Re: Assume sound quality is equal: Digital or Analog?
Bermuda, just to add.
I have held the view for a long time that CD 44.1/16 is hopelessly outdated and has been for at least a decade. CDs sound fine for most applications and they are honestly a good-quality format but in countries with high-bandwidth Internet access (like mine, we have a decent fibre connection in my house) that lossless audio or FLAC is definitely the way forward. The sound quality is better and 24-bit audio definitely and noticeably improves the dynamic range of digital recordings.
Above 192 Kb/S, Mp3 is good enough for 99% of listeners, even. Even at lower bitrates, Mp3 is a good codec and I doubt there are a huge number of laypeople that can differentiate between 128 Kb/S and 192 Kb/S. I can (definitely) but amongst the general public? Not so much.
Digital, high-quality downloads are the future and it's only the inherent conservatism of distributors and labels that has prevented this from becoming the 'standard' method of delivery. iTunes has come a long way in providing quality downloads and other places offer lossless or FLAC files for a little more money, I just wish it had become more mainstream in record shops.
I don't mind buying CDs and I continue to do so because they're just about good enough but it's high time that physical disks were upgraded to 96/24. It annoys me that DVDs often have higher-quality sound than CDs and in a lot of cases are much cheaper to buy. Using a DVD format for music would alleviate most of the issues with people needing to buy new equipment. SACD was a good idea but required specialised players to take advantage of the format and there weren't ever enough good new releases taking advantage of the format.
When it comes to my own listening, I like to listen to vinyl. I like the imperfections and I like the sound but for the sake of convenience, at least 80% of my listening is digital and usually lossy.
The industry need to sit down and discuss a new physical format and get behind it. The Red Book needs updating badly. CDs have been around 30 years (as of this year) commercially and are not the best that we could do any more.