"50 years ago, people had massive stereo systems. "
For me It wasn't 50 years ago, but rather it was 30 years ago. Perhaps, Hifianddrumming was overshooting the time mark on stereo listening, for before that it was mono and live radio mostly.
I'll begin with the issue I believe to be central to this RANT.
"They would sit down, put on some vinyl, and blast it through a massive set of tube-amplified, floor standing speakers. The sound came through warm, rich and crystal clear, the sound was immersive, and people sat and just listened, listened to all the nuances and emotion. Music was something like TV is nowadays. It was a primary source of entertainment, considered normal to just sit and listen to it, with no other distractions."
For me absolutely. In my early teens I worked very hard in commercial Kitchen, mostly to support myself, but importantly to support the style of life which I aspired to have. Namely, to make music and listen to others' music. I was forever upgrading my stereo system with first the best amp I could get then the best speakers, then the best turntable, ever onwards and upwards in the search for quality. All in the hopes or lounging back in bliss to the sounds of the performance.(yes I had to live in broken down old houses, because of the volume of the music and the size of the components needed to make up my personal nirvana. You couldn't do that in an apartment, without someone becoming outraged.) I would indeed become entranced and listen for hours at a time, (when I could get time off, and not be invited to be at or have a party going on, or be at a live show.)
This was my life. It was all about the music. Making it, listening to it, and being part of it. The time lasted a long while. And it was Great. Then came the late 90's, with economic difficulties, career changes, and priority changes. Hell Life changes. Many things happened, time became a miasma of requirements and survival. Working at a job and not a career. Nicotine, caffeine, aspirin, and no sleep. Little was apparent as a lifestyle or direction. The music was lost and forgotten to me.
Now, older and wiser I find the joy and ferociousness of living has returned. Music once more takes me to lead. I am embarking on the refund desire to hear the angels singing and the trumpets to blare. ( Yes, I love the sound of flocks of bagpipers.) I return to the sounds of my youth with a critical ear, and find some dross among the former heroes. But, not to fear for, in the beginning there are the gems, and golden throats, virtuoso strums and powerful cadence. Some formative sounds that are now the heart of some modern sounds.
So guess what, I now begin a Herculean task of building again a tower of sound, a megalith of technology, an electronic organ, to whisper sweet sweet nothing into my ears.
On the next point I have only an opinion on the format of music.
Vinyl, cassettes, reel to reels, cd's, and digitized, all have their place in time. Each has a particular aspect which I find can be enjoyed for its own right. Always it is the quality of the recording with needs be interpreted to find its sweet zone via the equipment available at hand.
I say find your own groove and rock on it.
I love modern portability of the digitized.
I love the soul and timbre of vinyl.
I love the voluminousness of the wall of sound generated by Reel to Reel.
I would pass on cassettes now, if only all the hundreds of handmade and independently produces tapes could be found elsewhere, but for about ten years there this was the way to find out about and enjoy so many many assortments of the human musical range.
Digitized music, this is now my mode of choice to archive and encase in the ice of perpetuity, that which may never come my way again.
I am currently working on a megalith of current technology to perfect the playback of sound to which my earful brain craves.