Experiences of purchasing downloads

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RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

I would much rather purchase a download that a cheaply re-packaged reissue with attrocious art work that tries to replicate the DG Originals look. For instance EMI seem to have flooded the market in the last 12 months with very cheaply repackaged opera sets. They are about all you can buy in HMV these days.

Ted 

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

Atonal wrote

The 'quality of sound' is an all too often aired subect here. Not everyone can afford Linn gear or SACD's or overpriced FLAC files. Yet we get the odd posts about historical recordings and how greater they are than modern interpretations but, surely, there's a compromise with sound quality there but do the historical fans care? I'm assuming they're listening to the essence of the music and good for them.

This is a forum about MUSIC.

I have a significant number of 78 transfers on CD, mostly piano, and if well done have no problem listening to them - see my comments on the 78s or digital downloads post. When it comes to modern recordings however I see little point in listening to them in other than the best possible format. If an item is available as a CD or a lossless download which should sound  identical to the CD I can see little point in listening to it as a 320kbps MP3 or worse.

When it comes to equipment we all have our own ideas and preferences within our budgets and of course room acoustics.

Thanks to those who suggested how to try and access my "unplayable" download. I'm not greatly enamoured at cluttering up my computer with more programs and really do think the industry must offer a simple common system with all downloads at uncompressed CD rate or better if it is to make any progress, at least as far as this listener is concerned.

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

VicJayL wrote:

guillaume wrote:

 

Nonsense. CDs cost peanuts these days, which is why I've not so far considered downloads, though I realise that this situation (or indeed the very availability of CDs) isn't going to last. Great, or expensive, sound equipment isn't necessary, especially when, as with me and the vast majority of people, you don't have a dedicated "listening room".

Not exactly peanuts, but relatively cheaper CDs, yes, as it's market-driven.  Companies know that downloads will take an increasing share of the market - for convenience at one end of the market (primarily) and quality at the other.

Sound equipment doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive but it does have to be good to do the job.  Poor systems aren't listened to after a while.  A good system demands attention, broadens listening experience and thus increases sales from whichever medium.  That has been my experience anyway.

Good modern sound systems are designed for domestic situations not dedicated listening rooms.  (See Linn's speaker philosophy for instance.)  But the other side of that coin is that the system needs to be good enough to handle ordinary domestic listening environments. 

Investing in the best sound system you can afford, after very careful auditioning and selection, is vital to do justice to the high quality of discs or downloads now available.

Vic.

Vic, I can't remember when I last paid in double figures for a CD (whether in pounds, euros or dollars) or even a double CD. The only reason I don't buy a lot more CDs than I do (perhaps 50-60 per year) is lack of the necessary listening time to do them justice. Cost has long ceased to be a factor.  

As for expensive sound systems, the whole concept is alien to me. I have a Sony micro system - i.e. CD player, radio and cassette player - which cost me about £250 a few years ago. This gives as good an approximation of concert hall sound (and I go to quite a few live concerts) as is possible in my small appartment, especially considering I have near neighbours. You say that poor systems are no longer listened to after a while. Evidently then mine, though cheap, isn't poor.

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

Atonal wrote:

the verge of imploding in on its own procratinating wobble. The majors have been too slow to pave the way with quality downloads, preferring to squeeze every last buck out of CD promotion, while allowing computer/internet programmers to confuse the situation with creating multiple platforms and file types. 

Sorry Atonal and 33lp, I don't really agree with this. Apart from Apple, most other (all other?) download retailers have standardised their formats as mp3 and/or flac, and the other lossy/lossless formats have largely been forgotten. The fact that flac doesn't play on Windows Media player is because of Microsoft's policy and not because of the music industry. Media players like VLC media player are cross platform programs designed to play anything and bypass the antics of Apple and Microsoft. If you can clutter your machine with downloads then you can surely add another media player.   

Ted

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

guillaume wrote:

 

As for expensive sound systems, the whole concept is alien to me. I have a Sony micro system - i.e. CD player, radio and cassette player - which cost me about £250 a few years ago. This gives as good an approximation of concert hall sound (and I go to quite a few live concerts) as is possible in my small appartment, especially considering I have near neighbours. You say that poor systems are no longer listened to after a while. Evidently then mine, though cheap, isn't poor.

Well, Guillaume, as perception is everything, you are in a very happy position with your current system, so fair play to you.   I guess the majority here are similarly content with their assess to music, which is great.

What constitutes an expensive system is relative though.  I guess most believe it begins somewhere higher than they have currently spent.   I feel that I have waited half a lifetime to hear music reproduced to the quality I now enjoy, and often wonder how it could be better (although I know of course that it could, if funds allowed).  

The law of diminishing returns operates sharply in this field, but the gains are real and significant, enhancing the listening experience into subtle yet profound areas.  The decay of a note on a cello, the interaction within a string section of the orchestra, the acoustics of a recording arena, the distortion-free delivery of extreme highs and lows at near concert hall volumes.   I don't need them, but I certainly appreciate what they bring to the experience. 

But it's all relative, so each to his/her own, I say.

Vic.

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

TedR wrote

Sorry Atonal and 33lp, I don't really agree with this. Apart from Apple, most other (all other?) download retailers have standardised their formats as mp3 and/or flac, and the other lossy/lossless formats have largely been forgotten. The fact that flac doesn't play on Windows Media player is because of Microsoft's policy and not because of the music industry. Media players like VLC media player are cross platform programs designed to play anything and bypass the antics of Apple and Microsoft. If you can clutter your machine with downloads then you can surely add another media player.   

Yes most retailers may have standardized on MP3 but that is my very point. Unless I have grossly misunderstood the situation MP3 is a very low bit rate of 128, 192 or at best 320kbps, much inferior to CD and as such holds no interest for me. I have little knowledge of Windows policy but if that is the most common music player on all except Apple computers I would have thought that was the obvious way to go and I have little inclination to start messing about with more programs.    

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

33lp wrote:

Yes most retailers may have standardized on MP3 but that is my very point. Unless I have grossly misunderstood the situation MP3 is a very low bit rate of 128, 192 or at best 320kbps, much inferior to CD and as such holds no interest for me.

Most classical mp3 retailers are only offering higher bit rate mp3s: 256 or 320kbps fixed bit rate or a high variable bit rate. With these it is unlikely, except in rare cases, that anyone would be able to detect any differences from the original CD. Such Mp3s are not tinny or muffled facsimiles of the original. Even if you don't yourself believe that this is true, it is a commonly held opinion from a reliable range of commentators, so you can hardly blame the retailers for choosing the high bit rate mp3 format, given how widespread the format has become.

Ted

 

 

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

In reply to an earlier post that mentioned this, it's good to note that some online shops are already charging the same price regardless of what format you choose - MP3, FLAC, etc. For example, Hyperion and eClassical.

Also, I must say that I've never had any problems finding and downloading music from Hyperion, which is one of my favourite sites. I'm sorry for your troubles, 33lp, but perhaps a different player is better suited. I'm no expert, but I was under the impression that Windows Media Player isn't particularly good.

Another plus for Hyperion, in my view, is the way they tag their files, most useful. That's another discussion altogether, though.

RE: Experiences of purchasing downloads

A very interesting article by Andrew Everard in this month's magazine about Apple Lossless and the classical field leading the drive to 24bit downloads.  It reminded me of the protracted and often bitter exchanges on the subject in the "Buying and Dowloading Lossless Formats" thread way back in August.  So much for the "it's-all-industry-hype-and-gullible-customers" brigade.  I wonder if they are still claiming that 24bit sounds no better than their Tesco CD players?

Vic.

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