Lossless Music

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by photogpab, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. photogpab macrumors 6502


    Jun 21, 2010
    do you think it will ever be available in iTunes? are there any websites where I can purchase lossless quality music?

    after months I was able to update my entire music library to be all lossless quality (well almost entirely), and i wish there were places to easily buy lossless music.

    i hate buying music from itunes or amazon or whatever. i love knowing i have a true "cd quality" file to forever archive my music without sacrificing quality.
  2. Destroysall, Sep 5, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012

    Destroysall macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2012
    United States
    There a few websites. The most popular one is HDTracks, which sells FLAC files. I love the website, but their music choices are limited. Another one to check out is B&W's "Sound of Science" program, which however again is limited in music choices.

    Either way, AAC has come a long way. Being a medium of an audiophile, I love quality audio. However, there are few albums or singles I wouldn't mind buying from iTunes if they are the only one carrying the album or single at a reasonable price. As for iTunes ever carrying lossless files for download, that won't happen for a while. Apple has made AAC the norm and instead of making lossless files available, they are pushing producers and audio engineers to make recordings specifically for the AAC codec (Mastered for iTunes).

    So depending on your music/artist of preference, your best bet will always be to get the CD and rip it yourself.
  3. dudebro01 macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2012
    I feel your pain - as said above, there's just not a whole lot of sites out there that achieve the perfect balance of "good selection" and "top-quality". I've been using KazaGold for a while and it's got a solid selection plus the quality of the audio seems fairly uniform at least, but to each their own. Hopefully we'll break free of the Apple cartel eventually but until then...
  4. gannonsamuel macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2012
    By CDs?

    Ripping a CD, is easy peasy, and then you definitely know that you have an Exact Copy. AND they'll survive any hard drive fail and if you look after them will last for ever.

    I feel that we've lost a lot of the way we interact with music with downloads.

    I love getting a CD or Vinyl home and pulling off the plastic, putting the disc in, pressing the play button, looking at the artwork etc...

    Music seems to be less of an appreciated thing now, more of a disposable commodity.

    Anyhoo, rant over.

    try 7digital, their lossless catalogue isn't huge at the moment but it's growing all the time and i've only seen 320kbps mp3s which isn't too awful...
  5. Destroysall macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2012
    United States
    I despise having to admit this, but what you say is, unfortunately, true. :( Very rarely does someone ever set down, do nothing, and listen to their music these days. We almost all multi-task while we listen.
  6. Blackberryroid, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012

    Blackberryroid macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2012
    Lossless? 1000 to 3000 Kbps? CD Quality? Vinyl Quality? Who cares?

    You can't even hear the difference between 256 KBPS and 320, much less 320 and 1000.

    This is bull crap. Nobody needs FLAC, ALAC, AIFF or any of those. 256 is enough. It's a phsychological delusion. You just think it's better.
  7. mom4791 macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2009
  8. hollerz macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2006
    Durham, UK
    lol at this entire post.

    Bandcamp is a great site for the growing number of artists self-releasing, and a lot of lesser known labels are starting to release stuff through there.
  9. unfrostedpoptar macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2010
    This just isn't true for everyone. Yes, it is probably correct for 99% of people, especially when listening through the cheap earphones that come with iPods.

    However, even if your claim is true, there's still a problem: if you have any type of lossy encoding (mp3, aac, etc), it might be good enough that you can't tell it from lossless. But, if you need to convert it to another lossy format (need mp3 versions of aac for a portable player), you quickly start getting audible distortion since each one has different rules about what parts of the sound they throw away that get messed up when fed a file from a different encoder. Same thing will happen in the future when aac goes away some day and you have to convert your files.

    With lossless formats, it's not an issue since all the data is there. If space is an issue - and I don't think it is anymore - you could keep lossless masters and make aac/mp3 copies for your iPod you use at the gym. It's like when we use to make cassette copied of vinyl back in the '80s.

    Most people don't care about the sound or about the long-term prospects of their media library but a lot of us do and want to make sure our music doesn't degrade - or become totally unplayable in the future.

    Of course, media and book companies (and software companies) don't want you to own anything anymore. You should just rent access and pay monthly/yearly fees for music or "buy" e-books that are only playable/readable for as long as the publisher feels like it - or stays in business. It's a scary prospect.

    So, I want my music lossless and my e-books PDF and my movies - I'm not sure yet - but it better not have any DRM on it!
  10. polythene, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012

    polythene macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2012
    I don't ever see Apple offering lossless music for two reasons...

    A) There just isn't enough demand. Of course audiophiles can write essays about why they should be available, but on the whole most people don't care. As a matter of fact, I hardly heard any complaints about the 128 kbps files (the complaints were more centered on DRM).

    B) Storage. Lossless files are huge. In an age where cloud computing is exploding and data is overcharged, most people will sacrifice a little better quality for convenience. Plus, to be completely honest, most people don't even know what lossless means... So they don't really know what they're missing. And they probably wouldn't care that much because iTunes Plus is not bad at all. If there was any significant grumbling about sound quality, Apple would have taken care of it by now.

    Personally, I love lossless audio and would love to see it available from the iTunes store... Although I'm sure they'd charge a premium for both new songs and to upgrade songs you already own. :-\
  11. Destroysall macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2012
    United States
    Lol. I beg to differ. I agree that 320kbps is perhaps the minimum for MP3 as is 256 for AAC, but between 160kbps and lossless format, I can definitely find a distinct difference.

    It really depends on what you are using to listen to your music. As unfrostedpoptar said, if you use crappy computer speakers or cheap earphones/headphones, you will be oblivious to the change in sound quality.
  12. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    We can't have that, can we? ;)

    I'm really not fussed whether there's actual definition I was missing in the lossy version or a trick of the mind. I *know* I'm not missing out on anything with lossless.

    The main advantage for me is being able to create a lossy version of my library in any format/bitrate without inter-generation loss.
  13. Creibold macrumors regular


    Feb 27, 2006
    If your music is listenable at only 160 Kbps, then good for you. There must not be much to it.

    If you listen to any soundtrack, jazz, or classical - especially acoustic (whether rock, folk, etc), the difference is noticeable. The echo from the sound room they are playing in - the cymbals, the rhythm guiter, the sustained notes let hanging on a grand piano. These all sound muddy as hell at lower bit rates such as 160, At least go 256.

    Also, anyone who is serious about their music, is serious about the hardware they play it on. I come from the stand point of reference headphones and a nice DAC.
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes. Amazon.com sells CDs. CDs are "lossless" but you have to wait a few days for delivery.
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I'd believe you had you written "I can't hear the difference...." But you wrote "you can't hear the difference..." How would you know? Certainly I can hear the difference. 160 is quite obviously poor.

    I have noticed that younger people who grew up with MP3s and $5 earbud headphones can't hear the defects. They have never been exposed to high-end audio. Interestingly we saw this SAME thing with Edison's old Gramophones. Edison did some experiments where ha played back recordings from wax cylinders and the had live musicians play both behind a curtain. People of that day were not used to hearing recorded music and could not tell which was which, enough though those old recordings were quite poor quality. NOw we might wonder how people back then could be so dumb as not to be able to tell a live band from a hand cranked Gramophone recording. But "dumb" is the wrong work. They were simply VERY inexperienced. Today I think we see something likethis with people never having been exposed to decent audio gear.

    The other thing in recent years that has changed is that topday few people care about the music. What they talk about is the video. Music is a side iddssue, what matters is Lady GaGa's costume. IN the pre-video days no one cared what a singer looked like so they listened carefully. Few people care about music today.

    It is the same with photos. With digital camera we see a dramatic decrease in quality vs. photos taken 40 years ago. But people accept that as the price for today's "instant" photos. And now that few people have the high-end film camera that don't know the difference and simply accept the result as"It's justthat way".
  16. TMRaven macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    Stop giving blackberryroid grief, he definitely has a valid point. Even with very competent gear, I'm still hard-pressed to tell differences between a good 128kbps aac and 320kbps mp3. There might've been more discernible differences years back, but audio compression has gotten tremendously efficient through recent years, much like how H264 has been a breakthrough for video compression efficiency. The argument could have definitely been made for lossless years back when compression was horrible, but nowadays most people are just parroting those same arguments made years back, so it's an out of context argument. Moreover, it's not even about the gear and hearing as much as it is just about experience and training yourself to hear the differences-- in other words, deliberately looking for the artifacts.

    To the op, for all intents and purposes, a 256kbps aac is a really safe bet for most types of music, and even less of a bitrate for very simple music that isn't very layered. You shouldn't bother with lossless unless you feel you've A/B'd enough lossy vs lossless recordings to think you'll be missing a lot with the lower bitrate music. Also, instead of focusing on the bitrate of the music, focus on the recording and/or mastering of it. All too often you might find a certain CD with a less than optimal mastering, your priority for quality would be to find the mastering with the least amount of dynamic compression first and foremost.
  17. Blackberryroid, Oct 1, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012

    Blackberryroid macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2012
    If you can tell me that you can hear the difference between 256 KBPS and FLAC, I'll call the Guinness World Records.
  18. Ice-Cube macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2006
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    I think it depends on the quality of the medium you are listening to. Lossless music is also future proof - in the event that future compressions get better, you still have the source file to work with.
  19. Destroysall macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2012
    United States
    This is true. So I eliminate what I previously said that it depends on what one is using to listen to their music. If a mix is awful, it won't sound better even in lossless format.
  20. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2012
    256kbs, even 320kbs vs lossless/wav/aiff...

    the differences mainly are in reverb tails, and if the source material has some gonzo crazy phase stuff going on, mp3's sound *horrific*, rather than just bad and clinky.

    with that said, 99% of popular music lately has .5db of dynamic range. it sounds like crap to begin with :D

    when one is in a treated room, with thousands of $ in speakers and time in room tuning, believe me, it can be heard.

    on an iphone speaker on the bus? i agree with you 100%.

    YMMV. some people tune their ears to hear the difference between minute attack times on audio compressors. There are freaks out there that can hear - and care- about these things.
  21. kevinfulton.ca macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    If you have good ears, good speakers, and know what to listen for then there's plenty of people that can hear it. Do you really think audio professionals are delusional in believing they can hear the difference just because you are unable to?
  22. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    What's bull crap is the fact that you think no one can tell the difference between 160Kbps and 320Kbps, which is simply not always true. I definitely can. 160Kbps sounds like crap, especially in the high end. percussion sounds horrible at lower bitrates.
  23. Firefight macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2012
    I'm so tired of reading this.

    Stop telling me what I can and can't hear. Stop telling me what I want. Get out of the thread and stop trolling.
  24. Blackberryroid macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2012
    Seriously, 256 is enough for everyone, that includes audiophiles.

    And it is a psychological delusion to say that you can really hear the difference of 256 and FLAC.

    There has been a case of a "Wine test". The cheap wine is placed on the expensive wine's bottle and the expensive wine is placed on the cheap wine's bottle. Experts (literally experts) of Wines were asked to review and compare the two. They said that the cheap wine (on expensive wine's bottle) is more delicious and has more class. What makes this any different?

    When you see the numbers go 1024 KBPS you'll be all like "OH! It's the god of music flowing through my earphones!" But when you see the numbers go 256 KBPS, you'll be like "Who on earth even considers this quality? 256 KBPS doesn't deserve to live".


    Future proof? If you can't hear the difference now, what makes you think that in the future you will? And future compressions? M4a and MP3 and WAV are already great. I can't ask for anything else, and how anything else will be able to improve the format. M4a and MP3 are small enough.
  25. androiphone, Oct 20, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012

    androiphone macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2009
    Why would anyone not want better? assuming the price is about the same.
    I'd buy my music at WAV DXD quality if I could (but they may as well wrap it in ALAC or FLAC for metadata support), who cares if you can't tell the difference (I use apple headphones), music is recorded and produced at crazy quality, why not sell it to us the consumer it at that high quality?

    Data storage is cheap, internet is unlimited, there isn't any barriers to entry to providing music at a high bitrate nowadays apart from backwards minded individuals and corporations, iTunes has a built in converter to put 256aac on your devices so you don't need crazy storage on your phone but in the future we'll all be carrying around TBs of storage in out pockets anyway so even that won't matter.

    WAV DXD is only 1GB per 10 minutes making an average album about 6GB, with FLAC or ALAC it would probably be about 4GB per album, not exactly a lot.

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