Digital downloads better than redbook audio?

After recently getting into vinyl, I've been skeptical that standard redbook audio will ever approach the quality of analog playback, simply due to its lacking resolution (16-bit 44.1 KHz). Sure, you can spend $8k on a high end CD player that will sound "even more analog," but it seems like all those expensive players are just polishing a turd even further simply because a new high rez standard was never fully adopted by the public. I do agree that SACD does begin to approach the sound quality of vinyl (but still not quite there). I think when it all comes down to it, digital music playback in general is still in its very primitive stages. DSD/SACD was a huge step in the right direction, but we're still not there yet. SACD will never catch on because the general public is moving more towards digital downloads and moving away from actually purchasing discs in a record store.

So that brings me to my point. If we can't force SACD/DVD-A onto the public in the form of discs, why not begin increasing the quality of digital downloads BEYOND that of redbook audio? Everyone nowadays has a fast broadband connection, and the size of storage on portable music devices like the iPod is increasing as well. Sites are beginning to offer music in lossless codecs, and even full blown raw WAV files. So why not begin to offer even higher quality downloads, i.e. 20-bit 96 KHz lossless? I guess the real question is whether or not people would even notice the difference in quality on their systems. Of course these files could not be burned to a CD audio disc in their native high rez format, but if we got lucky, people would notice a different and the demand would increase for these, later resulting a better world for us audiophiles.
There are 24/96 download available already. Have you tried these sites?
I actually already did see the first site. But the selection here is extremely limited, unfortunately.
Snip: "but if we got lucky, people would notice a different and the demand would increase for these, later resulting a better world for us audiophiles."

Re: the above comment...Dream on, dream on!

Other than that, I guess my experience is opposite of yours. I have relatively inexpensive digital playback gear (under $1000 per system) that does pretty well up against my considerably more expensive vinyl playback gear. And getting my turntable systems to sound their best is much more of a pain in the neck not to mention the record care rituals. So I find myself spinning CDs a lot. It saves wear and tear on those multi-thousand dollar cartridges...

Personally, I'd love to see great hi-res multi-channel recordings come out on Blu-Ray, but unfortunately, video seems to be the focus of that format (at least presently).
Same experience here concerning vinyl. To much of a PITA and it isn't that good to my ears for the majority of situations.
Sorry, but the public's standards are moving in the opposite direction.

Look at the quality of your average stereo in the 70's and 80's versus now - more and more people are using $100 iPod docks as their primary stereos, or computer speakers, or worse. People aren't willing to pay for quality and it isn't likely to happen.

If it ever does happen it'll be Apple that's able to pull it off, selling ALAC on the iTunes store.

But people aren't going to be willing to sacrifice the 1GB+ of space on their mp3 player that a losslessly compressed hi-res album would take up.
Good point I am looking at going that route for my cottage as simplicity and footprint are my major concerns. Audiioengine 5's with an I-pod loaded with lossless files; and I bet it will sound pretty decent.
Sorry if this is ignorant...can one actually get the high resolution signal from a computer to a DAC without downsampling? And if downsampling is required, how does that impact the quality.

Cheers, Soren
Soren, Both Mac and Windows PC are able to send 24/96 signal out to a DAC without downsampling, as long as the DAC is capable of decoding high res signal.
Thanks Sidssp! I assume this means 24/96 moves via coax, or is a USB dac required?

Thanks again,
Optical (Toslink), coax, and USB are all capable of moving 24/96 signal. I use an USB cable connecting a Mac Mini to a Benchmark DAC-1 only because I couldn't find a long enough optical cable with a mini optical connector.