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is the end of mp3s near???
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #91
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🎧 10 years
+1 uosdwis
True, basically it's data reduction in order to maximize used space, but I guess I'm used with the term compression since it's widely accepted as lossless/lossy compression.
If you think about lossy compression, converting to a lower sample rate is one of the most primitive forms of compression/reduction (downsampling is used for example in JPEG)
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #92
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It is a little bit frustrating to have to try to thoroughly explain a process which seems self-evident to me, but honestly, I understand why a lot of people don't intuitively get it. I think a big part of it is just as you say, compression is an imprecise term that has two very different uses in audio. But it's worth trying to suss out, because the more people who understand it and see how useful it is, the less often this will have to be done in the future.

I do wish that I could just tell someone "You know how when you zip WAV files, you get about 20-25% compression? Yeah, use this instead and you'll get around 50% compression." and have them do it heh
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #93
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It's like there is a 'war' brewing (not in this thread!) between the lossless codecs, one of them is going to win out as the one adopted by the masses, you reckon?

I like Monkey's Audio (another free one), I was amazed at how much it could squeeze the wavs down, perfect for sharing project wavs, gets a little over 50% reduction in file size, there is a winamp plug for the codec too so you can playback easily.

What we really need is a revolution in affordable portable playback systems, it seems every other advance is pointless unless we can get people to actually appreciate high fidelity sound again.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #94
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As for the mp3, I did a test today: I took a FLAC and an MP3 (320 kbps) of the same song (The Conquerer Worm by Sopor Aeternus) and did the ABX test in foobar (the test was on Sennheiser HD515, final result: 5/6, was too bored to do more) and after that I was curious what the differences in the content was (I guess I could here something, wasn't sure what exactly); so I dragged both of the files in Audacity and aligned them (looked at peaks, pretty easy) and inverted one of them and then played. The result? White noise (ok, not exactly white noise, there were some parts where both voice and musical content can be heard).
Funny thing.

On the other hand, when I did the test with one of my songs I could here the differences waaay better.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FeatheredSerpent ➑️
It's like there is a 'war' brewing (not in this thread!) between the lossless codecs, one of them is going to win out as the one adopted by the masses, you reckon?

I like Monkey's Audio (another free one), I was amazed at how much it could squeeze the wavs down, perfect for sharing project wavs, gets a little over 50% reduction in file size, there is a winamp plug for the codec too so you can playback easily.

What we really need is a revolution in affordable portable playback systems, it seems every other advance is pointless unless we can get people to actually appreciate high fidelity sound again.
Yeah, that's where we can really consider the iPod the culprit. Those little earbuds that come with it are fashionable in a way that a good pair of Shure or Etymonics aren't, and you'll never see someone sporting some HD650s (or, hell, even HD555s) in public. I don't know, there are plenty of folks who like good audio. I have friends with excellent sound systems, some of which I'd be happy to mix on in a pinch, and then they've got an iPod too - there isn't any real overlap. Some people even encode songs specifically for the iPod and keep a separate higher quality library for home listening. Takes all kinds, but the market will need to adopt better transduction systems before mass high-quality music files become a standard.

There are already good movements in that direction, with more and more people being dissatisfied with 128Kbps mp3s, plenty of folks demanding services provide higher-quality mp3s. That's a really important step, because the quality difference from a 128kbps CBR mp3 to a alt--preset--standard mp3 is much, much bigger than the difference from an alt--preset--standard to an alt--preset--extreme, or even between alt--preset--standard and FLAC. There is a point at which compression combined with reduction (mp3) can be a very good sounding medium, and people are already demandin that. The next step is even higher quality, we'll see if people start asking for that. The emergence of services providing it are a very good sign. I like that nearly any independent band's album I want to buy, I can get it in some very high quality format.
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #96
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I was thinking about my future commercial releases (ahem!) and for many reasons, I would like to have a vinyl release,not least because I want the artwork to be a major part of the whole package, but also for piracy reasons.

With the vinyl you would get a download link for a single time download of the track(s) in 320kbps mp3 or lossless format of your choice.

But then of course these can be uploaded.

Bit off topic, but started me thinking, you know how so many websites (including this one) won't allow you to upload a file if it doesn't match the criteria set by the admin (too large a file-size, wrong format whatever), why can't this be implemented across the whole web network?
If all commercial audio fles were imbedded with a header that could be read by the network, then they could be prevented from being uploaded in the first place right?
Old 27th January 2009 | Show parent
  #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FeatheredSerpent ➑️
I was thinking about my future commercial releases (ahem!) and for many reasons, I would like to have a vinyl release,not least because I want the artwork to be a major part of the whole package, but also for piracy reasons.

With the vinyl you would get a download link for a single time download of the track(s) in 320kbps mp3 or lossless format of your choice.

But then of course these can be uploaded.

Bit off topic, but started me thinking, you know how so many websites (including this one) won't allow you to upload a file if it doesn't match the criteria set by the admin (too large a file-size, wrong format whatever), why can't this be implemented across the whole web network?
If all commercial audio fles were imbedded with a header that could be read by the network, then they could be prevented from being uploaded in the first place right?
Because there isn't a monolithic kernal to the internet. It's very widely distributed, it would take some extreme changes to how the internet exists and happens for anything like that to take effect. If they could enforce broad policy changes at the level of the whole damned thing, there would be no struggle against internet predators, child exploitation, terrorist coordination via the internet, software and music piracy, etc.; though I would worry that it would also crush a great deal of the free speech that the internet now enjoys, two sides to the coin unfortunately.
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➑️
No it isn't, please read the thread. They are identical in quality. Or do you think that a ZIP'd wave file is somehow lower quality than the same file before being zipped?

If Flac is like your analogy of the zipped file then no i dont think its lower in quality, i just remeber trying a flac file once where the media player on the side said it was 560 bitratre or something like that...i got files that where in the range of 560, 700 and something and 930 kbps some really weird numbers i figured since full resolution wave files are at 1411kbps that the the flac was slightly under in quality , but it did sound alot better than other formats at there best. the only other problem is that Flac must be so darn new...i dont know any media players that can play them or the ones i have, itunes cant play them but i can import wav files on itunes, the only player that supports them that i use besides itunes was winamp. i dunno maybe it means i have to investage it more..
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #99
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Ha, reading this thread I'm almost positive that people knew exactly what Agreed meant, but were just being funny for some reason.

Anyways... FLAC is good, but until it can play in iTunes/iPods, it will never catch on. ALAC will first.

Personally, download lots of FLACS, and convert them to ALAC right away. FLAC is a better format (they're both loseless of course, but FLACs tend to be a bit smaller, and playback easier), but... well... iTunes.
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #100
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Edit: ^^^^ Justin, if that's the case then I'm a sucker for a chance to teach someone about something. I guess that means I'm easily trolled by people who just want to screw with me, but I prefer to remain optimistic and think I'm actually helping out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaellus ➑️
If Flac is like your analogy of the zipped file then no i dont think its lower in quality, i just remeber trying a flac file once where the media player on the side said it was 560 bitratre or something like that...i got files that where in the range of 560, 700 and something and 930 kbps some really weird numbers i figured since full resolution wave files are at 1411kbps that the the flac was slightly under in quality , but it did sound alot better than other formats at there best. the only other problem is that Flac must be so darn new...i dont know any media players that can play them or the ones i have, itunes cant play them but i can import wav files on itunes, the only player that supports them that i use besides itunes was winamp. i dunno maybe it means i have to investage it more..
The reason that it says that it has a lower bitrate is because FLAC delivers the same information with less space on the disc. So it can convey the same samples while using a smaller bitrate. Earlier I said it's kind of like a ZIP you can play back, except it also has way more compression than a ZIP since it's specialized for audio. Bitrate doesn't necessarily say anything about the quality, and FLAC will use whatever bitrate necessary to have the full information contect there. For example, the Estrum album I bought and downloaded yesterday came in 24-bit WAV files. The FLACs I made of them have an average bitrate of about 1600kbps, because that's how much throughput (on average) was needed to play back the same data when encoded with FLAC. But the Backmask album that I got a week and a half ago is 16-bit and the average bitrate is 1045kbps. The bitrate will vary, therefore, in accordance with the information to be conveyed.

And many popular media players can play them. iTunes can't because iTunes is an Apple product and Apple has a competing lossless format, ALAC, which offers similar benefits to FLAC but which is not open source and which doesn't have all the useful features that FLAC does, nor the public scrutiny which it receives. Windows Media Player is the same, Microsoft has lossless WMA so that's their native and preferred format. But any player which isn't clearly affiliated with a company that has a conflict of interest with open-source lossless audio will play FLAC natively, and in fact it is natively supported by a number of DAWs as well.

Part of the FLAC project is a comprehensive test software suite which confirms rigidly and with 100% accuracy that the algorithm encodes and decodes audio without any loss whatever; before any new version is released, the test suite for that version has to confirm this on a wide variety of platforms with extreme redundancy. Apple just puts out a new version when they feel like it and we take their word that it doesn't lose data. Heck, it's entirely possible they're using code from the open source and hence freely available (source code wise) FLAC, it has a lot of the same compression characteristics, but I am speaking strictly in conjecture and I intend no slander - the Apple programmers are talented folks and if they wanted to come up with a lossless algorithm from scratch, they could.

Look into it if you'd like, I have provided good resources in this thread to learn everything you'd want to know
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #101
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Speaking of which...

Apple - iTunes - Feedback

Maybe if everyone complains about the lack of FLAC support (I know I have!), they'll finally add it.... well, maybe they'll add it right after they add copy/paste to the iphone..
Old 28th January 2009
  #102
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As far as I'm concerned, keep MP3's for Internet purposes, kill off the 16/44.1 format, and add 24/96 as a standard.
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #103
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Most people, the average listener, can't even tell the difference between an MP3 and a WAV.

The fact a 4mb MP3 could be the same as a 15mb WAV is not appealing at all.
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #104
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🎧 10 years
Perhaps Vinyl is the way to go.
If you think about it a CD is very easy to rip...it's already a digital format.
Now how many people who are file sharing would spend the time burning mp3's from their vinyl collection. A few, but many less. Not sure people would be particularly quick to go and share all that effort either.
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #105
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Sorry, vinyl is gone. It's not coming back. I don't like having to buy needles, I like having things on ipods easily, they are more expensive to make, sell, and buy, etc. It's not coming back whether you like it or not. It's not what you would like it's what the people with $$$ like...

FLAC, on the other hand...
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #106
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@feathered serpent: theoretically, than there would be software that would crack the header.
Think of the way protection works on DVDs: if the DVD doesn't have something "legit" then the player doesn't play it, right? After a while, software was able to extract only the content.
I personally don't believe in this kind of protection as I find it intrusive and dumb, but that's just me and big brands want big money (same goes for homebrew apps on consoles, but that's another thing)

@plugin: I personally don't see the point of 96 (besides the fact that it look$ good to have big number$), 24/48 is just fine; also, as most users have started to rise the bitrate of mp3 when encoding (e.g. about 8 - 10 years ago, 128kbit/s was standard, now most users use 192 or 256) I believe it's stupid to keep on rising untill you'll eventually get bigger files that are just as big as lossless compressed files.

@chaellus: bitrate signifies the amount of data space (i.e. number of bits) that are processed, transferred, etc. per second, while bit resolution (or bit per sample resolution, or bit depth) reffers to the amount of data that can be actually stored in one sample.

To make this more clear:
The content is made of samples; each sample has the same resolution in a channel, and the number reffers to the "size" of the sample; so, for 24bit we have each sample occupying 3 bytes and it can have values ranging from 0 to 16777216 (we're talking about integeres). This is basically the linear pulse-code modulation (linear PCM), used in wav and CD and DVD (of course, the bit depth is different, but you get the idea) and this long string of numbers gets to the DAC, gets edited in you're favorite DAW program etc.
This thing just represents the content, the audio signal itself.

Now comes the packaging, since there must be a way to actually store it in some way, as data. So we have audio packaging, or, commonly known as audio containers.

The easiest way to encode this data is to use RIFF (which is used in, but not limited to, wav, avi, ani, aiff) which has some rough information about channels, bit depth, sample rate and the PCM string.

Now this data can also be stored in a more optimized way, compressing it.
We can compress the file we obtained earlier (using a data compression tool) or we can arrange the actual string using some rules to optimize the space, and then when we want to listen we use the set of rules to return it to PCM (also known as encoding and decoding).


To make this even MOAR clear:
Imagine a room with all sort of stuff in it (wardrobes, tables, chairs, cupboards, TVs, players, paintings, musical instruments etc.) arranged in a certain order.
The arrangement of the furniture & co. is the content, while the room is the package. If it's a big living room it's the actual wav file. If you move the stuff in a huge cathedral or hall and arrange them in the same way it's like upsampling to a higher bitdepth and samplerate.

Now imagine we want to optimize space and we want to move everything in a closet. We can make a note on a sheet of paper of how everything was placed and try to place them in an optimal manner in the closet. That's lossless. Like FLAC & such.

Also, we could chop the legs off the table and chair, trash the wardrobe, pull out some of the knobs on the gear, etc. That's lossy. Like MP3.
Now a really compressed to the max MP3 (i.e. low bitrate) would be the example above. A higher bitrate would mean just some dents, maybe stuff chipped off etc.

Hope now everybody got what lossy, lossless, data compression, bitrate, bit depth, sample rate and other tech stuff means.
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GYang ➑️
Possible, but in my BMW with indeed very good car system I have some 1000 CDs saved in 320 quality MP3 format on hard disk that I usually listen in random search mode. Can be that audio system is particularly good for MP3 or I used right algo, but I don't find it as sonic compromise and convenience-wise it's heaven.
I dare to say that good or great mix sounds equally pleasing on high bit rate MP3.

I agree with the above poster. And IMO this underscores the ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL need of having the highest quality, most profound sounding professionally mastered mixes BEFORE transferring down to mp3.

The posters on GS that say the final mix quality doesn't matter because people are listening to mp3s on ****ty systems have it all backwards IMO.

It actually matters 1000x more to have the highest fidelity mastered mixes you can possibly achieve, so that by the time it gets reduced down to mp3 it still packs a punch !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #108
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➑️
I have explained as much as I am really comfortable explaining.[/url]

A little fuuck for those accusing me of trolling.
I asked a simple yes/no question but got an answer worthy of anyone sitting in the Hague.

We worked it out eventually. But really.....
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #109
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If you're upset at me, I'm not upset - and it doesn't bother me. I hope that, upset or not, you still get the concept of FLAC better than you did before the thread. If that's so, then I've succeeded in this thread and I'm alright with that. I don't know who accused you of trolling, it certainly wasn't me.

Peaceful, easy feelings coming from my direction - perhaps I am misunderstanding you here and you're not sending that "F-U" my way, in which case I apologize for missing the point
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #110
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I am a little, agreed.
You could have just said Yes and given a small explanation.

But you said you were uncomfortable discussing it, yet then type several thousand more words on the subject.

Anyway. we are all a bit wiser for this and I am now a FLAC advocate. We are all winners.

Last edited by MarkRB; 28th January 2009 at 10:07 PM.. Reason: Im just ****ing around
Old 28th January 2009 | Show parent
  #111
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Speaking briefly just isn't my idiom, especially when there's a problem to solve. But no harm done and no offense taken Glad to have you on board for FLAC!
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agreed ➑️
Edit:

The reason that it says that it has a lower bitrate is because FLAC delivers the same information with less space on the disc. So it can convey the same samples while using a smaller bitrate. Earlier I said it's kind of like a ZIP you can play back, except it also has way more compression than a ZIP since it's specialized for audio. Bitrate doesn't necessarily say anything about the quality, and FLAC will use whatever bitrate necessary to have the full information contect there. For example, the Estrum album I bought and downloaded yesterday came in 24-bit WAV files. The FLACs I made of them have an average bitrate of about 1600kbps, because that's how much throughput (on average) was needed to play back the same data when encoded with FLAC. But the Backmask album that I got a week and a half ago is 16-bit and the average bitrate is 1045kbps. The bitrate will vary, therefore, in accordance with the information to be conveyed.

And many popular media players can play them. iTunes can't because iTunes is an Apple product and Apple has a competing lossless format, ALAC, which offers similar benefits to FLAC but which is not open source and which doesn't have all the useful features that FLAC does, nor the public scrutiny which it receives. Windows Media Player is the same, Microsoft has lossless WMA so that's their native and preferred format. But any player which isn't clearly affiliated with a company that has a conflict of interest with open-source lossless audio will play FLAC natively, and in fact it is natively supported by a number of DAWs as well.

Part of the FLAC project is a comprehensive test software suite which confirms rigidly and with 100% accuracy that the algorithm encodes and decodes audio without any loss whatever; before any new version is released, the test suite for that version has to confirm this on a wide variety of platforms with extreme redundancy. Apple just puts out a new version when they feel like it and we take their word that it doesn't lose data. Heck, it's entirely possible they're using code from the open source and hence freely available (source code wise) FLAC, it has a lot of the same compression characteristics, but I am speaking strictly in conjecture and I intend no slander - the Apple programmers are talented folks and if they wanted to come up with a lossless algorithm from scratch, they could.

Look into it if you'd like, I have provided good resources in this thread to learn everything you'd want to know

Thanks bro i learned alot for once..

Quote:
Originally Posted by sage691 ➑️
this underscores the ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL need of having the highest quality, most profound sounding professionally mastered mixes BEFORE transferring down to mp3.

The posters on GS that say the final mix quality doesn't matter because people are listening to mp3s on ****ty systems have it all backwards IMO.

It actually matters 1000x more to have the highest fidelity mastered mixes you can possibly achieve, so that by the time it gets reduced down to mp3 it still packs a punch !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You can say that i agian.... i dont get people's reasoning for saying it doesnt matter because its going to mp3....it does....the sound is only gonna get smaller not bigger.
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #113
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Sorry, vinyl is gone. It's not coming back. I don't like having to buy needles, I like having things on ipods easily, they are more expensive to make, sell, and buy, etc. It's not coming back whether you like it or not. It's not what you would like it's what the people with $$$ like...
Vinyl has never left. It has suffered its ups and downs, but, ironically, it WILL outlast the CD, no question.
Many bands have gone to collector vinyl, limited editions, songs, etc in the packaging- knowing many fans still covet LPs with their liner notes and awesome graphics...not to mention the superior fidelity.
CD's will soon die off, to be replaced with the next BIG THING. Some say the MP3 did this already---
The idea that we now take a 30Mb song on CD and compress it to 3mb's is pathetic. the only reason it ever was done was to accommodate small computer hard drives. Taking something and reducing the information TEN times is going to experience loss of quality. Even with analog its the same...
if I use 3 3/4 IPS for recording as opposed to say 7 1/2 IPS- I would have HALF the amount of media used to capture the same source material- thus, the 7 1/2 IPS sounds cleaner, higher highs, lower lows, etc. More Tape= better sound. Knowing this, why would we USE 3 3/4 IPS? easy...it saved TAPE...less cost,more songs on the tape,etc. Same reasons today.
With technology moving now at a breakneck pace- most everything we know as digital is likely to be replaced with something "better"- be it in delivery and storage and even how music is made and sold.
My personal choice? at home, its my TEAC 4010s reel to reel- love it.
in the car? 1 GB generic MP3 player...thru a FM transmitter! why? Because it is EASY, portable and convenient...do I love the fidelity? no...but, it could be worse.
I hope in the future we see as much thought and consumer "wants" going into digital audio as we do with HIGH DEF VIDEO right now. HI DEF audio in the near future COULD be mind boggling.
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #114
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🎧 10 years
High Quality Downloads Store

The guys at Linn Hi-FI have their own really high end download store, mainly jazz and classical, aimed at the audiophile market but shows that things are happening at this end of the market slowly, and yes they're using FLAC codec.

Studio Master FLAC



If absolute sound quality is what you want then this file is best for you.
FLAC files are lossless at various high bit rates, for example, 48KHz, 88.2KHz and 96KHz (check each title for actual details). The quality is identical to that of an SACD (Stereo only). The format will be dependent on the actual recording method we used originally. No DSD files are offered as it is not possible to play them back on a PC so an equivalent PCM format is offered. These files offer true "studio quality" and are what was used by Linn to produce the production version of our CD releases. Be sure to check compatibility with your computer sound card etc before you download a file and note that large amounts of storage space are required for each track.




Recording Formats
Old 29th January 2009 | Show parent
  #115
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🎧 10 years
Oh, and to answer the big question, I don't think mp3 will die since there's already a label thar releases everything lo-fi. They say that quality doesn't matter and if a song is good, it'll be good at any quality.
Ok, they're a netlabel, but still.

Here's the link: 20kbps rec.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #116
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🎧 10 years
I've been thinking tonight, and looking for a good thread to post this question...and I think this is it. Anyway, here is the premise of my food for thought:

Say CDs and mp3 start to become obsolete with a new format taking over - higher fidelity naturally - at least 24/88.2. Would this revolution cause a move back towards the golden age of major studios? If the "new format" had higher resolution, it could really expose home-studio projects as having lower quality gear, and there might be a move back to the major studios that have the top gear. With a higher fidelity format - simply put - would the projects done on $2000 recording rigs still be able to drive down professional engineers and studio rates? Maybe there would be more of a premium on talented engineers...maybe just wishful thinking?
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #117
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Here's the deal, my girlfriend is sitting right next to me and I read this and so I had to ask. The truth is, she wouldn't be able to tell the difference between an mp3 or FLAC. Will mp3's die? They will when consumers get smart... well, a lot of us live in America...

(and it's not that they are stupid, its they have inadequate listening conditions with inadequate materials with barely any concentration on the music coupled with absolutely no ear training... a big difference from most on this forum)
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #118
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🎧 10 years
Why go back to 24/88.2 when we can have 24/96 with a DVD?

Lower quality gear will be exposed with 24/88.2 recordings? Not in this universe. What a joke. There are great engineers recording some killer albums at 16/44.1 right now. It is not about the gear, and the consumers could give a crap about what we use to record.There are great records of the past recorded on gear that technically was less advanced than a cassette tape based Tascam Portastudio.

There are people listening to MP3s on good systems. To ASSuyme that people only listen to MP3s on iPods with ear buds is silly.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #119
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rackdude ➑️

(and it's not that they are stupid, its they have inadequate listening conditions with inadequate materials with barely any concentration on the music coupled with absolutely no ear training... a big difference from most on this forum)
Thats a very good point.

I certainly can't tell a difference between a CD/Wav and a 128kbs mp3 on my earbuds or in my crappy car stereo, or on a $200 dollar boombox or ipod stereo.

There is a WORLD of difference on my nicer stereo setup. Even a lot more so than on my studio monitors.
Old 25th February 2009 | Show parent
  #120
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSky ➑️
I realize that was your point.

But most punters are greatly relieved that they no longer have to spend an hour waiting for an album to download, they think five minutes is still too long.

yeah. a lot of people don't even LISTEN to an album for an hour. why would they wait so long to download it.
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