German music consumers are becoming increasingly engaged with digital formats, new research suggests.

Roughly 16.6 billion music files are currently stored on computers, MP3 players and MP3 mobile phones in Germany, according to the study compiled by market research company GfK, on behalf of the German record association BPW. In the previous year the figure was 8.8 billion.

Roughly 14.44 billion pieces of music are stored on home computers, according to the study, with MP3 players and MP3-enabled mobile phones accounting for the remainder.

"Because a hard disc always weighs the same -- no matter whether 100, 1,000 or 10,000 music files are stored on it -- the feeling for the value of music is gradually being lost", comments Michael Haentjes, chairman of the German BPW.

GfK based its report on a sample of 10,000 people interviewed in January.

The German IFPI recently reported that the national recorded music market, which has been on a downward trend since 1998, continued to contract in 2006. However, sales of digital tracks rose by 28% to 25.2 million units, while digital albums soared 36% to 1.9 million units.