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Music Entertainment

Why We Should Buy Music In FLAC 550

Posted by Soulskill
from the audio-files-for-audiophiles dept.
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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Why We Should Buy Music In FLAC

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  • by kevinmenzel (1403457) <kevinmenzel&gmail,com> on Sunday March 13, 2011 @05:57AM (#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.
  • by stardaemon (834177) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:00AM (#35469798)
    Even if you only want one song from the entire CD?
  • by loufoque (1400831) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:05AM (#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.

  • I don't want it (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:06AM (#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.

  • by beelsebob (529313) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:08AM (#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.

  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:10AM (#35469840) Journal
    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!?!?!?
  • by kevinmenzel (1403457) <kevinmenzel&gmail,com> on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:35AM (#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.

  •     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.

  • by jovius (974690) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:46AM (#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.
  • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:21AM (#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).

  • Proper Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:03AM (#35470276)

    From TFS:

    ...better future-proofing and converting capabilities. FLAC is a good, free and open format...

    We see here yet another case of mistakenly assuming a commonality of perception where history strongly suggests the opposite. The things listed above as features are actually perceived as bugs by the media distribution cartels.

    Strat

  • by somersault (912633) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:31AM (#35470406) Homepage Journal

    You think a CD is more "indestructable" than having a backup or two of your music collection, which you will be migrating from storage device to storage device over the years? Also, storing masses of CDs/DVDs is just a royal PITA. Especially when it comes to finding stuff later. Or having to rip everything again later rather than just having a lossless digital copy.

    I have no qualms about downloading FLACs of any MP3s that I've already purchased, when I decide I have enough space to waste on such things. I think I'd have to have a portable media player with terabyte storage to be able to hold all my music in FLAC format..

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:30AM (#35470692)

    But if a new codec shows up 10 years from now you want to/need to use for some reason

    I'm sorry, but do you really see mp3/aac compatibility EVER going away? At this point, storage is so cheap that more efficient compression just won't matter. FLAC only saves like 50% over raw PCM, so I'm not sure what we're chasing here. Is it really worth such a small compression ratio to be fighting this battle? Why even bother with the time and processing power?

  • by kasperd (592156) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:58AM (#35470800) Homepage Journal
    Let's assume the producer has a master in 96kHz 24bits stereo, and you have audio hardware capable of playing that. Which of the following two options for distribution would you prefer?

    Master is downsampled to 44.1kHz with the best possible filter to avoid aliasing. Then the samples are scaled and rounded to 16 bits, with a scaling factor carefully computed to give the best possible SNR. And you get this result on an audio CD or using a lossless compression like FLAC.

    Alternatively you can choose to get the 96kHz 24 bits stereo sound compressed with a lossy compression (ogg, mp3, or anything you choose) at a bitrate of 1Mbit/s.

    Which of the two would you choose? There is no doubt the first of the two options will give the best audio quality if your hardware is somehow limited to 44.1kHz 16 bits. But if your audio hardware can do better than that, I guess the second option will give better audio quality at one third the bitrate.

    If you are optimizing for best possible sound quality, you have to know your constraints. Depending on the constraints you will get different result. If your only constraint is the actual hardware from the D/A converter to the speakers you will get a completely different result from when you are constrained to a certain bitrate but can choose audio hardware as you like. You'll get yet another result if you are constrained by cost of the hardware to do the playback.
  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @11:28AM (#35471466)

    Adjusting for CPI, $14 in 1983 is about $31 in 2011. $20 today is about $9 in 1983 dollars.

    1983 is a bit early to declare full market availability for CDs don't you think?

    I'd suggest a more reasonable date of 'availability' for determining the start of sales (and a price point) as the time when Middle school students are able to afford it on their allowances. That's where the target demographic starts for Pop music anyway (and those are the albums that follow the most common price curve).

    In short, 1983 might have seen CDs come into existence, but I would say that they really didn't take off as consumer items until ~1992.

    I don't know what the prices of CDs were in 1983, but If we go by your date, I do know that CD Players cost ~$2000 in 1983. Adjusted for inflation, that same player today would cost nearly $4,300. Obviously this wasn't the price which marks the true 'beginning'.

    $14 in 1992 would go to $22 (approx). Still higher, but the cost of production of CDs is VERY low today compared to then.

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