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I need suggestions regarding my iTunes library, online music stores and why I shouldn't go back to CDs at the very least.


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#1 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 05 2012 - 10:35 AM

I’m sitting here listening to a CD. I know that may not be surprising for many of us. However, it’s quite surprising to me. Back in 2005 I discovered iTunes and MP3 files. Though I thought the sound wasn’t quite as “full” or rich as I was accustomed to hearing, I didn’t realize until very recently that 128 kbps isn’t anywhere near the audio quality of a compact disc--and forget vinyl. Sadly, nothing seems to match the warmth of a vinyl album. So, I’m in a spot. I can’t find any store online that sells lossless Pop, Dance and Country music. Classic Rock seems to be about it. I’m therefore buying CDs again and ripping them as lossless files. Can anyone help with a suggestion as to where I might find Top 40 lossless music online? Side note: I was shocked recently when I discovered some of my songs did not upgrade to 256 kbps when I purchased iTunes Plus. Apparently these songs are no longer available from iTunes and I’m stuck with DRM and 128 Kbps unless I can find the music elsewhere. Any comments or suggestions? Thanks!

#2 of 18 Aaron Silverman

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Posted February 06 2012 - 05:42 AM

Can anyone help with a suggestion as to where I might find Top 40 lossless music online?

Yes. Go to Amazon and order it on CD. You'll wait a few days, but at least it'll be lossless. ;)
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#3 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 06 2012 - 07:21 AM

Aaron, you nut. :) Unfortunately some of the music I like is only being released as a 256/320 kbps download. For example, I wanted a remix import CD a few months back and the remix was only released as an MP3 download. Now I can't buy a CD and I'm in the wrong region for purchasing the remix from England. This is a mess. I'm also wondering what will happen to music imports if downloads ever dominate physical media. Might the labels go region-free?

#4 of 18 Aaron Silverman

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Posted February 06 2012 - 07:35 AM

Aaron, you nut. :) Unfortunately some of the music I like is only being released as a 256/320 kbps download.

This is the end of Western Civilization.

For example, I wanted a remix import CD a few months back and the remix was only released as an MP3 download. Now I can't buy a CD and I'm in the wrong region for purchasing the remix from England. This is a mess. I'm also wondering what will happen to music imports if downloads ever dominate physical media. Might the labels go region-free?

I highly doubt that. I don't see a transition away from physical media ever involving the media companies giving up any sort of control over the material.
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#5 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 06 2012 - 10:06 AM

While I know this isn't the end of civilization, one could make the same statement with regard to Standard DVD vs. Blu-ray. I still hear people saying they can't see the difference. Fortunately my favorite albums are on CD and vinyl so no worries there. However, I like to experience new music and that's why I'm a bit perturbed. Also, with regard to MP3 files I feel misled by the industry. The reduction in fidelity should have been communicated. I saw a posting online from a person getting rid of all their CDs because MP3 files save so much space. I bet he/she doesn't even know what kbps or lossless mean. Of course it isn't the end of the world but I can't dismiss someone's misfortune.

#6 of 18 Aaron Silverman

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Posted February 07 2012 - 04:37 AM

The difference has a lot to do with the listening/ viewing environment. Someone who listens to music all the time may not notice any difference if he uses $10 earbuds. Someone who watches movies all the time may not notice any difference if he's sitting 10 feet away from a 32" TV with no external speakers. If it mattered to enough people to make a financial difference, media companies might be more focused on quality over convenience.
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#7 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 07 2012 - 04:51 AM

I agree. When it becomes important to a large number of people or when the money generated is significant we'll see another jump in the kbps offered online. I already shop Android Market for 320 kbps vs. iTunes 256. I'm hoping iTunes will eventually offer another increase in kbps through iTunes Plus. I am willing to pay again just as I did to go up from 128.

#8 of 18 Eric Peterson

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Posted February 10 2012 - 01:49 AM

For the most part, I have avoided buying digital files for a lot of reasons. 1. The bitrate is usually less than desired. 2. You can NEVER increase the bitrate 3. They rarely include artwork or liner notes 4. They cost more than they should. For the above reasons, I have continued to buy CDs (Current collection is over 3000). A large percentage of these discs have been purchased used or at great discount (usually in the $5-$7) range and offer the following benefits. 1. You can rip and re-rip the discs to whatever format and bitrate you want. (I'm currently re-ripping all of my favorite discs to FLAC) 2. You can scan the artwork at whatever resolution you want. (I'm currently downloading and scanning high-res artwork for all of my favorite albums) 3. You can read the liner notes whenever you want. 4. The discs are usually cheaper than digital files.......and if I realize that I don't like it.....I can actually sell it and get a few bucks in return.....making it even cheaper. :D To save space, I have converted the majority of my discs from Jewel Cases to Discsox. They aren't exactly cheap ($1+ per sleeve), but the space savings is amazing and I can keep all of the original artwork and booklets. http://www.mmdesign.com/

#9 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 10 2012 - 06:06 AM

Eric, Thanks for the feedback. I believe your approach is the best solution until iTunes, Amazon and others offer lossless files. In fact, I was checking my music collection and I’m surprised that I’ve already purchased 14 albums on disc since truly understanding how inferior 128, 256 and 320 kbps are compared to the sound you get from a lossless file. Furthermore, I’m expecting another disc in the mail today. It’s a CD single that iTunes is no longer licensed to sell. I have the old 128 kbps/DRM copy and that will be deleted once my hard copy arrives. Not surprisingly this experience has revived my interest in CDs and I’m even looking for a decent turntable.

#10 of 18 Eric Peterson

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Posted February 10 2012 - 06:49 AM

You're welcome. I hope that it helps. I actually forgot to mention DRM. I've hated that concept from the very beginning and that was also a major reason that I have avoided buying digital files.

#11 of 18 Gary Seven

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Posted February 10 2012 - 09:30 AM

"Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music. His legacy is tremendous," Young said. "But when he went home, he listened to vinyl (albums)."


- Neil Young


Nuff Said.




#12 of 18 Will_B

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Posted February 10 2012 - 07:05 PM

I can’t find any store online that sells lossless Pop, Dance and Country music. Classic Rock seems to be about it. I’m therefore buying CDs again and ripping them as lossless files. Can anyone help with a suggestion as to where I might find Top 40 lossless music online?Thanks!

JunoDownload.com sells lossless dance singles - if by "dance" you mean like electronica or other modern dance music. Be sure to select the lossless option, since they also sell (cheaper) lossy versions. Like you, I rip lossless CDs, but am hoping that high-definition music (higher quality downloads than CDs) starts becoming much more common. I share your dismay that some sites like HDTracks are starting to sell high-def music, but opting to start with music that is "Classic Rock" from the 1970s or 1960s. It is the studios' fault, of course, not HDTracks itself. But enough already with the fixation on the 1960s and 1970s. There is music from the last 30 years that should be released in high-def -- music from the 1980s onward, bands like Duran Duran, the Go-Gos, the Bangles, Missing Persons, Adam Ant, etc. Randall, if you check ebay, you can sometimes find an abandoned music format called "DualDisc" which sometimes offered an album in slightly-better-than-CD-quality on the DVD side. That can be transferred to your iTunes with a little effort. Not many were made, but worth checking. Ones from Sony are usually no better (16bit/48khz) than the corresponding CDs (16 bit/44.1khz), but ones from other labels were sometimes as good as 24bit/96khz. I got Daniel Powter's DP album that way, in 24bit/48khz, which is great. And Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine, which is not great because it is only in 16bit/48khz -- not any better than a CD (in fact some believe Sony just upsampled the 16bit/44.1khz CD). As I said it took some effort to correctly get these into Apple Lossless without accidentally losing the higher quality, but if you need help just ask.
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#13 of 18 Will_B

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Posted February 10 2012 - 07:13 PM

You're welcome. I hope that it helps. I actually forgot to mention DRM. I've hated that concept from the very beginning and that was also a major reason that I have avoided buying digital files.

There hasn't been DRM for several years though - though I understand you were saying that was just yet another factor that initially turned you away. Files bought from iTunes do have metadata that includes your name on it, and it can't be removed - as a way to discourage you from making a mix tape (er, mix-hard-drive) for your friends. One thing that I still worry about, when I am downloading LOSSLESS files, is that there isn't any assurance that the files are really lossless. I can check them out after I've bought them with a program like Spectro, but before buying them you just have to hope and pray that whoever delivered the files to the online store (JunoDownload or whatever) knew what they were doing and didn't just take some lossy mp3s and upcovert them to lossless, hoping that the magical computer fairies would somehow restore the sound quality.
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#14 of 18 Al.Anderson

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Posted February 11 2012 - 12:01 AM

I'm also a CD ripper for the reasons most of you noted. I've moved to FLAC, stored on a NAS, and I don't rally use my DVDs anymore. So was considered moving to lossless downloads too, to avoid the jewel case. But couldn't find an online store with enough content to make it a worthwhile normal stop. I recently checked out HDTracks, and they're not bad, but again not much content. But it's probably worth checking out as another option.

#15 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 12 2012 - 02:53 PM

Will_B, Thanks for the suggestions. I'll explore those sites and post my impressions later this week. Your feedback is most welcome. I was feeling a bit "lost" with regard to the immediate future of my music collection. Now at least there's light on the Dance Music lossless download horizon. :)

#16 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 12 2012 - 02:57 PM

I'm also a CD ripper for the reasons most of you noted. I've moved to FLAC, stored on a NAS, and I don't rally use my DVDs anymore. So was considered moving to lossless downloads too, to avoid the jewel case. But couldn't find an online store with enough content to make it a worthwhile normal stop. I recently checked out HDTracks, and they're not bad, but again not much content. But it's probably worth checking out as another option.

I think breadth of selection will be the key to any lossless site being successful. Here's hoping HDTracks improves with time.

#17 of 18 Aaron Silverman

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Posted February 13 2012 - 05:41 AM

For a chuckle, remind yourself that in the eyes of the RIAA, those of us who rip our own CDs to other devices are THIEVES! :D
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#18 of 18 RandallV

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Posted February 27 2012 - 07:57 AM

Will_B, I've had great success finding lossless Dance Music files, I want in my collection, with junodownload. Thanks for the suggestion. Please update this thread if you find anything else out there worth exploring.