Download Music Store For Music Snobs Opens Up

from the if-you-really-think-you-can-hear-a-difference... dept

It’s fun when you hear music snobs complain that digital music just “isn’t as high quality” as their precious CDs (or, better yet, LPs). There are differences, but in most cases they’re almost impossible to hear. However, a new download music store is trying to take advantage of the snob-factor, and will be offering huge downloads of lossless versions of songs encoded at 1100 kbps rather than the customary 128 to 192 kbps. For the privilege of pretending you can tell the difference, you pay an extra $0.30 per song (which ought to make some people happy). Also, to prove that you really are serious about being a music snob, they require $50 upfront. Music snobbery isn’t for cheapskates, apparently. Of course, the files are encoded in Microsoft’s Windows Media Format, so they come complete with copy protection — because, apparently, they think you’re a thief and are immediately going to pass on these giant files to your music snob friends.

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Comments on “Download Music Store For Music Snobs Opens Up”

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Lars Hansen says:

I CAN tell the diffence

But I can’t tell if it’s the actual mp3-coding or the average crappy soundcard in standards desktops and laptops that makes the difference.
And oddly enough: The hardest thing to code using mp3 is not the music of music snobs, like orchestral music and jazz. It’s actually metal. A really distorted guitar borders random noise, and random noise is almost impossible to compress, since there’s no mathematical redundancy in the signal that can be exploited.

Boo says:

Re: I CAN tell the diffence

I’m with you – especially with MP3 you can hear an almost flange-like effect. but the Mp3 is 15 years old for gods sake… I can’t believe it is the standard codec (outside of itunes). The best lossy i’ve heard is AAC – but still I can hear stuff in certain songs that bugs me. we could go for lossless compressions such as ogg but the filesizes make that impractical for the moment, and for a difference that I can only hear intermittantly that’s ok…

but let’s face it, compressed music is listened to on the hop – sitting traffic, walking outside… if you sit inside with the doors and windows shut listening to music on headphones then it would become an issue.

I’m far more worried about the modern trend of record companies spending larger and larger proportions of their cash/effort on a smaller and smaller artist base… the problem isnt the codec, it’s what new releases are availible to rip!

fgc says:

Re: I CAN tell the diffence

compression artifacts do show up a lot in heavy metal. but really. what’s a little more extra noise shit to go along with the distortion and crazy fast picking? also if you are trv cvlt black metal you have to be lo-fi so you should just compress all of your recordings at 64k then recompress them at 320, just in case. you dont want anybody going “FUCK DID YOU HEAR THAT IT SOUNDS LIKE PRODUCTION!!!” the place i hear it most in music is the drums & cymbals. i am a drummer so that sort of thing irritates the crap out of me. also for all of you saying we should go out and listen to the music live, this does not apply to death metal. either nobody on earth can mike for death metal or it is just TOO EXTREME!!

Gerald Brennan says:

Dumbed Down

An entire generation has been dumbed down and made insensate by compression and lo-fi music. Many have never been to a live performance and think that music is something that is pumped out of tinny TV speakers or cheal earbuds. So it’s true — most people cannot tell the difference. But the many that can, actually do notice when 83% of a signal is missing. This is snobbery?

Tim (user link) says:

Re: Dumbed Down

Ironically, the youngsters to whom this stuff is primarily peddled are also the ones whose hearing could probably discern frequencies around 22-23kHz as well (at least, before they bought it and listened to it TOO LOUD, anyway). Given that CD-quality is capable of reproducing sounds around 22.05kHz or so, I think it’s entirely reasonable to say there are people who can distinguish CD from inferior quality recordings. And that’s simply a matter of Nyquist frequencies, before we get into such matters as reverberance in hifi speakers in a given room versus earphones, etc.

mgallagher says:

Other reasons for doing this

For what it’s worth, I have been able to consistently pick out 128Kbit MP3s “blind” when comparing to original CD playback. Hint: listen to female vocals and cymbals.
Anyway, the reason I would want either uncompressed or lossless compressed files has nothing to do with listening quality, rather it gives me the ability to create any compressed format that’s most useful to me. Try transcoding an AAC to an OGG to an MP3. Or re-encoding to a different bit rate. The quality loss can be dramatic.
In a nutshell, that’s why I buy (used) CDs. I always have a good quality, uncompressed original to work with.

blixel says:

It's not about the quality (to me)

I don’t consider myself a music quality snob. It doesn’t matter to me if I can hear the difference or not. That’s not the point to me anyway.
The problem I have is by paying .99 cents per song, I’m paying the same cost that I would for a CD, so why should I get less quality? I also don’t have a permanent backup if I pay .99 cents for a song online. I’m only allowed to download the song one time. If I buy the CD, I have a permanent archival backup. (As permanent as a CD can be anyway. I have CD’s that are up to 15 years old that still play just fine.)
Give me the song in FLAC format (lossless encoding), AND I want the ability to download the song multiple times should I need to. Once I pay for the rights to the song, I shouldn’t be limited to one download. Granted, there are bandwidth considerations and I understand that. I’m not suggesting that I should be able to download the song every single time I want to hear it. But if my local file gets corrupted before I have a chance to back it up, or if I format my hard-drive, or if any number of other things happen 6 or 8 months after I bought the song, I want a no hassle, no questions asked, trouble free way to just redownload my songs. I don’t want to have to beg the music store to let me download my songs again. Or worse – have to pay for them again.
Having said all that – I *can* rather easily tell the difference between 128, 256, 320, and CD quality in a blind test. By blind test, I mean if someone plays the same part of the same song encoded in various qualities and doesn’t tell me which is which, I can – with 100% accuracy – determine which is which. And I don’t consider myself an audiophile by ANY means. I have crappy computer speakers, I don’t even own a home stereo, I have regular $20 Sony headphones for my iPod (I hate earbuds), and the stereo in my car is stock.
Finally, if you do any kind of audio or video editing, you will DEFINITELY want to start with the highest quality format you can find. For example, if you wanted to add a music overlay to a video you created, and you used your 128kbps encoded file that you downloaded (which I’m not sure you could even use due to the DRM), you’ll end up with an extremely lousy sounding audio track on your video after you encode it – because you’re encoding and already encoded audio track.

Justin Johnson (user link) says:

Re: It's not about the quality (to me)

after working with many projects and laying in an audio track i have found that no matter what the file came as to begin with if the song is burned to a CD and then imported as Apples Lossless Encoding and Dropped into Avid or Final Cute pro… (the only video editors worth anything… ps PINNACLE SUCKS) it will play just fine… the computer reads any other files to be not good enough quality… which is goofy because most low-line camera’s don’t even provide that… but bottom line is it is possible with some “jerry rigginig” to get the “immitated quality…” sometimes it takes some thought and not THIS INCCESENT BITCHING that i keep seeing… you guys are lames asses… i am 18 i have been video editing since i was in 7th grade… bitches… i have been working with a 72 channel sound board for five years… and multiple mini-systems and over 10,000 watts of power for a a PA… you guys don’t even have shit on me… encode music at 320kbps… get over the shit and shut the hell up… if you don’t like the quality get better sound equipment… that is most of your problems… you don’t have the right stuff… i seriously don’t understand your logic… 320 is as high as anyone can tell… i have a friend who can tell exactly how and what frequency things get sampled at and he is almost 100% accurate and he believes 320 is good enough… for goodness sakes… what are we going to do… take out the damn records and try and shove those in peoples faces because they have the best quality over tapes, 8-tracks, and cd’s… what are we going to put a normal 60 minute CD on a DVD and take up all 8 gigs just for the 60 minutes of music… what has this world come to… it is fucking music… we listen to it for inspiration and the amount of talent and the raw imagination behind most artists… have we forgoten what music is about… it is not about the best stuff… i understand the reasoning for being pissed off at tinny sounds… and stuff that can give you one hell of a headache because it plain did not get compressed right… but honestly i think you guys are take this lossless recording quality to far… get off it… you all suck… if you want to rock out hardcore… go to a fucking concert and hear them live… it will always be better… and for God Sakes try to stand in front of a row of 22inch speackers stack three high and twenty wide… that is when you have great quality and fucking loud music… that is fun… for now get off it and who cares if it sounds like it in gulfs you… next we will have full surround sound music and if that happens i will shoot myself… i want real bands not some boring shit… i don’t stand in the middle of the band and them play around me… that is just stupid… so everyone… get over yourself… listen to your damn music… BUY THE FUCKING CD’s… SUPPORT THE BANDS and stop bitching about MP3’s

IanT says:

Re: What a dickhead article.

A person with average ears can hear the difference between a 128kbps song and a 256kbps one. I prefer my songs at 384kbps, and that’s on an average quality speaker set. I’m not an audiophile or a music snob, I just don’t like significant quality loss in my music.

1100, however, is kind of ridiculous. Diminishing returns, people; there won’t be much of a difference between that and 800. If you like your music that high quality, buy the flipping CD.

(And if you say you can hear the loss in CDs, you *are* a music snob :P)

Lars Hansen says:

Re: Re: What a dickhead article.

> (And if you say you can hear the loss in CDs, you
> *are* a music snob :P)

I’m a music snob. I want at least 32 bit resolution and 192 kHz sampling frequency thank you very much. The CD format is inferior and the result of the technical abilities and limitations of the industry in the late 70’s.
The sampling of an original signal with 44.1 kHz Fs and 16 bit resolution is every bit as lossy as 44.1 kHz/16bit being compressed to 128 kbit/s mp3.

Rob says:

Re: Re: What a dickhead article.

Um, I’m not a music snob, and in fact I have some minor hearing loss. Depending on the quality of the speakers and the quality of the original source material, I can hear a huge difference between CD sound and DVD-Audio sound. You can hear difference in the higher frequencies where a 44 KHz sampling rate is too course to adequately capture the shape of the waveform.
That being said, I’m perfectly happy with the sound quality of my CDs, and don’t have any plans to replace them.
The truth is that while there are only a few people out there who care about that level of quality, (and I’m not one of them), it doesn’t require “golden ears” to hear substantial differences.

Justin Johnson (user link) says:

snobs don't need it that high

I like having music a 320kbps or set to VBR
with the higest setting of 320kbps in iTunes… I
hate to say it but I know quite a few people who
are in music for life a few that are just getting
into it and both groups of people agree that
320kbps is about the same rate that you get CD
directly off the CD because if you copy a disc at
320 and burn those files in applications like nero
6.6 with some extra little tweaks it comes out
sounding even better… seeing as you can
re-engineer the CD to play on your stuff… i just
recently re-engineered a norma jean CD so that I
could get it as loud as possible on my car stereo
without it crack which is a problem of mine and i
was working with 320kbps files and when i did it,
it sounded bettter than it ever did on the
original CD… so honestly this 1100kbps… get
off it… it is a waste of space… it is retarded
and not needed… it is just one thing to clog the
over clogged interent…


DGK12 says:

No Subject Given

The audio format fight rages on. This article seems to be fairly uninformed but does raise some interesting social questions. I once read an article comparing formats, but failed to find (to my misfortune). It did well to compare the various formats by using controls and variables for the test as scientific studies are conducted. It discussed the losses and quirks for each format at different bit rates. It did well to note that an mp3 at 128kbs is much different from a wma at 128kbs, and other formats as well. I have tested this myself and find that an mp3 at 320kbs is significantly better than a 192kbps audio file in terms of loss (or gain, depending on the song + music). I have also personally noted disruptive loss from songs that I know very well. And I use stock speakers for most of my listening pleasure. I’m sure with better speakers I would find myself looking to find a higher bit rate than 320, especially if I am paying the price of a CD. And I wouldn’t bother buying a crippled (protected) format. Surely you get what you pay for.

Musician says:


As a musician who has engineered and produced my work and the work of others, I have to chortle at the “golden ears” who pop on here and talk about the evils of “kids these days” growing up around MP3 compression.

I think it is more important that kids be exposed to a vast variety of music, something enabled by MP3 compression, rather than a mostly imperceptable difference between uncompressed and compressed audio.

Appreciating music is less about a .5db artifact at 17khz and more about great songwriting, performing, and *inspiration*. I guess it is form over content folks; a classic music industry meme, and why the majority of music recorded on 96KHz 32 bit floating point pro tools systems is utter crap, while some kids with a hand-me-down 4-track casette working in their garage actually produce things worth listening to, transcoded down to a low bitrate MP3.

I guess we’re all tragically scarred by the JPGs used in web pages. Now go buy your $100 monster cables and shut the heck up.

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