The "best" media for long term music conservation

I have no clue if this belongs here or in a Hardware section or Arts. None the less, here goes.

The basic question first and the i’ll elaborate a bit.
Which Media Type do i choose to buy Music in now, if i want to make sure i can listen to it in some form until i die some day?

Ok, to go a bit more in depth: A lot of my daily music listening is spotify and bandcamp. And while that’s convenient, it has it’s drawbacks. With spotify i really on a single company existing for all my music to be there. As with games, i think about how i want to share what i love with my kids in 10 or 15 years. And how i will access the music of my 20s when i’m 50 or 60.
There might always be a spotify of some sorts, but i’d like to have a second, independent way to access those things. I don’t want to replace my daily listening with vinyl or such, but some offline method that doesn’t depend on a big company is what i’m looking at.

I specifically don’t look for archival. I’m not interested in buying media and locking it away in a safe or climate controlled room to save for future generations. I still want to use my media. At home, on sundays, when i feel like listening to some of the great concept albums front to back or such. So the media should be able to withstand active, while not daily, use to an extend.
Also, Players should be available (used is fine), nut overly expensive, and somewhat maintainable with spare parts by me.
Also, most music should be available to purchase new or used. As nice as Mini Disc might be, releases are limited. Same for SACD.

So what do i get? Vinyl, CD? Just look for purchasable Flac online and store on External Hdds or SD-Cards?
Obviously the Artwork and physical act of using the medium plays some role. So, CD or Vinyl are what i’d first look at. I have no clue how good common Audio CD’s are in terms of longevity though. And i have no clue how Vinyl or CD are influenced by playing them every now and then.

What’s your take on that matter?

According to Google the non RW CD’s and DVD’s and Blurays are good for 100+ years, so you should be fine there, you would just have to worry about disc scratches. Although, they do make these plastic skins that can go on a CD and stay on even when using the disc. Which is pretty cool.

Personally, this is what I would do, and I would make sure to have a backup somewhere. Or I would put them on plex for streaming… although you did say you wanted it for offline.

Some CDs have a plastic that just breaks apart within a decade. So, it has to be a good quality CD/DVD/Blueray that is kept under perfect conditions to be able to last 100 years.

I think the best way would be to just have a dedicate harddrive that is kept unplugged most of the time with a filesystem that has built-in way to monitor that files did not get corrupted in any way. And then once every few months/years keep checking on that disk.

Although you did say you didn’t want to “achieve it”, but then you would lose that extra “protection” by using it all the time.

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I buy CDs. They are being read once for their data, that data goes on the NAS which is ZFS and backed up. The CDs then go into a box. Most of those discs will outlive you and me.

I grew up in Long Islang where the local radio stations cut an album with some of the best local bands including the Good Rats, Zebra and Twister Sister.
A thousand years from now archaeologists will dig up vinyl records and conclude that our tastes in music devolved as our technology evolved :slight_smile:

Sharing the music with your kids is fun.
“Dad it’s a band called the cold war kids”
Finds Sammy Hagar’s VOA and Tesla’s Modern Day Cowboy
“Let me tell you about the Cold War”

“This is my fav band Baby Metal” I could hear her mutter “You wouldn’t like the lyrics”
It was nothing compared to Def Leppard’s Hit n Run.

“Oh the fun we had with Napster till the record companies started going after 12 yr olds with lawsuits”


Interested to see what others are doing. Some methods I use are not compatible with the rules of this forum.

CDs I bought as a youngster are going bad already. Maybe they were produced cheaply to begin with? I bought a lot of media from those various discount tape/cd clubs. To the eye the discs look fine, but playback skips and trying to rip usually errors out on a track or to. Could be a 201x drive doesn’t like media from the 80s and 90s.

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Retro gaming has shown us that even formats with moving parts thought to be near-ephemeral like floppy disks are still working fine after 30 years. I don’t think you’ll have to worry about CDs breaking down before you do.

Vinyl is another matter, as each time you play a record it physically degrades.

There are bad ones actually, CDs with some organic stuff in it that basically rots. But I’m not sure if that was retail ones or CD-R. Also there are dual sided CD/DVD combos with very thin outer layers that scratch extremely easily.

But yeah, if a CD is properly manufactured it should hold up for a long time.

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What’s your take on that matter?

My “canonical” source of audio is my collection of FLACs. I collect CDs, FLAC digital files (and occasionally non-FLAC lossless files) but they all end up in my FLAC collection in one way or another.

My discs are playable, but I’d rather not handle them. It’s trivially cheap to burn audio CDs if you really want the experience of handling discs or loading up an old 100-disc player.

The rights don’t disappear - ever. It’s my music collection. My playlists stay as they are until I edit them. Neither my CDs nor my FLAC/WAV files have DRM, and there’s Free Software available to manage them. Playback doesn’t depend on the internet.

Portable CD/DVD/Bluray burners are on Amazon, so you’ll not have many readability issues.

Don’t buy into vinyl unless you know you like vinyl. Some people really like the ‘character’ of vinyl, some people hate it. Some people can’t tell the difference. All things being equal, maintaining a vinyl collection is more expensive than CDs.

My FLACs get backed up like the rest of my workstation’s SSD. I’ve got an onsite backup, and that syncs offsite. I also burn my FLAC/WAV files to disc and toss them into the CD collection. I feel that’s reasonably permanent.

24-bit audio is marketing snake oil.


There are bad ones actually, CDs with some organic stuff in it that basically rots.

Discs manufactured by PDO in the UK during the early 90’s have issues. Manufacturing flaws in their particular process. Collectors should be aware of that, but most discs are fine if handled properly.

CD-Rs are mostly reliable, but all of them have a certain percentage of failures that should be expected. Some brands have more bad discs than others, but checksumming the burn should weed them out.

these used to be used alot early years of cd’s they are better at disk protection and swap speed you’ll find these still in heavy use at local radio stations they are kinda like a floppy shell with the same kinda slider sony made their own copy like everything else too.

these got used in car cd players to prevent the skipping and scrattching of the disc but because of the caddy needed to use they died out in consumer use

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Its really not it has benefits to certain genres and certain niche areas of audio… if all you do is rock it out then sure its pure snake oil because your not concerned with dynamic range

As to follow up on the OP’s question though vinyl is more expensive to maintain if you had a dry cool storage environment… say like the seed vault… you could in theory store vinyl a lot long than CDs

Thank you all for your Feedback. I really appreciate it. So i guess i’ll keep doing what i’ve done until now. Get CD’s for everything i want physical and Rip it to disks. The cheap price of CD’s makes this a reasonable solution. Building up a Vinyl collection can be really expensive, when a lot of “classic” CD’s go for 2 Bucks new on amazon.

I’ll probably invest in a decent standalone CD Player for my HiFi and am looking to setup my RPi as a Network music player for the ripped files.

For ripping CD’s, yes. CD’s mostly are 16Bit 44.1Khz. There are better sources though, that are truely 24Bit Audio from the Master. They are rare though. And this isn’t talking about whether you can hear the difference.
I’m fairly confident that i can tell 16Bit flac from 356 MP3 on songs i now very well. Beyond that, I’ll use what ever the source was. No reason to upscale to use more space. I just want to capture the original as close as possible. For CD’s that’s 16/44.1 flac. Bandcamp provides wav and flac in what ever quality the Artist provides. That’s well good enough for me.
Storage is cheap nowadays, so no need to go with mp3 for myself.

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If you want to use CD’s and are concerned about longevity you can actually buy archival quality cd’s

Yeah, but then i’d have to burn them myself, which would loose a lot of why i want a physical medium in the first place (Artwork, etc).
For actual longevity, digital files in multiple locations is probably the way to go. And i guess most CD’s should at least survive 20 odd years with little use which should be enough to enjoy for myself and with my kids. If they fail after that, i still have the physical artwork and stuff and can play it digitally.

when a lot of “classic” CD’s go for 2 Bucks new on amazon

Don’t use Amazon for CDs except as a last resort. They need to fix their shipping process and allow sellers to combine shipping. $1 CD, $3.99 media mail shipping per CD until then, even if you buy multiple from the same vendor.

I’d recommend both Decluttr and SecondSpin for used CDs. They combine shipping, and run buy-on-get-one specials fairly often.

There are better sources though, that are truely 24Bit Audio from the Master. They are rare though. And this isn’t talking about whether you can hear the difference.

The folks over at Xiph (stewards of Vorbis and FLAC) have done some research on the subject, and concluded that 24-bit/192 encoding is actually measurably worse than 16-bit FLAC.

The encoding of the ultrasonic frequencies causes detectable distortion during playback unless you have dedicated ultrasonic speakers. If you’re running an audio lab to test sensors beyond the range of human hearing, you might have those. If you’re using your own ears to listen to things, you probably don’t.


I’m fairly confident that i can tell 16Bit flac from 356 MP3 on songs i now very well.

About 90% of the stuff I listen to is just fine in 320 VBR MP3. With a good set of cans, a not-garbage DAC (and many onboard DACs fall into not-garbage territory these days), a 16-bit FLAC, and the right song, the other 10% really pops.

256 MP3 is fine on my phone, because that’s about the limit of my phone’s DAC. File format isn’t the bottleneck there.

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I get my music off

  • bandcamp
  • CD rips
  • qobuz
  • beatport
  • amazon (both CDs and some mp3s)

The thing I found that CDs are significantly cheaper than FLACs actually (even mp3´s for some reason ask amazon). No matter where you buy them. If you take the time to rip them you get a physical plaything and the same songs somehow. But a lot of the time I´m too lazy or something to wait for the CD and rip it. Or I only want one song, what do I do with the entire CD then?

Currently, as a music player I do use jriver. Not sure if i´d recommend it to everyone. The master license it like 100$. But it´s the best i´ve found so far working on windows, mac and linux. If you´re only gonna use it on one platform it´s cheaper. The license it pretty unrestrictive at least I have like 1 mac, 2 windows, 2 linux installs, 1 actual library docker (where all my stuff resides) and 2 other docker for testing installed currently. Didn´t even have to write anybody to reset my license. And if you come up with reasons they will do that too. So it´s basically one license for all your things, you could ever want to install it to. Witch makes the 100$ ok´ish imo.

Since, it does not really come with a ‘real’ server (the server is the gui) I´ve also created a little docker container including a webgui for VNC access (there where community made docker containers before, but this one is better imo, that´s why i made it) So I have all my music in one place. And i´m STILL working on an app that synchronizes my media via wireless to my android phone. Working on it since last devember. At this point it can sync all my songs from jriver to my phone and also playlists. It also (almost) works with plex (it works if I hardcode the library id), because I don´t want to be stuck with JRiver until the end of days, just because I wrote an app for it. I forced myself to support something else for a proove of concept and to build things more modular from the start. Though, I´d expect that to take till next devember for something useful to come out of that that I´ll make publically available. Still not sure wether or not I´ll make that open source or not however. Likely at some point. But the currently repo contains lots of passwords and usernames in the unit tests lul. It also takes a while longer than I anticipated to make that work, but I think it´s really cool. It takes a lot more time than I initially anticipated though. “Just simply copy paste your music”, not that simple actually.

Vinyl for stuff I really like and can find online or in stores and want to keep for a lifetime.

Everything else is either steamed or torrented.

I’ve done this a lot. Also with CDs from our Library.
I actually don’t mind the process. I’m buying CD’s more or less in bulk. So 5 or 10 at a time, when i’ve found enough i like. I just let my PC Rip them on a sunday while i’m playing at the PC anyways. I switch out the CD every few minutes and am done in an hour or too.
And yes, Aquiring flac files is expensive af. Only exception being Bandcamp. But a lot of popular music sadly isn’t on Bandcamp.

For Playing back i now set up Volumio on a RPi i had lying around. So far, this is working really well. Over HDMI out, i don’t have to worry about the low end DAC in the PI. The WebUI works great on my Phone or IPad.
It’s not perfect though. Missing Artist artwork and lack of configurability hold it back a bit.
I also tried Kodi several times, but it’s browsing features just don’t work well for large librarys, when you want to play single songs from different artists.

It’s an interesting question. CD/DVD burnable media is nowhere near as long lasting as commercial burnt media because the cheap dies used in making them.

I am not sure on Bluray media you can burn.

Digital storage is the only way to go but then a 2 or 3 sites and like a HD at home a cloud server and a cold backup etc. Live media storage is like one hack from encrypted.

So a modern FS like BTRFS or ZFS with read only live snapshots is almost a must if you give a shit.

No one wants to manage a box for of HD’s/DVD’s or Blurays full of content. It’s why iTunes wins. However, Itunes may not exist in 30 years and we all want our media online and available forever and then leave it in a will to our favorite niece.