One Major Improvement Needed In Digital Music

Posted: 12/29/2009 by that's Elbert in Music, Technology

It is a safe assumption that digital music is going to continue to grow into 2010. There’s no denying that iTunes, Rhapsody, AmazonMP3, and the like have made getting your favorite music quick and easy. There’s still one major problem with downloaded music. The files being sold via any of these services is not the identical quality of that same sound file on a CD.

Any of those services I mentioned above sell “ripped” music, lossy compression, when a lossless compression is far superior and closer to CD quality. It’s a very big reason why most of my music purchases remain on CDs (or what I like referring to as “hard copy”).

I am not against digital purchases. Many mp3s on my computer came from AmazonMP3. They have albums on special every day, of which I’ve scored two I like for $1.99 each. In addition, most recently Flyleaf’s Memento Mori was on sale for $5, and with a $3 coupon I secured a copy of the album for $2. I love bargains, so picking them up that cheap wasn’t a hard decision. There are some music that is only available via download, such as new releases or exclusive versions, so buying a hard copy is not an option.

The regular price on most albums is $7.99 and up, not too far away from the price of a CD. Buying a hard copy of the album is worth the couple extra dollars (if it is higher) and a delay in getting the music if I’m getting a better quality product. If the $7.99 album was in a form that was lossless then I would consider the download over the CD.

In the past selling the lossless files was difficult due to the file sizes. Lossless files are much larger than your typical mp3. Now most people buying digital music are doing so on high speed Internet connections, on which the file size isn’t that big of a deal.

In my opinion there aren’t many reasons for selling the inferior sound file over a higher quality file. So what is the holdup?

  1. Brian Shields says:

    Love Amazon MP3. Got hooked on them when I first bought this phone, and couldn’t transfer any of my ITunes files to it.

  2. Yeah, AmazonMP3 is the best. Easy purchase & download, and I can move the files to my player immediately. On the other hand, with iTunes I’ve got to convert those files to a suitable format before I move them. That’s too many extra steps. AmazonMP3 always has sales and free downloads available. Can’t say that for any other digital music vendor.

    I like FLAC for a lossless file. It would be great to see more lossless files as a download option.

  3. You’re right; there’s no reason for legal downloading services not to provide lossless files. Today’s high speed internet connections nearly eliminate the need for 128kbps mp3 files, which were quite useful in the 90s. They should provide both, so as to accommodate high speed users as well as dial-up users.

  4. The rips that Amazon sells are 256kbps. eMusic seems to sell anything from 160-320kbps. Yes, having an option of lossy or lossless option would be great.

  5. Brian Shields says:

    Check your Amazon Downloader, because I have my files downloaded and directly inserted into Itunes. No fuss no muss. Might be a setting to tweak.