As a kid of the 80’s I clearly remember the excitement of browsing the record shelves in the large retail music outlets that were commonplace in every shopping mall. Stores like Record World, The Wall, Sam Goody, and Tower Records sadly have become nearly extinct. Records and cassettes transitioned to CDs as the mainstream media and how exciting that was. High quality CD sound, free of tape hiss and pops associated with vinyl, along with instant track access was a joy, although some would argue that CD is still an inferior format. Nevertheless, CD brought high quality audio to the masses and the popularity of hifi systems soared.
During the late 90’s services such as Napster and Kazaa brought MP3 audio to the forefront and with the introduction of the iPod in 2001 the popularity of portable digital music exploded. iTunes completely changed the way people purchase and listen to music while brick and mortar music retailers struggled to stay relevant, and many ultimately failed. Of course with convenience there is compromise and the general public was seemingly blind to the decreased sound quality associated with compressed digital music files as a new generation of listeners emerged.
I for one am excited to take notice that more and more people are realizing what they are missing and are starting to demand higher quality audio. Surprisingly to some the vinyl format has made a significant comeback. While vinyl sales still account for a very small percentage of overall music purchased, vinyl record sales have been steadily increasing since 2007. Additionally, high resolution digital playback devices like the Pono player developed by Neil Young and PonoMusic, and the new Sony Walkman are garnering attention.
Believe me, I am all about convenience, however not when there is such a significant trade off.