1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Hi-Res Albums vs. Mastered for iTunes (or Apple Digital Master) Albums - Which is Better??!

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by RockStar2005, Dec 5, 2017.
1 2
4 5 6 7
  1. RockStar2005
    YW voxie! I thought ppl would like to know all that. I couldn't find ANY info on the non-MFiT albums online, so this was my only option to find out the truth.

  2. god-bluff
    Do you have any examples of albums from iTunes that are 'much cheaper to buy' than a CD or at a pinch.. maybe even a Hires download from Qobuz
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  3. yrun26
    Not much has been published (at least to my knowledge) on MFiT but these were the take away points...

    It appears that MFiT was developed to combat excessively hot masters which create a lot of problems for lossy encoders such as Mp3, or the iTunes AAC format. Lots of masters in the 90's through the early 2000's were of very high gain.The intent with MFiT then, is if you had access to a 24-bit uncompressed master and compared it to the MFiT version, they should sound virtually identical to the majority of listeners.

    iTunes prefers that master audio files be at 96kHz/24 bit, but any sample rate that’s a 24 bit file would still be considered MFiT. The mastering facility does nothing special to the master except to check what it will sound like before they (or the record label) submit it to iTunes, and then check it later once again. All encoding for iTunes is still done by Apple, not by the mastering houses, record labels, or artists. MFiT is only an indication that a hi-res master was supplied; it’s not a separate product.

    Apple’s latest encoding methodology is a two-step process. The first step in the encoding path is to use state-of-the-art, mastering-quality Sample Rate Conversion (SRC) to resample the master file to a sample rate of 44.1kHz. Because this SRC outputs a 32-bit floating-point file, it can preserve values that might otherwise fall outside of the permitted amplitude range. This critical intermediary step prevents any aliasing or clipping that could otherwise occur in SRC.

    source: http://images.apple.com/euro/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/docs/mastered_for_itunes.pdf
    source: https://www.justmastering.com/article-masteredforitunes.php
    source: https://www.prosoundweb.com/topics/studio/in_the_studio_the_latest_on_mastered_for_itunes/#
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  4. RockStar2005
    Well the savings of non-MFiT albums vs. CDs/CDQ digital albums and MFiT vs. Hi-Res albums are two different points. I would say on average the savings b/t the former are minimal at best. But for the latter, most Hi-Res albums I see run like $18-$20 (sometimes higher), while the same albums in MFiT (which again are ALSO Hi-Res) run for like $10 average. Plus for ppl like me who downsample my Hi-Res purchases to around 256-320 kbps AAC, buying from iTunes Store means I don't have to convert anything..........they already come in the format and resolution I'm happy with. The fact that iTunes Store no longer sells mp3s to me is a big bonus because 1) mp3s suck and they should've been phased out YEARS ago 2) Since iTunes Store has SO many people who purchase songs and albums from it, it's nice to know that even the non-MFiT content on there is sourced from a CD vs. an inferior mp3.

    What's nice about iTunes Store is that close to every album on there lets you download individual singles in MFiT, where with other Hi-Res competitors, you ONLY in many cases have the option to buy the entire album, even if you only want 1 or 2 songs. This definitely factors into savings as well.

    Another reason to buy a CDQ track or album from iTunes Store (aka digital copy) vs. the physical CD (let's say in "Brand New" condition) is that many ppl these days don't want anything to do with CDs or the time & effort it takes to rip a CD. Even further, many don't know that you can rip a CD to other formats besides mp3, so they make the mistake I used to make and do just that. So buying a CDQ track or album from iTunes Store (or even 7digital) is much easier to do. (Note: For albums that have been out a while, I many times have bought the CD of that album in "Like New" Used condition and ripped it myself for a very low price.)
  5. DarwinOSX
    I have lots of iTunes music from various sources including quite a few Mastered for iTunes as well as an Apple Music subscription. They typically sound very good. Apple is serious about their requirements for this and has stringent standard for those who bother to read them rather than just say what they want to believe. I also subscribe to Tidal and have listened to a lot of MQA through several different full decode Dac's. MQA also sounds really good but like anything else depends on the original source but MQA often is derived from remastered sources and so are Mastered for iTunes files. I typically can't tell the difference between Mastered for iTunes and standard Tidal CD quality files but MQA has more detail in most cases. I also subscribe to Pandora so that's three music streaming services I subscribe to. I easily pass the NPR listening test by the way.
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  6. RockStar2005
    Yes I am quite impressed by Apple's implementation of both MFiT and Non-MFiT (aka CD-Quality) content. I only wish I'd paid more attention to it sooner. Would've saved me a lot of money over the last few years! lol

    Well even if you typically can't tell the difference between Tidal CDQ and MFiT, if you can even some of the time, that's still impressive. I myself have compared enough Hi-Res content to mp3 and CDQ to know I can very often (though not always) tell a difference. Of course this much more because MFiT/Hi-Res content receives the very best sounding masters, not b/c of the resolution.

    My issue with MQA is that you need a special kind of player to play it, and from what I've read it's DRM, though not sure on that. I would have to listen to it I guess to really more accurately judge it, but I'm more than happy with my collection of Hi-Res & MFiT Hi-Res content as it is. And TBH, I HATE the idea of having to convert all my songs to MQA AND/OR buying all the same songs again in MQA (esp the latter). At this point, I've downsampled all my songs to lossy (but still perfect sounding) AAC, and I've been made to understand that converting a lossy file to something else can result in distortion to the file itself. So I honestly kind of hope MQA falls on its face. lol

    I'm pretty sure I took this NPR thing before, but I just took it again. Well half of it. Got 2 out of the 3 right. lol On the one I got wrong it was only cuz I forgot that just because something sounds louder doesn't mean it's better. But I did know that before.

    The fact is, when you're buying music online, it's not the same as ripping a CD you own. The CD being ripped to mp3 for instance is still coming from the same master, but when you purchase albums online, as MOST people do, you're almost never getting "the same master" if buying an mp3 version of an album vs. a Hi-Res/MFiT version. The studios use different sounding masters b/c they believe a master calibrated for vinyl will sound best on a record player, a master for CD will sound the best there, etc etc.
  7. Sterling2
    Here's what I have noticed through the following chain: iTunes 256 AAC download, 24/96 download, or CD ALAC rip to iTunes library and output to Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD converting usb to optical S/PDIF for output to Sony TA-9000es pre/pro, no difference in listening experience so far with any material. This has curtailed my interest in hi-rez, not wanting to pay more for what I cannot hear. Now, since I am getting all of my downloads from iTunes, some mastered for iTunes material does seem to me to sound very, very good, making me wonder how anything could sound better, That's to say I am very satisfied with iTunes in general. I still prefer however multi-channel SACD to stereo downloads, but that was not the OP's question. Also, I do not know why anyone here is comparing today's download bits and bites to 20 year old MP3 technology. Of course, everything sounds better than MP3 to everybody with decent hearing. At one time, it made some sense; but, today, with the iCloud, and/or other inexpensive digital storage solutions, MP3 is moot. AAC and ALAC are where it's at today.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  8. RockStar2005
    Yeah that's the thing.......MFiT IS Hi-Res (24-bit), and it seems many of the MFiT albums were released at the same time as the "regular Hi-Res" albums were elsewhere, leading me to strongly believe they stem from the same superior master.

    I agree on SACD/DSD..........those releases are MUCH more rare than Hi-Res/MFiT releases are, but they tend to get EVEN BETTER sounding masters than Hi-Res/MFiT releases do. I own a handful of SACD and/or DSD releases, and they are always FANTASTIC sounding. The DSD and SACD releases cost considerably more than the regular Hi-Res albums do, so I only buy those if it's an album or artist I REALLY love.

    I couldn't agree more with just how obsolete mp3s are at this point, and your AAC/ALAC (and FLAC) comment as well. We CAN do better, and I've been doing so since "getting wise" 3 1/2 years ago to all this. And AAC is only SLIGHTLY larger in size vs. mp3, so really the storage issue isn't as much as an issue if you go that route as I have.
  9. DarwinOSX
    MP 3 is a very dated codec and AAC is superior in so many ways and of course file size isn't as important as it used to be. I remember doing 64k MP3's to save space...ugh.
    As much as I like Tidal and MQA I would be fine with just iTunes for everything. I have years of stuff in there from who knows where. Ripped cd's etc and matched to AAC by iTunes much. I periodically download everything in iTunes and move that file to my Nas to retain my own non DRM copies.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
    Sterling2 and RockStar2005 like this.
  10. luckybaer
    I bought Rush’s classic, “Moving Pictures” as MFiT, and what was downloaded was 256kbps AAC. Silly me for thinking it would be ALAC.
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  11. RockStar2005
    Hey luckybaer,

    How very silly indeed! lol j/k

    Yeah EVERYTHING in the iTunes Store catalog is in 256 kbps AAC, but as I'd mentioned before in this thread, the statistics show that people can't tell the difference b/t 256 kbps+ AAC and FLAC/ALAC anyway (assuming both stem from the same master). I downsample ALL of my Hi-Res music to 256-320 kbps AAC. I myself have tried blind ABX tests and always failed them despite having very good hearing, so I choose to accept those stats as fact. If anything, I appreciate that they do that so I don't have to go through the extra steps of downsampling the albums/songs myself like I do when I buy from the "regular" Hi-Res sites like Acoustic Sounds, HDTracks, 7digital, etc. I just download the songs, back them up on my Google Drive, then place a copy on my phone as well, then delete the albums/songs permanently.

    Let us know how "Moving Pictures" sounds, and if you have any other versions to compare it to (i.e. mp3, CD, etc.), please let us know how it fares to those versions.
  12. Sterling2
    I've recently been buying SACDs from Amazon. I like to buy hybrid versions, which have a Stereo SACD layer, multi-channel SACD layer, and a CD layer. Having the CD layer I can easily get the music into iTunes on my laptop, using the laptop's integrated DVD burner. The multi-channel layer, I am not able to enjoy right now as my SACD Player is a circa 2000 Sony DVP-S9000es, which only accommodates Stereo SACD, DVD, and commercial CDs; but soon, I hope to buy an OPPO 205 4k Bluray Player for multi-channel SACD pleasure. I bring this to your attention since you mentioned SACD costing considerably more than regular Hi-Res albums. Most of the Hi-Res albums I've noticed go for about $20; however, the hybrid SACDs I've been buying from Amazon are only about $10. This is for classic music, mostly from the Living Stereo series. That series was originally mastered in the early 1950s on 30 ips stereo recorders from 3 channel mix. The SACDs of this material brings listeners the opportunity to hear that 3 channel mix. At any rate, you might want to explore hybrid SACDs, as well as the OPPO Player since it has usb and HDMI inputs to allow for iTunes to be enjoyed from computer to your Home Theatre system or Stereo equipment. Now, if you do have a multi-channel Home Theatre system, with the OPPO you will not only be able to listen to multi-channel SACDs but you will also be able to enjoy multi-channel files which you have downloaded or are streaming using the usb or HDMI connection between your computer and OPPO Player.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  13. RockStar2005
    Wow Sterling, that's a SICK setup you got there! lol :L3000:

    That's cool. Yeah I've become VERY familiar with the different types of SACDs out there. I ONLY buy Hybrid SACDs b/c I don't own an SACD player. But I rip from the CD layer when I have actually bought one and used Foobar and dBpoweramp to go from there. Foobar I believe is the only good (and free lol) software that actually SEE the .dsf files on the SACD, so I use that to extract them, and then dBpoweramp to handle the eventual conversion to 256-320 kbps AAC.

    That sux that your Sony doesn't handle the multi-channel layer. To be honest though, I've confirmed with my SACD purchases that both layers come from the SAME master. Therefore, I do not feel there is any actual discernible loss in using the CD layer. Yes, it's at a lower resolution, but if people can't hear the difference, then to me it doesn't matter. Of course, we both know SACDs are rare but when an album DOES get a DSD/SACD release, it tends to have an even BETTER master than the Hi-Res/MFiT version gets. So if you want my advice, don't bother with buying that stuff. Just throw the disc on your computer, use Foobar to detect and extract the CD layer, and then just use dBpoweramp (with the DSD encoder installed of course as well) to finish the job.

    Interesting. The few Hybrid SACDs I've actually bought were not classical music though, so they were def not that low (I wish lol). Hybrid SACDs I've purchased include the first 2 Rage Against The Machine albums, and more recently the Derek & The Dominos album with "Layla" on it (see my review at bottom of that page). That one was very expensive b/c it was a limited number edition, but the sound quality on it is INSANE. MoFi did an INCREDIBLE job on it. I paid $35 for it but now it's a bit cheaper.

    I've bought some used CDs in recent times that were in "like new" condition, and ripped them in order to get above-mp3 quality (aka the better master lol).

    I tend to listen to music on my Sennheiser HD1 Over-Ear headphones, but I do own some concert blu-rays as well which I listen to in my living room. Yes I do have a multi-channel home theater system. So those concert blu-rays fare extremely well there. I have yet to encounter a multi-channel album though like 5.1 that comes in a form other than DVD or blu-ray. I've heard of them, but never see them made available. Or if they are that way they're not labeled, though I don't see why a studio wouldn't want to advertise that. But I would be very open to that, though I don't know how much I'd enjoy it on headphones? I've tried surround sound FX like when I owned my last Xperia phone or the Walkman A17 I owned for a while. On the Xperia it sounded cool, but oddly enough on the Walkman it didn't, so I stopped using since then (I sold off my Walkman 2 1/2 years ago in favor of playing off my phone with a portable amp/DAC, or in the case of my current LG V30, the built-in Quad DAC which is amazing). So I dunno. lol I actually love my surround sound system (Denon AVR-1612 with Energy Take Classic 5.1 speakers) more for watching action movies. For music I'd only like it if there are visuals too, which is why I never really hook up my phone to the system to play music, but only use it for concert blu-rays and DVDs. For those I ALWAYS go with the 5.1 setup, b/c why wouldn't I? lol

    It's nice to know there are SACDs that are only $10 though. That really works out for you b/c you don't have to spend a ton of money on your purchases. I have a list of Hybrid SACDs I'd still like to buy, but it's not that long really.
  14. luckybaer
    I haven't had a chance to go hyper-analytical with the MFiT version of "Moving Pictures" yet. It sounds very, very good, though. I have a Mercury release on CD that I ripped to my PC at 256kbps mp3, and it sounds pretty good, too. It will be interesting to compare the 256kbps mp3 and the 256kbps aac. I doubt that I'll notice a difference. I may spring for a 24/96 version of "Moving Pictures" if I can find it.

    I did notice a difference between 256kbps mp3 and lossless/CD. This only happens if I listen to one copy of a song after the another, and it is more noticeable with some songs than others (I haven't really dug into it). I wonder if the quality of mp3 degrades over time after being ripped and sitting on a hard drive for multiple years? If mp3 does degrade on a storage medium (SATA HD, for example) over time, does aac? FLAC?

    I'm really beginning to ramble here...
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  15. RockStar2005
    Ok. Well when you get a chance to compare the 2 versions (mp3 vs. aac) let us know. The odds are the 24/96 version of "Moving Pictures" will feature the SAME master as the MFiT version, so it may not even be worth buying. But up to you.

    I'm glad it sounds very good though. That IS very promising!

    Well that's not surprising at all. The mp3 version most likely stemmed from an inferior master, and then there's the fact that it's an MP3! lol Yeah in some cases I don't notice a difference either, but there are usually at least a few songs per album where you can. I really doubt there's any truth behind the theory of mp3s/aacs/FLACs degrading over time. Either the hard drive can play it or it gets to a point where it can't. This is why I store ALL my music on Google Drive now because these pro cloud storage companies always have at least 1-2 backups in place, which is A LOT better than relying solely on a single hard drive.

    Just focus on comparing those 2 versions and let us know your final thoughts. lol
1 2
4 5 6 7

Share This Page