It is quite clear that most, if not all members of this forum invest a significant amount of time and effort into making their digital streaming systems sound good. It is equally evident that very significant sums of money are also invested. To quote the BBC television programme Dragon's Den ... "I won't be investing. I'm out." Perhaps some members of this forum recall the advertising that Linn Products used in the 1970s to encourage potential customers to purchase the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable. The slogan ran "Garbage in, garbage out."
We seem to live in an age when the skill of studio engineering and mastering of music has been forgotten. Many contemporary recordings are brickwalled to a point at which they become unlistenable and remove any pleasure that may have been derived from the efforts of artists. A much used strategy for ageing artists to maximise revenue from their back catalogue is the Super Deluxe Edition. The rules of engagement for this strategy appear to be that the artist/s resurrect an album from their back catalogue that has previously sold well, remaster it, remix it, dig around for some outtakes that didn't make the original album and throw in a few postcards and a glossy book. The finished product commands a high price. Some of these remastering and remixing projects appear to have been undertaken by studio staff with two redundant pieces of flesh on the side of their head! It is very often the case that their efforts sound worse than the original CD release and significantly worse than early vinyl pressings. Brian Wilson regarded the studio as a musical instrument. When played skilfully, it sounds wonderful but when played unsympathetically, It can sound dreadful.
Well engineered and mastered recordings with good dynamic range are still available, although these often fall into the 'audiophile' category. It is my opinion that far too many of these 'audiophile' recordings feature second rate music performed by second rate artists. It would appear that these recordings fuel the argument that audiophiles use music to listen to their systems, in preference to using their systems to listen to music,
I understand why contemporary recordings are engineered and mastered in this way. The music labels want their releases to sound good on vehicle stereo systems, mobile phones and tablets. The current marketing strategies adopted by record labels do little to help those of us who want our music to sound good on the systems in which we have invested. I think it likely that commercial streaming services are the way forward and that physical media will soon be a thing of the past. The same is true for the film industry.
It would appear that digital formats are a retrograde step from the halcyon days of analogue. I have to admit that I have never heard a high-end computer audio setup as it is not possible to walk into a local hi-fi dealership and ask for a demonstration. When I listen to some contemporary recordings and reissues, I have to ask why we bother investing time, effort and money into something that seems so essentially flawed.