A recent episode of the Tekzilla show reviewed some audio compression formats and came to a simple conclusion, lossless compression for the win. While these formats (FLAC, Apple lossless, WMA lossless) might look like a good compromise between drive space and quality, and are obviously a good upgrade from the crappy, oh-so-unbearable 128Kbs MP3 format, I think the real point to make here is that with technological “advancements” of recent decennies, audio quality has gone down the toilette.
The only good audio compression is no compression!
And still, there’s a lot of room for improvement.
You might say I’m a purist but I’m not, here’s why. The CD Red Book format is 16bit 44.1kHz, which was a good compromise of quality, space and a necessary nyquist frequency (for music) when the standard was accepted. Read compromise. This standard is old and outdated, but still persists even today (and is considered HD, Haha!). Attempts of upgrading audio quality have seemingly failed. All most nobody buys Audio-DVDs, even less SACDs (actually I bet you never heard of those, and that in fact, the first series of Playstation 3 can play them). But who cares about 1bit audio when you listen to music on 20$ computer speakers, or when you buy an Ipod docking stereo system, which you would have to listen to at approx. 1 feet from to get a stereo effect.
If I’d be a purist, I’d listen only to vinyl records, 2inch tape, or SACDs but I don’t. I think full CD quality is quite reasonable, especially since Gigabytes are so cheap now. A Wav or Aiff CD will weigh about 700MB (most often less), so you could stuff about 1400 CDs in a 1TB drive… The problem left is your “MP3” player, which probably can’t hold many albums. But who wants to keep their whole collection on a player? With 64GB on your player, you’ll fit about 90 albums on there, full quality, no compromise. Not too bad I say.
Finally, I think it’s time that music lovers and home theatre owners stand up and realize we’re in 2010, and that it’s quite time we start spoiling our ears and listen to music of a decent quality. Not great, not bad, just basic audio quality.