I am old enough to have listened to vinyl and remember the days of counter-balancing a Sure stylus.
I agree that some the changes (cassette, CD, MP3, etc.) have definitely caused a “dumbing down” of audio quality in many respects. Let us not forget though that the vinyl album we loved degraded with each playing, and our hearing degraded as we get older, and few of us have 20-20 hearing to start with, etc.
There are ways to mitigate the loss of “character” of music by going with higher resolution, lossless formats. But those take much more space, and effort, and most people don’t want to take the time/effort for that.
And I won’t even start the debate about the “quality” of the auto-tuned music being released today vs. years gone by.
Can I still likely tell the difference between GOOD and GREAT music playback (digital or otherwise), sure… but when I am lifting at the gym does it matter?
How many of us have dedicated listening rooms that are acoustically treated AND have the time to sit and listen to both sides of an album.? I don’t with a 3 year old running around.
I don’t know that convenience is killing great sounds in and of itself.
I think the bigger issue is that most people have grown up in an age where they don’t know better options even existed, haven’t been trained to listen critically (and lets be honest… with most of the “popular” music it wouldn’t matter anyway), and even assuming they can hear the difference don’t have the time/attention span to savor it anyway.
Even if they somehow manage to hang in there long enough for those challenges, they generally won’t spend the time/cost required to “do it right” as they have other priorities that are higher to them.
So is it convenience that is killing great sound or YouTube???