Lou Reed slammed the quality of MP3 audio at this year’s South By Southwest music festival, noting that "it's like the technology is taking us backwards… it's making it easier to make things worse".

Reed told an SXSW festival crowd: "It's like, if no one knows any better or doesn't care, it's gonna stay on a really, really low level and people who like good sound are gonna be thought of as some kind of strange zoo animal".

Lou added: "You have the world open to you now; you can get almost any song in the world as an MP3, and I suppose if you like it you can go out and try to find a version you can actually listen to - if you like good sound. If you don't like good sound, none of this matters for a second."

Luddite or true audiophile?

Over on the NME, web editor Paul Stokes staunchly defended Lou’s anti-MP3 stance. He told us: “As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time focussing on the minutiae of creating sounds, one can understand why he is concerned with the quality of MP3.”

Hannah Emanuel, web editor of music trade weekly Music Week commented: “The demise of the CD single and the rise of the MP3 is the customers’ choice. The fact that only this week the CD single has been removed from the typical basket of UK goods used to measure inflation tells us that customers are more interested in the versatility of the MP3 than CD quality.”

Direct to fans

In other music news this week, Jack White’s ‘other’ band The Raconteurs follow in the footsteps of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, The Charlatans and REM by confounding industry tradition and releasing their album directly to fans next week. They'll avoid the usual ‘promotional window’ whereby the record company pimps the music to press and radio.

Consolers of the Lonely is the second album from the group, who explain the thinking behind this decision in the following way:

“We wanted to explore the idea of releasing an album everywhere at once and THEN marketing and promoting it thereafter. The Raconteurs would rather this release not be defined by its first weeks sales, pre-release promotion, or by someone defining it FOR YOU before you get to hear it."

Critical avoidance?

So what do the critics think of the move? NME’s Paul Stokes remains fairly nonplussed, telling TechRadar:

“We’ll still review it, of course, as soon as we get it next Tuesday – the same time as everybody else. If anything, the fact that it has caused more hype by releasing it in this way means that they really have to deliver a great album, because they are taking quite a risk.”