slotMusic vs. CD: The Ultimate Comparison

By  |  Monday, September 22, 2008 at 8:25 am

slotMusic is an innovative new format format for music distribution. The tried-and-true Compact Disc is a quarter-century old. I compared ’em point by point and found that the CD stacks up surprisingly well for an invention that predates memory cards, MP3s, iPods, iTunes, and music phones. Is it going too far to say that if the CD were introduced today, folks would hail it as a breakthrough. Maybe. But I know that if it went away right now, I’d miss it–and that I think it beats slotMusic hands down. Chart after the jump…

Compact Disc
So small you might run it through the laundry by accident
Conveniently hand-sized, yet incredibly thin
Music selection
29 albums
Untold millions of albums
Major merchants like Best Buy and Wal-Mart
Every music store on the planet
Backed by
Four major labels
Every label
About the same as a CD
Exactly the same as a CD
CD quality “high quality”
CD quality
Use on your PC?
Yes, with an adapter
Yes, either directly or by ripping
Use with a CD player
Yes, by transferring music, then burning CD
Yes, directly
Use with an iPod
Yes, by transferring music to PC and then to iPod
Yes, by ripping and synching
Use with a phone
Yes, by ripping and transferring
Chances you’ll be able to play it in 20 years
Not good
Reasonably good
Chances your spaniel will eat it
Alarmingly high
Reasonably low

Fair comparison? You tell me…



12 Comments For This Post

  1. Mind Booster Noori Says:

    slotMusic will not have CD quality: it will come with mp3’s, which is a lossy format. But yes, CDs kick slotMusic’s ass.

  2. arw Says:

    Noori, thanks for pointing out that mp3 is a lossy format, which is NOT CD quality — close but no cigar. It’s sad at how many find music quality less than lossless (CD quality) to be acceptable, much less pay for it. Rather, we should have music today offered at better than CD quality, which, ironically, is less than LP album quality. As a musician/artist, I would want my work presented to the public as close to the real thing as possible, on the right playback system, of course.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    Thanks, folks. slotMusic’s site simply says the music is “high quality,” so I’ve amended the chart…

  4. Lincoln Spector Says:

    I’m having trouble figuring out any advantage to slotMusic. Who’d want to buy music on media so small it can slip through a hole in your pocket?

    Then there’s manufacturing costs. CDs cost pennies to mass-produce (well, quarters, anyway). Last I checked, you couldn’t buy a blank MicroSD card for less than $5. I could imagine these selling for the same price as CDs, but I couldn’t imagine the labels or retailers being happy about it.

    One more thing: Has anyone announced how compressed the .mp3s will be. 320kbps can indeed rival CDs in quality; 186kbps–no.


  5. Harry McCracken Says:

    Hi, Lincoln: The music is at 320kbps.

    Thanks for contributing!


  6. Michael Desmond Says:


    Not to call shenanigans or anything, but I think your review is a bit harsh. First, if you buy slotMusic, what’s to keep you from transferring/encoding files for more compact and efficient access on an MP3 player or phone? You already have to do this with CDs, so why the penalty to the sM format for this?

    Second, it’s not like CDs are perfect. Those thin discs can get warped, scratched and battered. When used in portable applications, they are prone to skip and pause–something solid state is immune to. And while your spaniel may swallow a slotMusic card, your kids might use CDs as frisbees. It’s deadly peril all around, I’m afraid.

    Ultimately, I always, always favor solid state over spinning media, provided it: a) matches the performance/fidelity of the spinning stuff; b) costs the same or less; and c) isn’t encumbered by hateful DRM technology.

    SlotMusic seems to nail two out of three of these. If they could get lossless music on there, I’d consider buying slotMusic right away. Heck, I would consider the format anyway, since I’ve long since moved ALL my music to MP3 and rarely, if ever, reach for the discs.

    The obvious business issues of distribution and content availability aside, slotMusic to me is a packaging challenge. How do you ensure that people can quickly tell which album is which, and how do you ensure these things aren’t easily lost? If they’ve got the packaging and handling of the physical media solved, I’d be tempted to reconsider any allegiance I still have to CDs.

  7. What's the frequency, Kenneth? Says:

    The mental retardation in the music industry blows my mind. They could have used one of several music file formats that would excuse the format change, but they chose MP3???

    The fact is, they could have used a lossless format that’s better than CD and still done very well, if they felt compelled to kill the CD. Frankly, I think the reasons they’re doing this are as follows:

    Shelf space: Probably a good thing
    Proprietary control: If they start including encryption, you won’t be able to say it’s not really a CD (which is a White Book CD.)
    Standardization: They’ll probably sell the same files electronically for cheaper.
    Buzz: It’s “New.”

    All that said, the music business is a bunch of retards. If they’d improved the music quality and actually lowered the prices to account for cost savings, they might have gotten away with the scheme they’re apparently up to, but…

  8. Steve Says:

    I’ve had a similar reaction to some of the posts here. If you’re going to sell something at a retail outlet as opposed to online distribution, I fail to see the benefit of dropping from CD quality to “near CD quality” 320kbit/sec MP3s. However, I do understand the usage of the MP3 format. My question is…. why couldn’t they do both? Offer a “better than CD” lossless format and an MP3 format on the same media. That would provide incentive to ditch CDs and yet still have the convenience of MP3 compatibility for those not technically inclined to convert the music themselves? Just a thought…

  9. James Says:

    Let’s see – a $10 CD with higer quality which can be ripped to say ACC or a $10 SD card with MP3 quality. Someone has been drinking Koolaid again.

  10. its a pretty good day Says:

    well the thing about the ssd is that if it were lossless, it would be better than cd quality because not only can cds get scratched, but some cd players are better than others, like audiophile quality brands like marantz, and im pretty sure lossless decoders are all the same at decoding at least. it would be cheaper to have a ridiculously good performing system.

    and they have a whole gig of space, they can fit a 24/96 lossless album on each. or a lot of lossy albums. they might even add a decoder in the box with the included usb adaptor. and a battery,maybe a couple buttons here and there, and its an mp3 player by itself.

  11. Hmm Says:

    I would expect an 320 kbps MP3 sourced from original studio audio would rival that of “CD” quality audio (unless you’re one of the few with golden ears), but that’s beside the point.

    In response to “arw” — CDs are NOT lossless. Infact, in their very nature they can be nothing more than lossy if you consider the limitations of the technology. Look it up some time.

    With lossless formats on SD you could virtually get exact, exact copies of the original music. That is the only way slotMusic should EVER work. Don’t try to swindle consumers out of this right.

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