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NYT misinformation on audio compression
post Jul 5 2004, 12:25
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There's an article in the New York Times about audio compression and download services like iTMS.


Now, while I use lossless encoding and wouldn't buy from any download service at the moment for anything other than novelty value, I like to think I do so for the right reasons. However this piece is full of misinformation, particularly towards Apple and AAC. Even though the author's complaints generally apply to every form of lossly compression and every download service.

The author (alledgedly a historian) apparently also wrote a book about the history of Apple that couldn't go a page without a snide remark about Steve Jobs' personality or level of intellegence.
Combine that fact with him asking the editor of 'Stereophile' magazine to comment on lossy encoding and you're asking for a barely disguised hit-piece.
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post Jul 7 2004, 07:56
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The tracks are not carbon copies of the CD originals, but compressed versions.

Yeah that is pretty obvious actually. Still amazing how many people don't realise that though.

The smaller files are handy for speedy downloads, space-saving for storage and perfectly serviceable for listening through ear buds when riding on the subway. Not what you will want, however, when your desktop computer becomes the home jukebox and wirelessly sends these simulacra to the entertainment center in the living room.

I challenge someone to tell the difference between MPC and a CD on a decent system. I'm assuming AAC is there at decent bitrates or will be there soon. Same for Vorbis. LAME mp3 is also good with the --alt-presets.

"The majority of people," Mr. Mains said, "have absolutely no idea what a bit rate is," reasoning that if Apple offered music encoded at a bit rate higher than 128, customers would select it without realizing that it would fill up their hard drive and portable player quickly.

You know I think he's right about this, but you know in my experiences I've seen that most people do understand at a very rudimentary level that a 192kbit file usually sounds better than a 128.

Now I've always disagreed with the use of the term "CD-quality" but to be honest most people don't care at all about how their music sounds because they own crappy soundsystems and don't like a song for very long anyway. Basically that whole article is an uninformed biased bash against lossy audio compression. Well the author can rest assured that those who truly care about the quality of their music buy the CD anyway and really don't utilize the online stores.

Nero AAC -q0.45
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