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ITunes, bit rates, and figuring out my headphone's limitations

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I've posted in the past about whether or not the limitations I hear in some of my music are the result of my "rig"  (unamped HD 448s run out of a MacBook Pro) or the source music.  Lately, because I've been wondering about buying new cans, I've been paying attention to which music sounds good and which does not. Increasingly I am of the opinion that my 448s are fine but that the biggest issue is my music.

 

An example: I own two versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations.  One is a digital recording of Glen Gould ripped at 256 kbps from a CD. THe other is a recent record by Simone Dinnerstein that I bought off of the iTunes store, which is 128kbps.  There is a clear difference to my ears, and I much prefer listening to Gould's version because of the sound quality.  Generally speaking, the classical music that I've ripped from CDs sounds better than the stuff I bought from iTunes.  I notice no difference, however, from my non-classical music, although perhaps there I simply havnt been paying as much attention.

 

On the other hand, one of the pieces of music that I feel is lacking something is my 1962 Karajan recording of Beethoven's 9th, which I ripped using Apple lossless.  But there, perhaps what I'm missing--detailing and clarity--comes from the fact that it's ADD vice DDD?

 

1. Is the consensus among head-fiers that I absolutely should not buy music (or at least music I care about) from iTunes?

2. Can anyone point me to a recording of Beethoven's 9th that is regarded as high-quality in terms of sound (setting aside the quality of the perfomance), so that I can compare with my 1962 Karajan version (regarded as one of the best, performance wise)?

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCofficehack View Post

I've posted in the past about whether or not the limitations I hear in some of my music are the result of my "rig"  (unamped HD 448s run out of a MacBook Pro) or the source music.  Lately, because I've been wondering about buying new cans, I've been paying attention to which music sounds good and which does not. Increasingly I am of the opinion that my 448s are fine but that the biggest issue is my music.

 

An example: I own two versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations.  One is a digital recording of Glen Gould ripped at 256 kbps from a CD. THe other is a recent record by Simone Dinnerstein that I bought off of the iTunes store, which is 128kbps.  There is a clear difference to my ears, and I much prefer listening to Gould's version because of the sound quality.  Generally speaking, the classical music that I've ripped from CDs sounds better than the stuff I bought from iTunes.  I notice no difference, however, from my non-classical music, although perhaps there I simply havnt been paying as much attention.

 

On the other hand, one of the pieces of music that I feel is lacking something is my 1962 Karajan recording of Beethoven's 9th, which I ripped using Apple lossless.  But there, perhaps what I'm missing--detailing and clarity--comes from the fact that it's ADD vice DDD?

 

1. Is the consensus among head-fiers that I absolutely should not buy music (or at least music I care about) from iTunes?

2. Can anyone point me to a recording of Beethoven's 9th that is regarded as high-quality in terms of sound (setting aside the quality of the perfomance), so that I can compare with my 1962 Karajan version (regarded as one of the best, performance wise)?


Simple test: Play the song from the CD, then listen to the 256kbps version. based on the specs, it doesnt look like your headphones need amping, though I am not well versed enough in telling wether a set of cans needs amping or not. Furthermore, try your music through a digital audio converter if you have one. If I were you I would not buy apple music. If you absolutely HAVE to pay for music, go to the store and get the actual CD, rip it to flac or some such, and seal the CD away for safe keeping. We cant really point you to a recording because piracy is not condoned. However, with a bit of googling, you should be able to find some sort of site that allows you to download all sorts of files in a highly efficient manner. Simply put beethoven 9th flac into google and see what you come up with. You may find a direct download or a download of ahhh....other sorts.
post #3 of 5

You may find that a number of tracks purchased from the iTunes store are provided at relatively low bitrates; it's going to be okay with some pop music, but well-produced classical music will suffer. 

 

The 1962 Karajan recording is maybe the definitive performance - at least it's my favorite. (I own it on CD.) I'd suggest searching for a used copy since it appears to be OOP. 

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

I own the 1962. It is a great performance, but I find the sound lacking in some areas. I'm intrigued by the 1984 Karajan. The performance is considered less than stellar (although I suspect that Karajan and Co. on a bad day are superior to almost anyone else in the business), but the recording quality is much higher.

 

I just bought a Bach St. Matthew's passion on CD, which I ripped using Apple Lossless and am comparing to my 128kbpm iTunes-bought version.  The iTunes version is pretty good, but the Lossless one is better. I guess this is the price of having better equipment: one gets pickier.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by poikkeus View Post

You may find that a number of tracks purchased from the iTunes store are provided at relatively low bitrates; it's going to be okay with some pop music, but well-produced classical music will suffer. 

 

The 1962 Karajan recording is maybe the definitive performance - at least it's my favorite. (I own it on CD.) I'd suggest searching for a used copy since it appears to be OOP. 



 

post #5 of 5

Haitink's 9th with the London Symphony Orchestra has a good sound quality and is generally considered a good performance.

 

As for buying music on iTunes, it not as bad as it was before, mainly because iTunes files are 256 kbps AAC now which is indistinguishable for the original file 99.999% of the time in DBT.

On the other hand, they are still often as or more expensive than the CD, which is doubtlessly superior as for as sound quality and extras (booklet, already backed up...) are concerned

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