While I haven't bought a physical CD in about 7-8 years, I still see that the major online music retailers (iTunes) still falls short in the music that they sell in the area of audio quality.
In general, most of the music that is sold on iTunes is fairly low audio quality. For listening on an iPod with ear buds it's more than adequate but I really didn't notice how bad most of the music was until I attached my iPod to my home stereo. The audio quality becomes much more apparent and I had myself wishing for the original CD for many songs.
While I agree with the Gartner report that the music industry must move to a "digital first" strategy, they also need to address the audio quality issue as well and sell a product that is at least as good as CD audio.
They also need to ditch the DRM. Buying a CD doesn't force me to use a certain CD player to listen to it. Buying a digital track shouldn't force me to use a specific program/OS/digital device. After watching the Microsoft and Walmart fiascos with DRM why would any consumer trust a corporation to control access to their purchased music?
That's what I'm waiting for, CD quality downloads either in WAV or FLAC format for the home stereo then I can make MP3s of varying quality for the various devices I have.
My other requirement is cheap prices. The current $1+ for singles is too much and limits my purchases greatly to music I really want. I'm not prepared to take a flier on any unknown or marginally interesting musician/band at that price. For 25c or less I'd even download a Britney Spears song.
The same goes for the pricing of downloadable content on Rock Band and Guitar Hero. On the Wii platform each song works out to $2 so I only buy the songs I really, really want and won't bother with any marginal songs.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'll be sad to see the CD go, for the audio quality issues noted above. A WAV/FLAC site with a deep catalogue like Itunes would be wonderful. My CDs sit in storage, taking up space, long since moved onto a hard drive.
I've been cherrypicking iTunes for the last few years, trying to upgrade some of my lower quality MP3s (some of them are 64 kps, some are 96 kps, so even 128 kps is an upgrade). With few exceptions, the CDs I buy now are reissues that are true remasters (from source tapes) of albums I know I will listen to a lot over time (e.g. some of the Van Morrison reissues). Last year I bought five.
Recently I've been using Aeroplan points to download from their music site - MP3s, but 320 kps usually, so a bit better than Itunes. Not as deep a catalogue, but surprisingly broad. No DRM on Aeroplan MP3s http://music.aeroplan.com/default.aspx
Depending on your musical tastes, HD Tracks might also be worth checking out. They offer DRM free downloads in your choice of CD-quality AIFF and/or FLAC as well as 320 kbps mp3. Every once in a while they'll put up an entire album for free download too.
A forum community dedicated to Canadian TV, computing and home theatre owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about home audio/video, displays, troubleshooting, styles, projects, DIY’s, product reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!