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Why music sounds worse now than it ever has

Music technology has improved immeasurably in the last few decades, and professional, ultra-high-fidelity recording equipment is now within the grasps of a far wider range of people than ever before. Relatively budget microphones, pre-amps, and audio interfaces can now produce pristine, high definition digital recordings that, in terms of cleanness, would put even the best ’60s recording studios to shame.

But while this improvement has been going on, at the other end of the signal chain (the listener’s end), a peculiar thing has happened: sound quality has actually got worse. MP3 files compress the life out of once-sparkling recordings and music is listened to through cheap “multimedia” speakers or ear buds, rather than the hi fi separates of yesteryear.

We’ve tried to explain this degradation in a simple image featuring some of our favourite (and least favourite) audio products:

All that hard work and expense for nothing! As music producers, what can we do to encourage consumer audio manufacturers and consumers of our music to value audio quality as highly as we do? Or will end-user sound quality improve as hard drives become larger and uncompressed audio becomes more widespread?

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About The Author

Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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