Originally Posted by Mediocrefunkybeat
Well, consider that the Red Book standard for CD hasn't changed since 1983 and that is 44.1KhZ at 16-bit resolution and you're right. Most of even the most basic software packages now offer 96KhZ recording and 24-bit resolution and the DVD format has used these for some time - or at least had them available. Whilst the Red Book is certainly adequate for most applications, some of the geeks can tell the difference and there are subtleties.
Compression-free download has been a realistic option for a while now as well. FLAC files and .WAV recordings are being released all the time, but mainly as whole-album downloads or as individual multitrack files (Nine Inch Nails have been doing this, for instance) and these offer the consumer pretty much any quality they could want. If they want smaller files for their iPod, they can compress them themselves into .Mp3 (or .M4A on iTunes) or if they have the space, they can hold onto the original quality recordings.
This does bring us closer to analogue, yes. Analogue has a theoretically infinite sample rate and resolution so the higher the numbers, the closer to analogue we get.
The thing is though that people do say this about analogue and in theory it's true. However what you have to remember is that the soundwave analogue has to be recorded onto a medium and the actual accuracy of the recording although in theory it could be infinite will only be as much as can actually be recorded onto the medium. In the case of vinyl it's only ever going to be as accurate as the plastic can be moulded.
As for the standard for CD yes it hasn't changed in a long while however if you think about it the standard resolution for TV has been 640x480 for many many years but it's only in the last 2 or 3 years that HDTV has hit the mainstream even though the capabilities to produce images of such quality on even relatively inexpensive monitors has been around for nearly 10 years now so maybe it'll be a bit of a wait before HD audio comes out, but it will.
Trkdrmr, I haven't seen a blu-ray movie but even better than that i watched Quantum of Solace in a digital cinema which presumably uses the same HD standards and it was incredible, not only better than TV or standard DVD but i think better than analogue. The problem i've always had with analogue film is that every little speck of dirt that gets onto the film goes onto the screen, creating a lot of visual noise, made worse by the large upscaling factor that you get with the cinema.