decades of fun

The Sad State of Consumer Audio

There is a lot of technology available today, some at very affordable prices. Choice appears abundant but it’s a false narrative.

Why is choice a false narrative? Because most of the choices are already compromised and the actual quality of the product is clouded with confusion.

First, let’s look at all the ways the consumer gets music into their bodies in 2015.

Recorded music sources:

  1. Radio playing broadcast AM/FM
  2. Smartphone playing compressed files streamed from network
  3. Laptop or desktop playing compressed files streamed from network
  4. Laptop or desktop playing compressed files stored locally
  5. Smartphone playing compressed files stored locally
  6. Radio playing satellite service
  7. TV or Game console playing Youtube streamed from network
  8. TV or Game console accessing files on media server
  9. iPod playing compressed files stored locally
  10. Other device playing lossless files stored locally
  11. Vinyl
  12. CD
  13. Cassette




These sources are converted back to vibration and sent into our bodies using speakers. Speakers come in all shapes colors and styles. Here’s the list of modern speaker types, sorted by current popularity:

Speaker types:

  1. Headphones (wired)
  2. Portable (wireless) speakers
  3. Bluetooth (wireless) speakers
  4. Headphones (wireless)
  5. Bookshelf speakers (wired)
  6. Home-theater speakers (wired)
  7. Indoor/Outdoor
  8. Stereo (wired)


False Choices

8 of the 13 sources listed are compromised. 4 of the 8 speaker types are also compromised. Depending on  what you’ve been sold or managed to fit into your lifestyle, there’s a good chance it’s compromised audio.


Compromised = degraded beyond what the content creator intended.


This leaves the modern music listener in a mine-field of degradation and low quality.  They think they are selecting something but the menu is mostly bad.


More choices does not equal Better choices.

This is bad enough on it’s own, but here’s the sick part – most modern people refuses to believe they are getting less! It’s either “I can’t hear” or “I don’t care”, but either way, many have accepted 10% files played through garbage players compressed again for wireless speakers as the best sound they deserve.

We all balance convenience and quality, value and quality, things like that. It’s part of being a consumer.  If you love music get it however you can and keep on enjoying yourself.


If you want to hear what the artist actually made in the studio you have to use full source (modern term: “lossless”) played on a capable player connected to wired speakers. This assures there is no unnecessary degradation before hitting the air and entering your body.

Even in 2015, no matter how many modern this and that they sell you, degrading is degrading.

Music is too important for useless degradations.