Side question, will the loudness wars ever end?
YES! any of the mastering software you use now has a bunch of different settings for different platforms. I know you're specifically talking about music, and Spotify, Tidal and Youtube all require different settings. Streaming video? HBO, Apple TV, Paramount and Hulu are all slightly different. And because the people who were required to care, TV broadcasters, required really good tools to do it? Those really good tools are now used for music. ATSC, dialnorm, intelligibility... all of it radically different than simple loudness. More than that, "Loudness" was meant to cut through FM broadcasts, and FM broadcasts are dead dead dead (take it from me! I am one once a week!). Streaming platforms care much more about uniformity than they do about "ZOMFG this will blow your head off." The incentives for loudness bulshit have fallen to zero and all that's left are the death throes of an old idea.
Side side note, an ex was genuinely amazed at the sound a piano actually makes hearing me play on a grand piano--sympathetic resonance and all that. It's such a shame that so many people these days know nothing but shit audio fidelity and shitty compression--why??
To be fair, the psychoacoustically-assembled "sound" of a piano, as experienced by a person standing next to a piano, is substantially more complex than the "sound" of a piano as experienced by a person in the box of a really nice auditorium is substantially more complex than the "sound" of a piano as experienced by someone on a folding chair in an elementary school recital room. As noise sources go, pianos have a lot going on. This is why when you mic a piano you use anywhere between two and nine microphones... and unlike a person next to a piano, that perspective generally doesn't change when you move your head six inches.
The shit audio fidelity you can blame Dre for. The minute Beats came out it was fuckin' done. I have a pair of shitty Sony earbuds that were the best thing I'd heard in a decade... until I made the mistake of trying a pair of SE215s. Within three months I had a hot-rodded set of SE846s with custom earmolds and a Tidal subscription.
But see, that's the important thing. It's a choice. There was a time when CDs, iPods, Winamp, it all sounded universally 256k-ish through tiny shitty tinny transducers. Now? 4-transducer-earmold FLAC goodness is yours if you want it. I think the basic problem is that most peoples' gold standard is Earpods and Spotify Free.
And yeah I have Tidal but look at the subscriber comparisons between them and Spotify...
Yeah the reality is torrenting took off because most people's annual budget for music is zero. They never had good audio. They never wanted it. They still don't. My mother played classical music for 50 years and her beloved sound system is a 30-year-old piece of shit Fisher with 4" transducers.
It's never been so accessible, though, and it's only going to get better.