opposed to a lossy format such as MP3.
But as Linn’s managing director Gilad Tiefenbrun tells The Guardian, sales of the company’s CD players have declined 40 percent year-over year. Customers are quickly moving to Linn’s hard drive-based systems that can stream music throughout the user’s home. Linn Records, a part of the company that sells music, saw a 17 percent drop in CD sales from last year, with people moving to uncompressed downloads instead. For those customers, Linn sells the Majik DS player, which costs £1,750 and pulls music from a computer or hard drive and uses a high quality digital to analog converter.
For the rest of us, is the CD truly dead? According to The NPD Group, CDs accounted for 65 percent of music purchases in the first half of 2009, and digital files and optical media are expected to balance out next year.
Still, it’s important to make the distinction between CDs and CD players. I still buy CDs on occasion, because I like the the concept of the album, the packaging that comes with it and the idea of having a lossless copy of the music. But in the end, that CD gets ripped into MP3 format and played on my iPod. I wonder how many people in NPD’s research do the same thing.
Even if CDs hang on, I think devices whose sole purpose is playback will fade into obscurity.