"existing audio formats are unable to adequately present a full range of tones"
The human ear isn't capable of discriminating between (or actually hearing) many of them either.
While I applaud any attempt to improve the art and technology of music recording and playback, I think Neil might be suffering from some of the inevitable hearing loss 99% of humanity will start to experience at his age, and is now hoping against hope to find away to get around it.
They've done side-by-side studies of various MP3 configurations using a broad range of (i.e. "sound pro," "audio enthusiast," "civilian") test listeners. The studies seem to show that most can't reliably differentiate much between anything.
Most could differentiate between a "good" (i.e. properly EQ-ed and mastered) recording and a bad one. But that's where the art of recording comes in. The technology itself isn't the issue so much as how it's used. How like so many other things in life, right?
One interesting aside. The FLAC format did
seem to be slightly
preferred by a very small number
of listeners who said it sounded more "natural." So there might be some psycho-acoustical thing going down with FLAC that hasn't been clearly identified. One which some people might
Still, recorded music is all about serving the masses. So a factor that 1/10th of 1/10th of 1% of the listeners might hear isn't going to be something the music industry is going to devote many resources getting to the bottom of.
Semi off-topic half-rant:
The full-time prima donna hipster audiophile invariably insists on "vinyl." Which is funny... because the sound of vinyl recordings isn't remotely close to "natural" or "live" if you look at the dynamic map or frequency spectrum. And most recordings destined for disk were heavily compressed during mastering to accommodate the physics of the disk cutting equipment.
And the entire style
of sound mastering techniques has changed radically since the era of LPs. Digital has a larger dynamic range which has led to the trend of recording everything as loud as possible. And also using extreme amounts of EQ on most tracks. These things weren't possible with LP recordings. And they have a huge impact on the sound you hear.
There's also the fact that many people who are now mastering music (often their own) simply don't have the expertise (or taste) of the old guard producers and recording engineers of yore. Those guys (unfortunately no ladies back then) were
artists who knew hundreds of ways to drag the absolute best out of equipment that would seem positively primitive by today's standards.
Today, it's different. This is the era of the "common man" and the "artist-producer-songwriter" in music. Any idiot that composes rambling blank verse, and owns a guitar, is now a "singer-songwriter" - although most very modestly tend to refer to themselves (and prefer to have others call them) "artists."
These same singer-songwriters have an unfortunate tendency to also want to master their own music so they can add "artist-producer" to their ever growing (many also write, paint, and choreograph too!) list of merit badges. We live in the Age of The Amateur
And it shows...
How things seem to work today
So far from being "better" sounding (in an absolute sense) vinyl records merely sound different
from CDs. Different technologies + a different mastering style + different personnel = very different sounding music.
People who grew up with LPs (like me) tend to prefer
LPs. People brought up on CDs tend to prefer
the sound characteristics of that technology.