A journalist I spoke to the other day said to me: "Your father, he's rather opinionated, isn't he?"
"Oh, how so?" I replied.
Journalist: "In the 1980's he said that CD would never catch on."
Me: "Well, he was right! It just took 20 years for his prediction to come true!"
The End of the CD?
Who — apart from Ivor — would have thought back then that vinyl would out-live CD? Yet who today would dispute that this is likely to be the case? In fact Ivor said two things; firstly, don't throw out your records because you haven't heard what's on them yet (and LP12 upgrades in 2007 and 2009 are the most recent vindications). Secondly, CD would be an interim format, before an eventual 'true' digital format would come along to rival vinyl. With Studio Master downloads and format-independent Linn DS music streamers, Linn believes Ivor's digital prophecy has been fulfilled.
Yet Linn is not claiming the end of the CD format. I have a good CD shop at the bottom of my street and still find it an enjoyable way to buy music. I take my new CDs home, rip them to my NAS and use the Direct Play feature in KinskyDesktop to play the music immediately. My guess is CD's will be around for a few years yet. So why end CD player manufacture?
CDs That Sound Better Than CD
Although over the years it did become progressively harder to source CD engines and loaders of the quality required, the real killer was performance. Once we proved out the theory that streaming a CD could and should sound better than playing the same CD, it was only a matter of time before we stopped making CD players. We now have Linn DS players at Klimax, Akurate and Majik level, as well as integrated offerings for various applications, each of which outperforms any CD player and offers more value than its CD-playing counterpart. We have far greater control over the supply-chain, with the benefit of far superior product reliability and longevity.
What about customers who want to buy a CD player? Is Linn turning its back on those people?
We thought long and hard about this. In the end, we decided that we'd rather take the time to explain to existing and potential customers why we believe the time is right to get into music streaming even if it means we risk losing a sale.
Of course we will continue to support our CD players in the market to the very best of our ability. Linn has a consistent track record of maintaining long product service life, and our decision to stop manufacturing new CD players does not jeopardise this.
When you bought a CD player, that's all you got — a CD player. When SACD came along we were told we needed to buy a new player. Same again with DVD, same with Blu-Ray disc.
Music streaming, and Linn DS, offers format — and resolution — independence and, crucially, upgradeability. That's why Ivor calls it the "digital LP12".
I'll be available for an online Q&A on 1st December from 5pm to 7pm GMT.