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MacRumors
Jun 22, 2006, 02:07 PM
http://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com)

AppleInsider (http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1834) is reporting that an updated release of iTunes Producer includes the ability for record labels to encode music in Apple Lossless Codec (ALC), which may indicate that Apple is preparing iTunes for distribution of music in ALC.

There has been other evidence of these developments, with one MacRumors source claiming that Apple is indeed planning to add higher quality songs to iTunes in the near future including the possibility of ALC's use. However, since similar previous claims (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2003/10/20031010165517.shtml) were discovered to be unfounded, the claim was considered at best uncertain until AppleInsider corroborated the story.

Doctor Q
Jun 22, 2006, 02:09 PM
I can just hear the cries from the public: "I bought a song last year and I want it replaced, free of charge, with the higher quality version!"

laidbackliam
Jun 22, 2006, 02:10 PM
that might make it worth it to start buying off the music store. but i'd still rather buy the cd

Choppaface
Jun 22, 2006, 02:11 PM
wow, I might actually buy things off ITMS now.. as long as they don't charge more for the loseless version (compared to what I could get the CD for used price at Amazon...)

rye9
Jun 22, 2006, 02:13 PM
I can just hear the cries from the public: "I bought a song last year and I want it replaced, free of charge, with the higher quality version!"

haha i'd probably be part of that crowd. :o

celebrian23
Jun 22, 2006, 02:15 PM
I still won't buy from iTMS since the reason I won't doesn't have much to do with sound quality

calculus
Jun 22, 2006, 02:17 PM
I can just hear the cries from the public: "I bought a song last year and I want it replaced, free of charge, with the higher quality version!"
I want some things replaced with a better performance!

m-dogg
Jun 22, 2006, 02:18 PM
I wonder if this is some sort of compromise between Jobs and the record labels?

This way, Apple can keep songs available at 99 cents, but also offer the same songs in higher quality -- for a higher price. I bet lossless will be an option at a higher price point.

Core Trio
Jun 22, 2006, 02:19 PM
I still won't buy from iTMS since the reason I won't doesn't have much to do with sound quality


well...what is your reason?

kjr39
Jun 22, 2006, 02:20 PM
I'd still rather own the CD...

Buying anything other than a single track on iTunes doesn't do much for me due to the controls imposed.

MM2270
Jun 22, 2006, 02:20 PM
I was just speculating on when Apple might consider upping the quality on iTSM tracks the other day on another forum. It's really about that time. I can understand their use of 128 bit encoding to start it all off. If they made tracks lossless or encoded at too high a bitrate, the larger file sizes may have turned away many customers. No-one wants to sit and wait for a long time for tracks to download. but broadband is becoming so common now, it shouldn't pose as much of an issue. Now that they have a large installed base of clients who are buying from it, it makes perfect sense to start giving us higher quality encodings.

The only downside to it would be that less music will fit on iPods under the new scheme. Apple's "1000 songs in your pocket" claim will have to come with a disclaimer that states it's only true when using the lower quality tracks, etc. Or they'll have to change it to "500 songs in your pocket" or something ;)

quigleybc
Jun 22, 2006, 02:23 PM
How does one vote this negative?

and yes, i too may start using the ITMS if this happens.

should have happened a long time ago IMO

but, i'll believe it when I see it....

swingerofbirch
Jun 22, 2006, 02:24 PM
Isn't Apple lossless half the size of AIFF? Who has the hard disk space???

Doctor Q
Jun 22, 2006, 02:24 PM
The only downside to it would be that less music will fit on iPods under the new scheme. Apple's "1000 songs in your pocket" claim will have to come with a disclaimer that states it's only true when using the lower quality tracks, etc. Or they'll have to change it to "500 songs in your pocket" or something ;)Apple could counter that with clever marketing. They could come out with new iPods with correspondingly increased storage capacities, leave the "1000 songs" slogan the same, and conveniently ignore the fact that previous iPod models would lose song capacity with ALC downloads.

dextertangocci
Jun 22, 2006, 02:25 PM
What's wrong with the current iTunes quality? I'm sure it wouldn't really matter to the average consumer.

shawnce
Jun 22, 2006, 02:26 PM
I'd still rather own the CD...

Buying anything other than a single track on iTunes doesn't do much for me due to the controls imposed.

If you get it in ALC and then can burn it to CD (like you currently can with iTMS ACC songs) would you still have a reason not to buy?

What's wrong with the current iTunes quality? I'm sure it wouldn't really matter to the average consumer.

It doesn't to many customers.

I don't think the fact that external parties can submit songs to iTMS in ALC means that Apple will start selling songs in ALC format. (it would be nice but I wouldn't expect it... maybe higher bitrate ACC)

yankeefan24
Jun 22, 2006, 02:30 PM
It doesn't to many customers.

I am a bit picky on sound, but I have never found a problem with iTMS quality. I might buy higher quality (depending on price), but if it's too much, lower quality is fine for me. The average consumer wouldn't pay any extra money for lossless. Only pro's. iTMS isn't directed to pro's.

Analog Kid
Jun 22, 2006, 02:32 PM
Isn't Apple lossless half the size of AIFF? Who has the hard disk space???
If they don't change the price, I could see myself buying in ALC then reencoding to something smaller for the iPod keeping the high quality version for backup.

iGary
Jun 22, 2006, 02:33 PM
I'd be perfectly happy with 192kbps.

EricNau
Jun 22, 2006, 02:37 PM
According to Apple (who got it from dolby)...

AAC compressed audio at 128 Kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be “indistinguishable” from the original uncompressed audio source.
AAC compressed audio at 96 Kbps generally exceeded the quality of MP3 compressed audio at 128 Kbps. AAC at 128 Kbps provides significantly superior performance than does MP3 at 128 Kbps.
AAC was the only Internet audio codec evaluated in the range “Excellent” at 64 Kbps for all of the audio items tested in EBU listening tests.

Link (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/)

So in theory, we shouldn't need higher quality songs, right? :confused:

zap2
Jun 22, 2006, 02:39 PM
The only downside to it would be that less music will fit on iPods under the new scheme. Apple's "1000 songs in your pocket" claim will have to come with a disclaimer that states it's only true when using the lower quality tracks, etc. Or they'll have to change it to "500 songs in your pocket" or something ;)


Well other companys do that all the time. My friend has a Dell DJ, and its 30Gb but he says it hold 15,000 songs. I had to explain to him that my 60Gb iPod has more room for songs

61132
Jun 22, 2006, 02:43 PM
that would be awesome if they offered lossless!!! I know im reaching out far, but it would be great to "upgrade" my library for free. Even if it did cost more, I would be willing to download my favorite albums again in lossless.

BlizzardBomb
Jun 22, 2006, 02:43 PM
I can just hear the cries from the public: "I bought a song last year and I want it replaced, free of charge, with the higher quality version!"

Ok maybe not free, but how about a heavily discounted rate for songs you've already downloaded, maybe $0.50/£0.30 for 10 songs. Some songs like acoustics wouldn't really benefit much from the better quality.

I'd be perfectly happy with 192kbps

Agreed. 192kbps would be the sweet spot for many people.

nagromme
Jun 22, 2006, 02:45 PM
I bet lossless will be an option at a higher price point.
That makes sense to me--somebody has to pay for the extra bandwidth, and this WOULD be a higher offering than .99 songs at other stores.

And yet... I don't see much demand (outside of a small but vocal group who I do respect) for better than the current MP4/AAC quality. So, low demand, higher price, AND adding new factor of doubt for the masses who were already buying the current format? That sounds like a recipe for a backfire.

So I'll make a guess and say this will not be any large scale deployment. Maybe just some "special edition" stuff, ONLY available in the better format, as an incentive to pay for that special "box set" or whatever.

EricNau
Jun 22, 2006, 02:46 PM
What is CD quality? Other online music stores sell CD quality songs for $.99.

heyjp
Jun 22, 2006, 02:48 PM
Hey,

The reason Apple is including Apple Lossless in Producer is so that music producers/publishers can provide the highest possible quality to Apple with minimum bandwidth. I'm assuming Apple keeps a master set of all music available on iTunes in Apple Lossless (probably why Apple developed that format in the first place) so that they can very consistently compress all audio into the appropriate delivery format (AAC-128 today).

Apple may choose to offer higher bandwidth options or even different encoders in the future (whether a year from now or 10 years from now, at somepoint a new encoder will be available that is SO compelling that Apple will HAVE to recompress everything). If (read WHEN) they choose to offer a different format, they will just turn on a bank of macs 24/7 to recompress the 5 or 10 million songs they have.

I doubt this change in Apple Producer is any indicator that new formats are imminent.

My 1.5 cents worth. (not worth 2)

Jim

ifjake
Jun 22, 2006, 02:48 PM
I'd say if you A-B'd lossless vs. lossy with just about anyone, telling them what to pay attention for (ex. the cymbals), they'd notice, especially at the bitrate iTMS uses. Sure some people can notice the difference no matter what it is they're listening too, even on stuff that actually compresses well, but there are a few things that are just plain obvious once you stop and listen. I'm all for quality. Now they just have to work on the DRM issue. I'd buy album after album from iTunes if they'd do lossless and no DRM. Heck, I could compromise a little, purchase a lossless album, burn it, re-import it DRM-free. Right now it's just the ocational track. I hardly ever use it without giftcard credit.

BlizzardBomb
Jun 22, 2006, 02:49 PM
According to Apple (who got it from dolby)...

AAC compressed audio at 128 Kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be “indistinguishable” from the original uncompressed audio source.
AAC compressed audio at 96 Kbps generally exceeded the quality of MP3 compressed audio at 128 Kbps. AAC at 128 Kbps provides significantly superior performance than does MP3 at 128 Kbps.
AAC was the only Internet audio codec evaluated in the range “Excellent” at 64 Kbps for all of the audio items tested in EBU listening tests.

Link (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/)

So in theory, we shouldn't need higher quality songs, right? :confused:

There are many factors like the quality of your earphones/headphones. Higher quality earphones/headphones will make artifacts more obvious. Also when you crank up the volume for things like train/coach journeys the artifacts may be heard.

longofest
Jun 22, 2006, 02:53 PM
According to Apple (who got it from dolby)...

AAC compressed audio at 128 Kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be “indistinguishable” from the original uncompressed audio source.
AAC compressed audio at 96 Kbps generally exceeded the quality of MP3 compressed audio at 128 Kbps. AAC at 128 Kbps provides significantly superior performance than does MP3 at 128 Kbps.
AAC was the only Internet audio codec evaluated in the range “Excellent” at 64 Kbps for all of the audio items tested in EBU listening tests.

Link (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/)

So in theory, we shouldn't need higher quality songs, right? :confused:

I can tell the difference between 128 Kbps AAC and 160 Kbps AAC. Once you get higher, I can't tell the difference, but it WOULD be nice if Apple bumped the quality up to 160 AAC, which wouldn't take up that much more disk space but would give a noticable quality difference to us who care and can tell. I honestly would rather 160 AAC over a lossless version (too big files).

The "128 is indistinguishable from uncompressed CD" is marketing bull crap. It's not quite as good. If I had to make that statement, I'd make it about 160 Kbps AAC.

Basically, AAC is roughly one step above MP3 in my opinion, so:
96 AAC == 128 MP3 (noticeable artifacts, especially in high frequencies)
128 AAC == 160 MP3 (slightly less than CD quality)
160 AAC == 192 MP3 (indistinguishable from CD quality)

lord patton
Jun 22, 2006, 02:55 PM
If they do offer tunes in lossless, perhaps all iPods will get the ability to automatically convert to 128 when transferring to an iPod.

On another note, not only would lossless reduce song capacity, it would dramatically decrease battery life.

heyjp
Jun 22, 2006, 02:57 PM
Jake,

I politely beg to disagree. The reason Apple chose 128 Kbps encoding for AAC is because in double-blind ABX testing, AAC-128 was the rate at which a very high (maybe 96%? can't remember) of all listeners could not distinguish between uncompressed (CD quality) and the compressed version.

At that level, even a trained, highly practiced professional will still often make mistakes.

www.hydrogenaudio.org is a great place to read about compression techniques and comparisons. You will find test results of MANY combinations of different compressors and bitrates there.

You can read about double-blind ABX testing at:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=16295&hl=abx+testing

Jim

longofest
Jun 22, 2006, 02:58 PM
On another note, not only would lossless reduce song capacity, it would dramatically decrease battery life.

of course, Apple would still advertise the iPod's battery life as how long it lasts when playing 1 128 Kbps AAC song without DRM on infinite repeat without the backlight. :rolleyes:

ifjake
Jun 22, 2006, 03:00 PM
On another note, not only would lossless reduce song capacity, it would dramatically decrease battery life.

Not necessarily. On a hard disc based iPod yes it would have to spin faster and cover more data in the same amount of time, but I think the energy needed to process from file format to what you hear is actually less for lossless. Someone will have to back me up on this, though.

Mainyehc
Jun 22, 2006, 03:02 PM
The only downside to it would be that less music will fit on iPods under the new scheme. Apple's "1000 songs in your pocket" claim will have to come with a disclaimer that states it's only true when using the lower quality tracks, etc. Or they'll have to change it to "500 songs in your pocket" or something ;)

That's a good point... I'd definitely buy music from iTMS if it was sold in ALAC format, as long as the price premium wasn't too big; however, I don't want to store it in ALAC on my iPod, and in fact, for now, I don't think I'd want it on my external HD (which houses my main library) either, as it'd fill up rather quickly.

Anyway, those damn greedy labels would do so much better if they scrapped DRM altogether by letting Apple sell ALAC files with some "circumventable" FairPlay version. Since everyone knows that just won't happen (at least, not officially, since lossless files could be easily be freed from DRM without losing quality from transcoding processes) they could at least let Apple implement some DRM'ed transcoding option - I wouldn't mind if iTunes could create a second DRM'ed copy in 128 Kbps .m4p format, either to store it permanently on the main library, or on the fly, to sync with the iPod (and not just the Shuffle, but the nano and full-size iPods as well). That way, I could keep the ALAC files backed-up on DVDs...

Just my €0,02. :rolleyes:

balamw
Jun 22, 2006, 03:02 PM
If they do offer tunes in lossless, perhaps all iPods will get the ability to automatically convert to 128 when transferring to an iPod.

IIRC shuffles already have this option.

Lossless seems weird for the RIAA, since if you still have the right to burn to CD you can transcode to any DRM free codec you'd like, even if iTunes would transcode on the fly to a DRMed 128 kbps AAC file for the iPod.

Maybe this is an option designed for smaller bands/labels who want to use iTunes as their main distribution channel...

B

Rspaight
Jun 22, 2006, 03:02 PM
I know that I'd be much more likely to buy track from the iTMS in lossless, or even in 192k AAC.

As a point of comparison, eMusic offers unrestricted VBR MP3s (average 192k), which are very close to CD quality, perhaps even indistinguishable. And they let you download the same track an unlimited number of times, so when they upgraded from 128k to VBR, I was able to upgrade all the tracks I bought from them for free.

Needless to say, I've bought a *lot* from eMusic, but only a few tracks from iTMS.

The iTMS DRM doesn't bother me, since I can burn to CD and then re-extract in MP3 if I so desire. DRM doesn't get truly objectionable until you get into Napster-like schemes where your songs go away if you stop paying your monthly fee, and there's no way to convert the songs into an open format...

dongmin
Jun 22, 2006, 03:11 PM
This change, by itself, doesn't seem to signal much of a change. Apple also needs to add DRM to the format.

Perhaps it has something to do with the "Made in iTunes" rumors. Maybe they'll offer iTunes-only remixes by popular DJs. Or maybe Apple will offer streams at higher quality? Subscription-based iTunes?

thogs_cave
Jun 22, 2006, 03:11 PM
According to Apple (who got it from dolby)...
[list]
AAC compressed audio at 128 Kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be “indistinguishable” from the original uncompressed audio source.

I've never had a problem with it, but then I probably dulled my hearing many, many years ago as a DJ on a rock station. :eek:

Overall, I don't even have a problem with 128K MP3 stuff. But, then I know people who claim that they can't even handle CDs, and that they need 96K sampling rates to be happy.

I guess I'm glad that the gold flaked off my ears years ago and left the shiny lead behind....:o

Glass
Jun 22, 2006, 03:18 PM
Not necessarily. On a hard disc based iPod yes it would have to spin faster and cover more data in the same amount of time, but I think the energy needed to process from file format to what you hear is actually less for lossless. Someone will have to back me up on this, though.

I'm backing you up.. B.Eng: Computer.. the question is more complex than the OP has made it out to be.

BornAgainMac
Jun 22, 2006, 03:18 PM
How about choices for 64kb or 32kb but cut the price down? I am very happy with 128 for my hearing needs. I wish the music videos were higher quality or the same as when they were free. My vision detects quality better than my hearing.

BWhaler
Jun 22, 2006, 03:25 PM
I've basically stopped buying music from the iTMS store because of the quality.

I've purchased about 6,000 songs, and I didn't mind at first since low quality was fine for my iPod.

But now that digital music is moving from my iPod to my home stereo, I can tell the difference, and I am bummed to have so much music is such a low quality format. You can't even listen to music purchased from the iTMS through the iPod Hi-Fi. It sounds terrible.

I'd like an option to pay for better digital music. And I would like an option to upgrade my current library to lossless. I don't mind paying, but certainly not full price. Let me upgrade for 10% of the original cost.

If I had an avenue to upgrade my current library--at a reasonable cost--and the option to buy at better quality in the future, I'd start buying from the iTMS again.

Analog Kid
Jun 22, 2006, 03:26 PM
Not necessarily. On a hard disc based iPod yes it would have to spin faster and cover more data in the same amount of time, but I think the energy needed to process from file format to what you hear is actually less for lossless. Someone will have to back me up on this, though.
The power required to spin the mechanical hard drive dwarfs the power needed to process the file. I don't know how complex ALC is to decode, but I don't think it would matter if it required no processing at all, you'd still lose on the battery life front.

Edit: I suppose Apple could compensate by adding more RAM and caching more...

ifjake
Jun 22, 2006, 03:27 PM
Jake,

I politely beg to disagree. The reason Apple chose 128 Kbps encoding for AAC is because in double-blind ABX testing, AAC-128 was the rate at which a very high (maybe 96%? can't remember) of all listeners could not distinguish between uncompressed (CD quality) and the compressed version.

Jim

Yeah I guess I can give you that, the majority won't be able to just tell. For most consumer audio gear, it might not be as revealing for the majority of people, but I have purchased some songs on iTunes that sound just plain bad. I must admit, I personally still use AAC, not lossless, on the majority of my imported CDs just because it saves space and I'm usually only casually listening anyway, and if it's not jazz or classical. It's not always lousy, but I wouldn't say that there's no difference. If you know what to listen for you don't necessarily need golden ears to tell.

mopppish
Jun 22, 2006, 03:29 PM
I honestly think that offering lossless, though not important to the masses, will open up a whole new customer base for itunes. The people out there that DO care about sound quality and CAN hear the difference between 128k and lossless tend to buy a lot more music than the average joe. I would count myself in that category. I'm not a huge slut about audio quality when it comes to what's on my ipod (I can deal with 192k), but there have been MANY times that I've gotten the itch to buy new music and refrained from doing so off of the iTMS because of the compression. Many people have said on here that 192k is good enough, and while I would agree with that for general listening purposes, I'd still like to have a copy of the lossless version. I don't want to pay full price for something less than the original. That being said, I'd probably be willing to buy albums at 128k if they were around $5.
EDIT: A big part of why I want lossless is also that I listen to almost all of my music at home off of my hard drive. Sometimes that's throughmy thrift store bookshelf speakers, sometimes that's through my low-end-but-still-a-hair-above-consumer-quality nearfield studio monitors, and sometimes it's through nice AKG headphones. If I ONLY listened to ripped or downloaded music on my ipod, it'd matter less.

Multimedia
Jun 22, 2006, 03:54 PM
I for one am not going to buy online code that is the same quality as the CD without the CD packaging and physical labeled CD for the same money. I am relly opposed to this online way of buying music for quality reasons and for missing the package that comes with the music. And I want the power to rip from the master CD the way I want it on my iPod.

error
Jun 22, 2006, 03:55 PM
But... the previous version of the iTunes Producer (1.3.1) was also ONLY able to import as Apple Lossless.

As far as I know iTunes Producer can't even encode to a lossy format and Apple has been collecting lossless audio for a long time now.

I guess Apple does the final encoding to 128 kbps AAC + DRM.

SalsaShark
Jun 22, 2006, 03:57 PM
Well, here's another vote of approval. I suppose I definitely fall well outside of that 96%. I can always identify MP3s at 192 and lower. I always encode VBR around 256 and simply can't tolerate iTMS quality. (I'm one of the, like, four people who jumped all over SACD and love it.) If lossless was offered, I would certainly buy from iTMS, especially stuff that's out-of-print or hard to find. You'd basically be getting an exact copy of something you can't just go out and buy. Even for some who can't tell the difference, I suspect just the psychological benefit of knowing it's a "perfect" reproduction will improve some sales.

I can see how it could cause problems though. With AAC, if you burn to CD and re-compress, you can get around the protection, but you're going through two levels of degradation. If lossless is available and you burn to a CD, you can now rip and compress what is essentially a virgin true CD-quality recording, eschewing the protection and getting a very good mp3 or aac out of it. The labels could certainly balk at that notion.

celebrian23
Jun 22, 2006, 04:01 PM
My reason for not buying from the itms even if they move to alc? I can buy 90% of the CDs I want from Amazon new for less than $9.99 plus I get the physical CD, the front packaging thing, and a pretty CD with a design on it. Plus, I just love importing CDs. No real reason why, it just makes me feel like I have to "work for it" and I feel accomplished ;)

tjwett
Jun 22, 2006, 04:20 PM
this is definitely good news. 128 AAC is pretty hurtin' after a while.

X5-452
Jun 22, 2006, 04:21 PM
Lossless? Who has that kind of disk space, or iPod space?

Diatribe
Jun 22, 2006, 04:23 PM
I can just hear the cries from the public: "I bought a song last year and I want it replaced, free of charge, with the higher quality version!"

Yeah I want my old 328 BMW replaced with a new 330 and also I want all my DVDs replaced with the HD versions...:rolleyes:

jephrey
Jun 22, 2006, 04:23 PM
Yeah celebrian, but for the single track, I'd go with iTunes. Totally see your point though.

I have been reluctant to buy from the iTMS because whether or not I can tell the difference, I know it's there. I don't have a hi-fi system or wonderful headphones, so I know I wouldn't be able to tell a 192k from a disc, but I would know it's different, and if I ever do get a hi-fi system, I'm screwed, because I am almost positive that I'd be able to tell the lossy compression up to 192 or so.

I haven't heard it mentioned either, but I collect live music, all of which is only traded in flac/shn... ONLY. Simply because you don't know what someone has done to mp3s and it's quite possible that they have been re-encoded and the quality compromised. This is great news for me since I have over 2000 hours of music archived in Apple Lossless. If the industry swings this way, this would justify all my re-encoding to this format.

One final thing... Apple Lossless will be about 3-4 times the size of an AAC file. How long until bandwidth and HD space increases by that much? A few years. Plus blu-ray and HD DVD are coming to give you more archival storage. The size is worth it! Forget 192k etc. Go with 128k lossy, or lossless. Keep it simple. I like how it's done at livephish.com, you can buy flac or mp3, slight price difference.

Jephrey

milozauckerman
Jun 22, 2006, 04:23 PM
I'd be fine with paying extra for lossless versions, as my iTunes purchases are limited for now to singles I can't get elsewhere except for vinyl (the Coup, Ghostface, a few others in recent months) and the occasional album track that I want to hear right now.

I want Gnarls Barkley's Crazy - but the rest of the album is drek. So I can buy a copy that won't sound great through my stereo for $1 or buy the album for $12-15 new (and I want to hear it now, so getting it off Amazon and waiting a few days isn't an option). If I could pay, say, $3 for a true CD-quality version? I'm there.

Diatribe
Jun 22, 2006, 04:25 PM
Lossless? Who has that kind of disk space, or iPod space?

Why? 250GB HDs are becoming standard and the 100GB iPod isn't too far away either.

celebrian23
Jun 22, 2006, 04:27 PM
Yeah celebrian, but for the single track, I'd go with iTunes. Totally see your point though.



Jephrey
I buy singles off of itunes as well :) But typically I don't want just a single. :) And for some reason, I'm not a fan of itunes videos. :)

fblack
Jun 22, 2006, 04:27 PM
Since they upgade ipods regularly a larger capacity one will keep the 1000 songs in your pocket current and unnecesary to remarket.:)

I too have been dying for higher quality from itms. To me there is a difference in sound between 128 and 192 or 256. I downloaded and listened to a few tracks and just felt better off buying used cd's and ripping at higher quality. If apple were to put something out at 256 I might be willing to give itms a try again.

Would I pay xtra? I dont think so. If I get a CD it becomes my backup hard copy and I'm not getting that when I download (unless I burn it of course).

Besides this will probably be a selling point from apple to recording industry: "look people are gonna want the higher quality and they'll pay again for the same track."

jholzner
Jun 22, 2006, 04:28 PM
I wonder if this is some sort of compromise between Jobs and the record labels?

This way, Apple can keep songs available at 99 cents, but also offer the same songs in higher quality -- for a higher price. I bet lossless will be an option at a higher price point.

Possible but I assume with a higher price the extra money coming in would go to apple and not the lables inorder to cover the extra bandwidth cost. Either way, I'll stick with the AAC. I don't have a problem with it and I don't want my music to take up more HD space. Good to have choices though.

eme jota ce
Jun 22, 2006, 04:43 PM
Amazon has been good, but will not keep my CD sales if Apple starts selling lossless music.

milatchi
Jun 22, 2006, 04:43 PM
Personally, I prefer ALE (Apple Loseless Encode) over ALC (Apple Loseless Codec) or ALAC (Apple Loseless Audio Codec), but maybe that's just me.

Max on Macs
Jun 22, 2006, 04:55 PM
All my music is in ALc format. And if they finally use iTMS in ALC, I'll buy from it again like I used to. I deleted my entire library and ripped it again in ALC a few months back.

Gavinbro
Jun 22, 2006, 04:59 PM
Would buy from the iTunes store if the music was encoded in Apple lossless. This "can" contains ineffable audio qualities that are like vitamins to the ear. I struggle to get the same gratification from lossy codecs which leave me feeling impoverished, not refreshed.

FasterSoonerNow
Jun 22, 2006, 05:01 PM
It'd be nice if iTMS were encoded with LAME, rather than iTunes' horrid encoding system... But lord knows that there is 0% chance of that happening.

Revlimit Punk
Jun 22, 2006, 05:13 PM
Lossless encoding + 99 cents price tag = me buying from the iTunes Music Store.

Simple as that. Take note Steve.

musicus
Jun 22, 2006, 05:25 PM
Currently, I only buy the occasional track from iTunes. If I want the entire album, I'll buy the CD and transfer it to my iPod using Apple Lossless. I'd certainly buy whole albums if Apple upgraded iTunes encoding to Lossless. However, as has been suggested, I suspect this latest news is more likely to be about the labels producing higher-quality source files for iTunes rather than about better quality downloads for customers.

spyderracer393
Jun 22, 2006, 05:32 PM
If they don't change the price, I could see myself buying in ALC then reencoding to something smaller for the iPod keeping the high quality version for backup.

Well, currently you can't encode music purchased from iTMS. Although, you can burn to CD then import it...

buddhagoth
Jun 22, 2006, 05:32 PM
Howdy All:

It's true. The new/current version of iTunes Producer, available for download right now, is version 1.4 which includes, among other things, encoding in ALC for upload to the store wiht a note that this will increase upload times per title.

I know this because I was just at a meeting at a record label that uploads to iTMS every day and this morning the auto-software update on their G5's came on with the iTunes Producer 1.4 update.

Cordially,
BG

thejadedmonkey
Jun 22, 2006, 05:44 PM
Why? 250GB HDs are becoming standard and the 100GB iPod isn't too far away either.
I remember when my 5 gig iPod had more space on it than my computer's hard drive did!:eek:

Oh, and I think that as long as apple can keep the same price point (which, with bandwith and HDD space becoming cheeper by the day they should have no problem doing) it'll be great for everyone. And, maybe- just maybe, I'll start using the iTMS.

weitzner
Jun 22, 2006, 05:53 PM
let's just say "i hope so" this would be awesome, and since all the new macs have optical audio output, you could really take advantage of lossless quality music. and maybe grandfatering people, like giving them the option to upgrade would be involved somehow... probably at a small fee. seems reasonable.

rjwill246
Jun 22, 2006, 05:54 PM
According to Apple (who got it from dolby)...
[list]
AAC compressed audio at 128 Kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be “indistinguishable” from the original uncompressed audio source.

Link (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/)

So in theory, we shouldn't need higher quality songs, right? :confused:

When NTSC, the US analogue system for colour transmission was being investigated, the "quality" of the colour was degraded to the point where 90% of consumers saw no difference from the RGB source and it was this encoding that we still have to this day in "over-the-air" analogue transmissions. The fact that reds and yellows were so far off the true colour, and even blue often appeared purple, appeared to be of no consequence. Thus, the above quoted audio tests, while used to help determine "acceptable" compression ratios, are not indicative of quality.

The reason I use a Koetsu cartridge, Graham tone-arm and Basis turntable is that I prefer the gentler and more accurate sound of LPs than the shrill grating "highs" we get from ordinary CDs and players... yes, there are some players that make this less violent (I have one)... and it is only now that DVD audio can give some of the realism back to audio that the LP has been always able to do. So Apple could deliver the goods in audio quality if they wanted to.

The consumer is clearly not a gauge of excellence, only price sensititvity it seems, and that is why Apple went on the path they did (not good)--- that amazed me since that is NOT typical of Apple, though perhaps, I wonder, if Apple is really not as concerned about excellence as it claims to be. There is a massive difference in quality when one compares analogue recorded or live source materials to the 128 kb crap that iTunes offers--- unless one only listens to rap and similar type of "music" (can you say LIMITED range???) because there is still the same degradation in quality at the volume levels, venues and equipment that this stuff is played on. I guess no one notices. Hence, I assume, the type of music Apple so often uses in its ads.

Still, there is no reason for Apple not to offer the best digital sound available since they CAN do it easily, and perhaps, if there were superb liner notes, jewel-box covers and ancillary material available, it would be worth paying a higher price for the convenience of NOT having to go to a brick and mortar store. It would prove that Apple can offer the best, even if I have to be somewhat cynical about this and assume that to do so is simply another way for Apple, like so many companies, to be the embodiment of an expert at ripping off the customer when it can.
Well!!! They HAVE done it before!!!

ezekielrage_99
Jun 22, 2006, 06:05 PM
About dang time iTunes gives you a higher quality, seriously 128Kbps.....

weitzner
Jun 22, 2006, 06:05 PM
Yeah I want my old 328 BMW replaced with a new 330 and also I want all my DVDs replaced with the HD versions...:rolleyes:


well according to the mpaa, we don't own the dvd, we possess a license for the content... since i bought that license for the highest quality available, the content should get updated too.. so upon a return of my dvd, i should get a blu-ray disc. hey even windows users get updates right? i'd just like the dmca to bite someone else in the arse for once:cool:

ezekielrage_99
Jun 22, 2006, 06:06 PM
Yeah I want my old 328 BMW replaced with a new 330 and also I want all my DVDs replaced with the HD versions...:rolleyes:

Sign me up for that please :D ;)

And can you throw in a new Mac and iPod while you are at it :D

A is jump
Jun 22, 2006, 06:10 PM
I think its a welcome change. I hope the price does not go up too.

in terms of sound difference... I usually encode my cds at 320kpbs and usually its fine... but often if it is a cd with some real big low end I find that aac kinda colors the low end in a really farty way.
so many things I have to encode with lossless to be happy.

EricNau
Jun 22, 2006, 06:11 PM
What is CD quality? Other online music stores sell CD quality songs for $.99.
Does anyone know this (or can you even compare the two)? I'm totally lost when it comes to music. :o :confused:

MusicMatch (http://www.musicmatch.com/home.htm) offers "crystal-clear CD-quality sound" for $.99 a song. Anybody know what bit rate their music is?

ijimk
Jun 22, 2006, 06:15 PM
wow this is big... I just hope we have new ipods soon a well.:D

A is jump
Jun 22, 2006, 06:19 PM
There is a massive difference in quality when one compares analogue recorded or live source materials to the 128 kb crap that iTunes offers--- unless one only listens to rap and similar type of "music" (can you say LIMITED range???) because there is still the same degradation in quality at the volume levels, venues and equipment that this stuff is played on. I guess no one notices. Hence, I assume, the type of music Apple so often uses in its ads.


First of all that is serious BS. There is a Huge difference between the 128kb rap, CD quality, and Vinyl. and you can thank Rap for being a huge proponent of Vinyl too, otherwise you might find it harder and harder to find Vinyl at all. Hip hop, and Electronic music account for a huge portion of Vinyl production these days. There are Analog purists in every genre, so lets not be too close minded.

Ace25
Jun 22, 2006, 06:19 PM
So, on a slightly different iTunes song subject...what happens when you use up your 5 computer limit? If you buy a whole library of songs on iTunes, it will not last your lifetime (because you will most likely have more than 5 computers). What do you all think?? Should this be changed?

thejadedmonkey
Jun 22, 2006, 06:22 PM
well according to the mpaa, we don't own the dvd, we possess a license for the content... since i bought that license for the highest quality available, the content should get updated too.. so upon a return of my dvd, i should get a blu-ray disc. hey even windows users get updates right? i'd just like the dmca to bite someone else in the arse for once:cool:
OH man, if the DMCA came back to bite the RIAA and MPAA in the *** I would go out and spend $$$$$ on movies I'd never watch, just to bite them in the *** some more!

ezekielrage_99
Jun 22, 2006, 06:24 PM
wow this is big... I just hope we have new ipods soon a well.:D

We are bound to get new iPods soon, it's been over 8 months since the last big update.

I want..... actually I need a new iPod so I'm hanging off until the next iPod release.

A is jump
Jun 22, 2006, 06:25 PM
So, on a slightly different iTunes song subject...what happens when you use up your 5 computer limit? If you buy a whole library of songs on iTunes, it will not last your lifetime (because you will most likely have more than 5 computers). What do you all think?? Should this be changed?

You can Remove computers from that list. it is 5 computers at one time.
so if you sell your computer, its no big deal because it is removed, and even if the file remains it will ask for your password to play it.
pretty cool really

Just go to the "advanced" window in itunes, and click on "deauthorize computer" if will give you the option of removing your computer from your list.

Faraday
Jun 22, 2006, 06:32 PM
Seems unlikely to me, unless Apple Lossless supports DRM. The whole point of iTunes was that it had a level of DRM that kept the content providers happy, but wasn't intrusive enough to upsent the consumers.

Selling Apple Lossless would be effectively selling CD quality digital files, albeit large ones, without any form of copy prevention involved. Don't see it happening.

Of course I might be wrong about Apple lossless not supporting DRM...

A is jump
Jun 22, 2006, 06:36 PM
Seems unlikely to me, unless Apple Lossless supports DRM. The whole point of iTunes was that it had a level of DRM that kept the content providers happy, but wasn't intrusive enough to upsent the consumers.

Selling Apple Lossless would be effectively selling CD quality digital files, albeit large ones, without any form of copy prevention involved. Don't see it happening.

Of course I might be wrong about Apple lossless not supporting DRM...

ACC can be a non protected format, or a protected format, I imagine making ALC protected is a piece of cake for apple.

Caitlyn
Jun 22, 2006, 06:38 PM
Honestly, I don't have a problem with the current iTunes music format. If you have a good set of headphones, the tunes sound great. Plus better format probably means bigger file and therefore less songs per iPod. Unless of course, Apple releases this along side an iPod upgrade. :D

jeriqo
Jun 22, 2006, 07:19 PM
What is CD quality? Other online music stores sell CD quality songs for $.99.

CD quality is PCM 44.1Khz, 16bits.
A lossless codec delivers the same audio as the original.

Apple could even offer 96Khz / 24bits audio if the labels provided it.

dejo
Jun 22, 2006, 07:21 PM
Other online music stores sell CD quality songs for $.99.

Really? Which ones?

Ace25
Jun 22, 2006, 07:26 PM
You can Remove computers from that list. it is 5 computers at one time.
so if you sell your computer, its no big deal because it is removed, and even if the file remains it will ask for your password to play it.
pretty cool really

Just go to the "advanced" window in itunes, and click on "deauthorize computer" if will give you the option of removing your computer from your list.

Thank you!!

balamw
Jun 22, 2006, 07:41 PM
Really? Which ones?
They all claim to, but they use a definition of CD quality that means something like 85% of people can't tell the difference between a CD or what we sell and it typically means anything from 128 kbps - 192 kbps regardless of codec.

CD quality unfortunately does not mean that the tracks sold are at the same sampling rate and bit depth as a CD and compressed with only a lossless codec.

FWIW AudioLunchbox has considered selling FLACs http://audiolunchbox.com/community/discussion?d=15

B

aussie_geek
Jun 22, 2006, 08:18 PM
negative vote from me :mad:


Fair enough - the music will sound better but what about file sizes... Apple lossless encodes files that are much larger yeah?

that means a lower number of songs on our iPods - we will be forced into buying new ones to fit enough songs on them.

maybe we will be able to re-encode them to aac when purchased to fit on an iPod but could you really be bothered doing that...

unless it is an automated process (re-encoding to aac etc) this would be a bad idea


aussie_geek

Diomedes
Jun 22, 2006, 08:20 PM
Apple has been quietly experimenting with different codecs and bit rates, including the Nero AAC codec (unfortantely, some of these have been encoded at 63 K), FLAC, and a couple of others. It's usually been done with smaller, independent labels. Although I don't know what they were expecting to get out of this, since you would only know if you had the bit rate column in itunes, or looked at a songs's properties.

I've bought thousands of tracks since iTMS first opened, and by and large, the quality is fine. The MPEG codecs do have some sophisticated physics behind them. Of course, the old axiom "Garbage In, Garbage Out" is truer with iTMS tracks. i bought a CD that had been mastered poorly, and bought the same CD from iTMS — same low-volume problem.

I would like an option, as smaller online reatilers offer, of 192 or 320. While it may not be possible for the entire collection, offering the most popular songs at differnt rates would be a welcome change.

More important than that, however, is iTMS search engine. Some serious work needs to go into that anemic search!

Fawzi
Jun 22, 2006, 08:23 PM
This means I can stop downloading illegaly stuff that I bought on the ITMS because I get better quality on P2P ;) .

And since I already bought the rights for the music I bought on the ITMS does this mean that I have to pay them again to get them in ALC...

I agree that I should pay for the work it represents to distribute and convert the music, but how many times do I have to pay the same artists and producers, for songs that I already own the rights to?... :confused:

EricNau
Jun 22, 2006, 08:24 PM
Really? Which ones?
Well, as I said in another post, Music Match (http://musicmatch.com/) (by Yahoo), claims they offer "crystal-clear CD-quality sound," but as balamw pointed out, it may not actually be the same quality of a CD.

If Apple were to take dolby's quote to heart, they could also claim they had "CD quality" music.


EDIT: Here (http://www.cnet.com/4520-7899_1-6396943-1.html=tag=dir) is a good source to see what quality online music stores offer (although it is outdated).

dejo
Jun 22, 2006, 08:29 PM
ACC can be a non protected format, or a protected format...

I think you mean AAC.

puuukeey
Jun 22, 2006, 08:36 PM
AMAZING NEWS. I have been unhappy with my current MP3 apple encoding due to its poor quality. it has nothing to do with the frequency response.. its in the loss of phase accuracy. its fine for simple music such as folk but when you enter mashuga into it at the same settings, it sounds like ASS.

novagamer
Jun 22, 2006, 08:40 PM
Well, as I said in another post, Music Match (http://musicmatch.com/) (by Yahoo), claims they offer "crystal-clear CD-quality sound," but as balamw pointed out, it may not actually be the same quality of a CD.

If Apple were to take dolby's quote to heart, they could also claim they had "CD quality" music.


EDIT: Here (http://www.cnet.com/4520-7899_1-6396943-1.html=tag=dir) is a good source to see what quality online music stores offer (although it is outdated).

I've tried almost everything that's out there, and have a very good ear and very good headphones (currently using Sennheiser HD650s, though my main setup is a pair of HD600s). Napster was by far the worst, followed by Yahoo, AllofMP3 (which is of questionable legality- and BS's you by the way, I encoded the same song in .wav and a multitude of mp3 formats, and they were almost IDENTICAL- the song actually sounded better in itunes), and a tie between MusicMatch (which was pretty good, but didn't have a great selection) and iTunes.

Nothing comes close to the rips that you can get from P2P, unless you purchase music in lossless codecs (which I do for certian bands, namely Metallica who releases live shows in FLAC).

For the average joe, this isn't much of a big deal, but for anyone serious about audio, being able to buy a lossless song for a dollar is a huge deal, and will make a lot of people like me start to purchase itunes songs by the virtual truckload. :)

Mac Fly (film)
Jun 22, 2006, 09:04 PM
I was just speculating on when Apple might consider upping the quality on iTSM tracks the other day on another forum. It's really about that time. I can understand their use of 128 bit encoding to start it all off. If they made tracks lossless or encoded at too high a bitrate, the larger file sizes may have turned away many customers. No-one wants to sit and wait for a long time for tracks to download. but broadband is becoming so common now, it shouldn't pose as much of an issue. Now that they have a large installed base of clients who are buying from it, it makes perfect sense to start giving us higher quality encodings. I agree and have sent this feedback to apple.com about three times!! They must be listening after all.

yg17
Jun 22, 2006, 09:19 PM
Purchased ALCs->CD->High bitrate MP3 without DRM and without having to encode from an already lossy source :D


I might be tempted to buy from the iTMS more often if they introduce this

edoates
Jun 22, 2006, 09:23 PM
WRT quality of iTMS encoding, and AAC and ALC in general, Stereophile did a review of the iPod a couple of years ago. AAC came off rather well at 384, and ALC was considered perfect as was native AIFF (no encoding). This spoke well to the iPod decoding: bit jitter was pretty minimal, etc. And Stereophile is usually the enemy of consumer gear and they get pretty winky in their descriptions (warm and present; crisp sound stage; bla bla bla: they should rate wine).

For iPod headphone use (I use the AT platinum ones), 192 is OK, and that's what I encode my own stuff in; 128 makes the deep lows "tubby" in that it seems to reduce low frequency dynamics, but it does a pretty good job of not "chorusing" the highs like MP3 does. But even with ordinary earphones, you can hear it, but it is still quite listen-able.

But when I play even 192's back through my main system, whether directly from my iPod dock "line out" or via AirTunes (which converts the iTunes track to ALC for transmission), and then into my Meridian 861 processor (still one of the best available), the difference between the original CD and ANY of the AAC encodings is apparent: the lows are more squished, the highs not quite as sparkly, sound stage lacks depth (a result of phase changes during encoding); ALC and AIFF are identical as far as I can perceive, to the original CD.

So, to me, adding an ALC option to ITMS would be useful, and for many would be an alternative to purchasing the hard CD.

brepublican
Jun 22, 2006, 09:36 PM
I still won't buy from iTMS since the reason I won't doesn't have much to do with sound quality
With compatability issues, its possible Apple Lossless might even be worse than AAC...

DeSnousa
Jun 22, 2006, 09:45 PM
I really couldn't care, most CD's I buy get ripped in AAC 128 and the CD thrown into the closet. So in the end iTunes is really the same for most consumers, with the added advantage of being cheaper. Quality wise, I can tell a difference, but its not enough to make me not enjoy the music. In the end it does wonders to my hardrive, my collection is just over 20 gig.

What I would love to see is Apple work on improving the encoding of AAC 128, but overall I'm happy with the Music Store as so are the majority consumers, but there always the importance of research :)

A is jump
Jun 22, 2006, 10:00 PM
I think you mean AAC.

Ahh yes...thank you.

X5-452
Jun 22, 2006, 10:12 PM
There's still nothing better than an MP3 encoded with LAME 3.90.3 and set to VBR.

iDrinkKoolAid
Jun 22, 2006, 10:20 PM
What's wrong with the current iTunes quality? I'm sure it wouldn't really matter to the average consumer.

Touche! There really is nothing wrong with the current quality of iTunes music. I am a graduate student in audio engineering, and I've done A/B/X (double blind) testing of 128 kbps AAC VS 1411 kbps AIFF and the difference was similar to a coin toss. When one has no idea what she is listening to, the results are eye opening.

So I get sick every time I hear someone say that "iTunes music is inferior quality because it's compressed." Our ears don't care!

DeSnousa
Jun 22, 2006, 10:24 PM
So I get sick every time I hear someone say that "iTunes music is inferior quality because it's compressed." Our ears don't care!

Exactly, as I was saying in post 99. Our ears can't tell the difference but our hardrives can. Even just going up to AAC 192 would mean a heck of a lot of space when you have thousands of songs. I reckon it would be better to research a better way of encoding at 128 :)

Eduardo1971
Jun 22, 2006, 10:49 PM
...
The only downside to it would be that less music will fit on iPods under the new scheme. Apple's "1000 songs in your pocket" claim will have to come with a disclaimer that states it's only true when using the lower quality tracks, etc. Or they'll have to change it to "500 songs in your pocket" or something ;)

Meh, I was only able to get 579 songs on my 4GB Nano and I have about 7607 songs (46.45GB) on my MB.

I wouldkill to have at least 1000 song on my nano.

swingerofbirch
Jun 22, 2006, 11:05 PM
Those who find lossy music unbearable were either blessed with super great hearing or a super fancy set of speakers. I don't hear any difference. I just like my music loud (except on the iPod, where I keep it low as to protect my hearing).

dejo
Jun 22, 2006, 11:08 PM
I just like my music loud (except on the iPod, where I keep it low as to protect my hearing).

Hate to break it to you but loud music is harmful to your hearing no matter how you listen to it, iPod or no.

princealfie
Jun 23, 2006, 12:20 AM
Dammit, I don't care about lossless. I want no DRM! :eek:

Bad Beaver
Jun 23, 2006, 01:28 AM
iTMS with ALAC? Looks like finally I would use it for more than sampling music from CDs I intend to buy! :) At least I would pick up the occasional odd song, obscure stuff, the iTunes exclusives, OOP stuff you can't get on CD for any amount of money & nice words...

I am pretty sensible to the effects of audio compression, and since all my music is stored in ALAC anyway I would have no problem with the regarding disc space.

Couple of things though:

- Apple should finally release an 80GB iPod
- ALAC songs must be allowed to be converted into AAC for less uncompromising iPodders
- single ALAC songs should not cost more than ¢99. Seriously. I'd say reduce the AACs to ¢80 instead. If that's not possible, anything above $1,19 would be a bad idea. Albums should remain at $9,99.

Better quality is always a good thing, let's hope Apple does it, and does it rigth.

Bad Beaver
Jun 23, 2006, 01:32 AM
Couple of things though:

- Apple should finally release an 80GB iPod
- ALAC songs must be allowed to be converted into AAC for less uncompromising iPodders
- single ALAC songs should not cost more than ¢99. Seriously. I'd say reduce the AACs to ¢80 instead. If that's not possible, anything above $1,19 would be a bad idea. Albums should remain at $9,99.


ah, yes, and
- NO changes to the DRM, like "you cannot burn ALAC tracks to CD" or any crap like that.

A is jump
Jun 23, 2006, 01:37 AM
Touche! There really is nothing wrong with the current quality of iTunes music. I am a graduate student in audio engineering, and I've done A/B/X (double blind) testing of 128 kbps AAC VS 1411 kbps AIFF and the difference was similar to a coin toss. When one has no idea what she is listening to, the results are eye opening.

So I get sick every time I hear someone say that "iTunes music is inferior quality because it's compressed." Our ears don't care!


I agree to a certain extent. if you "test" it the way you do. But to me, I bought "M.I.A. Arular" off Itunes, and then a month later, after listening to it alot, I found a promotional copy of the cd in a bin at a music store for cheap. There was a huge difference in Feel. mostly in the Low end which I honestly didnt expect. but it Hit harder, and felt deeper. and after hearing the difference, I dislike hearing it any other way. even my coworker noticed after I pointed it out.
It may not always be a huge difference but it is there... I dislike more than anything not being able to hear something the way an artist intends.... if you buy the cd... it comes in a way that the artist is at least satisfied with.
Though I have seen Many cds that say something to the effect of "best listened to on vinyl" or something to that effect... and there are many groups that I will only buy on Vinyl for that reason.

for passive use, its no big deal... but for music fanatics... its more complicated.

petej
Jun 23, 2006, 02:10 AM
Wonder if this may be to do with the 'Made in iTunes' thing from a few days ago. As part of a freeby when you buy an album you get a package of track parts from a hit single - encoded lossless. iTunes then allows you mix these parts anyway you like to produce your own re-mix of the track which would be 'Made in iTunes'. Soundtrack embedded in iTunes would allow this. There have been a few commercial CD's linked to websites that have allowed you to do something similar in the past. Never a huge success but good fun for a few mins. If you are going to do a remix that you want to use / listen to again then the tracks must be in lossless or the sound from a double encode @128 would be pretty horrible.
If I'm wrong on this (probably) then my next guess would be that Apple would be starting to sell royalty free music or loops through iTunes.

Glass
Jun 23, 2006, 06:14 AM
Well, if you're a fanatic there is no point in discussing it is there? Even if the music is the same, fanatics wouldn't agree.

I listen to iTunes music on Grado RS-1's, with fully balanced XLR cables into a C.E.C HD53 Class A headphone amp, and trust me when I say the sound quality is so close to a CD that in a blind test anyone would fail.

but yea.. if you're a fanatic, all the power to you.


for passive use, its no big deal... but for music fanatics... its more complicated.

dernhelm
Jun 23, 2006, 06:43 AM
I wonder if this is some sort of compromise between Jobs and the record labels?

This way, Apple can keep songs available at 99 cents, but also offer the same songs in higher quality -- for a higher price. I bet lossless will be an option at a higher price point.
Yup. Exactly what I was thinking, except that it wouldn't surprise me if new songs had no $0.99 version at all. That way Apple can offer new "popular" content at $1.50 and say - well it isn't $0.99, but that's because we offer it at such higher quality. Older content still at $0.99 - so we really have stuck to our guns here, see?

Revlimit Punk
Jun 23, 2006, 07:00 AM
ìI say the sound quality is so close to a CD that in a blind test anyone would fail.
Not true. I can pick the 128kbit AAC version in blind tests 10 times out of 10. I start failing consistently (50/50 ratio) at 192Kbit AAC and above.

What to listen for in 128kbit AAC compared to lossless: rolled off highs (less energy or completely chopped off cymbals) and flat sounding and thicker than normal vocals. The bass is "not right" either on some tracks, but it's hard to describe the difference.

Edit:
Oh and i also want to point out that the difference is obvious even if I use "mid-fi" gear, such as harman/kardon soundsticks II or UE superfi 5 Pro (whose are considered mid-fi products by audiophiles).

iGary
Jun 23, 2006, 07:02 AM
The only thing I notice out of my 192kbps tracks is that they have more volume on the upper end - any audiophiles care to explain that? (I'm genuinely curious.)

Revlimit Punk
Jun 23, 2006, 07:14 AM
The only thing I notice out of my 192kbps tracks is that they have more volume on the upper end - any audiophiles care to explain that? (I'm genuinely curious.)
You are probably hearing the part of the highs that is usually lost with 128kbit AAC encoding.

iGary
Jun 23, 2006, 07:15 AM
You are probably hearing the part of the highs that is usually lost with 128kbit AAC encoding.

No, I mean I can turn the volume up much louder with the 192 tracks.

Revlimit Punk
Jun 23, 2006, 07:31 AM
No, I mean I can turn the volume up much louder with the 192 tracks.
I don't know... maybe because there is less distortion in the sound the brain hasn't a good scale to determine how loud is too loud.
Just a theory though.

johnmcboston
Jun 23, 2006, 07:56 AM
Dammit, I don't care about lossless. I want no DRM! :eek:

A-Men! I hate wasting CDs just to burn audio and re-rip to mp3 (never mind potential quality loss through this process)

BigHat
Jun 23, 2006, 07:59 AM
Isn't Apple lossless half the size of AIFF? Who has the hard disk space???

I encoded my CD collection (500 discs) in lossless. Not too bad really. 500 GIG HD will do it. When I buy a new CD I record it at 196 bit AAC and lossless in two separate accounts. One is for the Ipod, the other fileshares from my server to a PowerBook I keep in the living room as a music player (wireless stream to to optical output of an Airport Express behind my HT equipment stack. Only weak link is singles I purchase at the Music Store. I welcome better quality options.

baleensavage
Jun 23, 2006, 08:36 AM
I personally tried Apple Lossless a while ago for my CDs and very quickly filled a hard drive. I now use AAC at 196. I really can't tell the difference. I don't want to have to buy a 250GB firewire drive just to hold my music. I have enough hard drives already to store my artwork that I do.

I can tell the diference between a 128 and a 196 depending on the song and I can definitely tell the difference on the MP3s I get from eMusic (but they are DRM free and I am not an audiophile). I would welcome 196 AACs but I really can't see the allure of downloading Apple Lossless. The audiophile will still buy the CD and the regular Joe will be stuck waiting for hours to download an album only to have it fill his hard drive.

gauriemma
Jun 23, 2006, 08:39 AM
Depending on the price, this might actually get me to purchase songs from the iTunes store.

Diatribe
Jun 23, 2006, 08:52 AM
I remember when my 5 gig iPod had more space on it than my computer's hard drive did!:eek:

Oh, and I think that as long as apple can keep the same price point (which, with bandwith and HDD space becoming cheeper by the day they should have no problem doing) it'll be great for everyone. And, maybe- just maybe, I'll start using the iTMS.

Yeah I remember those times but soon there won't be any issue with using Lossless only. The only problem I see now is that an iPod using Lossless would need to have 128MB of RAM to cope with the file size.
And we all know how Apple loves to up the RAM...:rolleyes:

Diatribe
Jun 23, 2006, 08:53 AM
well according to the mpaa, we don't own the dvd, we possess a license for the content... since i bought that license for the highest quality available, the content should get updated too.. so upon a return of my dvd, i should get a blu-ray disc. hey even windows users get updates right? i'd just like the dmca to bite someone else in the arse for once:cool:

Now that would be funny. But I don't see where it says that you bought the highest quality available. You actually bought the license on the medium available at that time and since you still have the license it's unlikely they'd exchange them.

X5-452
Jun 23, 2006, 09:07 AM
I agree to a certain extent. if you "test" it the way you do. But to me, I bought "M.I.A. Arular" off Itunes, and then a month later, after listening to it alot, I found a promotional copy of the cd in a bin at a music store for cheap. There was a huge difference in Feel. mostly in the Low end which I honestly didnt expect. but it Hit harder, and felt deeper. and after hearing the difference, I dislike hearing it any other way. even my coworker noticed after I pointed it out.
It may not always be a huge difference but it is there... I dislike more than anything not being able to hear something the way an artist intends.... if you buy the cd... it comes in a way that the artist is at least satisfied with.
Though I have seen Many cds that say something to the effect of "best listened to on vinyl" or something to that effect... and there are many groups that I will only buy on Vinyl for that reason.

for passive use, its no big deal... but for music fanatics... its more complicated.

Someone else who listens to M.I.A.? Wow, I'm impressed.

lazyrighteye
Jun 23, 2006, 09:19 AM
I haven't heard it mentioned either, but I collect live music, all of which is only traded in flac/shn... ONLY. Simply because you don't know what someone has done to mp3s and it's quite possible that they have been re-encoded and the quality compromised. This is great news for me since I have over 2000 hours of music archived in Apple Lossless. If the industry swings this way, this would justify all my re-encoding to this format.

One final thing... Apple Lossless will be about 3-4 times the size of an AAC file. How long until bandwidth and HD space increases by that much? A few years. Plus blu-ray and HD DVD are coming to give you more archival storage. The size is worth it! Forget 192k etc. Go with 128k lossy, or lossless. Keep it simple. I like how it's done at livephish.com, you can buy flac or mp3, slight price difference.

Jephrey

Agreed.
The majority of my collection is live music and I too feel livephish.com is THE model - one they've been successfully using for a few years now and one I could see the labels (and Hollywood) get behind.
Keep it simple, offer two options: high(er) & lo(wer) qualities. And charge accordingly. The hardcore will happily pay premium for uncompressed aud/vid while the vast majority of people will be perfectly happy going with the lower priced option.

Wait, did I just rehash what Jephrey wrote?

Dang.

asaraiva
Jun 23, 2006, 09:24 AM
I am really no expert on this subject but wouldn't it make much more sense to use ALC to "rip" other source, with better audio quality, than a CD?

If we are discussing here that there is no much audible difference between 128 Kbps ACC stream and a CD (which already has compressed music recorded in it) maybe it makes no sense at all to use ALC to convert an already "bad" source.

I love music and being able to listen to it as close to original as I can. So I think Apple could have a good salling point if they offer from iTMS music that is "better" than what you can get from a regular CD. They could do that, maybe, by using the original recordings and compress it with ALC. Don't you agree?

I really love my 1.6 QR Maggies by the way ;)

iDrinkKoolAid
Jun 23, 2006, 10:07 AM
I can tell the diference between a 128 and a 196 depending on the song and I can definitely tell the difference on the MP3s I get from eMusic (but they are DRM free and I am not an audiophile).

Not to doubt your hearing abilities, but to be fair, one must not know what s/he is listening to make an honest assessment. You should have a friend make you two versions (i.e. 128 kbps & 196 kbps AAC) and randomly name them something like 'A' and 'B'. It is your task to identify which one is which.

This exercise may or may not be an eye opener.

Mulyahnto
Jun 23, 2006, 10:21 AM
The debate on whether one can hear the difference is stupid. The truth is that some people CAN hear the difference and most people, as suggested from double blind tests, CANT hear the difference between 128 and 196 kbps. What we're concerned about here (or at apple at least) is what the "average" person can distinguish between. And since comprehensive tests have shown that a significant majority doesn't hear the difference, I wonder how good of a business decision it is to make all songs available in two formats.

Ted13
Jun 23, 2006, 10:22 AM
Isn't Apple lossless half the size of AIFF? Who has the hard disk space???
That is correct -- Apple Lossless is about half the space of AIFF.

While this may be too big for iPod bound files -- transcoding to AAC for the iPod would be necessary -- it certainly isn't a problem for your desktop Mac:

If you were to buy (or rip from your own CD collection) 1000 CDs worth of songs to Apple Lossless that would take up at most 300GB -- and if you can afford $10,000 for the 1000 CDs you can certainly afford $150 for a 300GB drive...

hawken1
Jun 23, 2006, 11:14 AM
But... the previous version of the iTunes Producer (1.3.1) was also ONLY able to import as Apple Lossless.

As far as I know iTunes Producer can't even encode to a lossy format and Apple has been collecting lossless audio for a long time now.

I guess Apple does the final encoding to 128 kbps AAC + DRM.

I use iTunes Producer. It was encoding to 128kbps AAC before the new version.

hawken1
Jun 23, 2006, 11:26 AM
My reason for not buying from the itms even if they move to alc? I can buy 90% of the CDs I want from Amazon new for less than $9.99 plus I get the physical CD, the front packaging thing, and a pretty CD with a design on it. Plus, I just love importing CDs. No real reason why, it just makes me feel like I have to "work for it" and I feel accomplished ;)

I really appreciate to no longer having to store a lot of cd:s everywhere.
Also, how safe is a CD anyway. Some of them will selfdestruct within 10 years. I feel that for me to have the music on file with the ability to fast and easy backup to another harddisk is much safer.

And what about interactive digital booklets - that's just so much better than a piece of paper - also for saving the trees!

A is jump
Jun 23, 2006, 11:26 AM
Well, if you're a fanatic there is no point in discussing it is there? Even if the music is the same, fanatics wouldn't agree.

I listen to iTunes music on Grado RS-1's, with fully balanced XLR cables into a C.E.C HD53 Class A headphone amp, and trust me when I say the sound quality is so close to a CD that in a blind test anyone would fail.

but yea.. if you're a fanatic, all the power to you.

ok... you're right, Theres no difference and I'm simply being stubborn.

I wasnt even listening to the music on any thing that fancy... I worked at a guitar store and we had the music going through 2 mackie 1530s and one of their 18 inch active subs. their stuff isnt that nice and the difference was huge.
if I encode a few cds to AAC I (Mogwai rock action, flaming lips yoshimi battles the pink robots) even at 320kb the low end flubs about and is quite frankly disgusting. I encoded them multiple times, with the same results, soon as I put them in lossless, it was much better. am I making that up too? For the record, for many many things 320 is just fine, I'm not going to be a snob about it, and say just that its not good enough, just because I know its compressed. heck, lately a good portion of the time I'm listening through apples ear buds and those things sound way worse than any compressed file.
but, you can have your fancy pants headphones and amp.... but when it comes down to it, if you cant tell the difference theres no point in me telling you there is one.

celebrian23
Jun 23, 2006, 11:30 AM
I really appreciate to no longer having to store a lot of cd:s everywhere.
Also, how safe is a CD anyway. Some of them will selfdestruct within 10 years. I feel that for me to have the music on file with the ability to fast and easy backup to another harddisk is much safer.

And what about interactive digital booklets - that's just so much better than a piece of paper - also for saving the trees!

What, are my CDs going to spontaneously combust?

bilbo--baggins
Jun 23, 2006, 11:53 AM
That is correct -- Apple Lossless is about half the space of AIFF.

While this may be too big for iPod bound files -- transcoding to AAC for the iPod would be necessary -- it certainly isn't a problem for your desktop Mac:

If you were to buy (or rip from your own CD collection) 1000 CDs worth of songs to Apple Lossless that would take up at most 300GB -- and if you can afford $10,000 for the 1000 CDs you can certainly afford $150 for a 300GB drive...

I can afford hard drive space for Apple Lossless. I've imported my CD's to Lossless for the last year or two, and my library is about 63GB. I have a 60GB iPod which fits most of that onto it.

Currently I mostly buy CD's - partly because of the higher quality, and partly because some of the music I buy isn't available on the ITMS. If the ITMS offered lossless files I would be more inclined to buy them, provided they weren't more expensive than the CD. For new releases I would definitely buy them as I'm impatient! A few times in the past I've bought the ITMS version to listen asap, and bought the CD too!

I would be happy not having music on CD, because most of my CD's are quite worthless - look on Amazon marketplace and a lot of it people cannot give away. My shelves are overflowing with CD's too, so I'd much rather have a smaller number of DVD backups than hundreds of CD's. With Blueray/HD-DVD arriving soon it will be even better!

Diatribe
Jun 23, 2006, 12:00 PM
As I said before the bigger issue with Lossless iPods is the RAM not the space.

ennerseed
Jun 23, 2006, 12:03 PM
When It Happens I will start buying songs from iTMS

Evan_11
Jun 23, 2006, 12:22 PM
The lossless music will most appeal to the audiophile crowd. The iTunes store does indeed have a good collection of Jazz and Classical titles yet those who listen to that type of music usually want the best quality. On a good stereo jazz and classical really show off how good a recording is.

milo
Jun 23, 2006, 12:29 PM
What is CD quality? Other online music stores sell CD quality songs for $.99.

CD quality is lossless 16 bit, 44.1khz. I'd also consider anything else that 100% passed a double blind test vs. a CD - at a high enough data rate, even lossy compression sounds indistinguishable from CD. I doubt any other online stores sell real CD quality.

Unfortunately, there's no truth in advertising and vendors claim "cd quality" all the time even if it isn't. I'd bet none of those stores sell cd quality, feel free to prove me wrong.

I politely beg to disagree. The reason Apple chose 128 Kbps encoding for AAC is because in double-blind ABX testing, AAC-128 was the rate at which a very high (maybe 96%? can't remember) of all listeners could not distinguish between uncompressed (CD quality) and the compressed version.

You have a link to a source on that? I'm skeptical of those sorts of claims without knowing details.

Lossless? Who has that kind of disk space, or iPod space?

I'd love to have it, even if if I only kept it for archival and rendered down to a smaller size for ipod.


If we are discussing here that there is no much audible difference between 128 Kbps ACC stream and a CD (which already has compressed music recorded in it) maybe it makes no sense at all to use ALC to convert an already "bad" source.

CD's are NOT compressed audio. They are uncompressed 44.1/16, which is the best audio you can buy other than dvd audio (which didn't really catch on).

ok... you're right, Theres no difference and I'm simply being stubborn.

If you're not doing a blind comparison, it's enitrely possible. It's a proven fact that placebos work, and that applies to audio. You can play the same audio source twice for someone, and if you give them a story why one should sound better, they WILL think they hear a difference.

hawken1
Jun 23, 2006, 12:56 PM
What, are my CDs going to spontaneously combust?
"Subject: [7-22] Is there really a fungus that eats CDs?
(2005/10/12)

Yes. It appears to be limited to tropical climates. Two articles from mid-2001 (no longer on original sites, so archive.org links are provided):

http://web.archive.org/web/20041101034932/www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_328113.html
http://web.archive.org/web/20040608203933/http://www.nature.com/nsu/010628/010628-11.html
The incident in question was discovered by a researcher from Spain who visited Belize in Central America. What is believed to be a strain of Geotrichum entered a CD from the outer edge and destroyed the aluminum reflective layer as well as some of the polycarbonate.
A person in Australia reported a few years earlier that store-bought pressed CDs were getting eaten, but gold CD-Rs were doing rather well."

celebrian23
Jun 23, 2006, 01:04 PM
"Subject: [7-22] Is there really a fungus that eats CDs?
(2005/10/12)

Yes. It appears to be limited to tropical climates. Two articles from mid-2001 (no longer on original sites, so archive.org links are provided):

http://web.archive.org/web/20041101034932/www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_328113.html
http://web.archive.org/web/20040608203933/http://www.nature.com/nsu/010628/010628-11.html
The incident in question was discovered by a researcher from Spain who visited Belize in Central America. What is believed to be a strain of Geotrichum entered a CD from the outer edge and destroyed the aluminum reflective layer as well as some of the polycarbonate.
A person in Australia reported a few years earlier that store-bought pressed CDs were getting eaten, but gold CD-Rs were doing rather well."

Lucky me, I don't live in a tropical cliimate, unless you consider Ohio tropical ;)

hawken1
Jun 23, 2006, 01:25 PM
I think the reason for the change to a higher quality format in the iTunes Producer program is that Apple wants to be able to encode songs into other formats than AAC 128 at a later stage in time. I seriously doubt they will start selling ALC files.
My guess is that this change could also have something to do with the DRM debate. That Apple wants to be flexible if there would be new laws regarding this. Scandinavia, France...

reallynotnick
Jun 23, 2006, 01:34 PM
Personally I am ok with Lossy formates, I don't want all this Lossless formates filling up my HD. I am pretty happy with 160kbs/192kbs with AAC.

What I don't understand is why Apple does not support aacPlus. From what I see it is the most awsome compresser ever.
http://www.codingtechnologies.com/products/aacPlus.htm

Also here are a few examples of aacPlus, they are really amazing 24kbs sounds great to me. (These have all been then re-recorded into WAV so everyone can play them). I with this kind of quality I could probaly get by with 64kbs or 96kbs, but hearing the example I would probaly only need the first.
http://www.telos-systems.com/?/aacplus/default.htm

Killyp
Jun 23, 2006, 01:49 PM
192 AAC VBR is the quality I import all my music at. It actually sounds very good indeed coming through my Samson studio monitors from my MBP, and it doesn't take up too much space...

tny
Jun 23, 2006, 04:32 PM
What, are my CDs going to spontaneously combust?

My oldest CD is 20 years old and still works fine - I have plenty of CDs that are older than (it seems) the majority of people on this forum.

ibook30
Jun 23, 2006, 06:28 PM
My oldest CD is 20 years old and still works fine - I have plenty of CDs that are older than (it seems) the majority of people on this forum.


Your oldest CD is older than some of the people on this forum ....:D

Adding higher quality sounds to iTunes would be good- I'm OK with lossy stuff, but I could se myself shelling out some extra hard earned to buy a favorite song wiht better sound.

balamw
Jun 23, 2006, 06:40 PM
My oldest CD is 20 years old and still works fine - I have plenty of CDs that are older than (it seems) the majority of people on this forum.
I have plenty of CDs from the early 80s too. I did have one pressed RIAA CD out of ~650 [George Harrison - Cloud 9] that was completely unreadable when importing to iTunes and if I hold it up to the light it has become translucent, so they can degrade. Though not combustion per se.

B

johnmcboston
Jun 24, 2006, 04:15 AM
I have plenty of CDs from the early 80s too. I did have one pressed RIAA CD out of ~650 [George Harrison - Cloud 9] that was completely unreadable when importing to iTunes and if I hold it up to the light it has become translucent, so they can degrade. Though not combustion per se.

B

oh yah. I've had my share of CDs I've had to replace. They get those little pinholes in the aluminum....

zac4mac
Jun 24, 2006, 03:20 PM
Battery life will be shorter, and Diatribe touched on the reason - the iPod only spins up the HDD to fill the buffer - currently 32MB. If the song is bigger than than buffer, the HDD spins continuously. That was noted when they first came out when playing long (20 or 30 minute +) songs.

Z

Glass
Jun 24, 2006, 05:16 PM
From software update:

"iTunes Producer 1.4 allows you to import data from a tab-delimited file directly into your playlists and set Sale Start Dates on a per-country basis.

iTunes Producer 1.4 now encodes music in Apple Lossless format, which produces larger audio files and will increase upload time. This version also improves stability of uploading playlists and displays upload progress."


don't know if that was posted before.

Cheers

bilbo--baggins
Jun 25, 2006, 07:48 AM
oh yah. I've had my share of CDs I've had to replace. They get those little pinholes in the aluminum....
There is information on the link below about 'CD Rot'. I've certainly had a few CD's affected by this. I keep backups of all of my rare CD's (in full CD quality). For convenience I keep the rest of my library backed up onto DVD in whatever quality it happens to be in my library. Then, if I get a hard drive crash I can restore it much more quickly than going through loads of CD's.

http://www.arrowfile.com/viewindex.asp?article_id=cdrot

bilbo--baggins
Jun 25, 2006, 07:50 AM
As I said before the bigger issue with Lossless iPods is the RAM not the space.

I think this might be an issue that has been resolved in newer models (of the proper iPod). My third generation iPod seemed to get problems where the music would momentarily stop a few seconds into each song. My latest iPod (with colour screen) works fine. Are you referring to the cheaper models, like the Shuffle, which aren't lossless compatible?

Timepass
Jun 25, 2006, 08:52 AM
hmm I wonder if apple is thinking about doing this because maybe one of the other online stores are planning on doing something like it. A lot of industry insider talk is going on so apple would know about it.

WMA and AAC are close enough in quility to compare, they are bother better then mp3 in in size to quiality ratio.

Could be one of the other stores plan on selling higher quallity WMA DRM files so the sound will be better. Apple responds is to do the same.

Diatribe
Jun 25, 2006, 06:15 PM
I think this might be an issue that has been resolved in newer models (of the proper iPod). My third generation iPod seemed to get problems where the music would momentarily stop a few seconds into each song. My latest iPod (with colour screen) works fine. Are you referring to the cheaper models, like the Shuffle, which aren't lossless compatible?

Nope. I was referring to the battery life problem if the song can't entirely be cached or at least 2-3 songs for it to be sufficient and comparable to todays battery life.

pink-pony115
Jun 26, 2006, 02:22 AM
Whatever Apple deciedes : I will always buy the cheapest version of the song. :)

Gasu E.
Jun 26, 2006, 08:44 AM
I've basically stopped buying music from the iTMS store because of the quality.

I've purchased about 6,000 songs, and I didn't mind at first since low quality was fine for my iPod.

But now that digital music is moving from my iPod to my home stereo, I can tell the difference, and I am bummed to have so much music is such a low quality format. You can't even listen to music purchased from the iTMS through the iPod Hi-Fi. It sounds terrible.

I'd like an option to pay for better digital music.

It's interesting that, gradually, Apple has been repositioning iPod/iTunes from a portable music player to a hub of digitial home entertainment. A high-quality download option would be a necessary step in that transition. Essentially, this would eliminate any reason to purchase and store of CDs for nearly all users.

/dev/toaster
Jun 26, 2006, 11:51 AM
Personally, I have never had an issue with sound quality on iTunes. What I do have an issue with is video quality. It looks great on an iPod. But, when you put a video in full screen on my 17" MBP, it looks like crap.

Its generally not worth it to purchase videos from iTunes. You can general purchase the same videos cheaper on DVD. (South Park is a good example of this)

iTunes needs to either lower their prices drasticly on videos or give the option of higher quality. Hell, give me the option to download the video, and mail me the DVD after that for $5 more. I would do it, and I am sure many others would.

hayesk
Jun 26, 2006, 01:27 PM
I still won't buy from iTMS since the reason I won't doesn't have much to do with sound quality

If it's DRM, then it's not much of a reason. If you burn lossless to a CD, and reencode as lossless - you won't lose any quality.

The only real reason is if you want the CD package.

celebrian23
Jun 26, 2006, 01:29 PM
If it's DRM, then it's not much of a reason. If you burn lossless to a CD, and reencode as lossless - you won't lose any quality.

The only real reason is if you want the CD package.

And that's why I don't buy there, I want the CD package :) Partially anyways.

hayesk
Jun 26, 2006, 01:30 PM
I politely beg to disagree. The reason Apple chose 128 Kbps encoding for AAC is because in double-blind ABX testing, AAC-128 was the rate at which a very high (maybe 96%? can't remember) of all listeners could not distinguish between uncompressed (CD quality) and the compressed version.


Maybe if listening on an iPod with stock headphones it's indistinguishable. But I can tell the difference on my home stereo. 128AAC is very good, but it's not indistinguishable from CD on good equipment.

Wender
Jun 26, 2006, 07:44 PM
Maybe if listening on an iPod with stock headphones it's indistinguishable. But I can tell the difference on my home stereo. 128AAC is very good, but it's not indistinguishable from CD on good equipment.

Agreed. Also applies with any other headphones than the stock ones. It's dead easy to hear the difference, the only genre where it's hard to tell is with audiobooks, and maybe early 80s synth pop :-)

Read this:

http://www.geocities.com/altbinariessoundsmusicclassical/mp3test.html

Same applies for 128 and 256kbps AAC, have a similar blinded pro test in print but not on the net.

...now remember - you really have to LISTEN, just kidding...

I welcome the lossless offer if it's happening. Just wondering if it will do anything to the non-seamless playback of tracks that are supposed to flow into one another, like live shows and Dark Side Of The Moon and about 1000 other titles that are CRAP listening to on the iPod because there are gaps between the tracks.

Wender
Jun 26, 2006, 08:13 PM
CD's are NOT compressed audio. They are uncompressed 44.1/16, which is the best audio you can buy other than dvd audio (which didn't really catch on).


CDs are compressed compared to how the music was recorded in the first place. Obviously no album is recorded at 44.1/16. I think that's what he meant to say.

However, we all use the term "uncompressed" for audio that is not inferior to CD quality anyway, and that's why "lossless" makes sense. PCM tracks on DVDs are 48/16 and theoretically not as compressed as CD audio but now I'm starting to get ridiculous...

As for the "can't hear the difference" debate: My number one wish for iTunes/iPod: Make it possible to play tracks without gaps between songs. Talking about hearing the difference... That's the REAL problem with MP3/AAC in my opinion.

theBB
Jun 26, 2006, 10:17 PM
Here is a paper for those who are interested:

http://www.tnt.uni-hannover.de/project/mpeg/audio/public/w2006.pdf

It is written by people working for BBC, NHK and MIT. It explains how (triple stimulus double-blind test) they decide which codec performs better and how something is deemed "imperceptible from CD quality." 10 different test pieces of audio; 31 listeners, all with some professional audio background; 80 tests per person... Sounds quite seriuos. From Dec 1997, a bit old, but if the codecs are the same, who cares. They even take into account the effect of listener's position relative to the speakers.

As it is a technical article, it is a bit hard to follow, but in the end AAC 128 performs very well. Almost nobody for any test piece grades "AAC Main 128" to be less than 4 (perceptible, but not annoying) out of 5. Mean scores are 4.5 or better for each test piece. That means half or more people could not distinguish the original and the coded version. You might as well toss a coin. Sometimes and for some people AAC coded version sounds better than the original. :)

JFreak
Jun 27, 2006, 01:58 AM
CD quality is PCM 44.1Khz, 16bits.
A lossless codec delivers the same audio as the original.
Apple could even offer 96Khz / 24bits audio if the labels provided it.

Yes, and this is the meat and potatoes of this discussion. Apple has proven that people will gladly pay buck-a-song for near cd quality, as the cd quality is already a little too low and the 128kbps aac is not much worse. Steve thinks that people would pay more for better (than cd) quality, and if record lables so much want to get more money, then Steve is pushing them to give better quality in return.

So, I think that hhe lossless codec would most likely be used to deliver 24bit@96kHz which is used for mastering most albums nowadays. That would be like an electronic delivery of DVD-audio, which would effectively eliminate the cd mastering process that shrinks the audio quality to fit the +25-year-old standard called "red book".

That's what Apple is planning.

Wender
Jun 27, 2006, 04:20 AM
Listening tests and near-something quality aside: There are two very valid reasons to go lossless:

1) The psychological aspect of having the real thing, it's all there, no bits removed, nothing compressed. Can't hear the difference? Doesn't really matter to me (but I believe I can). I want it all because I want it all :-)

2) Try purchasing "The Wall" by Pink Floyd or any other album that has track changes where there's actually music. Any live album. Try making that a CD that really plays like it should! You will have gaps or "microgaps" between each track. Scandalous! Lossless rectifies this problem, which is my main reason NOT to buy from iTMS. That and the sound quality :-)