Audio quality is being traded off in favor of increased playlist quantity. iPods and other MP3 players often demonstrate worse audio quality than the CD the originally held the music.
Day 2 of the TI developers conferene promises to be just as big as the first day. I have a full day of audio in front of me, and I've already met with several TIers involved with audio technology.
Fellow CMP Editor Bill Schweber, Editor of PlanetAnalog sent me a news article that discusses the decline in consumer audio quality. The e-mail came at an ironic time. I talked to a fair number of audio designers yesterday, and a TI rep today. There seems to be a universal agreement that quantity of songs trumps the quality of what is played. As one engineer said "I don't care about the loss of quality. MP3 is good enough, and I want to carry my colletion with me."
I believe that the trade-off will change as more capable codecs are introduced and become widely available. But the essential message is that audio isn't always about getting the most quality. Today it's about noise levels, battery life, and the number of minutesos play time available.