I admit it. Convenience is a helluva drug. And when I fell off the lofty heights of audiophilia it was mainly due to being bit by the bug of convenience. After all, what was more revolutionary, more enjoyable , than being able to take terabytes of one’s musical favorites on the go? I threw caution — and fidelity — to the wind and for a time I was happy. As I said before this also had a lot to do with my transient lifestyle as well as economic situation. But as both of those changed I began to think, and dream, again about better music fidelity.
In the beginning one had a choice: portability or quality. Music players had seriously limited storage space and thus lossy became the format of choice. But now that space has become cheap this is no longer as determining a factor as it once was. Additionally wireless technologies, in particular bandwidth, has made great strides both in infrastructure as well as price: even the economically challenged can typically afford an unlimited data stream. With these challenges eliminated, or at least seriously minimized, I’ve begun to look beyond the mp3 (or the m4a) when purchasing music. Additionally, vinyl has made a significant comeback, as can be seen in the info-graphic from Discogs and some labels are even offering high(er) resolution digital downloads (320kbps) when purchasing releases on vinyl as well as CD. It’s for this reason that I look for high quality vinyl releases (often available in a higher quality 180g) so I can also download something to take with me on the go as well as higher quality digital downloads from the likes of Bandcamp and HDTracks. Bandcamp in particular has become a favorite of mine in that it also offers access to smaller more independent artists who may not be on iTunes. They also offer the option of hi-rez downloads (FLAC/AIFF) as well as playing through their streaming service. I’m a little surprised that Apple hasn’t risen to Bandcamp’s challenge but then again I’m not: Apple ain’t what it used to be in terms of innovation.