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Apple iTunes - Mastered for iTunes
andy o
post Feb 27 2012, 03:34
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Feb 26 2012, 05:58) *
QUOTE (andy o @ Feb 24 2012, 09:16) *
"Shorter battery life" is not an issue at all though.


The reduced battery life of lossless files are still a big issue for people using iPod's featuring hard drives. In my testing (with a 2009 160GB iPod classic), I can encode up to about 256kbps before the battery life takes a noticeable hit since the HDD has to be accessed a lot more. I conducted several battery life tests on my iPod classic just for the hell of it.

128kbps VBR/CBR - 42 hours
192kbps VBR/CBR - 41.8 hours
256kbps VBR/CBR - 40 hours
Mixed playlist - 41 hours
ALAC - 33 hours

Those results are pretty consistent with my other battery life tests on older iPod's as well (specifically the 3G iPod, 4G iPod, 5G iPod, and 120GB iPod classic). ALAC, AIFF, and PCM WAV drastically reduce the battery life for me on a consistent basis. Is it as bad as with the 3G and 4G iPods? Not nearly and 33 hours is still pretty respectable for a device playing lossless content from an HDD. However, it can be an issue for some people who want to attain or pass Apple's battery life estimates.

I did say "unless doing real meticulous testing". But anyway, is it an actual issue? Are many people playing 30+ (or even 10+) hours straight of music, without touching the iPod? Cause once you take the screen constantly turning on, and skipping and whatnot, the difference should shrink, but still you get an inordinately long amount of play time. I remember when 2 hours on a Discman was long enough!
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cyberdux
post Feb 27 2012, 05:26
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 27 2012, 12:19) *
QUOTE (cyberdux @ Feb 25 2012, 16:25) *
Having read the "Mastered for iTunes" .pdf, my understanding is that Apple are requesting that recording companies provide iTunes with the best source material possible, not a replication of "CD sound". In this way, if the master supplied to iTunes has had care taken to represent the original intent of the artist, and that artist, producer and engineering team care about quality, the iTunes encodes stand a good chance of sounding very good indeed.

I binned the unproductive commentary that stemmed from this post, but feel that it should not go unchallenged.

What makes you think that a replication of CD sound will be audibly poor than whatever is the best source material possible?

Do you honestly think that record companies are going to create two masterings, one for CD and one for iTunes that will differ beyond sample rate and bit depth? I don't, though I suppose I have my head up my ass. smile.gif

Also the artist, producer and engineering team might have a different interpretation of quality. Some people actually believe they are indeed putting out a quality product.


Greynol, thank you for binning the rubbish.

I did not say or imply that a replication of CD sound will be audibly poorer than whatever is the best source material.

What I did say was, in direct reference to what was actually in the "Mastered for iTunes" document, that Apple are giving recording companies the opportunity to supply iTunes high quality masters and that if they did, there is the potential for good quality offerings from iTunes' "Mastered for iTunes" series.

The reference to "CD sound" was made in repsonse to the post previous to mine and I quote "I'm just curious to understand if there is or not a real benefit, as I suppose, to encode from a better source when the goal is to stay as close as possible to the CD sound." I was pointing out that the reason for a new master is not necessarily to replicate "CD sound" but the actual original recording if the masters of these were to differ, and we know by experience that there have been CD masters that did not replicate the original recordings.

It may very well be wishful thinking that a corporation might revisit the session tapes of a less than good master and produce a new master. I hope that it is not. I also hope that the document inspires mastering engineers to take care with new material. Also, perhaps, wishful thinking.

I agree with your last statement regarding artist intent.

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greynol
post Feb 27 2012, 05:58
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From the paper, it seems that Apple is only pushing for the avoidance of clipping. It is not pushing for the avoidance of overly-aggressive dynamic range compression (yes you can have overly aggressive DRC without clipping!). So I do think it's wishful thinking. Regardless, I'm glad that you clarified your position.

To be honest, I'm kind of troubled in what I see is Apple trying to further co-opt the record industry. On the one hand I welcome that they are at least addressing the loudness war and with it bring hope that there may finally be a large enough economic incentive to curb it (but only if Apple would refuse special branding to titles with aggressive DRC). On the other hand, monopolies can be very very ugly.


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zipr
post Feb 28 2012, 19:48
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According to this, there may not be any difference in the "mastered for itunes" files (compared to their standard AAC).
http://www.cepro.com/article/apples_master...es_is_it_legit/
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smok3
post Feb 28 2012, 21:47
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basically what I think is important (especially for apple) is that they provide an easy and decent method (they provide a droplet) of encoding your studio master (whatever that may be). The droplet is doing, by their worlds:

1. downsample - keeping high bitness
2. dump to caf format to do hard-sound-check (thats a replaygain/r128) type of thing <- this is especially important to limit the silly loudness war, since not all the users are having sound-check turned on i suppose, or are using the platform that is not compatible with that.
3. encode to AAC

so anybody can be covered by that (I did not actually test their software, so its theory...), you just need to upload an AAC at the end I guess.

p.s. The cd vs. itunes relation is really uninteresting when compared to 2. imho

p.s.2.
and @zipr
QUOTE
Shepherd explains this procedure as a method of reversing the phase of a song’s waveform so that after a song’s waveforms and volumes are matched in software a mixing engineer can play them back to see if the song’s out of phase waveform cancels or nulls out the normal version of the song.

is the usual nonsense that would get this Shepherd guy banned from HA and has really nothing to do with anything.

This post has been edited by smok3: Feb 28 2012, 21:54


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Canar
post Feb 29 2012, 00:11
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I have but one thing to add to this thread:

"Bastard for iTunes."

Thanks for reading. I'm done here.


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greynol
post Feb 29 2012, 00:20
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It does give the impression of SACD all over again.


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skamp
post Feb 29 2012, 00:41
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Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie, from the album I'm With You (produced by Rick "Most Deaf" Rubin).
iTunes Music Store AAC file from 6 months ago: AAC 256kbps, 44.1kHz, -9.94 dB replaygain.
iTunes Music Store AAC file, "Mastered for iTunes": AAC 256kbps, 44.1kHz, -11.07 dB replaygain.

Well gee, thanks!

This post has been edited by skamp: Feb 29 2012, 00:54


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bug80
post Feb 29 2012, 12:47
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QUOTE (skamp @ Feb 29 2012, 00:41) *
Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie, from the album I'm With You (produced by Rick "Most Deaf" Rubin).
iTunes Music Store AAC file from 6 months ago: AAC 256kbps, 44.1kHz, -9.94 dB replaygain.
iTunes Music Store AAC file, "Mastered for iTunes": AAC 256kbps, 44.1kHz, -11.07 dB replaygain.

Well gee, thanks!

Just a question: did you use the same Replaygain algorithm on both files (since Foobar2000 recently changed the algorithm to EBU R128)? Since this might also explain the difference.
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skamp
post Feb 29 2012, 13:20
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QUOTE (christopher @ Feb 29 2012, 12:47) *
That's awesome, Rubin's given us all MORE THAN ONE DECIBEL of increased DR. Small miracles.

You mean decreased dynamic range. The Mastered for iTunes track is louder (hence the larger negative gain)

QUOTE (bug80 @ Feb 29 2012, 12:47) *
Just a question: did you use the same Replaygain algorithm on both files (since Foobar2000 recently changed the algorithm to EBU R128)? Since this might also explain the difference.

I replaygained them both with foobar2000 yesterday, at the same time.

This post has been edited by skamp: Feb 29 2012, 13:21


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Hengest
post Feb 29 2012, 14:34
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Was looking through a recent 'Mastered for iTunes' thread on Slashdot. Anyway, there was this rather interesting link that discussed how one particular mastering engineer, Andy VanDette, has created masters of Rush albums specifically designed to be encoded into AAC for the iTunes store. From the article:

QUOTE
"Mastering for iTunes was a different challenge," VanDette told Ars. "You can't get around it—when you throw away 80 percent of the data, the sound changes. It was my quest to make the AAC files sound as close to the CD as possible; I did not want them to be any more loud, hyped, or boomy sounding than the CD."

...

"For iTunes mastering I focused on making up for the losses created by the iTunes AAC algorithm. Generally, I heard changes in level, bottom, top, punch, and imaging."


The main problem I can see with this approach is that if, in the future, Apple does start to release lossless material or re-encodes the material using an updated encoder the resulting files will quite possibly sound a bit 'peculiar' I guess.


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db1989
post Feb 29 2012, 15:01
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QUOTE (Andy Vandette)
You can't get around it—when you throw away 80 percent of the data, the sound changes.
Snore.

QUOTE
It was my quest to make the AAC files sound as close to the CD as possible; I did not want them to be any more loud, hyped, or boomy sounding than the CD.
Since when does the encoding process have that effect?

QUOTE
For iTunes mastering I focused on making up for the losses created by the iTunes AAC algorithm. Generally, I heard changes in level, bottom, top, punch, and imaging.
I am sad to know that this uninformed person is fiddling around with Rush’s back-catalogue! Then again, perhaps even he can’t make anything sound worse than the current incarnation of Vapor Trails.

QUOTE
The main problem I can see with this approach is that if, in the future, Apple does start to release lossless material or re-encodes the material using an updated encoder the resulting files will quite possibly sound a bit 'peculiar' I guess.
The main problem I can see with this approach is that is is based upon unsubstantiated FUD and risks other people being suckered into the same conspiracy theory about lossy formats. That the resultant files might sound different to those mastered by someone with any idea of the relevant technology is a valid concern, but to me it seems like a secondary issue in this case.
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Hengest
post Feb 29 2012, 15:17
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^True. Though he does at least speak-out against mastering mainly for people listening on rubbishy earbuds and the like.


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db1989
post Mar 2 2012, 17:59
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Split: Apple developing new format for “high definition”/“adaptive streaming”
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Notat
post Mar 4 2012, 00:17
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Ian Shepherd claims that Mastered for iTunes is does not sound more like the CD. Is he abusing the null test?

http://productionadvice.co.uk/mastered-for-itunes/

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greynol
post Mar 4 2012, 01:47
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The idea that people responsible for producing music think they need to pre-color masters so that high-bitrate lossy encodes sound more like CDs of the non-pre-colored masters is scary.

Having these people perform simple ABX tests would go a long way in bringing this latest round of insanity to an end.


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Wombat
post Mar 4 2012, 02:17
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As customer i feel a bit confused by all this marketing weirdness.
You can get the impression buying the CD must be worse as getting an magically improved iTunes download. All these loyal CD-buyers have to switch now!
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krabapple
post Mar 6 2012, 18:06
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Interesting thread about this on gearslutz...and note post #40, where JJ steps in to school the 'pros' on lossy encoding, and comments on AAC vs MP3.

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-f...ines-apple.html


And fires off this well-deserved zinger:
QUOTE
But I have to say that the audio production community went anti-science rather before the republicans
. laugh.gif

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lvqcl
post Mar 6 2012, 20:56
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QUOTE (j_j)
I'll post a couple of wav files to the thread (not music, just noise and tones) that show why you must have joint stereo coding. Basically, it's the Suzanne Vega problem, known in the science as "Binaural Masking Level Depression".


=> http://www.gearslutz.com/board/7637595-post171.html
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C.R.Helmrich
post Mar 6 2012, 21:12
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QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 4 2012, 02:47) *
The idea that people responsible for producing music think they need to pre-color masters so that high-bitrate lossy encodes sound more like CDs of the non-pre-colored masters is scary.

Having these people perform simple ABX tests would go a long way in bringing this latest round of insanity to an end.

That's what I thought... until a colleague of mine told me that he made some pro-audio guys ABX a file and its lossless encoding. As expected, they got like 5 out of 10 on average. My colleague: "Doesn't this show that the lossless encoding is indistinguishable from the original?" They: "Not really, because..."

Some of these people brought you award-winning audio productions! sad.gif

Chris

P.S.: I'd buy music online if it were 44.1/16 lossless. Preferably HD-AAC wink.gif

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googlebot
post Mar 6 2012, 22:02
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QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Mar 6 2012, 21:12) *
P.S.: I'd buy music online if it were 44.1/16 lossless. Preferably HD-AAC wink.gif


I am also finally going to switch from buying CDs to iTunes completely, if they would start offering a lossless catalog. Up to this point I do not own more than 10 iTMS AAC tracks.

Audible issues with clipping due to AAC encoding have been a non-issue for years. The Apple AAC encoder has a built in limiter for those cases, which is completely inactive until needed. I am sincerely convinced that the whole campaign is a precursor for Apple's lossless/HD rollout.

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Ron Jones
post Mar 6 2012, 22:56
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QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Mar 6 2012, 13:12) *
Some of these people brought you award-winning audio productions! sad.gif

You don't need to be particularly smart nor particularly savvy to produce good-sounding content, especially with practically any kind of digital technology (recording, manipulation, etc.) where serious errors in judgement tend to have negligible side-effects. Many who get into the trade seem to believe that a person does need to be smart and savvy, though, which can lead to egotism on the part of those who practice, and with egotism comes a dismissive attitude toward reality.

It's a good thing that making things sound good comes so easily these days. But like with anything else, it's kind of a double-edged sword.

As for the aforementioned Gearslutz thread...heh.
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mudlord
post Mar 7 2012, 14:01
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QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Mar 6 2012, 15:12) *
P.S.: I'd buy music online if it were 44.1/16 lossless. Preferably HD-AAC wink.gif


Corporate shill. >_>
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C.R.Helmrich
post Mar 7 2012, 21:35
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That's your opinion. To me it's just reflecting my personal preference, which probably coincides with a certain corporate prospect. Unbelievable, isn't it?

But here's some corporate shill: the colleague I was talking about was trying to promote the Sonnox Fraunhofer Pro-Codec plug-in, which includes an ABX mode. So ABXing is available directly in a DAW now. Question is: do producers care about such a feature?

Chris


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Woodinville
post Mar 7 2012, 21:39
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Y'all might also want to read the same titled thread (modulo a bit) in the mastering forum at Gearslutz.

Just try to ignore some of the interesting contributions smile.gif


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