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iTunes Quality

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

I buy quite a bit of music on itunes but its at 256kbps... is it really THAT bad? Does it make a large difference if i buy the HD tracks?


It sounds good to me!


Any comments would be great.

post #2 of 50
For me 256 AAC is indistinguishable from the original CD.
post #3 of 50



I am not an expert, not an audiophile or knowledgeable at all, but for me there is a difference between the CD quality and the Itunes quality, not all the time, but at some specific points in some songs. It could be placebo effect, but it sounds like distortion on the resonance of drums, or other resonances in general.


So, if I can buy a CD on the local store, I buy it; if the song or album is difficult to find, I buy it on Itunes.

post #4 of 50

I thought that CDs sounded better at first too. But I did a careful direct comparison and realized that there was no difference at all. It was expectation bias.

post #5 of 50

Hi Bigshot!


If you have the album Sehnsucht (Rammstein) in CD, hear at the intro of Engel. Then compress it using Itunes to whatever bit rate you want in lossy AAC (even the highest one), and hear. I have not done any dopple blind test, but there is a difference for me.

Edited by daniel0407 - 10/19/12 at 12:53pm
post #6 of 50
Thread Starter 

Ripping lossless/flac files from a cd is surely the best... technically. But with a mid-level system I cant hear the difference between a lossless file and the iTunes download. I live in SA, and finding certain CDs is really difficult. iTunes comes in handy... often! OK - so I'm not missing out on anything major by buying from iTunes at 256kbps?

post #7 of 50

No, you're not really missing out on anything. As far as I can tell anyway.

post #8 of 50

In some cases, you might actually be getting superior sound from iTunes store downloads. The reasoning being that Apple has been pushing the labels to encode the AAC tracks from 24-bit originals. When decoding, the iTunes decoder requantizes to 24 bits on output (it does this anyway, regardless of what the source resolution was). In some cases, this will mean that you're getting fewer quantization effects when listening to iTunes music. Does this offset the quality loss from 256kbps encoding? I think it actually might in some cases.


One of these days I should really try, just out of interest's sake, to A/B some iTunes tracks mastered from 24 bit originals with my 44/16 CD copies of the same tracks. It would be really interesting to do.


In any case, I definitely don't have any issues buying from iTunes when music is only available there. Some of the "iTunes Festival" recordings for example are amazing... the live Adele performance for example is really well recorded and encoded and sounds fantastic.

post #9 of 50

I've wondered this as well, but I can't find any difference in any of my music, but I'm certainly not an expert. I would think that CD quality may vary by genre in order to get the most detail in very detailed pieces. Interesting question though...

post #10 of 50
Thread Starter 

Some CDs in South africa sell at $30... and at $10 in itunes... paying three times seems steep doesnt it? 

post #11 of 50

I really wish iTunes offered music in lossless quality. While there is always the option to buy the CD, I don't always want the whole CD. Sometimes I want one song and I think the rest of the album sucks. 


So I can pay $1.29 or whatever on iTunes or $10-$15 for that one song if I buy the CD. Lame.

post #12 of 50


post #13 of 50

Itunes FTW!! Ive been buying from iTunes like crazy lately and with my iPhone 4 and GR01 it sounds pretty damn good to me. None of the music i listen to is reaily available so its also quicker, easier, and cheaper to just download from itunes rather than buy online and import it. At first i was very hesitant because its only 256kbps, but aac is better than mp3 at the same bit-rate. 

post #14 of 50

I primarily buy from iTunes as if I bought mostly cds I'd have stacks reaching the ceiling with the amount of music I have.The quality is damn near indistinguishable to my ear. 

Edited by Origin89 - 10/22/12 at 7:45pm
post #15 of 50

I do not know much about music editing, but I do know a little about picture and photo edition. Since the information, no matter what kind, is related in a fundamental level, for me the following analogy will be valid.

If one tries to edit a picture, lets say, using photoshop, and the original file is jpge, it is high likely that some artifacts are going to be created as a byproduct of the process. If the original source is a RAW data file with high bit depth, the end file will have, usually, a better appareance and less artifacts and edition defects. The end file of both process could have the same format, the same compression, the same bit depth, but because the original data had more information, the end product will be better.

So, if one create two losy music files from the same song, both at the same bit rate, but the first one using a 24/96 source and the second using the usual CD quality 16/44 sourse, it is more likely that the later will have more compresion artifacs and other defects; However, it does not mean that the file created from the 24/96 source will be better than a lossless 16/44 song.
Edited by daniel0407 - 10/23/12 at 12:52pm
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