Fidelity or Convenience? What Music Consumers Want

I notice that two contrasting views appeared in the Podcomplex news feeds today – one from Webwire which announces MXP4 Interactive Music’s new digital music technology, and the other from the Boston Globe which comments that listening to music in the modern age is more about portability and convenience rather than sound quality.

This is a trend that has been evident for quite some time – dating as far back as the advent of the original Walkman in 1979, allowing people to listen to music outside their own homes. In fact, most people are not very concerned with the quality of the sound they hear – simply because they are actually just listening to the music. Once the sound quality doesn’t draw attention to itself (by being very hissy, picking up interference or whatever) then people are happy to get on with the tunes. I wonder how many people could even tell the difference between a 128kbps mp3 and 320kbps?

Even professional musicians or sound engineers may be quite content to settle for less-than-optimal sound quality, if the trade-off means that you can listen to music wherever you happen to be. As noted at Fonely Mobile Music, if you are listening to your tunes on a crowded bus or train, the ambient noise is going to detract from your perceived audio fidelity anyway, such that you are not going to notice any background noise in the recording – even if you might find it insufferable if you were listening in a silent room.

Despite this lack of concern about audio quality from the public, the MPX4 technology claims to add extra dimensions to audio recording – actually capturing the depth of fidelity experienced at a live performance. They have also captured $6.5 million in funding.


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