Big fan of “hi-fi” here, (used to be in the biz, and have a (still) awesome analog stereo setup. )
Nevertheless, I can live with lossy audio on the new gizmos – if it’s not TOO lossy. I subscribe to eMusic for my downloaded music source (Bah humbug to Apple!) I have downloaded a few albums I already have as CDs from eMusic just to compare them with the actual CDs – using the speakers and the headphones. I am hard-pressed to hear any difference – appreciable, or otherwise. Not to say, there isn’t any. Early on, I examined the way the eMusic files are formatted. They use 192kbps at a VBR to create their mp3 files. So, I matched that in the setup of the iTunes program, along with some other “quality” settings, and my mp3 files created by iTunes from CDs sound as good, or better, than the eMusic ones.
Example: One of my favorite jazz albums of all time is Stan Getz’s FOCUS. It was always a lousy recording, fidelity-wise. The vinyl LPs were edgy and shrill, the first CDs were same – or worse, and I had about given up on a quality reproduction of the original. A few months ago I bought the remastered CD based upon good reviews. I was amazed – the sound, although not perfect, is so much better than I had ever heard. It was a major leap in quality. I ripped it to a digital version (using parameters I described above) and believe me, it still sounds great and cannot tell it from the CD.
Heck, the music on the WD drive and portable units is not for “critical” listening anyway, but “everyday” listening. If I REALLY want to hear an album in all its glory, I put on the CD. Long live the CD!