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Are all songs on iTunes lossless?
How do I purchase lossless if not?
I don't think any of the music you purchase on iTunes are in lossless... If you plan on buying an album, I suggest you just buy the CD and copy it onto iTunes w/ Apple Lossless. That's what I do. It's the same price, or sometimes cheaper just buying the CD off amazon.com than buying from iTunes.
Step 1 - buy physical CD.
Step 2 - rip with itunes to ALAC.
By the way, it's been a long time since I've purchased a song off iTunes, but I just did last night (they were the only ones with the song)... and just to let you know, the bit rate of the songs on iTunes is 256 kbps, whereas lossless is upwards of 900-1100 kbps on average.
That's how. Try to find a CD store near where you live and buy from them. Keep them in business... Apple doesn't need the money. And by the way stuff on iTunes is lossy not lossless. They sell files encoded AAC @ 256kbps.
If you are into more obscure music - Bandcamp. Lots of free and fairly priced albums too.
my favorite bandcamp store;
buy cd and support music stores
There really isn't any way to buy 'Lossless' music, as even CDs are compressed a good deal from the original master source.
Which is really one of the reasons why I hate the term 'Lossless' as it's been popularized by FLAC and ALAC - the term has a way of instilling the message in people that anything less than a full CD copy will sound worse and that CDs contain the amount of data they do for an actual reason, rather than containing it arbitrarily as is actually the case.
Either MP3 or AAC @ 256k~ will be completely indistinguishable from CD to the ear, and that fact only becomes more apparent with each new revision of these compression codecs.
So I'll say it again; in actuality, there is studio master quality and then there is compression. To be a stick in the mud by refusing to take anything other than 'lossless' CD quality is to hold out for something that no longer matters in the least. If there's still a reason to buy CDs, it's for the kick you can get out of a really good booklet or nice disc artwork.
I will also point out that Apple's AAC/256k iTunes Store music is sourced from the original masters, rather than 16-bit CDs. So it's actually that much better than the files you would get yourself using similar encoding settings while sourcing the tracks from a disc.
Conceding all your points for the sake of discussion, it's still short-sighted to purchase a collection of lossy files. They can't be transcoded without significant quality loss. If AAC falls out of favor in 10 years, there is no way to convert to the next format without negative consequences.
Fair perception and fair point. But where is the line drawn for what constitutes 'lossless' and what is lossy? Will 1411kbps permanently be the definition? Because, as I said, it means nothing and never really did. Just consider that MP3s encoded today from a modern album, even at lower than 256k, will have a more audible dynamic range than CDs of 20-25 years ago - which were of the same specification as today's discs.
The technical side of formats means very little when we've gotten to the point where a full audio saturation can be reached at far, far less than 1411k. So why in 2011+ should anybody cling to an arbitrary bit rate number that only exists because of a medium that was ironed out 30 years ago?
If you go from Master to CD, you're compressing. If you go from CD to lossy-anything, you're compressing again. And in that respect, I really don't understand why something that sounds indistinguishable from CD today, regardless of data rate and regardless of format, should ever need to be transcoded or to anything else - ever.
You sir are very smart.
Much of my music is around the 1000kbps range.
iTunes music would be 320kbps.
You don't think that I would notice a difference between those two ranges?
What are you proposing that I do? Are you saying that music encoded at 320kbps would be the same quality as 1000kpbs range?
What is money wasn't a problem?
Yes 1411kbps is lossless. When you listen to a 1411kbps WAV file, it is the same thing that is on the CD meaning it's lossless.
You are getting the definitions of "compression" confused. There is dynamic compression, and compression in terms of making a file smaller. The two do completely different things. When you compress a file with a lossy codec, it does nothing to the dynamic range. It adds file compression artifacts. So the comparison between a modern AAC file and a 25 year old CD means nothing. If you were to compare a new CD with a 25 year old CD, you'd get the same results if we're talking about dynamic range.
I have to admit I cannot hear the difference between a 256kbps AAC file and a FLAC file, but I still rip my music in lossless format because I have the space on my drives and because it's peace of mind. It is the closest we can get to studio quality sound.
Yes, iTunes may source its music direct from the masters, but you're buying files that are still down-converted to 16 bit, just like the CD, so there is no difference in that respect. Also, those files are still subject to the same dynamic range compression that the CD pressing gets. Technically the iTunes file is still inferior whether you can hear it or not.
I think maybe I'm failing to fully explain my point of view on this.
Here's what I'm getting at;
CDs are lower quality than studio masters, fact - they're far lower in bit rate and they're only 16-bit. If the word Lossless has any use, it is for when music is sourced from a purchased disc, and only ever in that instance. Because for digital distribution, CDs never enter the equation in any part of the encoding process; Apple, Amazon and the like do not have a legion of monkeys ripping tracks from CDs for the iTunes store. They're all sourced from the labels from files that are far in excess of anything CDs have ever been capable of holding.
People calling for Lossless distribution from companies like Apple are asking for the bit rate bar to be raised for the distribution of intangible things to a level dictated by tangible medium that is now ancient and quickly dying. There's no need for it, the difference is not audible, and the files being distributed are not even sourced from that medium anyways so there is absolutely no point in matching its specification bit rate other than nostalgia.
If Apple is going to answer the few calls being made and offer 'audiophile' quality at some point, then they should do it by conducting as many tests as possible to find out what the next audible, appreciable step above 16-bit/256k AAC is. And if/when they do, the result will almost certainly be both far higher in bit rate than CD ever offered and 24-bit. To match CD's specification would be arbitrary and a waste of bandwidth.
5 years ago I would never have said that there's no reason to pursue CD quality over MP3 or AAC. But the encoders have since become so efficient, so flexible in how they adapt to the music while encoding, so frugal... high 100s will yield you a file that is indistinguishable to the ear from full CD audio, regardless of equipment. There are people with $5,000 headphones over at Hydrogen Audio who will attest.
I'm not saying that it's impossible to perceive a jump in audio quality beyond good MP3 or AAC compression, that would be silly. But I am saying that it's impossible and not worthwhile to pursue when the file is being sourced from a CD - because everything about modern compression codecs are designed to dance a ballet with CD's specification; to capture as much from what it is capable of presenting in as small of a file as possible. 16-bit and 44.100kHz - not that complicated anymore.
If you really want to leap beyond compressed files and get eargasms on good equipment, you'll need to hunt for SuperAudio CDs, DVD-Audio discs, really nice vinyls, and digital distribution in the form of 24-bit files with high sampling frequencies and bit rates 3x what CDs will yield (look at some of the stuff available from Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame as an example)