HiFi enthusiast Mike Perez is our latest CD Junkie. Last year, the 39-year-old Colorado Springs resident penned a widely read article entitled, “5 Reasons Why CDs Need to Return.” He later turned the viral article into a video for his Audio Arkitekts YouTube channel, which has racked up a total of well over a million views.
Perez is committed to providing relatable content for everyone from the casual audio fan to the hardcore audiophile. His YouTube channel features hifi news and reviews, how-to videos, and more. Perez, who also hosts the podcast HiFi Hour, took time out of his busy schedule to share his CD collection and his thoughts on the future of the format.
360°Sound: How long have you been collecting CDs?
Mike Perez: I was an avid collector as a teenager through early adulthood. After the advent of streaming came out, I didn’t collect as much since everyone was streaming and it was more convenient. The newness of streaming was a fun idea. I ended up losing my collection of CDs after a cross-country move. Once I started Audio Arkitekts, my passion for the format returned and I started from scratch, rebuying all of my old CDs I had lost, purchasing my new favorite albums along with the CDs I had always wanted and just couldn’t afford as a young man on a budget.
Approximately how many discs do you have in your collection?
At the moment, I am at around 400 and growing. My goal is to collect as many of my favorites as I can. I don’t have a set end game number in mind. However, I won’t purchase CDs for the sake of purchasing them, I must have a sincere interest in the album.
How do you organize your CDs?
I try and keep them alphabetized. However, I think I am going to reorganize them by genre and alphabetize them to make selecting CDs for product evaluations a lot easier. I am sometimes scattered-brained and having more organization won’t hurt. Especially when I like using CD players as reference when reviewing products for my YouTube channel.
Tell us a little about Audio Arkitekts and its role in advocating for the CD.
Audio Arkitekts began as an Instagram profile several years ago showcasing my favorite pieces of HiFi from around the world as well as my evolution in the hobby. I never expected it to grow into what it is today. My passion for CDs is what prompted me to start championing the return of the CD format as a mainstream platform for music consumption. I never anticipated people to have the type of response that they did, with unwavering support for my efforts. I now try my best to provide my audience on YouTube as well as my blog on my website with as much CD-related content as I can produce. There is always something fun to talk about in the world of Compact Discs.
Your article and subsequent video on why CDs need to make a comeback went viral. I even heard Eddie Trunk talk about it on his SiriusXM show “Trunk Nation.” Tell me how that article & video came to be and the response you’ve received from it.
Well, I decided to write about it first and I just spoke from the heart as to why I felt the CD should make its way back. Since then, I have done several more videos with more information and opinions on the subject. I never thought it would be so well received. I’m really glad there’s still an active community rallying behind the CD and its inevitable resurrection. I am flattered that Eddie Trunk found it insightful, it’s always an honor to reach the radar of successful media outlets and personalities. I can only hope someday Audio Arkitekts will become a mainstream medium for all things audio.
What are a few CDs that sound especially stunning to you on a hifi system? And what makes them so special?
This is a difficult question because there are so many that sound great. And yes, there are some from the era of the Loudness Wars that simply don’t. I think the more revealing your personal system is, the more you will notice both good and bad. However, one CD in particular, was Puscifer’s album C is For, which I had heard time and time again via several streaming services. However, when I listened to it for the first time on my system, I was bombarded with detail I had never heard prior to this listening session. It was an incredible experience. So, for the people who harbor the whole “1’s and 0’s” and “all digital music is the same” mentality, just haven’t explored enough within their own system, or are simply listening for the sake of hearing background music while doing something else, instead of really sitting down and experiencing the music.
You discussed some interesting ideas for marketing CDs on Alex Aubuchon’s CD Collectors Podcast, such as making them like baseball card packs where a limited number will contain exclusive inserts. What do you think needs to happen to make CDs more appealing in the streaming era?
Since I wrote the article, I am already seeing a shift in how artists are packaging their CDs. The other day when I visited my local Target, a couple of artists had some creative books that included their CDs. I am not saying my article sparked this creativity, however, if it can help motivate artists to use more creative mediums to present their music it can only help the resurgence of the compact disc.
As it stands, vinyl is popular because it is a current trend. Trends change quickly in popular culture, and when people realize they have a better-sounding medium that is also considerably less expensive, it’s only a matter of time before the transition of the trend. I think by manufacturing special packaging, and random gifts, as well as creating an experience for the listener buying a new CD, the artist can achieve something greater than just selling another CD, they can connect with the fans on a higher level. They are then able to share their work in a more intimate way.
Are you optimistic about the future of the CD?
If you would have asked me this prior to the release of my article, I probably would have said no, because the audio community still heavily rallies behind vinyl as the superior platform. However, seeing the response I received and the continued support, I would say it’s heading in a good direction. The CD finally stopped declining this last year thanks to Adele and ABBA with their most recent releases. I strongly believe we will see a slow climb and then inevitably a solid resurgence. I get a lot of flak for this because many people like that CDs are cheap. However, if we can support the CD at a higher yet still reasonable price, it can subsidize the mom-and-pop record stores and give them the much-needed financial influx they need to keep them alive.