I've been ripping CD's again. A few years back I ripped my entire library - some 1000+ CD's. I'd ripped most of them on my MacBook Pro and for some reason, the sound quality when played back even though my stupidly expensive DAC (digital to analog converter) wasn't what I knew it should be. So I got a copy of DB Poweramp for my PC and started the task of re-ripping the entire collection. This time I decided to save everything as FLAC which also uses lossless compression, and then convert to MP3 for use on iPods, iPhone, iPad. My Logitech squeeze box will stream from the PC and pump the digital signal directly to the DAC from the FLAC files. I can, if I'm really paying attention tell the difference between a streamed FLAC and a Super Audio CD (SACD) played on my stupidly expensive CD player (which makes me feel somewhat disgusted with how much I spent on that thing - oh well).
The first time around - perhaps because it was on a laptop, perhaps because it was the first time - I got though the project pretty quickly. This second time around it's taking longer.
I am (I'm sad to say) an audiophile. The path to audiophiledom is not one I recommend. It's incredibly expensive to get that last 5 to 10% of "almost live" sound. In hindsight, I'd have talked myself out of walking that path. One of the really odd things about audiophiles is the drive to get that "live performance" feel - considering the majority of live performances fall far short, in terms of audio quality, of studio recordings.
I have for example the same album on CD, SACD, and vinyl. When played on my stupidly expensive turn table, the vinyl which costs 3-8 times what a CD costs, sounds a tiny bit better then the SACD. The SACD which costs about double what a CD costs sounds a tiny bit better than the CD. When you consider that the time I spend listening to music is divided between Car (75%), Earphones from an iPOD (5%) and on the Stereo (20%), I can safely say I wasted a lot of money on sound quality. Regardless, I never buy nor will I ever buy MP3's online. If I could get lossless files - maybe but not the medium to low quality MP3's that you get though iTunes or Amazon. No thanks. I can hear the differrence in those even in the car with the windows open, or the top down.
Quality matters - sure there's a point (and I'm WAY past that point) of diminishing returns; but, you have to draw the line somewhere or everything heads to just barely useable.