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Why We Should Buy Music In FLAC

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the audio-files-for-audiophiles dept.

Music 550

soodoo writes "We have plenty of HDD space and broadband internet. Why don't we demand full CD quality audio in an accessible format from online music stores? The advantage of lossless compression is not only the small audio quality improvement, but better future-proofing and converting capabilities. FLAC is a good, free and open format, well suited for this job."

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If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (5, Insightful)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469784)

Seriously, I'm not sure what's so complicated about this. It's not like CDs are that much more expensive than buying stuff electronically. Plus, you have a backup copy that's going to outlast whatever media you rip it onto anyway as long as you keep it physically safe. Plus you have the booklet that goes with it.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (3, Insightful)

stardaemon (834177) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469798)

Even if you only want one song from the entire CD?

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (2)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469824)

In the unlikelyhood that you really want only one song on a CD that isn't offered as a CD single at some point over the active promotion life of that CD, because that one track is really that good, and your musical tastes never change, and you'll never appreciate the fact that you have all those other tracks... then I guess you're screwed. Darn. Yes, I know that in North America, the CD single doesn't seem to have been a hugely popular concept. I have several CD singles from artists I like that originate in Europe however, and as a bonus, you get all that B-side material that comes with the CD single whether that be remixes, or even tracks that will never be on an album. Or you could just I dunno, skip the starbucks for a couple of days and buy the full album anyway.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (2)

baronvoncarson (1684844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470028)

We Australians pay way too much for cds. $30~ for a new cd? Fuck that for a joke!

Plus for those of us who prefer the ease of having our audio in a digital format (the only thing I own that plays audio cds now is my car) buying a cd for cd quality audio really isn't conveint.

Maybe buying CD singles and albums appeals to you, but for me I much prefer my stuff in digital. Plus if it's DRM free FLAC it'll last a lot longer than a cd.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470068)

CDs definitely aren't that expensive in Canada... well, they can be... but yes, they are more expensive I suppose than fully digital. Yes I prefer to pay that premium for a relatively indestructable copy of my music I can immediately convert to FLAC. If there's any premium applied to an upgrade to FLAC quality, I'm already paying $15 including tax for most of my CDs direct from the artists... I'm even not sure buying a digital copy that I still have to back up somehow is going to beat that if it's a premium on top of the $10 a lossy album typically sells for on stores that don't already offer FLAC...

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (2)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470060)

That is what "Now that's what I call music 45434" is for.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469816)

well,

  - Ripping and tagging CDs is tedious
  - If I have a file in FLAC it will for sure last longer than the average scratched CD(you know, backup and stuff)
  - FLAC gives me the possibility to convert to ANY format without quality loss(e.g. mp3 to Vorbis/ogg is horrible, but FLAC to Vorbis/ogg is fine)
  - I dont care for booklets

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469884)

It might be tedious to rip an entire colelction, but how often do you buy music? It's hardly tedious to rip a single album... you stick in the CD, and on most computers you launch your audio program and press "rip" or "import" - it grabs all of the necessary metadata from the net, and if you've chosen your software well, it'll even either automatically grab your album art for you, or be just one more click to grab the art for the full album.

What CD gets scratched if you're ripping it once to FLAC? It stays in a case...

CDs give you the possibility to convert to ANY format without quality loss, and ripping a CD to FLAC doesn't impede you at all in terms of further conversions.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470072)

It might be tedious to rip an entire colelction, but how often do you buy music? It's hardly tedious to rip a single album... you stick in the CD, and on most computers you launch your audio program and press "rip" or "import" ...

There is no reason anyone should ever have to do this job - it is as silly as printing and scanning a document, in order to email it. We have better technology than this, why not use it?

Just because the wasted time is a small amount (at a time) is no argument for continuing to waste that time...

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470092)

OK, but instead of that tedium, you have to maintain an active backup of your digital music collection, which is, at the very least, an added expense, if not tedious in terms of setting that up in the first place... Sticking a CD in my drive while I'm browsing the web doesn't seem very tedious to me... significantly less tedious than scanning a document... but I suppose I do have a fairly automated set up that most people don't have...

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (4, Insightful)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469822)

But then you have to physically move the CD from some place to your place, which requires a distribution network and takes time. It's also costly to produce CDs.
By simply requiring CDs, you restrict yourself to artists that have strong deals with distributors and enough money to produce them.

Also, what the hell are you going to do with a CD once you have it but rip it? I don't even have a CD reader anymore. I don't have the room to store thousands of CDs either, and it wouldn't be a practical way to manage my music library.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (3, Insightful)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469956)

I have pressed CDs from bands my high school friends were in, while they were in high school. It's not an expensive process... and doesn't at all require a strong deal with distributors...

As to what I would do with a CD once I rip it... rip it again, should my online backup of my music hard drive fail when my music hard drive invariably does. My once-ripped CD will still be in perfect condition.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470074)

But then you have to physically move the CD from some place to your place, which requires a distribution network and takes time.

You also probably have to move it from your old place to your new place, which, especially if you move often, is not exactly effortless.

CC.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469834)

More so, but yet another format switch is utterly pointless, especially when high-bit-rate AAC is generally inaudibly different from CD quality, and in fact, the 96kHz ones apple has started selling for some artists surpass CD quality, despite the compression.

Basically, there's no reason to use FLAC – "lossily" compressed audio is plenty good enough.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469870)

The first conversion is generally inaudibly different from CD quality. But if a new codec shows up 10 years from now you want to/need to use for some reason, re-converting from AAC to .wav to $NEW_CODEC, the compression artifacts may no longer be so inaudible.

So for me, FLAC is the format of choice. I'm currently ripping my brother's CD collection to FLAC, and my own will follow after that.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469906)

320kb mp3 is good enough for the real world. I rarely get to hear music under optimal conditions on ultra high end equipment anyway, which is fine. Ears are like palettes -- educate them too thoroughly and you won't be able to enjoy anything after awhile...

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469968)

196kbps is not enough?

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469986)

    You know, it really depends on the equipment.

    I was listening to some Pink Floyd several years ago (probably 10 years ago), and I had just set up a very nice sound system in my house. I heard things in the music that I'd never heard before. You simply miss out on systems that don't reproduce the full spectrum of sound. It could be a low rumble that's just felt, or a high pitched ting like a little bell.

      Most people's setups have significant gaps throughout the spectrum. There are professional disks to demonstrate it, but most people here can write their own software to generate tones sliding up the scale, from say 20Hz 20KHz. I recently did that for fun on my regular desktop, and noticed about 5 or 6 significant bands where the sound was barely reproduced by the speakers. I moved the machine to my theater room, and hooked it directly to the sound system. It had a few dips, but nothing so significant that I'd go pick up any new hardware.

    Consider where most people are listening to music. It's not in an expensive theater setup. It's on their iPod (or other portable device) with earphones, on their PC, or in their car.

    I enjoy my theater setup for watching movies, and being surrounded by all the sounds that were produced with it.

    I also listen to music on my "good enough" desktop speakers and in the car. Sure, I know parts are missing, and if I compare the output with the theater, I will notice the differences. So, I simply don't. Speakers large enough to fit in my ears aren't going to give an accurate recreation of the music. I listen to FM radio in the car. I enjoy the words, the beat, and know that the speakers in the car are in a harsh environment. Not only the extreme temperatures that the car interior encounters (about 15F to 150F), but there is significant interference with outside noises. My car is transportation, I'm not going to try to make it into a platform to recreate audio performances. Some people do. Some people spend an awful lot of money doing it. In the end, they can listen to music just as I can, except for the hours I'm in my car, and the difference in cost, I have a lot of money left over to spend on other things.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35470018)

320kb mp3 is good enough for the real world. I rarely get to hear music under optimal conditions on ultra high end equipment anyway, which is fine. Ears are like palettes -- educate them too thoroughly and you won't be able to enjoy anything after awhile...

VHS quality is enough for all videos. Why do people want this crappy HD stuff ?
If I put my glasses off, I can't even see any difference at all between my old 20" CRT and those new over-expensive HD flat panels !

Pulling quality down is never a wise move.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470058)

Well I disagree with you so you must be wrong, LOL.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469974)

Well, I've made some tests the other day: ripping a CD in .wav and .mp3, and then burn the 2 formats on an audio CD, and compare the 3 with my hi-fi system (of maybe $2-3000).

I didn't hear any difference between the wav and mp3. But I was surprised to hear a difference with the original CD (even did a blind test). Basically the sound of the ripped formats was more flat that the original CD (even wav which is not compressed AFAIK). The song didn't give me the same emotion while hearing it.

Of course that was on a CD I love very much, and I might not ask for perfect quality when it's groups I'm not fan of. But still.
My next test would be to buy that same test song on Apple/whatever, but somehow I already know the result.

And I don't even speak of pluggin my laptop to the hi-fi and play mp3s: tried it 3 years ago that was definitely a no-no from the first seconds.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (3, Insightful)

jovius (974690) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470014)

Having lossly compressed audio at hand might be plenty good enough, but it's not future proof. The data has had to be compressed because of unavailable media. It's a physical fact that those high end AAC's can't surpass CD quality (Because they are lossy). CD itself is getting old too, so the reference point is not really correct anymore.

Formats that rely on removing inaudible frequencies or such psychoacoustics work perfectly in anechoic rooms or in headphone listening. When listened through speakers the frequencies take multiple routes to the ears at slightly different times, which makes the inaudible frequencies actually audible. So something is definitely missing from the fabric.

I have refrained from bying music online because of the inferior quality. I'd like to hear music that sounds better along with the technological advances.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470126)

I have refrained from bying music online because of the inferior quality.

Likewise. Except that I buy music online that I am only going to listen to on my iPod (usually via the car stereo), where my expectations aren't that high with all that ambient noise.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (3, Informative)

paimin (656338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470040)

Why doesn't TFA at least mention that Apple supports an open format that's also lossless, and also supported widely? Its a shame they don't sell it, but they do support it. Implying that they simply don't support lossless audio compression doesn't help sell FLAC as an option, it just makes you look like a liar.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469838)

You can find your CD's?

I can't find a single one of my CDs these days. The only stuff I can find is on my hard drive. Nicely categorized. Backed up. Taking a small amount of room.

Do your CDs out last your hard drives? What brands are you buying, because that shit sounds fucking terrible. Else, why are you spending so much time and effort keeping track of your CDs?

I'm not abdicating getting rid of CDs, but FLAC is a perfectly good format, which could be easily supported.

So thank you for diverting the conversation.

Side Note: I buy heaps of FLAC music, when its available, and I never buy CDs, I don't even have a CD player, and they will get lost, meaning they don't last long for me.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469904)

My pressed CDs absolutely outlast my hard drives. I have CDs that still play bit-perfectly from the 1980s without a single scratch on them - CDs that I got when I was 3 and my family first got a CD player. I don't have many hard drives that have lasted 25 years. And yes I can find my CDs. They're on a shelf in my music room (well, several shelves), organized by artist alphabetically, and then by order of release... I can also find all of the FLAC files I generated from those CDs on my hard disk, well organized, etc.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469966)

"So thank you for diverting the conversation."

You must be new here.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

CSMoran (1577071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470142)

I'm not abdicating getting rid of CDs

You are a ruler renouncing your office while disposing of your CD collection? I must admit it's hard to imagine.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469860)

CDs are more costly, and they won't last longer than say, flash memory, except for special circumstances. For example, some CDs will degrade in as little as 18 months in humid conditions, or there's a fungus [nih.gov] that will colonize and eat your discs. Flash memory is practically unaffected by storage conditions, as long as you don't throw it into the oven and switch it on: it can take basically any value for humidity, even a straight-up dump into water, survive freezing and tropical heat, fungi, etc.

So really, instead of CDs, music publishers should just migrate to read-only memory chips for storing music: more can be shipped in a single shipment, cheaper, and more durable.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469908)

I've never, ever heard of commercial CDs going bad (except from scratches). All my CDs from 5th grade forward (nearly 20 years old at this point) work just fine. I found them while moving, all played fine. I borrowed a friend's CD-R and some cheap media to back up my computer in 1998, THOSE still work as well. This is after being stored in the attic of our house which regularly sees 150 degrees during the day (Dallas), and a huge range of humidity levels. I'm sure if you left them shiny side up on the windowsill for 20 years it would be a different case, but in a taped box off the ground, they're a very good long term storage medium.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470024)

Oh yeah, I forgot about scratches: drop the flash chip and co. in a cheap aluminium/steel cassette (think CF cards), and it'll be nearly indestructible by domestic means, while still usable easily. You can't do that with a CD.

I have, however, had trouble with disc degradation, even though I kept them in a mostly-constant temperature room (~21C ±4C), and had a few go bad and unreadable after about ten years, without scratches. They did make nice light shows in the microwave afterwards, though...

Flac off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469942)

I have about 700 cd's going back over 20 years, all play 100% fine. I will not be stopping buying them any time soon.

yes I am ripping them so I can easily find any track and just have the whole collection on random play or use playlists. Yes they are bulky when moving them all about (every time I move house I want to sell them, then when they are placed in a library in a new home I'm happy again. I would also say if you think you have any computer basic music system that matches my cd sourced hifi then your in dreamland. Most (sorry ALL) the people I know who are mp3 only have shite hifi's and are generally pretty ignorant about music.

Can I also just remind everyone we are talking about works of art here. So all your logical reasoning as to why some format or other suits you means absolutely fuck all. I have friends who only ever still play vinyl. I suppose they are bit backward or something (despite being some of the most deeply informed music people I know).

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35470064)

there's a fungus [nih.gov] that will colonize and eat your discs

If there's a fungus that will eat dry plastic CDs, what makes you think it will spare the dry plastic housings of your USB flash drives, your flash memory cards, and the flash chips inside? At which point you're just as screwed as the guy who bought his music on CDs.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469994)

Alright grandpa let me tell you how it is:

The world is moving to a fully digital and online universe. Physical stuff like CD's are relics and will soon be virtually extinct like the vinyl records of yesteryear. Audio, video, everything is moving this way (eg. PVR's, mp3, aac, flac, etc).

As for mp3/AAC/whatever, well most of the time those are fine but flac is nice when you want the higher quality content with all* of the data.

* Yeah, technically only the studio has the true original but again you're thinking in terms of current technology. With massive amounts of bandwidth and storage there is no reason to limit yourself even to CD quality. How about the original bit-for-bit studio copy. It's coming, you can bet on it.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

moxsam (917470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470002)

I'm not sure what's so complicated about this.

You really don't know? It's complicated to get it error-free onto your PC! Red Book has no reliable error detection mechanism like Yellow Book.

So why should I buy an Audio CD if I'm never going to listen to it anyway? But only rip it once or twice. They're simply a nuisance compared to downloaded music files. Please, go listen to some vinyl, grandpa.

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470078)

Surely the days of music on CDs are numbered as it's a waste of resources to have factories churning out plastic CDs. In order to phase out the production of music CDs, we need a better format than MP3 to ensure that we're not sacrificing sound quality and I think that FLAC is the next logical step.

That said, I only bother keeping my music collection in MP3 format as I'm not an extreme audiophile and MP3 is good enough for my purposes. (Also, my music collection is currently just under 1TB, so storing it all in FLAC would probably expand it to 5TBs which is a bit unwieldy at present.)

Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (1)

rawler (1005089) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470120)

Simple. Physical media cannot give me the "instant gratification" of buying downloaded songs. Especially, it puts the burden of actually ripping it onto me, as well as incurr extra costs in manufacturing, shipping etc. Besides, the longevity of CD-formats vary greatly depending on the quality of plastic that is put it. (For example, my father recently discovered some of his 15-years-old CD:s doesn't play back today.) Ripping it losslessly, and backing it up to some cloud-storage is probably both more reliable AND more accessible.

Personally, I've just given up fuzzing around with music since I can never muster up enough interest to decide upon a playlist. Instead I mostly listen to Last.FM and yes, I do get inexplicable head-aches that might be attributed to digital compression. For TV-series however, I often buy the DVD-box when it comes out, just to put it on the shelf and download a pirated version instead. Much more convenient, and I get to skip over all crappy commercials and anti-piracy warnings. Now isn't that irony?

Why FLAC (1)

qinjuehang (1195139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469788)

Wavpack is superior technologically!

Re:Why FLAC (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469814)

FTFA: "Lastly, why do I support FLAC and not some other good and free format, like WavPack? The main advantage of FLAC is that it's already much more widespread than WavPack and other free lossless codecs and I believe it would be better to standardize on something, rather than have a fragmented lossless market, which could fall pray to some proprietary format that's not as accessible to everyone or is encumbered with DRM."

Re:Why FLAC (2)

qinjuehang (1195139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469830)

While that is true, it doesn't matter due to how easily audio formats can be converted, unlike many analogies raised here about competing hardware formats.

FLAC is definitely a sound option (2)

Pricetx (1986510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469794)

That's rather a good point. Personally i've always just used spotify free to stream my music but this has the fairly major disadvantage of only being 160kbps vorbis. I only own one album in FLAC form and have to admit you can hear the difference between it and some of my higher quality mp3 albums. The fact that it's an open format will help it be future proof as well. Win Win situation.

Portable players (3, Interesting)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469796)

I'm a proud owner of a Rockboxed Sansa e250. However, if I kept the music I listen to regularly in FLAC, both the internal storage (2GB) and external microSD fall short. No, hotswapping isn't a good idea, especially if you're treating yourself to music going long distance. That's why I decided to settle for Ogg Vorbis - quality good enough that I don't hear a difference between the source and the compressed file (as proven by several long blind hearing tests), and file sizes that make my collection that much more managable.

Re:Portable players (5, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469840)

FLAC wouldn't be for your Sansa; it'd be for your media library. You keep it on your PC and your backup media, and transcode that to Vorbis or MP3 or whatever for your portable device.
Which is why they'd probably never go for it. A business model that is incompatible with DRM? Are you mad!?!?!?

Re:Portable players (1)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470110)

While this would be the ideal setup most of us simply don't care enough about a (to most people) imperceptible difference in quality to go through all this hassle. Also if your typical MP3 collection was in FLAC it would be impractical to backup online. Online/cloud backup and syncing is what the consumer world is moving very rapidly towards.

Re:Portable players (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35470144)

So what would stop you in the future with FLAC? Just reencode it and you have the same features... And can decide bitrate for all copies of the song...

The problem is that it's not possible to do the other way around..
- With FLAC you will get highquality file that can be converted into anything you like.
- With lossy compression you get all the downsides with limiting on what devices you can use it (supported formats) and you cannot really reencode it without losing even more quality.

"CD quality audio"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469802)

I don't want CD quality audio. Why should we be constrained to 44,100hz 16-bit audio when we have recording equipment and playback hardware that can do better? You can hear the difference without being an audiophile too.

Re:"CD quality audio"? (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469856)

Not if it was well mastered you can't. You definitely don't want to RECORD to 44,100/16-bit. But there's not much of a reason to move to something higher for finished mixes. In my experience as both a recording engineer and a lover and collector of music, higher quality audio formats (DVD-Audio, etc.) tend to be mixed with less overall dynamic range compression - but nothing that's stretching more than 100dB of dynamic range across the recording. Honestly, there's no reason you couldn't get just as good a sound out of 16-bit/44.1KHz CDs. And if you took the same recording project, never downsampled it, and mastered it using exactly the same settings... you would still be getting a product that has no dynamic range whatsoever from most mastering houses these days.

Bad Analogy Incoming (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469806)

You can put out a small fire with a hydrant. That doesn't mean you should, however.

VHS vs BETAMAX (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469808)

If i had the choice between mp3 and flac I would choose mp3
1 I would know I could play it anywhere, car stereo, portable player ,phone etc
2 They are still smaller, for example my car only excepts cd's with mp3 no usb or dvd
3 Frankly I cannot tell the difference..

This list is also based on personal priority..

I bought an iriver mp3 player once , one of the main reasons being it could play ogg, never used the feature..

Re:VHS vs BETAMAX (1)

qinjuehang (1195139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469818)

Its not a hardware difference, unlike VHS and BETAMAX. Conversion is possible.

Re:VHS vs BETAMAX (1)

Phoshi (1857806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469852)

You're missing the main point of the article, being that with a lossless FLAC file you can always re-encode it to your needs.To an mp3 for your PMP of choice, if you wish. FLAC is a great archival format, but unless you have a great sound system the audio advantages are small.

Re:VHS vs BETAMAX (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469886)

Everything (except one or two highly unsuccessful players) plays mp3. It's an adequate format. Converting is inconvenient. I'm sure there's a free tool somewhere that will batch convert, and I still consider the hassle to be more significant than the benefit.

I mean feel free to call me lazy, but I'm sure I'm not the laziest person around.

Re:VHS vs BETAMAX (2)

Homburg (213427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470048)

You drag your songs from your music library to your portable device, and your music player automatically converts them if it needs to. I'm not sure what hassle is involved here.

Seems fairly obvious why not (4, Interesting)

aarggh (806617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469812)

Isn't the fact that it's "good, free, and open" the exact reasons the publishers wouldn't use it? It kinda flies in the face of them being tyrannical mongrels controlling the media distribution if customers can actually meaningfully use it.

Re:Seems fairly obvious why not (5, Informative)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469892)

Online sources want to sell the same info to you as many times as they can. Obsolescence is part of their business plan.

For example, Harper-Collens has put a limit on how many times a library can use a copy of an ebook http://ebooks.dreamwidth.org/32051.html [dreamwidth.org] The book can only be circulated 26 times before the DRM license runs out.

This is outrageous and stupid. If possible, boycott all their products.

Re:Seems fairly obvious why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469912)

Publishers sell in Apple Lossless right now, and the source code ( http://www.ffmpeg.org/ ) to convert it to anything you like is freely available. Maybe not fully unencumbered technically, but pretty damned close for all practical purposes.

I don't want it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469826)

I don't want it. OGG is ok for this task. I can download & pay more or less depending on the sound quality. If I'm going to listen to sth using my old mp3 player, 64 bits is more than enough. If I'm going to use my living room audio set, then 192 might be ok, although I have to say that 128 seems just as fine. My point is, I don't demand it because I really don't want it. The world is full of problems to solve, things to improve. I respect it if you wish to dedicate your time and your life to solving this one problem, but I don't think it'll benefit me in any way.

I also have no need for higher storage demands. I own less than 1TB combined (5 PCs) and so far I have no need for more. If I had more, I'd only be storing more crap in my computers. Having little means that I have to carefully choose what to save, which in turn helps me stay focused on my goals.

I'm not implying that you should not dedicate your time to this, but seeing that there's millions of linux users, I think it would really benefit a lot of people if you helped remove clutter from GNU/* distributions, clean code, remove unmaintained packages, fix errors, provide solutions in forums, help document, help advertise.

Re:I don't want it (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470050)

Having little means that I have to carefully choose what to save, which in turn helps me stay focused on my goals.

I follow the same philosophy.

Re:I don't want it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35470098)

The FLAC files you get can be converted into any format you want. With lossy compression you will always lose quality whenever you want to reencode it.
I would love the FLAC format... great for the livingroom and easily converted into any format i might want now and in the future... I would only hope for a bit higher bitrate than 44.1...

Everyone wants something different and with FLAC we will all get what we most prefer... Quality or with a simple reencode a small mp3 of any bitrate you might like.

I'm not implying that you should not dedicate your time to this, but seeing that there's millions of linux users, I think it would really benefit a lot of people if you helped remove clutter from GNU/* distributions, clean code, remove unmaintained packages, fix errors, provide solutions in forums, help document, help advertise.

And wtf has this to do with the topic?

I don't know anyone who still downloads music... (1)

Kifoth (980005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469844)

Everyone I know (in the EU) has switched to Spotify [spotify.com] .

(This isn't a sales pitch, just a statement of fact :-P)

Re:I don't know anyone who still downloads music.. (1)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469950)

... considering only 7 countries are supported, not everyone I know in the EU has the option (including myself).

Re:I don't know anyone who still downloads music.. (1)

Kifoth (980005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470042)

Thought it was bigger than that! Insensitive clod is insensitive :)

Ah well... My point is still that, based on the speed at which Spotify is growing (where available), the future is streaming.

Re:I don't know anyone who still downloads music.. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470118)

How do you get music for a portable media player? Surely at least one of your friends has one.

Re:I don't know anyone who still downloads music.. (1)

Kifoth (980005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470156)

Premium has local storage. Works on all the major mobile and desktop OS'es.

Compatibility (1, Informative)

Ralish (775196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469846)

Because FLAC is very poorly supported among both portable media devices and media center devices? Further, the difference in actual perceptible quality between a high quality mp3/ogg/wma/whatever encoding and a FLAC encoding is between negligible and non-existent, negating pretty much any benefit of FLAC. Media archival is one area where FLAC is an obvious choice for, but bit-for-bit storage is generally something only a subset of music enthusiasts care about, and so unless constantly transcoding FLAC into a format that your chosen non-PC device supports is your idea of a good time, then it's just not worth the effort...

Re:Compatibility (1)

aivankovic (89462) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469888)

Because FLAC is very poorly supported among both portable media devices and media center devices? Further, the difference in actual perceptible quality between a high quality mp3/ogg/wma/whatever encoding and a FLAC encoding is between negligible and non-existent, negating pretty much any benefit of FLAC. Media archival is one area where FLAC is an obvious choice for, but bit-for-bit storage is generally something only a subset of music enthusiasts care about, and so unless constantly transcoding FLAC into a format that your chosen non-PC device supports is your idea of a good time, then it's just not worth the effort...

I agree. No one talks about the sound quality anymore (eg importance of the quality of the loudspeakers, new models of the amplifiers... even headphones are out of the focus), but only about informatical aspects: bandwith, gigabytes,... It's assumed that sound quality is good enough.

Re:Compatibility (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469944)

Because FLAC is very poorly supported among both portable media devices and media center devices?

Indeed. Sure, my PC can support anything I throw at it and my phone does the same, but for example my car audio system doesn't play FLAC or anything, only MP3.

Further, the difference in actual perceptible quality between a high quality mp3/ogg/wma/whatever encoding and a FLAC encoding is between negligible and non-existent, negating pretty much any benefit of FLAC.

Again agreed. Atleast I can't hear any effing difference between FLAC and a good quality MP3. On a portable device the size of the files is much more important and if I can't hear the difference anyways then I obviously choose the smaller files. And since ALL of the devices I use to play music support MP3 then there's no need to do any kind of format conversions or anything and as such there is no loss of quality even over a longer timespan.

Basically I understand why some people want FLAC files, but for general populace FLAC files give absolutely no benefit whatsoever and still takes up more space.

Re:Compatibility (1)

sim60 (967365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470054)

I don't think I've ever spent any time converting FLAC to AAC (which is what I use on my portable player - HTC Desire). I buy a CD, put it in the media player, and press OK on the remote control. Some minutes later, the CD pops out again. The media player music storage has a FLAC copy (which it plays just fine), the portable player sync folder has an AAC copy.

I don't see why I couldn't download a FLAC file, and have some service auto-convert it to AAC and put it in the appropriate place. Should be trivial on Windows or Linux.

If you have any DNLA media players, FLAC could be converted on the fly to whatever format they want, including any of the widely supported .lossless formats, like WAV, WMA Lossless, and Apple Lossless, etc.

Whether you think the difference in quality between mp3 & lossless is worth it is a personal choice. If you listen to a lot of classical, or actually know what a cymbal or violin sounds like, you might prefer FLAC. If you only listen to compressed to death pop through $0.50 earbuds on a clipped at 200Hz & 16KHz portable player while standing next to a busy road, then you're probably happy with mp3 :-)

But personal choice is what the article is arguing for - why not actually allow people the choice in music downloads, in an unencumbered music format, that anyone with a PC capable of downloading it can listen to?

(TBH, I expect the answer would be "personal choice in music formats does not make money for the vendor".)

Simon.

Re:Compatibility (1)

rawler (1005089) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470088)

I personally would prefer to BUY in FLAC, even if I later have to transcode. If I buy lossily compressed, I can never get back original quality, but the other way is (relatively) easy. In particular, many of the music-stores are not web-outlets but requires a client-side software. (Itunes for one) If customers demanded it, it would be trivial to implement auto-conversion to the target-device, many already do, while keeping originals in fully-quality format.

Re:Compatibility (3, Informative)

Malc (1751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470100)

Portable support is not the point. Being able to batch encode is. I've been ripping my CDs for years. When I gave up on the whole OGG Vorbis thing and went back to MP3, no problem. When I switched to iTunes + iPhone, no problem encoding to AAC. No decrease in quality transcoding from one lossy format to another. No doubt I'll want to re-enocde again in the future if there is an improvement in the encoders.

Well ... (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469862)

Most of the time I listen to music using a mobile device (phone, PMP) and earbuds. So for my purposes large lossless files wouldn't make much of a difference anyway.

But in the end it all depends on whether there's a large enough demand on the market.

FLAC is bullshit (5, Funny)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469896)

I tried converting my entire mp3 library to FLAC and couldn't hear any difference. It's just audiophiles circlejerking. I bet you all use golden audio cables and $500 cable stands, too.

Re:FLAC is bullshit (1)

Corbets (169101) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469918)

I tried converting my entire mp3 library to FLAC and couldn't hear any difference. It's just audiophiles circlejerking. I bet you all use golden audio cables and $500 cable stands, too.

Is that +1 funny or -1 troll? I can't tell...

Re:FLAC is bullshit (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469936)

Bahahahaha... Now I kind of wish I hadn't posted just so I could mod this funny :) You made my day good sir.

Re:FLAC is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469938)

I hope you are simply trolling...

of course you wont hear a difference if you convert from mp3 to flac.....

Re:FLAC is bullshit (1, Informative)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469940)

Obviously you're joking, but just in case you're not:

Converting a lossy format (MP3) into a lossless format (FLAC) will not magically restore the bits lost in the original conversion to MP3.

What you're doing is the equivalent of taking an 800x600 image, scaling it down to 1x1, saving it, re-opening it, scaling it back up to 800x600 and complaining that all you have is a single colour image rather than the original.

Re:FLAC is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469948)

You should be converting FLAC to mp3 not the other way around, i dont use FLAC except for classic music, mp3 compression seems to be tuned towards pop music and not classic music, classic music just sounds a bit flat when its on mp3

Re:FLAC is bullshit (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469952)

I tried converting my entire mp3 library to FLAC and couldn't hear any difference

WTF? You converted from a lossy format to lossless format and expected to get MORE audio data than you had in the beginning? *facepalm*

Re:FLAC is bullshit (4, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470086)

Hey, that would work in Hollywood OS.

"Enhance!"

Re:FLAC is bullshit (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470104)

Or in CSI.

Mod parent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469992)

Parent should know very well that unless you stay lossless from the source, your audio is not going to improve. Hence why you demand your music store provides in FLAC format, who masters the files from the studio original

Or maybe parent was just a really lame attempt at a Funny mod.

Re:FLAC is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35470136)

Well, it's quite obvious why that didn't work. If you have a copy of a say a picture and you use a DSLR camera to take a high resolution picture of it, you still have crappy quality. FLAC provides good quality when it is used for original encoding, but there's no point in converting compressed formats, FLAC can't create data out of nowhere.

because people "buying" music are already idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469900)

If I want a recording of music, I'll copy it from somewhere where it's available for free. If I want a high quality copy, that's what I'll look for. If musicians want me to pay for a series of 0s and 1s in a particular order representing their recording, they're welcome to ask and I'm welcome to politely show them the four thousand years of culture which have influenced them and which I expect, by their reasoning, they owe a great financial debt to.

People who buy from online music stores and promote the commoditisation of art are already lazy and have no real care for or notion of musical culture. Of course they're not going to care much about the quality of the recording, but that's just one small symptom.

Re:because people "buying" music are already idiot (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470038)

Man, post as your real self, whoever you are. I want to say "Amen, brother".. but not to a fucking A/C.

The only music worth paying for... (1)

Terminus32 (968892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469924)

...is music that is pressed onto vinyl! :-)

Why not just sell fully uncompressed audio? (1)

zalas (682627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469928)

You know... FLAC doesn't actually compress down from WAV all that much. Given current storage sizes, why not simply just sell fully uncompressed audio files? You can use FLAC or whatever as the transmission medium and/or storage server-side to be less of a bandwidth burden, but the user should just see an incoming WAV file, etc. that he can do whatever he wants with...

Personally, I rip all my CDs to --preset-extreme MP3 to listen, since I can just pull out my CD if I really needed a bit-perfect copy (e.g. for voice track extraction).

Gosh since when was CD quality quality? (0)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469934)

For those who are a bit to young, CD quality is NOT a very high standard. What it orginally meant is that it lacked the scratches of LP's. CD Quality meant the music stayed the same no matter how many times you played it and that error correction could correct (small) scratches. It did NOT and NEVER meant the ultimate in sound quality.

CD sound is compressed and leaves out "unneeded" bits of audio because it had to be processed by very early and cheap computers. You might as well say MP3 quality. Lossless copies of a lossy media are NOT the holy grail of HiFi.

Downloading in APE or Flac just means you skipped the step of going from lossy to even lossier. It does NOT mean you got the best sound possible at the moment.

Ideally, the music distributor would make use of the very low cost of internet distribution and make music available in a very high quality and then let the end consumer pick his own encoding. Problem solved. You don't think studios actually record music on CD's to start with right? Give us the original and then let us downgrade it ourselves. Oh and if in the process we can skip the guy that thinks every dial should be put to 11 when mastering a track... all the better.

Just maybe we could then pick different encodings for different uses. But no, that would ruin the music industries wet dream of selling us the same content over and over in different packages.

Re:Gosh since when was CD quality quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35470020)

For those who are a bit to young, CD quality is NOT a very high standard.

It's a higher standard than LP quality, and a lot higher of a standard than cassette quality.

CD sound is compressed and leaves out "unneeded" bits of audio because it had to be processed by very early and cheap computers. You might as well say MP3 quality. Lossless copies of a lossy media are NOT the holy grail of HiFi.

CD sound is not compressed in a lossy way that leaves out "unneeded" bits of audio. MP3 sound is compressed in that way. AAC sound is compressed in that way. ATRAC (MiniDisc) sound is compressed in that way. DVD-Video surround sound is compressed in that way. But CD, DAT, and the stereo PCM option for DVD-Video all use uncompressed audio.

Re:Gosh since when was CD quality quality? (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470160)

CD sound is compressed and leaves out "unneeded" bits of audio because it had to be processed by very early and cheap computers. You might as well say MP3 quality. Lossless copies of a lossy media are NOT the holy grail of HiFi.

No. That is incorrect. CD sound is uncompressed PCM; no bits are "discarded" except signal bits that were never sampled in the first place, due to the finite sampling rate, OR bits that were aliased due to distortion; all conversions to digital from analog require sampling. A frequency called the Nyquist frequency is defined to be half the sampling frequency of the digitally processed signal. It can be mathematically proven that aliasing can be avoided if the Nyquist frequency is greater than the maximum component frequency of the signal being sampled..

CD audio 16-bit 44.1kHz; which should be lossless up to the Nyquist frequency of 22.05kHz -- for most humans, the audible frequency range is 0 to 20 kHz, so the only audible difference should be the possibility of certain audio artifacts; not due to any 'compression' or 'removal' of information.

CD audio is not as good as the best possible DVD audio (24-bit 182 kHz)

CD audio is also not as good as LP audio; where the LP playback is done with a high quality pickup cartridge, and the playback is pristine (no record scratches, dust, vibration, hum, incorrect turntable setup, etc).

Doesn't matter: Loudness wars... (1)

irp (260932) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469946)

While I would like to agree, I don't really think format matters as long as the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war [wikipedia.org] is going on. I would rather have a consumer demand that the music retains the full dynamic range. Quiet should be quite - please DON'T try to decide at what volume I hear the music. I have a volume control, I can turn it up myself thank you very much.

The newest CDs of the bands I listen to (which I admit are rather loud, but also melodic) sound imho like crap. The individual numbers are good - but I can not listen to them in sequence. All appears have equal volume - even the quiet ones! It really tires my ears. Also the sound doesn't seem as "sharp" to me, it its loud and overwhelming - but there is no "kick" in it, even when it shift from a "quiet" passage to a "massive" one, it's just noise... :(

ALAC is good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35469954)

Bah. Buy ALAC (iTunes plus) right now and convert it to anything you like with FFmpeg [ffmpeg.org] . That gets me lossless legit music that I can do anything I want with.

How ironic, Slashdot's CAPTCHA just offered to feed me an mp3 of the word I am to type.

Re:ALAC is good enough (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470004)

legit music that I can do anything I want with.

Contradiction. The very idea of 'legit' music recordings contains within itself restrictions on what you can do with said recordings.

Re:ALAC is good enough (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470010)

In my country, iTunes Plus is still "the new standard on iTunes" and refers to 256kbps AAC, not ALAC audio files - has this changed in the States?

Demand for FLAC (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469960)

I could demand FLAC, but not many people use the format or know what it is. A quick experience I had. After a system crash I decided to upgrade from WinXP to Win7 (I very rarely use Windows, and it's only there for testing). There is no default support for FLAC in Windows, in fact, the only lossless format I did find support for is WAV (PCM).

If Windows does not provide support out of the box for FLAC, and to add it to Windows Media Player needs hacking of the registry, you can see why not many people would use the format, or even know of it's existence. It also does not help that there are multiple websites that proport to add FLAC support, but which Windows package really is genuine, or spyware?

I use FLAC on my Linux setup, my PMP, and phone (it's a deal breaker with me that an "MP3" player MUST support FLAC).

BUY music (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469970)

*laughinggirls.jpg*
He BUYS music! lol

It seems only people who dont know any better buy music nowadays.

Maybe they won't sell a lossless format because... (1)

jmcvetta (153563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35469988)

.. that would impair their ability to charge the same person several times for the same content in different formats.

I rip all my CDs into FLAC. (1)

dpmarsh (1154091) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470000)

My entire CD collection is ripped to FLAC first. Then I encode 2 further copies, one in MP3 and the other in OGG. MP3 for the kids and OGG for my Ipod Video which has Rockbox as my ears preferred the quality of OGG over MP3. It can even play FLAC if I really wanted but takes up too much space. If they ever decide to get rid of CDs I am going to be hard pressed to find FLAC music online, so I say YES, lets tell the music industry we want FLAC! However as one poster has already commented, CD quality was never really quality. 16bit 44100Hz Stereo is not a 'scratch' on analogue, infinitely variable, vinyl :)

Why do we put up with DRM? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470084)

Same reason. There are not enough consumers who care in order to put any kind of pressure on the music cartels.

Because it's not enough (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470102)

"We have plenty of HDD space and broadband internet. Why don't we demand full CD quality audio in an accessible format from online music stores?

I can tell the difference between CDs and records; the CDs have distortion. I don't want crappy 48khz 16-bit CD quality audio.

I want 96khz 24-bit digital audio (or better).

Storage is cheap now. I don't understand why we are going backwards, and why the manufacturers have trouble getting back to or acknowledging that CD quality just isn't good enough. And lossy compressed audio is grossly unacceptable.

I don't want FLAC (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35470106)

We may have a lot more hard drive space these days, but really? There are many formats that produce great quality and don't need to be ~25 megs per song. To anyone but real audiophiles, I think this would be a waste of space.

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