Lou Reed Trashes MP3 Format

Lou Reed is lashing out at new modes of audio technology, saying that “people have got to demand a higher standard” than current MP3 music files, according to a recent Billboard story.

Reed had delivered a keynote speech at the South By Southwest Music Festival + Conference in Austin, Texas. But when interviewed later by producer Hal Willner, Reed trashed the current state of audio and other digital technologies, saying that “it’s like the technology is taking us backwards. It’s making it easier to make things worse.

“Here’s our song reduced to a pin drop—what, what, what?!” Reed explained, sort of. “It’s like if no one knows any better or doesn’t care, it’s gonna stay on a really, really low level and people who like good sound are gonna be thought of as some kind of strange zoo animal.”

All joking aside, he’s right, of course; MP3 files sound blurry and indistinct at lower bit rates. Even at higher bit rates—such as the better sounding, 256 Kbps files sold in Amazon’s MP3 store—you can still tell the difference when listening on your cell phone or MP3 player if you have good enough earbuds.

But at the same time, a lot of people miss the point of MP3s—we see the format as the successor to the cassette, which was extremely portable and convenient, but not as good sounding as full-blown LPs, and later, CDs. How else could you carry 2,000 songs (that’s roughly 200 CDs, if you think about it) on an 8GB microSD card the size of a dime?

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