Authentic Sound Recording
The Compact Disc is over 30 years old yet today the four major record labels: EMI, Sony, Warner (WEA) and Universal still refuse to sell music in any mainstream audio format that is High Definition. The industry's lack of vision and banker's like business model (see Prince's contract with Warner Brothers or Michael Jackson deal with Sony as examples from the 1990s) for the future in the 1990's left them without a plan to deal with peer-to-peer music services like Napster. Their industry-wide result was to pull away from formats like SACD and DVD-Audio and to ignore the now 41 percent market share of Blu-ray in U.S. households. They in turn sold music on dead formats like vinyl (last year all vinyl records sold 3,200,000 units according to Nielsen Soundscan versus 280,000,000 Compact Discs. Video games and music downloads sold even better in terms of volume and or overall profitability. Overall the domestic sales of the music industry have shrunk from roughly $33,000,000 in 1993 to about $12,000,000 in 2012. That's a two thirds reduction in overall sales in a business where the largest demographic of United States residents, Generation Y, love music more than any generation before them.
Yes, the music business sucks and the suits that run it should all be fired. All of them. But what should you do if you want to enjoy better sound in your life today? There is hope. Here are some suggestions that can help get you better sounding audio in your life TODAY.
How Do I Get Better Sounding Music In My Life Today?
• Look into HD music streaming services like HDTracks.com. While Apple won't sell you music in HD – Chesky Record's HDTracks.com will. And this isn't whacky audiophile music. Its Rush, Prince, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Getz and Gilberto, Madonna, Yes, The Rolling Stones and many others.
• Explore the world of a high end DAC which is short for digital to analog converter. These devices can upsample traditional 16 bit 44 kHz audio from a Compact Disc or download to higher resolutions. While its cliché to say "you can't polish a terd" in the audio business a good $199 DAC that can accept a streaming Bluetooth signal can make your iPad's vast musical collection sound much better.
• Avoid crappy headphones at all cost. For under $500, you can get awesome travel headphones or headphones for late-night listening sessions. Avoid the Beats By Dre' and Bose Quiet Comfort junk and look to higher end solutions from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, Etymotic Research, STAX and others. Here's a list of reviews of awesome (and mostly) affordable headphones.
• Buy better speakers. There, I said it. Your speakers are the most important part of your audio system. Yes, they can only sound as good as your source components but if you are missing meaningful bass or have edgy, crap-tastic tweeters in your current speakers – dump them. Here's a list of the 25 best audiophile speakers of all time as well as a list of reviews of the best Bookshelf and Floorstanding speakers on the market today.
• Work on your room acoustics in your listening room. Can you add soft materials to your first order reflections (two to three feet to the left, right and above your main speakers) such as curtains or fabric? Can you remove a coffee table from in front of your main speakers that could be causing imaging issues? For less than a few hundred dollars and a trip to Home Depot – you also can add a little lighting control which helps you enjoy your music more psycoacoustically. If your eyes aren't razor focused on your gear and surroundings, you can likely get closer to the music with this simple trick.