Photo Marsel Minga

People can be very particular about how they listen to music. Most of my friends being serious audiophiles have a very precise audio setup, while other people that I know have not really thought about it much.

For those who do not think about sound quality very seriously, portability, simplicity, and basic functionality are what most people desire – and are most prominent with digital forms of audio. New research from global intelligence firm Strategy Analytics reveals how sound quality has largely been forgotten as relatively low quality built-in speakers now dominate how people listen to music.

According to 51% of respondents, listening to music through built-in speakers on desktops and laptops are the norm for the majority of Britons. Other common ways are standalone radios (43%) and headphones connected to portable devices such as mobile phones (41%). Despite the relatively low-quality devices, 46% are ‘very satisfied’ with the audio quality and 42% are ‘somewhat satisfied’.

David Watkins, Strategy Analytics’ director of Connected Home Devices, said: Music’s focus over the past decade has been about usability and convenience – being able to get it on as many devices as possible – whilst sound quality has been largely ignored or forgotten in this race to portability.

“It’s bred a generation of listeners who’ve never really known what it’s like to listen to high quality sound and, consequently, is already sounding the death knell for the likes of the hi-fi system.”

Nevertheless the study showed an interest in better quality among 46% of those asked. This feeling is echoed by celebrities like Neil Young, who removed his songs from Spotify and founded the company Pono to provide better quality sound.

Watkins concluded: There is an appetite among consumers to go beyond the limitations of what they get today, but companies face a tough job in convincing people to upgrade to more expensive equipment. We’re only at the beginning of a long road for market acceptance of moving back to high quality audio.”