Not long ago, I wrote about the death of high fidelity. However, all is not lost. For those of us who care about listening to music in the best quality possible, there are many viable options.
For the digitally inclined, high resolution downloads are gaining popularity. One of my favorites in the Bowers & Wilkens Society of Sound. This is a complete treasure trove of fresh, new unique music available in various lossless formats like Apple lossless, FLAC (including 24 bit) at an affordable annual price. An excellent introduction to basic high rez files and a way to an instant hifi, is to load up your iPod with Apple lossless downloads, then connect it to one of the B&W Zeppelin iPod speaker docks.
Another great resource is HD Tracks. They offer high quality, DRM free downloads in the FLAC format, going up to 24/96. For comparison, the basic CD is 16/44.1. Obviously, the benefit of high resolution downloads is that you can do whatever you want with them. Put them on a CD-R, your portable music player, play them directly from your PC to an external DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) or use a network streaming solution like the Squeezebox Duet.
Now, for those of you with a large CD collection, you can also rip your discs bit for bit to what the disc sounds like without losing any fidelity. With iTunes, you can simply rip your discs into Apple lossless. It’s an option in the preferences tab. Simply select it. It’s that simple.
Another option for ripping your CD collection is via EAC (Exact Audio Copy). This program is free, so there is absolutely no reason to not utilize it.
Despite the file sizes of lossless files being significantly larger than your run of the mill mp3 file, I don’t think this should deter anyone at all. File storage is very cheap these days. We should all own an external drive or two.
Now, I’m an analog guy at heart, so I will always recommend vinyl. However, I will concede that it is not the easiest way to listen to music for most people. Vinyl does need care. It also isn’t convenient, but damn does it sound great. In case you have wondered why I still support vinyl, please read this.