Seattle PI listened to the rants of music producers who don't really like MP3 and digital audio players with crappy earbuds:
But the music contained in these computer files represents less than 10 percent of the original music on the CDs. In its journey from CD to MP3 player, the music has been compressed by eliminating data that computer analysis deems redundant, squeezed down until it fits through the Internet pipeline.
When even the full files on the CDs contain less than half the information stored to studio hard drives during recording, these compressed MP3s represent a minuscule fraction of the actual recording. For purists, it's the Dark Ages of recorded sound.
"You can get used to awful," says record producer Phil Ramone. "You can appreciate nothing. We've done it with fast food."
Ramone, who has recorded everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Rolling Stones, was a musical prodigy who graduated from Juilliard at 16. He won the first of his nine Grammys in 1965 for the classic album "Getz/Gilberto." He is not alone in the upper ranks of his profession in decrying the state of audio, even though millions of dollars have been spent building high-tech digital recording studios.
"We're pretty happy with what we send out," says engineer Al Schmitt, winner of 15 Grammys for records by artists from Henry Mancini to Diana Krall. "What happens after that, we have no control over that anymore."
These studio professionals bring their experience and expensive, modern technology to bear on their work; they're scrupulous and fastidious. Then they hear their work played back on an iPod through a pair of plastic ear buds. Ask Ramone how it feels to hear his work on MP3s, and he doesn't mince words.