There’s been a lot of talk recently of how people are rejecting MP3’s in favour of vinyl and CD’s when buying music. There are probably all kinds of reasons for this including nostalgia for the record buying experience as a social event on a Saturday morning or whatever. Possibly it is to do with a desire for the physical product complete with artwork and sleeve notes that people can display on a shelf so their friends know what kind of music they like and it sparks a conversation and an exchange of musical tastes. Whereas these are certainly factors I believe that many people (especially those who have only known MP3’s) are realising that the quality of MP3’s is not really doing justice to the music they are buying. Compressed audio, as in an MP3, does produce a reduced dynamic range and frequency response which may be fine for your ipod but it is not the best source for your “all singing and dancing” music system in your living room or car.
Adding to the problem on all formats is that studio engineers are under pressure to maximise the loudness of tracks at the mastering stage in the recording studio. This has become progressively worse as labels believe that the louder the track is perceived to be the more it will stand out, and may be a factor in whether or not people buy it. So there is a bit of a sonic arms race going on which is adding to the reduced quality of the finished product. The recent “Turn Me Up” (http://www.turnmeup.org/ ) campaign was focussed on retaining the dynamic range and quality of recordings by not processing them to death and thereby giving the end user more control over their music listening experience.
In all the years we have been producing music for clients at Moogang Media Music we have never had anyone say they would prefer to have an MP3 than a wav file. This is purely because the quality of a wav file is so much better –especially on large PA systems at events where compressed audio will start to really struggle. But we also like to keep the music as real to the recording as possible by not over processing and excessively using loudness “maximisers” at the mastering stage. So our tracks may be a little quieter than other companies but it allows you, the end user, more control and a better quality product to enhance your project.