Skip to main content

It’s time to “fully embrace CDs” over vinyl, says Ableton co-founder

 "Compact Disk, you are underrated and you will always have a place in my heart"

CD player

Ableton co-founder Robert Henke has said it's time to “fully embrace CDs” over vinyl.

Writing in a Facebook post on Monday (11th July), Henke specified the environmental impact of vinyl manufacturing as the reason behind his stance. 

"I still love physical products. But manufacturing big heavy plates of plastic and [having] them shipped around the globe is a huge waste of energy and resources," he wrote. "In times of global warming and dependency on cheap energy from the likes of Russia or Saudi Arabia, I consider not doing any releases on vinyl anymore, but fully embrace CDs.

"The last big physical media innovation, with a better signal-to-noise ratio, better channel separation, better frequency response than vinyl in a smaller package. Compact Disk, you are underrated and you will always have a place in my heart."

4.2 million vinyl albums were sold in the UK alone in 2018, an increase of 1.6%, or an additional 100,000 sales, from 2017. The vinyl manufacturing process extracts crude oil, a fossil fuel, from limited sources in the ground before refining it and processing it into the PVC granulate that makes up a standard vinyl. In 2020, 76.2% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK came from the use of fossil fuels. 

Back in 2020, we wondered if our relationship with vinyl could ever be environmentally friendly. Various companies have been working out ways to make our wax obsession as eco-friendly as possible, and labels like Ninja Tune have worked in collaboration with artists to offset their carbon emissions. But is this enough?

Manufacturing delays and rising costs are straining small, independent vinyl labels. Paired with environmental concerns and a reassessment of what physical releases can entail, the wax bubble appears to be bursting. Read Will Pritchard's investigation here