What? Did you mean
> I am at a loss as to how people are supposed to get better fidelity than from digital downloads
I mean it's easy to get better fidelity from digital downloads - even with modern variable bitrate mp3s you can easily crank up the fidelity past what's achievable for CDs (assuming you don't mind if only some players can handle it, and that you didn't start from CD, in which case obviously the quality can only go downhill). And of course CDs have gotten a bad name due to the growth or horrible editing practices that make music sound louder (good for listening to in-store samples) at the expense of discarding half or more of the available fidelity.
And of course *any* digital format, but especially the "just good enough" formats that have become popular, are going to have noticeable quantization noise, but assuming you're not in the habit of listening to massive professional editing-grade recordings on comparably good replay hardware, then It all comes down to what kind of noise you prefer. Analog recordings will tend to capture the subtleties of the original sound more accurately, but also introduce lots of analog noise which can't be removed without introducing distortion. And of course they will degrade with time and use.