In Search Of Higher Quality Audio

– “FINALLY! A new audio player that features negligible improvements to sound quality while digging into my junk with a sleek triangular form-factor!” …or… “Is that a pono in your pocket or do we have a date?”

Record producers are always trying to get an edge over competition and will try any trick in the book to improve the perceived quality of their recordings. Witness the mastering limiter, SA-CD, surround sound, exciters, et al. All of those either lost favor, never took hold, or became self-limiting in the case of the loudness wars (wonky engineering pun intended).

Now we stand at a crossroads in regards to the next great leap in sound technology. It could be argued that the last great leap was the development of the MP3 file compression format back in the mid-90’s – which was a step backwards from the trend of increased recording fidelity. Naysayers aside, the leap that came before the MP3 – the almighty CD – was the last great leap forward. Proponents and naysayers alike agreed that the qualitative shift that occurred from records, cassettes, and 8-track (google it) to CD was vast. It was not a technology that was difficult to sell. You did not have to be a sound engineer to notice the difference in quality that CD could bring. To the average music-listening public it was a “no-brainer.”
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