Reqq Gaia Media

When to Buy Physical or Digital Music

In a previous post commenting on the merit of owning either physical or digital forms for your music, I left it up to you to decide. But what if you wanted a physical and the best resolution/format? In terms of movie and video games, it is usually very easy: you buy them and have a nice ‘trophy’ to place on your shelf or monument of geekdom. But for music, that is not the case.

Okay, there is a surge of vinyl for the music market as an option for collection. I do agree that records are very good for display and your street cred goes up if you own. But I prefer digital, and would want the HiRes albums in an official package to hold on my hands. There are only a handful out there, and even then they are not easy to rip.

In Japan alone sales for physical over digital is actually much higher than most other countries. Having special CD cases with things like tickets to shake hands with idol singers certainly helps.

So When do You buy a Physical or Digital (or Both)?

You have probably pondered this when buying those nice anime and video game soundtracks. As for me, I have a system where I decide to buy a media (TV series/Movie/Anime/Video Game/Album). Here it is in simple form:

Series/Movie/Game/Album I Really Like:
-Buy the physical, possible limited edition if budget permitted. If you are a diehard then you can both or every edition.
Series/Movie/Game/Album I Like (but not as much):
-Get digital, or physical if on sale/gift/used.
Series/Movie/Game/Album I Am Okay With:
-Digital if you have spare money. Don’t go out of your way to get, even delay if needed.
Series/Movie/Game/Album I Don’t Like/Not Fond Of:
-Goes without saying, don’t buy.

May 2017 Purchases

(some physical purchases I made in the last two months)

For music albums, this gets hard as many higher format/resolution is digital only. Being a frugal consumer who also enjoys quality, this is a problem. I do want to get the HiRes and have it convenient anywhere, but having a physical format for an album I love is just better. The extra art, CD shine, the nice little package to hold in your hands gives a more complete feeling than looking at files.

But what about vinyl? Yes I do see the merit of owning vinyl, but for me the format is too old and has its share of problems (scratches, maintenance problems, etc). I don’t want to fiddle if I need to copy to digital format; simply plop into a BD drive and rip. (then again ripping from DVD/Blu-Ray has its own set of problems).

Sometimes Your Options Are Limited

But there are even times, especially for indie or obscure stuff that the best format is just not good enough. Before I purchased the soundtrack for indie game Stardew Valley, but the best one available was in mp3, not even in CD (physical or digital FLAC/WAV). Many indie games are through Steam only.

If only HiRes albums had more options for discs, but sadly there is no one format everyone adopts, and also not everyone thinks HiRes is the way to go. I do like digital download convenience, but there are titles I would want a physical copy of. Like movies and video games, I would like more options for best-in-quality, but it seems like the world is shifting towards more digital. Less carbon footprint, convenience when moving/travel, ease of distribution, there are many reasons to go this route.


What is your preference on media?