So, I got "Icky Thump" back around Christmas on CD. I have a "real" stereo at home to listen to music on, you know, with actual components and speakers you buy in a stereo store.
I put it on, and boy, it sounded great, at first. LOUD, just like Spinal Tap told you, it really does go to 11. But I noticed something ugly- clipping, a distortion that usually occurs when the amplifier cannot deliver the power to drive the speakers because the signal is too demanding. But it was odd... I didn't have it turned up very loudly, and it seemed to clip even when played relatively low.
And for those of you who say Jack White likes distortion and lo-fi recording techniques, I can tell you that this phenomenon is not the same. This record has been mastered to be an assault on the ear drums, and its peaks go above the CD format's abilities.
Anyway, I was curious about this, because I have noticed over the last couple of years that I cannot even listen to most CDs all the way through any more. Anyhoo, I discovered the following:
This is all particularly galling, because the only reason I buy CDs instead of pulling them from itunes is because I want a higher quality for at home listening. But recordings are now made to be heard over your car engine, or sound fuller on lousy computer speakers, ipods, or shelf systems, making them sound like garbage on a real set up.
Fortunately, all is not lost with "Icky Thump", my local record shop has it on 180g vinyl, and this edition was newly remastered by a fella that refuses to compress the dynamic range of recordings. Lucky for me they purchase cds for resale so I can put it towards the vinyl copy. Being that Mr. White loves vinyl, it wouldn't surprise me if he deliberately made the CD sound like crap.