mp3 vs. Hi-Fi

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Everybody knows that mp3 audio is not high fidelity. To the masses, it doesn't seem to matter, but audiofiles have always had the option of giving the iPod a break and listening to their favourite new album on CD, or better yet vinyl, on their home Hi-Fi system. But what if the crappy compressed quality of mp3 audio causes record producers to stop making spacious, dynamic records, and to compress everying into various states of loud? Robert Levine explores the idea in a December issue of Rolling Stone.

Here are some promising signs that Hi-Fi may survive:

Some producers, like Daniel Lanois, are taking matters into their own hands, releasing digital wave files and mp3s for the same price.

Some online music stores, like the Toronto based zunior.com, are offering downloads of lossless FLAC audio files for an extra $2. The format is compressed enough to download effeciently, but boasts CD quality sound.

And perhaps the most interesting related trend is that vinyl seems to be making a comeback. Vinyl requires a separate mastering process which should mean that the compression techniques used for mp3-ready audio would not be used. In Canada, lots of indie pop and roots rock records came out on vinyl in 2007 on the Saved by Vinyl label.

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