With the coming of new mediums to distribute, music has arrived at much better sound quality. Unfortunately, this was not necessarily true, since they bundled other positive aspects in with the new media. Realistically, a large number of mediums ended up sacrificing audio quality for portability and medium proper protection. A brief assessment of media will help anyone realize why this has been such a strange journey in media variations.
Vinyl records were the very first mass produced form of distributed media. Records produce good quality sound because they are a purely analogue form of audio that is a perfect replicate of the main recording. Even with the great quality of sound, they suffered from numerous issues that called for a replacement eventually. The first is that they were incredibly prone to scratches, and all of them can be perceived as the music plays. The second is that records are quite large, and not simple to bring around on a person without some work. The record players also need to be good quality, and a bad record player can produce bad audio quality as well as destroy the disc. Given these reasons, a fresh audio format had to emerge.
Compact audio cassettes hit the scene soon after, and became very popular because of their size and capacity to resist wear and tear. 8-track tapes also emerged around the same time period cassettes came out. Cassette tapes ended up staying around longer, even though these two mediums were similar and used magnetic tape as a storage device. The simplicity of the cassette tape retained reliability and performance for much longer, since the components in 8-tracks would often ruin the tape in one way or another. Since music companies desired to get the highest profit out of what they sold, the quality of 8-tracks often lagged behind what they should have been. The main downside to these mediums is that tape stretches and degrades with time, ruining the quality that was once created.
The substitute came in the form of digital music CDs. As long as it was cared for and not scratched, the quality of sound would never degrade. Unfortunately, this medium still required something to be brought around. MP3 digital compressed audio files are the most popular today, even though they slightly degrade the quality of music.
Still, listening to some bob dylan vinyl supplies the best sound quality of any of these sources. The analogue character of the medium never being converted to digital and back retains the original studio sound intended to be heard by fans. It is not rare anymore to find White Stripes vinyl or other more recent bands’ vinyls, given the rebirth of audio purity popularity.