I then insist that whether they're conscious of it or not it does make a difference to their enjoyment. Question is, can anybody point me to the research that shows that's true and to what extent and what kinds of distortion.
E.g. I noticed when I first tried listening to 128kb/s AAC files that philistine friends might send me that the key artifacts, unlike MP3 mimicked hard edged analog distortion and that on some rock tracks in particular it hyped it up, lending a bit more snap and boom to tracks than was originally there whilst smudging up the midrange. Very clever really but for most music I hated it nearly as much as mp3 at that bit rate smearing up the high end. However, I often wondered whether many people if given blind listening would in many cases prefer the distorted versions over the lossless original when listening on average crappy earphones or Pc speakers.
In short, is this a losing battle? Are we ever going to get high definition audio on disks as standard or are we going to keep sliding back to 1981 technology as a best case because it really does not matter to 95% of people?