We owe our senses an apology.

In the mad dash for digital convergence, we have made compromises that are cheating our ears and our eyes. We put up with "near" CD and DVD quality, just for the sake of snappy downloads or greater variety from compressed content. Now, quality hounds are about to lose another battle.

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone is overtaking Canon's (NYSE:CAJ) high-end EOS Rebel XTi as the most popular source for snapshot uploads to Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ:YHOO) photo-sharing site Flickr.

According to Flick's perpetually updated "camera finder" graph, the iPhone and Rebel XTi are neck-and-neck when it comes to populating the site with imagery.

The iPhone doesn't have a bad camera -- it's just not a very good one, relatively speaking. The new iPhone 3GS introduced autofocus and bumped up the megapixel count from two to three. However, there's no flash. There's no zoom. The quality pales when pitted against Canon's 10.1-megapixel workhorse.

The iPhone's camera may be good enough, but that doesn't mean that it's good.

Regression to compression
We settle for the sake of immediacy and ad-supported freebies. Social networking sites will take your treasured photographs and put the squeeze on their quality for bandwidth's sake. Don't even get me started on the grainy mobile uploads!

We haven't been any kinder to moving pictures. "Instant watching titles are available in multiple levels of video quality," explains Netflix's (NASDAQ:NFLX) website. "Netflix automatically determines the level you receive by analyzing your current Internet speed. You can't select the video quality level yourself, and the level will change from time to time depending on actual network conditions."

It's hard to look a gift stream in the mouth, because Netflix offers digital playback at no additional cost to subscribers of its unlimited DVD plans. However, sometimes you pay and still have to settle for less than the original.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) doesn't sell movie downloads in high-def. It offers television shows in HD, but it will only spit out temporary rentals if you crave high definition. And only recently did Apple begin selling HD movies through iTunes.

Oh my bleeding earbuds
Audiophiles are suffering, too. Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) began charging most of its subscribers for online access earlier this year, in exchange for the promise of higher audio standards. 

"The upgrading of this service allows for customers to listen at near CD-quality sound (128k) for a better listening experience," reads the site's FAQ.

It's definitely better than the original streams, but will folks really pay between $3 and $13 a month for "near" CD quality?

Then again, the sonic quality of satellite radio itself has long come under fire. "Don't get me wrong, I love Sirius' programming, but I hate the sound," wrote Steve Guttenberg in CNET's The Audiophiliac column last year. "It's grungy, harsh, with no actual high frequencies and muddy bass. The music's dynamics are squashed flat as Kansas so it sounds like a low bit MP3. Digital smigital, Sirius sounds awful, way worse than FM radio."

I'm not hating on satellite radio, because I too can't get enough of Sirius. I've been a subscriber for five years. However, championing quality on satellite radio is often a losing battle. Subscribers want more programming, yet broadening the channel list comes at the expense of crummier compression.

Sure, bitrates have improved over the past year. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Zune offers MP3 files as high as 320k. That's a far cry from the 128k standard that most online stores were promoting just two years ago. Still, the MP3 format remains all about compression, even if a smaller subset of the audience notices.

The younger generation may not care. They've grown up jamming on their muddled iPods and watching grainy YouTube videos. They will never know the joys of vinyl wax, clean air, and Crystal Pepsi.

Consumers chose quantity over quality. Until a tech company can deliver both, I say the digital revolution is a failure.

What do you think of the digital revolution's quality sacrifices? Let us know in the comment box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, except for Netflix. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool's disclosure policy walked to school uphill in the snow, both ways -- and liked it!