escoville, I'm glad to know about your interest in audio.
It's rather sad that so many people--especially but not exclusively younger people--care so little about the sound-quality of their music reproduction.
I have the sense that many people are happy if their particular apparatus merely "works"--i.e., if they turn on their stereo or mobile device, and some sort of sound emerges, they are satisfied.
Re analog records: I long ago abandoned vinyl and now use only CDs--but not for reasons of sound. I still say that most vinyl sounds better than most CDs, though the sound of CDs has noticeably improved over the past decade or so. Of course, the biggest improvement has come in the quality of CD players. In any event, I don't want to have to bother with adjusting tonearms and styluses, etc. CDs are much less fussy.
That said, I have learned that a CD's sound can be improved by washing it (it only needs to be washed once, unless it gets visibly dirty again). Whenever I get a new one, I soak it in warm soapy water (mild dish soap--I recommend the American brand Dawn) for a couple of minutes; then gently rub my finger over it, outward from the center; then rinse it under cold water; then gently pat it dry with a lint-free cloth.
Try it. Listen carefully to part of a track, and then wash the CD. See if it doesn't sound clearer. (Of course, such practices are why others call audiophiles crazy.)
I have occasionally washed off a disgusting brown residue from brand-new CDs. In any event, visible or not, all CDs seem to come with some residue left over from the manufacturing process--and the residue interferes with how the CD player reads the digits.
Thanks for your observations.