Originally Posted by stepyourgameup
That will never happen.
I'm old enough now that I've learned to use the word "never" rarely and with caution.
In my case, 99.9% of my collection are ripped CDs in FLAC format. I continue to buy CDs to this day because it is the highest rez, STANDARDIZED, format available. I stressed the word standardized because this is very important to me. Specifically, I want to know that I can obtain practically any song from any artist at reasonable cost with good quality, and the combination of CD and Amazon.com delivers this. Though I like the idea of online high-rez downloads from distributors like HDtracks, I won't use them for three reasons. The first is the lack of selection relative to CD on Amazon. The second-related to the first-is that knowing myself the way I do I'm not going to be satisfied with only some albums or songs in my collection at high-rez. Put another way, once I experience some content at high-rez, I'm going to want my entire collection that way so I made the decision, logical or not, to settle for the highest resolution I know I can acquire practically any artist in: CD. The third issue is cost though this isn't necessarily a showstopper for me. Using HDtracks as a example, their content does tend to be a bit more expensive than the CD equivalent on Amazon. However, if HDtracks had the depth of selection Amazon did I would still consider them notwithstanding the cost given the benefits of ease of access via download and increased quality.
Though I've been aware of lossy downloads from Amazon and Apple for years, I just recently tried it via Amazon MP3 for the first time a few weeks ago and I have to say the power of its convenience (in terms of ease, speed, and ability to buy individual tracks) was compelling. I tried this for two reasons: One, the download was a free gift from Amazon for other purchases I made from them and Two, because given the nature of the content I wanted (select pop hits from the 80's), it made sense because I don't need to hear into the intricate structure and detail of these kinds of songs. Having said this, if I encounter a 80's pop album where I like most or all of the songs on it, I'll buy the CD for (hopefully-mastering quality?) higher sound quality.
Personally, I think the major music labels and distributors are missing an opportunity by not offering a high-rez, STANDARDIZED, replacement for CD. I'm thinking of something like high-rez DSD with a bias toward soft-storage (files by default but can be ripped to physical media on demand). Let's say for argument sake that a typical, popular CD on Amazon costs $12, and individual MP3s run $1 (based on recent purchases I think I'm in the ballpark in both cases). If Amazon offered their entire music library in high-rez DSD and I felt comfortable that all major (hopefully followed by smaller) record labels embraced the format as their standard going forward, I would absolutely replace a good part of my existing CD-based library with it over time, and I don't think I'd be alone with regard to the course of action either. Further, I think Amazon could justify charging say, $13-$14 for complete albums or $1.50 for individual tracks in DSD based on increased storage costs and transmission bandwidth required versus MP3 plus the main value add of higher sound quality. Given that the idea here would be to completely replace CD over time one would hope that the price would drop back to that of CD albums over time but I would pay $13-$14 per album if necessary to get my entire music library replaced in high-rez. As others here have stated, I don't think it would cost that much in absolute terms for the record labels or distributors to switch to a high-rez, soft-based music format. So from my perspective, the value add for labels and distributors would be more revenue from the combination of increased price versus CD or individual MP3 (at the start anyway) and consumers re-purchasing content. Moreover, the movement to a soft-based format would nicely support the distributor's desire for cloud based storage which they could additionally charge a nominal fee for beyond the content itself (and I could see cloud-based storage being a valuable option for those lacking storage at home-or the desire to personally store/manage it). At the end of the day, I think it's more a matter of will and perceived value proposition more than anything else.
By the way this topic came up, as it has for the past few years during a seminar I attended at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver on the future of high end audio content. The panel consisted mainly of experienced recording engineers and distributors (including one representing Apple), and they universally agreed that DSD made sense as the best replacement format for CD if this ever comes to pass.