I have a few thoughts on the quality of audio recording I feel a need to share. I am lucky to be possessed of golden ears and a burdensome weight of modesty. I know this, not based soley on my 80's career as a sound engineer (of no particular note), but following a similarly dated revelatory epithany when I first heard vinyl played on true audiophile equipment, having previously been impressed by one of those new fangled CD thingies on inferior equipment. It was far more significant an experience than the difference between LowD and HighD TV or even grainy cinema 4K for that matter, not to mention driving with or without my glasses.
My subsequent obsession with such equipment did not last the decade. It's an expensive business and my bank manager excorsised me of the habit and I moved on from the music business. Until recently I have been putting up with a poor music system helped a little by a pair of half-decent headphones. Now I have a new portable toy capable of playing FLACs and have spent weeks making 'backups' of my entire CD collection in this format. I have previous experience of the iPod MP3 quality-holiday that so many rely on as their benchmark these days, sorry souls.
I know from tertiary level study and experience that a CD's sampling frequency (rate) will capture the entire (human hearing capable) audio spectrum reliably (a mathematically provable thing) but I also know that the 16bit resolution is wholly inadequate and inferior to the human ear's sensitivity. This is why on half-decent equipment you don't need golden ears to hear the difference. An analouge recording done well and pressed with care and precision on good vinyl and taken good care of, must sound better than a 44khz, 16bit CD, all playback equipment being equal. However such a quality of record is rare and, on the other hand, music digitally mastered at a much higher frequency and resolution, converted to analouge and pressed to vinyl will also sound better than a CD. The artefacts caused by harmonics beyond human hearing will make it onto the vinyl more effectively than at the very limited CD resolution.
I am comfortable with my opinions, the theory and endless listening experience to know that the above should be beyond debate but, of course, it isn't. However, what interests me at the moment is more esoteric than that. I am sweating my way up a steep learning curve getting used to the tools I need for transferring CDs (and vinyl) to the PC and my DAP and all the format choices I have. I have oodles of memory on both PC and DAP but I want to make the best of it in terms of efficient use of space at the best possible quality, so I have chosen to use the lossless format FLAC. The tools I am using ensure that it is highly probable that the audio being transferred to the FLAC files is better than I would experience on an average CD playing set up. This is due to the manner in which the audio information is extracted, ensuring that no error correction is needed, which is always employed during normal CD playback.
I am rapidly homing in on the point of this post, stay with me. FLAC is lossless. It takes that accurate audio information and removes stuff, such as complete silence, and keeps all the non-silence. It results , for my CD collection, in files between roughly 400MB and 600MB - a space saving of up to nearly 50%. This is good, even with huge storage devices, waste not want not. Then I read an item online about a chap who had carried out double blind tests under good controlled conditions comparing FLACs with uncompressed Wav files, claiming the Wavs sound better. I trust that he and the others who took part are convinced of this but I don't know what FLAC making software he was using and I can't find the article anymore.
I am not going to copy all the CDs again, or even just one of then, to find out for myself. My FLACS sound amazing. Now I just need to get on with the business of converting (again) all the albums into directories of album track FLACs instead of the whole album FLACs I rushed headlong into making over the last six weeks, which my DAP finds hard to navigate. I have found another tool that does that conversion painlessly, losslessly and swiftly, which helps enormously with inter-us-relations, chez Ingrate.
Edit November 2015
Experts disagree with my assertions above about 16bit resolution - bring it on!