Online FLAC Music Store w/ iTunes Store selection = mythical creature?
Nov 11, 2008 at 9:10 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

Alai

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Ok. So I'm going to kind of rant here. I am really annoyed that there is a severe lack of a good music store (read: enormous and wide selection) that sells FLAC quality. I am really itching for great quality but popular music of all sorts. Coldplay, U2, Beethoven, Bach, Bizet, Keane, and even some poppy songs like Jason Mraz and whatnot. Is there no such website that sells all of these in one webstore? I had high hopes for 7digital (although they have no classical) but it turns out that their US selection is in beta and completely gimped compared to their UK store.

Are we still stuck buying CD's and ripping them as FLAC?
 
Nov 11, 2008 at 10:29 PM Post #2 of 13

milkpowder

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HDtracks is pretty good. Their current selection is decent and there is more to come: Chandos, BIS, Delos, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Pentatone, Chicago SO and Toronto SO are all listed as 'coming soon'!!!! How amazing would that be?!
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 12:37 AM Post #3 of 13

Alai

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HDtracks is ok. But how is it that these webstores don't have even close to the collection of albums in high definition as some small-town stores have in CDs? That's what baffles me.

Also, so if I wanted a reliable high definition music file, I would get a CD and rip the files as FLAC? But aren't CD tracks lower quality than FLAC or is that me being crazy?

Then how the heck do we find wider selections of high def if we can't even get it from CDs?
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 2:24 PM Post #4 of 13

milkpowder

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I don't quite follow your first few statements.

CDs are not necessarily lower quality than FLAC. FLAC is just a container which can accommodate digitalised music of different frequencies and bit-depth. It just so happens FLAC is often used as a medium for files greater than 44.1kHz/16bit because the codec is free. High definition by most people's standard is greater than 44.1kHz/16bit.

Because of the limitation of the CD standard, you can only put 44.1kHz/16bit files on it. The actual recording is usually done at much higher resolutions, be it analogue or digital. After the whole mastering/editing process, the "master" is then downsampled to the CD standard. So you are right in saying that the files on a CD can be lower quality than a high definition FLAC.

As for your last question, the answer is quite simple. Not every single recording makes it to CD. That version you hear on a CD is probably just one of numerous different takes. Some never even got released as a CD, maybe only on vinyl. Only in recent times have I noticed companies digging into record labels' archives, fish out the original "high def" master tapes, remaster (and/or digitalise) them and release them in their original high definition as FLACs/AIFF/WAV, etc.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 5:33 PM Post #5 of 13

krmathis

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Sadly there are no major online store selling lossless files for download.
Something like iTunes Store with Apple Lossless instead of AAC would be awesome.

Until that happens I buy CD's.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 6:02 PM Post #6 of 13

milkpowder

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Quote:

Originally Posted by krmathis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Sadly there are no major online store selling lossless files for download.
Something like iTunes Store with Apple Lossless instead of AAC would be awesome.

Until that happens I buy CD's.



I believe it will happen some day. As the average broadband speed increases, bandwidth and storage becomes cheaper and more efficient, this is inevitable.
 
Nov 12, 2008 at 7:17 PM Post #7 of 13

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by milkpowder /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I believe it will happen some day. As the average broadband speed increases, bandwidth and storage becomes cheaper and more efficient, this is inevitable.


Yeah, and the record companies have to drop DRM protection...
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 9:12 AM Post #8 of 13

Alai

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Quote:

Originally Posted by milkpowder /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't quite follow your first few statements.

CDs are not necessarily lower quality than FLAC. FLAC is just a container which can accommodate digitalised music of different frequencies and bit-depth. It just so happens FLAC is often used as a medium for files greater than 44.1kHz/16bit because the codec is free. High definition by most people's standard is greater than 44.1kHz/16bit.

Because of the limitation of the CD standard, you can only put 44.1kHz/16bit files on it. The actual recording is usually done at much higher resolutions, be it analogue or digital. After the whole mastering/editing process, the "master" is then downsampled to the CD standard. So you are right in saying that the files on a CD can be lower quality than a high definition FLAC.

As for your last question, the answer is quite simple. Not every single recording makes it to CD. That version you hear on a CD is probably just one of numerous different takes. Some never even got released as a CD, maybe only on vinyl. Only in recent times have I noticed companies digging into record labels' archives, fish out the original "high def" master tapes, remaster (and/or digitalise) them and release them in their original high definition as FLACs/AIFF/WAV, etc.



Ok. So either way, the 'most accessible to highest quality' ratio music is the CD then? And then we might get lucky with the occassional FLAC at 24/96 but that's too rare to count on, right?

I am asking because I want to start on a music spree and I want to make sure I get the highest quality sound without sacrificing a wide selection too much.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 12:21 PM Post #9 of 13

milkpowder

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Well I don't see why you have to limit yourself to just one format. Buy the high resolution version where possible and stick to 'bog standard' redbooks the rest of the time. While 24/96+ is relatively rare compared to the availability of CD, there is still a decent selection.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 7:30 PM Post #10 of 13

monolith

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Just buy the music wherever it's cheapest at any quality, then find it for download somewhere and download it. Find a private music torrent site that has an excellent FLAC selection, then just download the things you've already paid for.

I don't understand why people look for lossless download stores like this. As soon as you've found any store that sells the song/album, as soon as you've bought it you're free to download it from otherwise "illegal" places. Just the same way you can download a copy of a CD you buy without legal troubles.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 9:25 PM Post #11 of 13

Bunnyears

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Alai /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Ok. So either way, the 'most accessible to highest quality' ratio music is the CD then? And then we might get lucky with the occassional FLAC at 24/96 but that's too rare to count on, right?

I am asking because I want to start on a music spree and I want to make sure I get the highest quality sound without sacrificing a wide selection too much.



Highest quality conventional CDs are in the SACD format (5.1 channel sound). Then comes HDCD (2 channels), and then regular CDs (2 channels). DVD-A (5.1 channels) is a higher quality format than cd, but the sound is the same as SACD, but with some video included. The improved quality of SACD and DVD-A also depends on your setup. The differences in the 2 channel layers are not as great as in the multichannel layers. Moreover, if you are going to be listening to Rock, HipHop, Rap, or other pop music, beware: there's a lot of compression used to manipulate the sound. I don't know if it's worth it to even buy some of that music in files bigger than Itunes plus.

If you want the best sound quality, then stick to jazz and classical. That way you are getting something for the additional money.

Btw, the best sound quality is used for dvds. The blu-ray discs use lossless codecs such as Dolby tru HD or DTS HD which provide for up to 7.1 channels. I don't know how much you will benefit from that with only 2 speakers or headphones. In future, when music is released on BDs, the major benefit will be the amount of music that they can store on one disc which can store between 25 and 50 gigs, or the fact that you will get a "concert" dvd with a lot of hd video thrown in.
 
Nov 13, 2008 at 9:56 PM Post #12 of 13

milkpowder

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Bluray (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD MasterAudio) can deliver 24/192 into 6 channels where as DVD-A can only do 24/96. DVD-A is capable of 24/192 in stereo though. Anyhow, the quality of your player, amplification and speakers matter more than how many gazillion kHz your music is. I don't believe there are many privately owned 6-channel systems systems in the world that can take full advantage of 24/192 formats. How many high-end Dolby TrueHD-capable surround sound processors are there on the market anyway?

If I was really serious about and had a bit of money to spend on high definition music, I'd get myself a decent SACD/DVD player (eg Esoteric UX-1/3Pi) and a 192kHz-capable DAC for FLACs. Until Bluray audio becomes more popular, that's probably as high-resolution as it gets from a front-end point of view.
 
Nov 14, 2008 at 4:54 AM Post #13 of 13

fatgh0st

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Both HDTracks and Linn Records have started selling both Lossless FLAC and 24/96 FLAC for select albums. Music Giants has a nice selection, but they are riddled with DRM. iTrax is another up and coming...

Like many others have already mentioned...buying the CD and ripping is still the most cost effective and provides the best variety.
 

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