There are plusses and minuses to working at home, but probably the biggest plus is that I can listen to music all day. And since I can, I do.
I assume many people already know about iTunes, Napster, and other 128 (and lower) kbps MP3 and MP4 download options for purchasing music online. But I want to put in a plug for a nifty and fast-growing site called HDtracks that appears to be coming on strong, where you can buy true CD-quality downloads. They list 110 different record labels (although a fair number say "Coming Soon").
It's true that "HD," or high definition, should really be reserved for higher-than-CD file types, which is a misrepresentation that does rather irritate my editing gene. But HDtracks do have some selections in 88/24 (SACD) and true 96/24, the latter set aside in a special "96khz/24bit Store." The latter are all (or mostly) FLAC (free lossless audio codec) files. To play them you need a network music player (such as the Logitech Squeezebox) that will handle them, or the appropriate software for FLAC decoding (such as Media Monkey, which is PC only) in addition to an "upsampling" USB (or Firewire) DAC. I haven't yet been able to play them from my Mac, but I'm looking forward to being confused further with yet more perplexing information.
The 44.1/16 (Red Book CD quality) AIFF files cost no more than physical CDs, and they sound fantastic, although they do take up a worriesome amount of hard disk space. I only have 1.36TB here at TOP World HQ. (Just to give you an idea of the impressiveness of our physical plant, the other day, rather hilariously, I literally did not have a place in my entire office to set my coffee down. I'm serious—there was not four square inches of free flat space anywhere.)
Just exploring the labels is fun. They run the gamut from Dave Grisman's Bluegrass label Acoustic Disc (try the George Barnes Quartet's "Don't Get Around Much Any More") to ECM; surf music on Sundazed, to Tzadik and Cryptogramophone; there are classical labels like ASV, Dorian and BIS, and audiophile staples Reference Recordings, Chesky, and Water Lily Acoustics. A veritable plethora. Fun stuff.
Even HDtracks' MP3 downloads are better than iTunes', being 320kbps vs. iTunes' 128.
We now return to our regular programming. Oh, and please don't ask me questions about this stuff, as I am the furthest thing from an expert.