• The Revenge of Analog: An Editorial and Review

    Over the last year or so, I frequently had these feelings and a desire to make something with my hands. I thought about getting into woodworking, even though I have less than zero skills with the craft. I didn't really understand these feelings, but they were very strong. I use the word feelings rather than the word thoughts because this was coming from inside me and I couldn't wrap my head around it. I had an innate desire for something real. It turns out, I had an analog itch that was screaming to be scratched.

    I put down my Canon 5d MKIII digital camera, picked up my Hasselblad fully manual analog camera and shot a few rolls of Fuji Velvia slide film. I shipped the exposed film off to be processed, scanned, and printed. The anticipation of seeing what I had created was delightful. I waited nearly two weeks for the results to arrive home. Upon receiving the prints, I had a realization. While the final images were nice, they weren't the main reason for my happiness, my new found enthusiasm for analog, and my sense of fulfillment. Nostalgia also had little to nothing to do with this feeling. It was all about being human and connecting with something real, something tangible, something analog. It was about using more of my senses and being more human, as opposed to the binary digital life I lead on most days. Smelling the film as I placed it into the camera. Hand-winding the film within the A12 camera back. Hearing the distinctive rear auxiliary shutter of the Hasselblad 503CW camera body as I depressed the metal shutter release button. And finally, seeing, touching, and smelling the finished 5x5 prints upon their delivery from the mailman. This was a physical human experience from beginning to end.

    In a way, analog is finite, where digital is nearly limitless. Rolls of film cost money. Processing, printing, scanning, and shipping cost money. Each roll of 6x6 medium format film has 12 shots available. The photographer must take time, be mindful, and really focus on each shot. Limitations lead to creativity and imperfections. Both are cornerstones of being human.

    As the founder of Computer Audiophile, why am I writing about analog and how does this relate to digital audio? I'm writing about this because I believe many CA readers have similar experiences. Many members of this community have expressed a renewed interest in playing vinyl records after getting more involved with digital audio. There is also a lot to be learned from the analog world that will enhance and make our digital lives even better in the future. In other words, the whole digital music experience has come a long way, but it also has a long way to go and has vast areas of improvement and immersion still to come. Keep in mind, this has absolutely nothing to do with objective measurements or sound quality, and everything to do with the experience. Last, I recently read a new book titled The Revenge of Analog, in which the author David Sax covers this topic brilliantly. Mr. Sax talks to Acoustic Sounds' Chad Kassem, Pro-Ject's Heinz Lichtenegger, and several people in the heart of digital, Silicon Valley, to help illustrate the who, what, when, where, and most importantly why the revenge of analog is upon us.




    The Book

    I was recently sent a link to a New Yorker article titled What Lady Gaga Finds Appealing In Reel-to-Reel. The article touched on some of the same things I realized when shooting with my medium format film camera. Lady Gaga's new album Joanne was recorded partially to analog tape. In the article recording engineers suggest the reasons why people record in the analog domain have much less to do with the warm sound of tape, and more to do with the spark in creativity and talent that is brought on by using tape, with all its limitations. Recording analog is much more demanding of the artists. I look at it this way, demand more from the best artists and you'll get the best product.

    According to David Sax, "Just as the choice of technology ultimately influences the way a record sounds, it also shapes any kind of work. By making certain things easier, and offering limitless options, software can be simultaneously liberating and paralyzing. Sometimes the least efficient option, such as paper and pen, leads to better results, or at least uniquely imperfect ones."

    At the end of this article I read that Mr. Sax is the author of “Save the Deli” and “The Tastemakers.” In addition, I discovered his book “The Revenge of Analog,” was published in November, 2016. I ordered the book immediately. The real paper version, not the digital version.

    In the book, Sax writes about the revenge of analog things such as vinyl, paper, film, and board games, and the revenge of analog ideas such as print, retail, work, school, analog in digital, and summer (camps). Part of what makes this book so credible to me, is the fact that Sax doesn't interview luddites or old guys who are stuck in the past or seeking nostalgia from their youth. He talks to people on the cutting edge of both analog and digital. As someone who sells vinyl, CDs, SACDs, PCM and DSD downloads, and is involved with remastering some of the best albums ever made, Chad Kassem was a great name to read in this book. Most of us are familiar with Chad and his work and have much respect for him. Although Chad was limited to a single quote in the book, the fact that Sax reached out to Chad suggests he did his homework and talked to the right people.

    "When I asked [Kassem] how he find presses, he said, "Any way you fucking can, is how you do it!'"
    - The Revenge of Analog


    Writing about why vinyl was able to come back in a big way, Sax says the infrastructure was dormant but still largely functional. Records were still in storage and turntables still existed. They just had to be brought back off the shelves. This is far different from the digital world, where in 30 years many music files will no longer exist and if they do exist on a drive of some sort, there may not be an easy way to read the files off that drive. Sax also states that digital actually helped save vinyl because of sites like eBay, Amazon, and Discogs. Without record stores, these online sites helped the vinyl resurgence gain momentum.

    Perhaps even more interesting are the advantages and disadvantaged of vinyl and digital and how each lead to where we are today. This is really counterintuitive. Advantages of digital such as ripped files and simple copying without generation loss, soon became its disadvantages. Without a physical CD, the supply of music exceeded demand and people were no longer willing to pay for it. As Sax says, "Suddenly, an album was no longer a desirable object worthy of consumption. All digital music listeners are equal. Acquisition is painless. taste is irrelevant. It's pointless to boast about your iTunes collection, or the quality of your playlists on a streaming service. Music became data. one more set of 1's and 0's lurking on your hard drive, invisible to see and impossible to touch. Nothing is less cool than data."

    You can probably guess where I'm going with this one. The disadvantages of vinyl records such as size, weight, cost, and effort, became advantages. When people pay for something they tend to value it and gain a sense of ownership with the physical object. This all translates into pride about one's collection. Even more important is the aspect of using more of one's senses when dealing with a vinyl product. The smell of vinyl, the feel and sight of the large album jacket are a far different experience from the swipe of a glass iPad screen.

    Wisely skirting around the issue of the importance of sound quality in all this, Sax says, "Up to now I have avoided discussing sound's role in the revenge of vinyl ... as soon as the conversation turns to a comparison of the different sonic qualities of music formats, it becomes loaded with technical arguments on compression rates, speaker frequencies, and dynamic ranges. Audiophiles can spend their lives chasing the perfect weight to balance their turntable's tone arm, and the web is filled with forums discussing whether anyone can detect the difference between a WAV file and an MP3 ..."

    I think Sax was absolutely correct to avoid this issue. The revenge of analog and resurgence of vinyl has very little to do with sound quality. Just like the resurgence of paper, pencils, and film has little to do with the quality of the final product.


    According to David Sax:

    "We don't need to listen to vinyl records today. We can listen to any song on a streaming service. It takes up no space and we can do it just about anywhere that we can get a signal. So why does vinyl matter?

    I think vinyl is fundamentally about the emotional connection we have to things and the way we interact with them that's different from the digital equivalent. So a record is something you can feel and you can touch. There's a sense of discovery when you find a record at a garage sale or a record store [that] comes with pride. It's almost like you've hunted it down."

    "Then there's the act of listening to it. Not to get all McLuhan, but it's very involved. It involves your physical senses: touch, sight, smell and obviously the sense of sound. And when you get it on, you're not skipping to tracks, you're not flipping back and forth through your email. You're there for twenty-two-and-a-half-minutes of each side.

    There's an attraction to that because you are engaging with the music in a more committed way."

    With respect to streaming music and analog, Sax says, "It's not one or the other. I live in both worlds so when I am walking or when I'm in my car, I'm listening to digital music but when I'm at home, in my living room, I'm listening to vinyl. It's these two experiences that are complementary to one another.

    For digital, the convenience is outweighed by the ubiquitousness of it. If it's all just there and easy and accessed through a couple of taps on the screen, there's less of a reward for a lot of people."



    Final Thoughts

    The entire book The Revenge of Analog is filled with stories, anecdotal information, and objective information covering not only the comeback of vinyl, paper, and film, but more importantly, to me, how both analog and digital can coexist and how analog can make digital even better. The entire time I was reading the book, I kept thinking to myself that all audio software developers must also read The Revenge of Analog. There is so much to be learned about improving the digital experience, that I look forward to the coming improvements. I spend so much of my life in front of a screen, whether it's an iMac, iPhone, or iPad, that I long for what I'm missing.

    Music is something I cherish and couldn't live without. Yet, I often wonder if my listening experience has really improved, as much as I think it has, with the advent of computer audio. I have no question that the best sound quality I've ever heard, comes from computer based systems. I'm also unequivocal that the advantages of computer audio far outweigh the disadvantages. In other words, there's no way I'm switching to an analog based system. However, this doesn't mean I am satisfied with the current digital experience. The introduction of Roon software is actually a nice step forward with respect to the whole digital experience. Many members of the CA Community have said Roon reminds them of the old album jackets because of all the information it provides and its rich interface. I agree, and believe Roon has changed the listening life of many, for the better. But, digital must get beyond the simple screen swipe and tap. How this is done, is beyond me, but I believe it's necessary. I've often wondered if selling 21st century "album jackets" would improve the digital experience. When an artist releases an album or a single, there is a simultaneous release of a physical product. This product may be similar to an album jacket, but much better because its form mustn't follow the function of holding a physical album. Maybe it's a nice magazine or book that's made available with each new music release. This would enable a hybrid experience of both analog and digital, using each one in the best light. I love the touch, sight, and smell of analog items, but I want to play digital music.

    The Revenge of Analog is much more than the fad I once believed it to be. I was often stuck on the red herrings of sound quality and nostalgia, to justify my point of view. It took my own deprivation of analog, immersion in a complete digital world, and my own renaissance of analog photography to understand why analog matters. Analog matters because it's real. In the future, analog will make digital, its one-time nemesis and the very thing that sought to kill it, even better. Analog ideas and the ability to interweave analog and digital is the only way forward.


    Comments 87 Comments
    1. jcbenten's Avatar
      jcbenten -
      Much to be said for traditional methods such as shaving with a double-edge razor (not a vibrating 5-bladed cartoon monstrosity) and pouring hot water over coffee grounds (I rue the day my mom and brother started using those pods). As far as vinyl, in my system the vinyl is smoother and seems to flow better. I can live with a few pops and clicks. Some of the newer records sound awful (vinyl quality, not the music - example is some of the Vault packages from Jack White) and I have had better luck listening to older vinyl.
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Quote Originally Posted by jcbenten View Post
      Much to be said for traditional methods such as shaving with a double-edge razor (not a vibrating 5-bladed cartoon monstrosity) and pouring hot water over coffee grounds (I rue the day my mom and brother started using those pods). As far as vinyl, in my system the vinyl is smoother and seems to flow better. I can live with a few pops and clicks. Some of the newer records sound awful (vinyl quality, not the music - example is some of the Vault packages from Jack White) and I have had better luck listening to older vinyl.
      Everyone has their preferences. I think the five bladed monstrosity gives me a closer shave and I never cut myself, unlike with "traditional" razors. (Which, by the way were derided for the same reasons when they replaced the blade and leather strop).
      Ask most coffee mavens and they will tell you that pouring hot water over coffee grounds is definitely a sub-optimal way of making coffee, as the water temperature and amount of time the coffee grounds are exposed to the water are not correct. I don't use them, but I think pods make a perfectly good cup of coffee.

      I prefer digital to vinyl and never play my records anymore.

      The other points Chris makes from the book are interesting. I think the idea that digital music made music "worthless" for many people is correct, and that much of the interest in vinyl comes from aspects other than sound. The involvement of more senses probably has something to do with it, and the discovery, etc.

      Maybe it's because I grew up in an analog world that I don't value vinyl or printed books so much. I really like the convenience etc of digital versions and prefer them. If I was younger I'd probably be one of those kids searching for vinyl and buying printed books.
    1. new_media's Avatar
      new_media -
      I make coffee every morning in this, on the stovetop. Probably my most "analog" daily experience.

    1. wgscott's Avatar
      wgscott -
      I like my music digital and only on a hard drive, I drink instant coffee purely for convenience, but I only read analogue (printed) books.
    1. Michael Lavorgna's Avatar
      Michael Lavorgna -
      Boy O boy, I sure did enjoy this, Chris. Very nicely said.

      Cheers.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Michael Lavorgna View Post
      Boy O boy, I sure did enjoy this, Chris. Very nicely said.
      Cheers.
      Thanks so much Michael.
    1. james45974's Avatar
      james45974 -
      Analog is just nostalgia, nothing wrong with that. What makes something worthy of nostalgia? How many of you wish for the days of tube or B&W television, no A/C, standard transmission cars? There can be digital nostalgia too, anyone want to fire up their old Apple II or Nintendo? Personally, I miss sitting down to play cards, and I don't mean poker.

      I would suggest that nostalgia is generational, the nostalgia for vinyl will pass with the baby-boomers, just like any nostalgia for wax cyliners, victrola's or 10" 78's have passed with previous generations.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by james45974 View Post
      Analog is just nostalgia, nothing wrong with that. What makes something worthy of nostalgia? How many of you wish for the days of tube or B&W television, no A/C, standard transmission cars? There can be digital nostalgia too, anyone want to fire up their old Apple II or Nintendo? Personally, I miss sitting down to play cards, and I don't mean poker.

      I would suggest that nostalgia is generational, the nostalgia for vinyl will pass with the baby-boomers, just like any nostalgia for wax cyliners, victrola's or 10" 78's have passed with previous generations.
      I have to disagree. In the book, Sax uses objective data to describe who is purchasing all the vinyl and who is using analog items. It's not baby boomers. It's people without analog in their lives. All ages.
    1. Gadgety's Avatar
      Gadgety -
      Digital and computer controlled audio made my day, made me spend 30-40x more money on the sound system, and enjoy it way more. I'm glad I got to experience what's possible. Today incredible performance is available for far less. That said, I remember finding an obscure LP record, an almost impossible to find record, second hand. A woman I was interested in wanted it for her birthday. What a find. First time it played, red dust literally came flying out of the tracks. LP record covers were great, too. And you had to care for the records themselves, baby them, turn them over etc.

      Yes, digital nostalgia. As soon as it's 100% streaming the CD will be brought back with reverence. That shiny little silver disc. Pucks to keep them in place as they spin.
    1. mansr's Avatar
      mansr -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      I have to disagree. In the book, Sax uses objective data to describe who is purchasing all the vinyl and who is using analog items. It's not baby boomers. It's people without analog in their lives. All ages.
      The 19-yo barmaid at my local keeps telling me how great vinyl is.
    1. Bryan's Avatar
      Bryan -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      I have to disagree. In the book, Sax uses objective data to describe who is purchasing all the vinyl and who is using analog items. It's not baby boomers. It's people without analog in their lives. All ages.
      Perhaps music, which is beloved however we consume it, is imore special when coupled with images and text that's easy on the eyes in age when so much of our time is spent glaring at downsized images and text on smartphones.
    1. james45974's Avatar
      james45974 -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      I have to disagree. In the book, Sax uses objective data to describe who is purchasing all the vinyl and who is using analog items. It's not baby boomers. It's people without analog in their lives. All ages.
      I guess we will have to agree to disagree! Data (objectivity is debatable) was used just recently to wrongly predict who would win the election! I don't give much credence to Sax's data. I have read that there are people buying vinyl to store away and sell for a killing on eBay in the future, can't remember where I read that but I can try and find it. Sounds like a Beanie Baby or Franklin Mint type of scenario: buy something that ends up being worthless in the future because so many other people had the same idea! I hope those buying vinyl these days play the crap out of it, use it up, don't keep it as an investment!

      I wonder about the selectivity of nostalgia. I gave a few examples in my first post. How many of you would give up your cell phones for wired land lines at home, or use an antenna for television. Do you want to give up your Tidal for tuning in the transistor radio? Is there any nostalgia for old tech beyond vinyl? (obviously being an audio centric website that is what the focus is here) I guess my thought is that it is more of a fad, something "cool" or trendy, whose time will pass.

      Those celebrating the demise of CD, I guess you could look at those silver discs as merely data distribution devices, no different than a download or streaming file. Digital is still eating analog's breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by james45974 View Post
      I guess we will have to agree to disagree! Data (objectivity is debatable) was used just recently to wrongly predict who would win the election! I don't give much credence to Sax's data. I have read that there are people buying vinyl to store away and sell for a killing on eBay in the future, can't remember where I read that but I can try and find it. Sounds like a Beanie Baby or Franklin Mint type of scenario: buy something that ends up being worthless in the future because so many other people had the same idea! I hope those buying vinyl these days play the crap out of it, use it up, don't keep it as an investment!

      I wonder about the selectivity of nostalgia. I gave a few examples in my first post. How many of you would give up your cell phones for wired land lines at home, or use an antenna for television. Do you want to give up your Tidal for tuning in the transistor radio? Is there any nostalgia for old tech beyond vinyl? (obviously being an audio centric website that is what the focus is here) I guess my thought is that it is more of a fad, something "cool" or trendy, whose time will pass.

      Those celebrating the demise of CD, I guess you could look at those silver discs as merely data distribution devices, no different that a download or streaming file. Digital is still eating analog's breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
      No worries about disagreeing with me :~)

      Urban Outfitters sold more vinyl than any other brick and mortar retailer in 2015. I don't see any gray-haired hippies longing for nostalgia walking into that place.

      Your other examples are interesting, but a bit different than vinyl, paper, and film. With these three, there is a process inolved and more human senses are used. If I switched back to an antenna for TV, the only thing that would be different would be the number of channels I receive. The entire process and use of senses would be identical. One caveat to this is the quality of picture with an over the air antenna is far better than the lossy compressed picture one gets from cable or satellite. The same goes for a mobile versus landline phone. And, again the quality of a landline is so much better than mobile, it's laughable. But, the experience isn't different. A phone is a phone is a phone.

      Anyway, thanks for your contributions to CA.
    1. One and a half's Avatar
      One and a half -
      Two years ago I made a choice to buy a really good turntable or an SACD player. In making this decision, there are vivid memories of LP suffering in 40+C heat, heavy boxes to store them in, and even more real estate to house them. Unless the lounge room floor wasn't made of concrete, you need the finesse of a feline to ensure the stylus didn't jump. The snap crackle and pop was not enjoyable, especially the really quiet parts of "Take a pebble" by ELP, I still hear in my mind the scratch at the very moment in the middle of piece. Rumble..... help. I bought an SACD player and not regretting it.

      I overheard a conversation the other day in a brick and mortar store, a family of four noticed the rack of LPs. The mother asked the assistant, what's the story with the LP's? "They are making a come back in a big way", the mother of around 40 something replied, "I got rid of all LP's years ago, there's no way I'm going to buy them again". There are solid reasons why LPs were dumped by the millions in favour of CD or digital media. LP has reduced dynamic range compared to hires and nowadays has the same digital mastered rubbish for CD or downloads for popular music anyway. Given the high replacement cost of the stylus, and cartridge and cleaning LPs whether by hand or by machine needs to factored in as well, to stop the snap crackle and pop. Do I need this, well no.

      Digital is far from perfect, the source material still is the highest stumbling block to fidelity, the second lies in the micro details of the transmission system foibles which are being ironed out as we speak on several fronts.

      If you want to be nostalgic and analog, go for tape. Still some maintenance, but far less than vinyl and no need to get out of the chair every 22.5 minutes. Reduced bandwidth, compression range a little better than LP, what more do you want? Something like this DR23 from Flim and the BBs CD.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by One and a half View Post
      Two years ago I made a choice to buy a really good turntable or an SACD player. In making this decision, there are vivid memories of LP suffering in 40+C heat, heavy boxes to store them in, and even more real estate to house them. Unless the lounge room floor wasn't made of concrete, you need the finesse of a feline to ensure the stylus didn't jump. The snap crackle and pop was not enjoyable, especially the really quiet parts of "Take a pebble" by ELP, I still hear in my mind the scratch at the very moment in the middle of piece. Rumble..... help. I bought an SACD player and not regretting it.

      I overheard a conversation the other day in a brick and mortar store, a family of four noticed the rack of LPs. The mother asked the assistant, what's the story with the LP's? "They are making a come back in a big way", the mother of around 40 something replied, "I got rid of all LP's years ago, there's no way I'm going to buy them again". There are solid reasons why LPs were dumped by the millions in favour of CD or digital media. LP has reduced dynamic range compared to hires and nowadays has the same digital mastered rubbish for CD or downloads for popular music anyway. Given the high replacement cost of the stylus, and cartridge and cleaning LPs whether by hand or by machine needs to factored in as well, to stop the snap crackle and pop. Do I need this, well no.

      Digital is far from perfect, the source material still is the highest stumbling block to fidelity, the second lies in the micro details of the transmission system foibles which are being ironed out as we speak on several fronts.

      If you want to be nostalgic and analog, go for tape. Still some maintenance, but far less than vinyl and no need to get out of the chair every 22.5 minutes. Reduced bandwidth, compression range a little better than LP, what more do you want? Something like this DR23 from Flim and the BBs CD.
      Thanks for the comments, but I believe you missed the point of much of this. The very disadvantages of vinyl are now the advantages. Not much to do with sound quality or dynamic range etc...

      However, I completely understand your point of view.
    1. Sal1950's Avatar
      Sal1950 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jcbenten View Post
      I can live with a few pops and clicks. Some of the newer records sound awful (vinyl quality, not the music - example is some of the Vault packages from Jack White) and I have had better luck listening to older vinyl.
      I can too, but only when listening to my vinyl rips. But not and have to put up with the 1930 levels of convenience at the same time. Plus 5 minutes of preparation ritual for every 20 minutes of play. BLAH

      Truth always was 95% of all vinyl "sound awful (vinyl quality, not the music". The reason MoFi and all the rest of the boutique pressing labels were so successful back in the day. Beyond your pops and clicks there was/is wow, flutter, off set center holes, warpage, declining SQ from outer to inner groves, etc, etc, etc.
    1. Sal1950's Avatar
      Sal1950 -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      Not much to do with sound quality or dynamic range etc...
      I can fall in line with that Chris. There are dozens of reasons why a person can legitimately prefer playing vinyl LPs. It can be fun, for a while. LOL
      It's only when folks like Fremer and Co go around claiming High Fidelity sound reproduction is superior from this antique technology. It sure has brought a lot of money into the high end industry over the last few years but is based on misleading information being fabricated by those on the profit side of the ledger.
    1. jcbenten's Avatar
      jcbenten -
      Quote Originally Posted by firedog View Post
      ...
      Maybe it's because I grew up in an analog world that I don't value vinyl or printed books so much. I really like the convenience etc of digital versions and prefer them. If I was younger I'd probably be one of those kids searching for vinyl and buying printed books.
      No doubt digital is more convenient. Sure the kids are buying vinyl and thinking it sounds great..they grew up buying mp3s from iTunes. I have a few nieces/nephews (no kids) and I do not think they have ever purchased even a cd. One is niece is buying vinyl now an getting older music...not new. I used to live for buying a record and could not wait to spin it up on the record player with a friend or two. If I was lucky I could play on my parents system with the big receiver and much nicer turntable/needle. Those were events! During high school I spun The Wall backwards for the hidden message and astounded my classmates. Can that be done with cd? Must be with all the DJs around but not the same.
    1. jcbenten's Avatar
      jcbenten -
      Quote Originally Posted by new_media View Post
      I make coffee every morning in this, on the stovetop. Probably my most "analog" daily experience.

      Mine...Best coffee ever with the correct filter:
      Attachment 30658
    1. One and a half's Avatar
      One and a half -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Computer Audiophile View Post
      Thanks for the comments, but I believe you missed the point of much of this. The very disadvantages of vinyl are now the advantages. Not much to do with sound quality or dynamic range etc...

      However, I completely understand your point of view.
      Waayyyy back in 1999, Fremer and Gil Goss were in the studio taking calls from around the country on a radio show.
      The preferences people had towards CD or Vinyl back then are much the same as they are now. Some people liked CD, a 17 YO preferred vinyl, and Fremer is the vinyl fanatic. A good listen.

      You're talking in double negatives, messes with my head I think it all has to do technically with why CD is different to vinyl, the rest is nostalgia and emotional needs. The Japanese for some of their SHM-CD released a mini LP concept, where the packaging was the size of a 45rpm single and the inner sleeve held the CD. This allows for more touchy feeley, and liner notes than is possible with the regular jewel box. Not a bad idea. For the price what I see of vinyl now, a CD can be thrown in or a USB stick...?