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24-bit audio proposed for iTunes, Apple is proposing selling 24-bit audio in iTunes. What compares?
andy o
post Feb 24 2011, 15:29
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people like engineers, or like marketers and executives?
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 24 2011, 16:26
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QUOTE (andy o @ Feb 24 2011, 09:29) *
people like engineers, or like marketers and executives?


Executives
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UNHchabo
post Feb 24 2011, 20:15
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 24 2011, 03:18) *
You know what else they have in the recording studio? Multitracks. Now, if they were going to start selling those at a premium price for people to play with, then I think we could get interested. wink.gif


Dream Theater had that on the collector's edition of their last album:
http://dreamtheater.net/disco_dreamtheater..._linings_boxset

That box set includes a DVD that contains the stem mixes, so you can isolate each band member.

If you want a 24- or 48-track version of an album, then I think you'll have to be on the production team. wink.gif


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calx
post Feb 24 2011, 21:28
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I just started buying albums from iTunes last week and already there are talks of potentially higher quality files rolleyes.gif. I was afraid this would happen, just not so soon.

I will not buy a single song from them until this is sorted out.
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Zarggg
post Feb 24 2011, 21:53
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Feb 23 2011, 02:43) *
As I see it: another smart way to push up people's perceived need of bandwidth, storage, RAM and CPU power: bu$ine$$ a$ u$ual... wink.gif

If this were the case, we'd see ISPs offering higher speed connections with higher "bandwidth caps" caps to compensate, which are sorely lacking in many parts of the US.
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cpchan
post Feb 24 2011, 22:03
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QUOTE (Zarggg @ Feb 24 2011, 16:53) *
If this were the case, we'd see ISPs offering higher speed connections with higher "bandwidth caps" caps to compensate, which are sorely lacking in many parts of the US.


Unfortunately, this is their business plan. Most of these ISP offers some form of IPTV (such as through VDSL2) too. They don't want people to go outside of their Network with some online third party option such as Google TV, Netflix, etc without them making money.

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Wombat
post Feb 24 2011, 22:19
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 23 2011, 22:52) *
Well I don't want them if I'll be forced to hear people bragging about how amazing their recently repurchased 24 bit music collection sounds smile.gif


You donīt haved to wait for that. Already now you can read several confused people writing on the net how "Blue-Ray" 24bit audio sounds against old 16bit "VHS" alike sound smile.gif
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indybrett
post Feb 25 2011, 03:23
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QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Feb 22 2011, 16:07) *
...and of course, it will be marketed as "HD" audio. rolleyes.gif


Which will go nicely with my HD sunglasses. No... I'm not kidding, lol. They were a present.


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Soap
post Feb 25 2011, 13:47
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I just went back again to the Slashdot thread on this story now that I have 15 more mod points, and was very pleased to see that nothing scoring 3 or above really needed culling. Sure there were some slight factual errors, but the audiophools were successfully kept in check.

Thanks to all of you who helped tell the truth, either through objectivist posts or informed moderation!


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aharden
post Feb 25 2011, 14:46
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I had already been writing a blog entry on post-CD upsells, so I added the Slashdot reference in at the end and published:
cygweb: The Future of Commercial Recorded Music

My main point on the 24-bit format upsell is that much of the industry has been loathe to utilize all 16 bits that CD has. Why should we believe that their use of 24-bit formats will mean better audio quality?


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andy o
post Feb 25 2011, 21:44
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Thanks. What do you mean that the resolution of CD is one of the things holding it back?

This post has been edited by andy o: Feb 25 2011, 21:45
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kornchild2002
post Feb 25 2011, 22:18
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 23 2011, 14:32) *
Regarding the other point, I can understand that you don't see the need in having lossy files sourced from 24-bit material. I simply question why you specifically said you didn't want lossy files sourced from 24-bit material. How would you know and why would you care?


My lack of enthusiasm for 24-bit sourced lossy files comes from the inevitable flood of advertising (especially since we all know Apple likely isn't the only one going to do this) and being required to buy the tracks all over again (whether at full price or not) in order to replace my current 16-bit sourced lossy files that I have already purchased from the iTunes Store. I wouldn't mind doing this if they jump to 24-bit lossless files as I would be paying more for a lossless archive. I don't want to pay more, again, for new lossy files (this would be the second time the iTunes Store started offering new lossy content). They might sound great, I don't know. I just don't want to have yet another lossy "upgrade" pushed on me require even more money. I purchased a handful of tracks back when the iTunes Store was offering 128kbps DRMed music (about $50 worth over the period of ~3 years) and they wanted $0.30 per track ($15 for music I have already purchased) when upgrading to the iTunes Plus standard (which is now what Apple offers music in). I just don't want to pay an additional sum of money for lossy music that I have already purchased. I know that an Apple rep isn't going to hold a gun to my head to make me upgrade but its the whole concept of buying lossy music again that I don't like.
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aharden
post Feb 25 2011, 22:59
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QUOTE (andy o @ Feb 25 2011, 15:44) *
Thanks. What do you mean that the resolution of CD is one of the things holding it back?

I mean that it can't be extended to higher bit depths or sampling rates -- it's not extensible. I said that from a marketing standpoint. I hope it's clear that I'm arguing that CDs and CD-quality audio are satisfactory for most uses and should remain reference formats.

This post has been edited by aharden: Feb 25 2011, 23:00


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mixminus1
post Feb 25 2011, 23:12
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Feb 25 2011, 13:18) *
but its the whole concept of buying lossy music again that I don't like.

"24-bit remastered", anyone? wink.gif


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greynol
post Feb 25 2011, 23:17
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Feb 25 2011, 13:18) *
I just don't want to pay an additional sum of money for lossy music that I have already purchased.

I thought you were talking about new purchases. I would have never asked had I thought you were simply stating the obvious. Thanks for further clarifying.


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forart.eu
post Feb 26 2011, 10:52
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QUOTE (carpman @ Feb 22 2011, 22:29) *
Oh, cool. Does that mean we get to buy all our music over again? Let me see:
Vinyl, CD, Remastered CD, 24bit HD Download. Genius!

C.


Well, no: rights licensing agencies (SIAE, here in Italy) don't chain their permissions to the phisical support or format, but to the opera itself. This means that you can legally download the same operas you've already purchased, IMHO.

In other words you don't infringe anything if you download an MP3 of an original Vinyl that you own, for example...

Or, if in your country you have the fair use, you can also legally claim that you download for backup purposes.

This post has been edited by forart.eu: Feb 26 2011, 10:55
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Nessuno
post Feb 26 2011, 12:59
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QUOTE (forart.eu @ Feb 26 2011, 10:52) *
QUOTE (carpman @ Feb 22 2011, 22:29) *
Oh, cool. Does that mean we get to buy all our music over again? Let me see:
Vinyl, CD, Remastered CD, 24bit HD Download. Genius!

C.


Well, no: rights licensing agencies (SIAE, here in Italy) don't chain their permissions to the phisical support or format, but to the opera itself. This means that you can legally download the same operas you've already purchased, IMHO.

In other words you don't infringe anything if you download an MP3 of an original Vinyl that you own, for example...

Or, if in your country you have the fair use, you can also legally claim that you download for backup purposes.


Ok, but AFAIK "here in Italy" and anywhere in the world, there's no way to convince a legal on-line distributor, (which, by the way, may also reside in other countries and willing to apply his own law) that you're legally entitled to download a copy of a recording for free (plus at more a reasonable fee for distribution costs) because you already own a copy of it, maybe on a 20 years old vinyl!
And, to extend your reasoning, I've never tried to go to a shop and show my vinyl copy of a CD re-issue to have a reduction in price. My fault? rolleyes.gif


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kornchild2002
post Feb 27 2011, 06:26
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 25 2011, 15:17) *
I thought you were talking about new purchases. I would have never asked had I thought you were simply stating the obvious. Thanks for further clarifying.


No problem, I should have stated that from the very get-go. I have no issues with new music being released in said lossy example (sourced from 24-bit files) and I would even embrace it if they offered free downloads of previously paid material. That being said, we know it will never happen just as me taking my Dad's old British Steel vinyl album into Best Buy and asking for the CD version for free isn't going to happen either. I would likely pay an extra fee (if Apple kept the $0.30 a track and $3.00 an album pricing) to upgrade to lossless tracks but not for lossy files again. I still haven't read anything concrete saying that they (along with others) are in talks of offering 24-bit lossless files though. The general wording I am seeing is "24-bit files" which could mean lossy or lossless files (though the labeling as 24-bit audio tends to make me think they are lossless files). We will see. All of this is probably a year or more off from ever seeing the light of day.

It makes me wonder what the competition will do as well. We all know Apple would likely offer ALAC files (hopefully DRM-free) if the record companies went the lossless route. Would Amazon offer WAV or FLAC? How about the Zune Marketplace, would Microsoft push WMA Lossless (does it even support 24-bit encoding)? Then, in my opinion, it wouldn't really matter which music store is chosen as they all offer files in the same quality and you could easily convert to whatever device you have. In fact, switching to 24-bit lossless files may end my support of CD all together. Not because I could potentially ABX the 24-bit lossless files from the 16-bit CDs (something of which I have never tested) but rather because I could obtain a lossless archive by never having to lift my fat butt from the comfort of my Lay-Z-Boy to obtain a lossless archive almost instantly. That, to me, is extremely appealing even if a slightly higher price is in place ($10 for the ~256kbps lossy files and then $12-$15 for the 24-bit lossless ones, that wouldn't be too far off from CD prices).
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2Bdecided
post Feb 28 2011, 16:01
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Feb 25 2011, 21:18) *
QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 23 2011, 14:32) *
Regarding the other point, I can understand that you don't see the need in having lossy files sourced from 24-bit material. I simply question why you specifically said you didn't want lossy files sourced from 24-bit material. How would you know and why would you care?


My lack of enthusiasm for 24-bit sourced lossy files comes from the inevitable flood of advertising (especially since we all know Apple likely isn't the only one going to do this) and being required to buy the tracks all over again (whether at full price or not) in order to replace my current 16-bit sourced lossy files that I have already purchased from the iTunes Store. I wouldn't mind doing this if they jump to 24-bit lossless files as I would be paying more for a lossless archive. I don't want to pay more, again, for new lossy files (this would be the second time the iTunes Store started offering new lossy content). They might sound great, I don't know. I just don't want to have yet another lossy "upgrade" pushed on me require even more money. I purchased a handful of tracks back when the iTunes Store was offering 128kbps DRMed music (about $50 worth over the period of ~3 years) and they wanted $0.30 per track ($15 for music I have already purchased) when upgrading to the iTunes Plus standard (which is now what Apple offers music in). I just don't want to pay an additional sum of money for lossy music that I have already purchased. I know that an Apple rep isn't going to hold a gun to my head to make me upgrade but its the whole concept of buying lossy music again that I don't like.
...but while they'll be a few audiofools who do this (or will they - audiophiles don't do lossy), and the usual Apple fanboys, I can't see many people paying money to upgrade a lossy file to a lossy file that someone told them sounded better, if it doesn't.

There really would have to be some other reason to "upgrade".

It's got to be more about new purchases. And I suspect it's got to be about lossless. Not much point otherwise. Lossy "sourced from 24-bits" (same bitrate!) is not even an excuse to sell you a bigger iPod!

Cheers,
David.
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NwAvGuy
post Mar 3 2011, 04:35
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There have been similar comments already, but in my opinion Apple is mainly doing this as a way to generate more ITunes Store revenue and also differentiate their music offerings from those eating away at their market share. In terms of improved audio quality, I think it's going to be 99.9% hype and essentially zero reality.

I do agree it would be nice if you can have 24 bit lossless files at no additional cost for archiving but how likely is that? I understand Apple is working on a cloud-based "backup" offering that will also let you share your Apple media wirelessly between devices.

Apple may have some higher-end tricks up their sleeve for playing media at home with new Apple TV improvements, etc. And this might also be part of the 24 bit strategy.

I plan to go buy one of the first 24 bit iPods and subject it to the dScope to see if there are measurable performance gains. There's a lot of hype and spin already around the "new Wolfson 24 bit DACs" they're supposedly going to be using.

I've already posted some results for the iPod Touch 3G on my blog. And with the exception of the 7 ohm output impedance, and perhaps being a bit weak on output power for some headphones, the DAC and audio performance is already excellent. So it's going to be hard to improve on the 16 bit performance. For those interested, I compare it to the Sansa Clip+ including jitter analysis, DAC linearity, etc:

Sansa Clip+ vs iPod Touch 3G Detailed Measurements

This post has been edited by NwAvGuy: Mar 3 2011, 04:50


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DigitalMan
post Mar 3 2011, 07:15
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QUOTE (NwAvGuy @ Mar 2 2011, 19:35) *


Very nicely done! Thanks for making the effort, its a breath of fresh air to see someone deal with data, and nice conversations around output impedance, etc.


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andy o
post Mar 3 2011, 08:05
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Is this supposed "new" hardware gonna be needed for lossy conversions of these (hopefully) 24-bit lossless files? I think I understand why lossy codecs don't have bit depth like people said above, but when decoded, does this become 24-bit LPCM like the source was?
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NwAvGuy
post Mar 3 2011, 08:08
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QUOTE (DigitalMan @ Mar 2 2011, 22:15) *
Very nicely done! Thanks for making the effort, its a breath of fresh air to see someone deal with data, and nice conversations around output impedance, etc.

Thanks! I'm still working on formatting/template issues with the blog. I just noticed the links in the tech section of that article all got changed to the font color so they were hard to notice. It's fixed now.

And yes, I'm trying to put the emphasis on the data. I also want to try and provide data that's more comparable (and repeatable/verifiable) than RMAA measurements as well as provide measurements you can't normally get with RMAA.

It will be very interesting to see how the 24 bit Apple hardware measures up. Perhaps if word gets around there's little actual advantage to the new DAC, it might prevent at least a few people from wasting their money on YAiPU (Yet Another i Pod Upgrade) in the quest of better audio quality. Of course the 5G Touch will probably have a camera in it and other compelling reasons to want one.

And speaking of output impedance... I've yet to test the iPhone 4 or a 4G Touch. But I've heard somewhat reliable information they have a much lower output impedance than my 3G. If that's true, the 4G Touch should be a near-perfect player in terms of audio performance as long as it will get loud enough without clipping for a given person's headphones and listening tastes--even without a Wolfson 24 bit DAC.


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NwAvGuy
post Mar 3 2011, 08:34
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QUOTE (andy o @ Mar 2 2011, 23:05) *
Is this supposed "new" hardware gonna be needed for lossy conversions of these (hopefully) 24-bit lossless files? I think I understand why lossy codecs don't have bit depth like people said above, but when decoded, does this become 24-bit LPCM like the source was?

At some point during playback, all compressed files--lossy or lossless--get turned back into regular PCM. Where and how that happens depends on what's doing the playback but generally that's all done in software.

Apple is famous for using either proprietary (or relatively uncommon) standards so they could invent their own flavor of 24 bit audio. And they like DRM (copy protection) and have been reluctant to fully get rid of it. So you could be stuck playing the new 24 bit format on only Apple hardware. It could be only the new 24 bit hardware (to help drive more hardware sales), or it could be anything you can upgrade to support the new format (Macs and iOS devices and possibly older iPods). Or, if they wanted to be nice for a change, they could use an industry open standard like 24 bit FLAC and then you could play your purchased music on lots of things.

Or if you buy a 24 bit track you might get an automatic license to the 16 bit version as well. So you could just use whichever version was needed for a particular player. Perhaps someone knows more about this but most of what I've seen is only rumor and guessing (like I'm doing here)?

In terms of raw audio files (ignoring Apple and their mostly closed world for a moment) a 16 bit DAC can play a 24 bit file by just ignoring the 8 least important bits. So that part is easy. There are basically two kinds of players. Those that decode everything in software (the CPU does all the work) or those that are sometimes used in portable players that do the decoding in dedicated hardware that may well be on the same chip as the DAC. These sorts of players can't ever support new formats.

Doing the decoding in software means you have total flexibility to handle new formats, etc--including 24 bit. Have a look at Rockbox for example. They add a bunch of new playback formats to dozens of different players by just changing the firmware.

But, if Apple wanted to have a more secure DRM scheme, they could do some of the decoding or DRM in hardware if they wanted--kind of like they have with some aspects of the iPad design. And that would make it much more difficult for anyone else to "hack" the 24 bit DRM audio files.

This post has been edited by NwAvGuy: Mar 3 2011, 08:36


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2Bdecided
post Mar 3 2011, 11:39
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QUOTE (DigitalMan @ Mar 3 2011, 06:15) *
QUOTE (NwAvGuy @ Mar 2 2011, 19:35) *
Very nicely done! Thanks for making the effort, its a breath of fresh air to see someone deal with data, and nice conversations around output impedance, etc.
Yes, that is great.

Though I'm becoming increasingly annoyed with my Clip+ and may try to find an old Clip on eBay: you can "lock" the Clip with the power off. You can't "lock" the Clip+ unless it's switched on. Which means... it gets switched on all by itself in my jacket pocket, and when I want to use it the battery is flat. Again. and again. and again. Oh, it crashes sometimes too.

(sorry for the OT post - but it's simple stuff like this that can make an otherwise wonderful player totally useless!)

Cheers,
David.
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