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Apple Music Service

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5 replies to this topic

#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Patrick Larkin

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Posted April 29 2003 - 01:56 AM

Hi - I can't use the search to revive the old thread... Has anyone used the Apple Music Service yet? It seems quite nice and in true Apple spirit, extremely easy to use. I'm wondering if anyone has purchased a full album yet. I'd like to know if upon purchase, the system gives you a nice quality cover to print out.

My only criticism is the total focus on single tracks. I won't ever buy anything but whole albums. (There MAY be a track here to there I might get occasionally) A lot of stuff is only available as "Partial Albums" but there are quite a few whole albums. I'd like to see more full albums.

The selection is pretty good - 200,000 tracks and growing, apparently. The complete integration into iTunes/iPod is awesome.

...Must resist impulse buys...

[EDIT - oops, maybe this belongs in the Music section???]

#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted April 29 2003 - 02:32 AM

Sure, I've used the service, as well as iTunes 4 in the home network.

The iTunes 4 user interface is comfortable--very much like a dedicated web-browser integrated with the iTunes application. It is easy to navigate. When I decided to buy a track, it let me use my existing .mac account and confirmed my existing address and credit-card information without my having to re-enter it.

I tried to download the 3-track U2 exclusive, and the first track failed to download. It caught this, and told me to check a menu item to redownload my purchased music later. Slick.

The selection has a way to go before it will compete with other sources. No Stones. Nothing real by the Beatles. And they had the full-length "Clean" version of Faceless by Godsmack, but only one track from the "Explicit Lyrics" version. I actually am interested in buying single tracks, but I agree that there need to be more full album selections.

I like how you can sample the songs before you buy them, in full quality. That alone will allow me to pick and choose single tracks over whole albums.

I've used iTunes to rip much of my personal CD collection in MP3 format, mostly at 192Kbps. And therein lies my problem. I don't think 128Kbps AAC (a.k.a, MPEG4) sounds as good as 192Kbps MP3. I've done a few A-B comparisons, and the AAC samples sound flat and sometimes hollow. On average computer speakers, this might not be a problem. I have above-average computer speakers. Posted Image

I really like one other thing about iTunes 4: it uses Rendezvous networking to share playlists (or your entire library) to other computers on your internal network. I have my MP3 library on an 80-gig hard drive hooked up to my computer downstairs. I can now easily share this library with the computer upstairs--that I have hooked into my stereo via optical digital cable.

All in all, I think we have a winner here with the iTunes Music Service, if they could only bump the sound quality up a notch or two. As for iTunes 4 and its networking capabilities, it is a fantastic home-run.

Next up...a 30-gig iPod. Posted Image

- Steve

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Scott Pagac

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Posted April 29 2003 - 04:27 AM

I have not purchased any of the selections from the service, but I have a couple of concerns.

1) I do not like the fact that I am purchasing a compressed form of the music. It would be nice to offer the full AIFF for $1.00 and maybe 50 cents for the compressed file. Maybe something like this will happen in the future.

2) Related to the above point: for goodness sake, increase the bitrate of the files. I have listened to the previews of many songs in the Music Store. Some songs sound very nice. However, I sampled the Yes section and could not believe what I heard. I went on and sampled even more songs and I think I put my finger on the problem I was hearing. The brighter the mix (upper mids, highs), the worse it sounded.

Try almost any of the Yes tracks. Try "Addicted to that Rush" by Mr. Big. Try "Rush Hour" by the Yellowjackets or any of the Bela Fleck options. Really, anything with extended top end (many of the jazz tracks and hair bands, for instance). A lot of what I heard sounded like many of my very old, very used and abused analog tapes.

I think this service has potential, but the quality bar has to be raised if the previews are any indication of the actual downloaded song.

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted April 29 2003 - 04:52 AM

The brighter the mix (upper mids, highs), the worse it sounded.

Yep. I have to wonder where the frequency cuts off in these 128Kbps AAC files. My speakers and headphones are full-range. These AAC files do not seem to be.

- Steve

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   DonRoeber



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Posted April 29 2003 - 05:29 AM

With regards to iTunes 4, we're really digging the shared streaming here in the office. We've got 6 people so far all sharing out their libraries. Lots of fun to see what people like to listen to.
Luckily, right at that moment, an unconscious Argentinean fell through my roof.

He was quickly joined by a dwarf dressed as a nun.

#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted April 29 2003 - 10:30 AM

AAC (a.k.a, MPEG4)
AAC is actually defined by the MPEG-2 standard. AAC is related to MPEG-4 the same way Dolby Digital is related to the DVD standard, i.e. not directly. It's bad enough that people think that MP3 is MPEG-3, one notch above MPEG-2; AAC is not MPEG-(3+1), although it is kinda like MP(3+1) Posted Image

I'm waiting for them to release iTunes 4.0.1 and work out the kinks, or maybe a month. I'm definitely interested in single tracks, favorite songs that I've heard on the radio for years.


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