Lou Reed has said the rise of downloadable music and MP3 players has taken music "backwards".

The Velvet Underground legend, speaking at the South by South-west (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas, said he believes that the ease of availability of music through download stores such as iTunes has led to a decline in sound quality.

The 66-year-old, who recently duetted with Brandon Flowers on The Killers' B-sides album Sawdust, said he believes MP3s have "very bad sound".

"If you find out you like good sound you have to go out and get a good unit to play over," he told Variety.

"If the guy making the record likes good sound, the price goes up. People have to have higher standards. Some might say 'that's elitist'."

Reed went on: "You can get any song you want in the world. If you don't care about good sound, none of this matters for a second.

"If no one cares, it will stay the same. Technology is talking us backwards, making it easier to make things worse."

Reed, famed for his reluctance to cater to commercial whims, admitted that he could have pursued a mainstream career and made more money.

When asked about his songwriting process, he said: "I don't know if I know how to do it.

"If I did I would have written Son of Wild Side and would now have a Caribbean island," he said, referring to the ease with which he could have written a sequel to his 1972 classic Walk on the Wild Side.

14/03/2008 13:37:14