In a fascinating article about trends in sound engineering, Rolling Stone notes that producers are now specifically mixing tracks to compensate for the failings in MP3 — it seems to me that as a society, we're happy to sacrifice fidelity for ease of use, flexibility and low-cost (see, for example, the trend from landlines to cordless phones to mobile phones to Skype). Designing for that, as opposed to lamenting it — is a damned good and realistic thing to do.
Producers also now alter the way they mix albums to compensate for the limitations of MP3 sound. "You have to be aware of how people will hear music, and pretty much everyone is listening to MP3," says producer Butch Vig, a member of Garbage and the producer of Nirvana's Never- mind. "Some of the effects get lost. So you sometimes have to over-exaggerate things." Other producers believe that intensely compressed CDs make for better MP3s, since the loudness of the music will compensate for the flatness of the digital format.