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Old catalog iTMS songs just ripped from CDs?
ozmosis82
post Jun 29 2012, 23:15
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I thought I remembered reading somewhere that when iTunes was getting labels to fill its Music Store's library, they (labels) would simply rip CDs, encode them and submit them. I can't find where I read that, but I was wondering if anyone on here knew if that was, in fact, what happened. If it was, is it fair to assume that not a lot of care was put into ensuring accurate rips? Is it also fair to assume that those files encoded oh-so long ago are still lurking for purchase when the AAC encoder Apple uses has obviously been improved in the last 4-5 years?
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DonP
post Jun 30 2012, 11:14
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QUOTE (ozmosis82 @ Jun 29 2012, 18:15) *
I thought I remembered reading somewhere that when iTunes was getting labels to fill its Music Store's library, they (labels) would simply rip CDs, encode them and submit them. I can't find where I read that, but I was wondering if anyone on here knew if that was, in fact, what happened.


Anything wrong with that?
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kornchild2002
post Jun 30 2012, 16:21
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The same files from long ago are not going to be floating around in the iTunes Store. Back in 2005, Apple started offering DRM free tracks and the iTunes Store was completely updated in ~2006 to adopt the use of only DRM free tracks. So those initial tracks from the early days of the iTunes Store (2004) are not on there anymore.

I think the iTunes Store tracks have been exported from the digital studio masters for a long, long time now. Apple has it setup where they can load their studio masters into the software of their choice and output either an ALAC or 256kbps VBR_constrained AAC file. That is in then uploaded to the iTunes Store. Studios can even take things further by doing the whole "Mastered for iTunes" thing where their digital masters are modified specifically for lossy compression (or so Apple's literature states). Either way, I wouldn't worry about older files still being around. Additionally, I wouldn't worry about encoder updates either. I doubt songs on the iTunes Store are re-encoded (from their lossless sources) every single time Apple updates their AAC encoder especially since any audible performance boosts likely won't be heard at 256kbps and instead focus more on the lower bitrate ranges.
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db1989
post Jun 30 2012, 21:16
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Jun 30 2012, 16:21) *
I think the iTunes Store tracks have been exported from the digital studio masters for a long, long time now.
‘You think that’ or ‘It is the case that’? The distinction is of paramount importance. This is the kind of statement that calls out for a citation, never mind a fuzzy statement like “I think”.

But whatever the answer as to what proportion of albums are encoded from CDs: as DonP said, what would be wrong with that?
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kornchild2002
post Jun 30 2012, 22:12
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My "I think" portion came from the studios being able to use their own software of choice. I thought I remember reading somewhere that they could use Pro Tools or any number of similar programs to output their files. It turns out that isn't the case. Apple uses something called iTunes Producer, you can read some information about publishing music on the iTunes Store here. iTunes Producer is Apples program that allows studios/producers/engineers/bands/artists/labels to import their digital masters and encode them as either ALAC or 256kbps VBR_constrained AAC (i.e. iTunes Plus) along with adding all of that additional metadata such as copyright year, producer, and anything else that may appear in iTunes Store purchased songs. Straight 256kbps VBR_constrained files can also be loaded into iTunes Producer but the software itself can take of encoding. Apple has been doing this for a while now dating back to iTunes Producer 1.0. Someone went through iTunes Producer here, it is version 1.6 right after Apple switched the iTunes Store to DRM-free 256kbps downloads only. Now iTunes Producer is up to version 2.something or other and it is used for eBooks, Music Videos, Movies, audiobooks, and podcasts.

Edit: for whatever reason, the link insertion tool isn't working. I do apologize for the addresses not being clickable links as I intended.

This post has been edited by kornchild2002: Jun 30 2012, 22:13
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punkrockdude
post Jul 1 2012, 11:50
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In 2008, TuneCore wanted you to upload 320 kbps iTunes encoded AAC files to their service and when it was put up on iTunes Music Store they were transcoded down to 256 kbps. Regards.
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kornchild2002
post Jul 1 2012, 13:29
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Is there any evidence that they were doing this? I think we would have heard something by now if Apple was selling lossy transcoded content and people would be up in arms.
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ozmosis82
post Jul 1 2012, 18:31
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Well, my issue is more with the idea that the rips' quality may be less than awesome if a label is just using any old ripper (or iTunes itself) in burst mode or something like that. If they're feeding masters into iTunes Producer, then great. That's one less thing to worry about.

The other thing is that sometimes certain pressings of CDs have little mistakes on them, like the first few seconds of the next song appended to the end of the last song (a pressing of Tone-Loc's album "Loc-ed After Dark" that I have has this problem across a number of its tracks). I assumed this was something that happened during the duplication process and not actually a problem with the masters (those masters are likely to be from tape, so they would have had to have been digitized somewhere along the way). Errors like that (I'm assuming) wouldn't pop up if they're feeding masters. And then there's the issue of "hidden tracks" which may have made sense when dealing with media like CDs, but makes absolutely *no* sense with digital downloads. Actually it's frustrating because it needlessly bloats file size.

Now I know when Apple made the jump to iTunes Plus they would have had to re-add everything (I sincerely hope what punkrockdude mentioned didn't actually occur). So obviously those files would have been from a newer source.

The thing about Mastered for iTunes is that Apple is specifically asking for the lossless 24-bit masters themselves, so that "if" they make any changes in the future, they don't have to get labels to resubmit everything all over again. I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't have 16-bit masters right now, and that they're just storing already-encoded files provided by the labels/artists.

Anyway, my question popped up because I've come across a few albums available on the iTMS whose metadata very clearly came from a CDDB source, and I was wondering if that was because it was just ripped from a CD. But then maybe iTunes Producer has the ability to download info from CDDB?
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punkrockdude
post Jul 1 2012, 19:07
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Jul 1 2012, 14:29) *
Is there any evidence that they were doing this? I think we would have heard something by now if Apple was selling lossy transcoded content and people would be up in arms.
My band did it that way to get it on iTunes so for me at least it is enough evidence. TuneCore's guide on their site asked artists to encode the music with iTunes at 320 kbps and upload it. THey had no other option at that time, for example to upload WAV or FLAC. Regards.

This post has been edited by punkrockdude: Jul 1 2012, 19:10
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kornchild2002
post Jul 1 2012, 19:13
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I'm not sure what features iTunes Producer offers as I can't download it. You have to register with Apple and the only walk through I could come across was for an older version used 4 years ago. It may very well have the feature to lookup that type of information. Or maybe they were the ones who supplied the CDDB info? I don't think we will ever truly know what goes on behind the scenes as Apple hasn't published anything. I do know that Apple has a collection of 16-bit ALAC files from iTunes Producer as that is one of the formats it can output. From there Apple will transcode the files to meet iTunes plus standards. What I don't know are the number of albums/songs that were made like this. I guess we can never truly know if songs supplied to Apple are lossy transcodes, CD rips, or are made from the masters. iTunes Producer will work with the digital master files and encode them to an acceptable format that Apple can use for the iTunes Store.
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