To S. Andrea Sundaram,
Congratulations for a great article! I could not agree more with you. Convenience is a great factor in the high-resolution download craze, and, yes, the sound is very good and justifies the hype. I did not make side-by-side comparisons between the same recordings on CD, vinyl and downloaded versions in my home system. (I don’t have an SACD player, but I have heard the difference with the same music on CD. I don’t have a music server or computer-based music either.) When, for the first time, I listened to downloaded music on a good system at a dealer in a dedicated listening room, my first impression was how "analog" this sounded. Some may call it "natural," but to my ears the digital sound I heard that day led me to think it was exactly why vinyl lovers like myself always preferred that format. Many reviewers made the similar comments about SACD when the format was launched. After all this time, they found a way to make digital sound like analog and make it listenable.
I am not an absolutist. I learned to live with music that I like in all available forms and recognize there are some great-sounding digital recordings in all formats (CD, SACD, DVD-A, downloads), just like there are great-sounding LPs. I am not inclined to convert my CD and LP libraries to computer-based playback since I really don’t care about the "annoyance" of getting up to change the side of an LP or change a CD. The CD-is-dead clamour seems to be more a North American phenom, as browsing through European magazines, I still see reviews for very high-end CD players, let alone SACD players. I will eventually get into downloading when the music I crave will only be available in the download format, and, based on my readings, a dedicated server would be the way to go as long as it is intuitive and easy to set up and is crash-proof.