E-Commerce News: The Real Cost of Online Music | iLounge News

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E-Commerce News: The Real Cost of Online Music

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By Dennis Lloyd

Publisher, iLounge
Published: Saturday, November 1, 2003
News Categories: Digital Media

“Now that Apple’s iTunes Music Store (iTMS) does Windows and Napster has bee rehabilitated, more people are starting to change their music-buying focus moving from old-school CDs to new-generation digital formats like AAC (Advance Audio Coding) and WMA (Windows Media Audio)

However, the onset of legal music download services has brought a new issue front and center: sound quality. The bit rate of an iTMS AAC file is 128 kilobits per second (kbps)—just a fraction of the 1,411 kbps “uncompressed” standard used for CD, WAV and AIFF files.”

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Comments

1

As much as I love my iPod, I can only see infrequently buying music that has been degraded to fill minimal holes in my music collection.  The bulk of my music purchases will continue to be CD so I can enjoy the full fidelity of the recordings while ripping at a higher rates than those available online.
I’m afraid the fact that we are paying almost full price for something with significantly less than full fidelity will keep many people looking for the free option.
We need another choice—full sized files available for online purchase.  No reason this can’t be offered as an alternative.  I’ve got broadband and plenty of time…....

Posted by privateme on November 1, 2003 at 9:39 PM (PDT)

2

Let’s not forget liner notes and packaging. There won’t be an end to real world purchases of music… but the only music that will sell in real world form will be quality albums…anything that is singles-based will be purchased or shared online.

Posted by mGee on November 1, 2003 at 10:43 PM (PDT)

3

I am glad I am not an audiophile. I think it makes it difficult to enjoy music if you are constantly analyzing sound quality and imperfections. I like music and i like it to sound good but I am not fanatical about it.

As for liner notes or cover art. I dont think I have ever read a set of liner notes in my life, except to get track numbers for a particular song, and that is after the purchase of at least 4 or 5 hundred CD’s. And album art is nice but considering I keep all my CD’s in a CD book the first time I really started paying attention to album art has been digitally in apps like iTunes, and MM. Now that is just me, I know others enjoy liner notes and album art as much as the music itself. But i think most just want to hear the music.

Posted by SpideyPod on November 2, 2003 at 4:28 AM (PDT)

4

I was actually surprised when I purchased some songs off of iTunes for the first time last night.  I had assumed they would be in the 160 - 192 kbs range and not 128, since I was spending money on them.  Not that I have that keen of hearing, but I can occasionally tell the difference. 

Posted by Nuclear Monk on November 2, 2003 at 5:29 AM (PDT)

5

There was a thread in the forums on how someone noticed the 128 AAC was better than songs he had ripped off CDs. People conjectured that that was because Apple goes back to the original source when they can to encode their files. I for one have noticed that their AAC files sound better than 192 kbps LAME MP3’s.

Posted by Andy on November 2, 2003 at 6:49 AM (PDT)

6

For me the real benefit (when it comes to Europe but that’s another thread!) is the facility to pick up selected songs by artists you may not like enough to purchase a whole CD. In addition the facility to ‘try’ a new artist shouldn’t be underestimated. I don’t live anywhere near a major record store with listening posts and I wouldn’t object to paying a couple of quid to try a couple of tracks from a new artist. If I like them a little bit I can download the rest, if I like them a lot I’ll still buy the CD.

And slightly off tangent, the book industry seems to survive OK, despite libraries where you can read books for free…

Posted by bobs yer uncle on November 2, 2003 at 9:37 AM (PDT)

7

So compressoin is everywhere huh?

Near the end of that article the writer states:

“Additionally, Paddock pointed out that compression is not only a file format issue, but also one that is evident in CDs and throughout the recording process, from recording to mixing to mastering.”

This Paddock charcter he was interviewing was not talking about digital compression, he was talking about dynamic compression.  Any real sound engineer would never dream of using a lossy compression on anything that was being recorded or mastered in any kind of real studio.  This just makes it obvious that either the interviewer didn’t pay attention, or neither of these guys know the first thing about high quality audio.

Posted by Lukas on November 2, 2003 at 9:46 AM (PDT)

8

Oggs sound best, case closed. Until Apple persuade PortalPlayer to upgrade the iPod to support Oggs, then you are getting second-best sound fidelity in lossy codecs.

http://www.vorbis.com/

And I noticed that the PortalPlayer platform (the basis for the iPod) natively supports WMA. So you *could* have WMA on the iPod, but obviously Apple have decided to avoid buying in to the MS offerings.

Posted by Ogg on November 2, 2003 at 10:31 AM (PDT)

9

“No reason this can’t be offered as an alternative. I’ve got broadband and plenty of time…....”

When it comes to dl’ing ~100MB of data per CD song, you’re probably a minority there.  Not everyone has hdd space, the bandwidth, or the patience.

“There was a thread in the forums on how someone noticed the 128 AAC was better than songs he had ripped off CDs. People conjectured that that was because Apple goes back to the original source when they can to encode their files. I for one have noticed that their AAC files sound better than 192 kbps LAME MP3’s.

Interesting, I was wondering about that.  Last night I ripped a CD using Exact Audio Copy to WAV on my HDD, then had iTunes copy the .wavs into .aac’s.  Next I’ll use LAME to encode the same .wav’s into VBRs and see which one sounds better…

“For me the real benefit (when it comes to Europe but that’s another thread!) is the facility to pick up selected songs by artists you may not like enough to purchase a whole CD.”

Ditto…  Although, I don’t like having to store my credit card information on Apple’s servers.  Wish they’d fix that…

“And slightly off tangent, the book industry seems to survive OK, despite libraries where you can read books for free…”

And Project Guttenberg, and the Electronic Text Center at UVA (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks/ebooklist.html), and several other sites offering free ebooks for download.

Posted by Byron on November 2, 2003 at 12:13 PM (PDT)

10

@Byron:

What I meant was that the AAC files on iTunes Music Store seem to be “extra” high quality (for 128 kbps AAC) because Apple goes back to the original source, rather than CDs, for encoding. While you should probably find that the AAC will sound better than the MP3’s in your experiment (there are several objective articles on the web comparing the file formats), that’s not what I was really talking about. =)

Posted by Andy on November 2, 2003 at 5:42 PM (PDT)

11

What’s the original source?

Posted by fbg111 on November 3, 2003 at 6:15 AM (PDT)

12

I don’t really know, but it was said that studios record gigabytes worth of music, which is then downsampled to CD quality. So the original source would be those gigabytes of sound data.

Posted by Andy on November 3, 2003 at 7:14 AM (PDT)

13

its safe to assume that anytime audio is converted from anything to digital ( be it old tape or microphones ) in almost any recording studio it is of higher quality than a CD. you can buy a consumer AD converter for less than a $1000 that does 24/96 where CD is 16/44.1.

Posted by brian on November 3, 2003 at 3:50 PM (PDT)

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