Perfect Sound Forever

Posted on May 3, 2014 by psu

Mosaic Records is everything you want from a record company. For the last thirty years or so they have been doing lovingly crafted, meticulously complete and methodically documented boxed sets that collect together the works of famous and not so famous jazz artists. There is only one problem with this rosy picture. After working so hard to find and document the recordings in each set, they write them to CDs, which then slowly rot away while they sit in their boxes.

I should be absolutely clear. This is not Mosaic’s fault. I don’t think that their product is any worse than average. I think it’s a horrible coincidence that the two out of the three times in the my life that I’ve seen CDs rot, the disks were in my beloved Mosaic boxes. Both were boxes that were around 20 years old. One time the disks were still rippable, but the box I tried to rip yesterday was too far gone even for that.

The conclusion is clear: if you care about your data actually being around in the long term, do not store it on optical disk. Ever.

It’s particularly horrible because one of the things that Mosaic prides itself on is finding previously unissued tracks to put out in their sets, that you can only find in their sets, and are then irreplaceable when their sets go out of print. I think we can conclude two things:

  1. The old CD marketing slogan “perfect sound forever” is one of the most bald-faced lies in the history of consumer marketing.

  2. In the future, if you are putting together a set of recordings that are of historical importance, give them to me on a USB stick so that I can back them up.

I guess we can also conclude that buying music on “physical media” as some sort of security blanket is even dumber than we thought. So yeah, go out there and throw away all your disks. They are rotting away by themselves anyway.

I wonder if Mosaic has their master tapes backed up anywhere.

And oh yes. One final note. If you have any old CDs, you might want to see if they still play. Chances are probably good that some of them don’t.