John Mellor, Freelance Audio Editor for Film. Audio Engineer writes .....
Because of the Loudness War. Its as simple as that. Forget things you've been told about analogue warmth, and how digital is harsh sounding because it's sampled ect. 44100 samples every second is enough. It's enough to capture audio accuratley, its enough to capture the sound of analogue equipment in the recording process. 44100 samples every second. You can't think that fast.
CD is a format that ultimatley failed. It failed because it was abused by the music industry, as such it never lived up to it's promise of the highest fidelity available. The corporates who didn't (and still don't) understand the technical side of how recorded sound works are the ones most responsible.
CD was and still is technically superior to vinyl. It has dynamic range of 90dB compared to vinyl that has 60dB. Which means a CD is capable of storing digital data that a DAC can reproduce to have much quieter/softer music elements and much louder elements than vinyl ever could. This means music on a CD can sound much more bombastic and dramatic to the listener, with massive crescendos and diminuendos. However it never really came to pass. Mastering engineers call the period between roughly the late 80's to the early 90's the Golden age of mastering because they had all that dynamic range to play with. But then record labels started demanding their artists songs be louder and louder to compete on radio play broadcast to catch peoples attention, and ultimatley make more money. It's percieved that if a song is louder then psychologically it sounds better. This continued until they reached the ceiling and the limits of what a CD could store. Releases post 1995 on CD began to sound distorted with digital clipping everywhere known as compression artifacts. Audio engineers argue that this leads to ear fatigue, because everything is just LOUD!
They could never do this with vinyl because the needle would pop out the grooves and scratch along the surface. So audiophiles began returning to vinyl and a resurgence of the cassette is now gaining popularity because these medium’s don't suffer from the same negative effects that the Loudness War brought about to the CD. So vinyl and tape are 'nicer' sounding despite having lower fidelity. All this was not needed when all the industry had to do was turn the level down on CD's.