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Startup to offer CD-quality downloads, will Apple follow?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
While the majority the online music industry is focusing on different ways for consumers to obtain compressed digital music files -- whether it be purchasing songs from iTunes or renting them from a competitive service -- upstart MusicGiants plans to cater to a new rising crowd: those who want to download online music at pristine CD-quality.

This summer the Incline Village, Nev.-based company of 15 will launch the first service that sells online music at CD-equivalent fidelity or "high-definition," according to BusinessWeek's Peter Burrows. The company has reportedly secured licensing agreements with all five major record labels and will offer tracks in Microsoft's "lossless" format for $1.29 -- about 30 cents more than most online services. The service will also impose $50 annual membership fee, but it will be waived for anyone buying more than $250 worth of songs.

Of course, MusicGiants won't interest everyone. Not just because of the higher music costs and download times, but also due to a need for pricier hardware. Users of the service would likely need a high-end sound card and quite a bit of storage space. Today's standard 80GB hard disk drives would only hold about 200 CDs in the lossless format. That's why MusicGiants plans to move outside the PC box and into the living room -- an area where Apple has failed to make inroads outside its AirPort Express product.

Along with its music service, MusicGiants reportedly plans to sell a wireless keyboard and handheld mouse to navigate the site. Three other remote-control manufacturers are reportedly designing compatible models. And for the die-hard audiophile, the company will offer a $9,500, 400-gigabyte device called the SoundVault that sits in a stereo cabinet, similar to a CD-player or receiver. It will bundle a high-end sound card and networking gear, allowing consumers to bypass their PCs and load songs directly into their living room stereo system.

"It's hard to sell gas, if no one has a car," MusicGiants chief executive Scott Bahneman told BusinessWeek. His foray into the music hardware business will last only as long as it takes for other manufacturers to begin selling comparative gear, he says. In the meantime, Bahneman is trying to build a distribution network with high-end home builders and home-theater installers.

For a tiny company, its ambitions are enough to make any serious music lover drool. However, a burning question is whether there is a market large enough for MusicGiants to prosper. It may be too early to tell, but if the company does well, competitors like Apple may be forced to follow in its footsteps.

Over the past two years reoccurring rumors have suggested that Apple was preparing to offer tunes beyond its current 128 kbps AAC format, but these rumors never materialized. Instead, the company has argued that iTunes users are happy with current compression standards and that the human ear can't distinguish between CD-quality and bit rates of more than 192 kbps. MusicGiants will be the first to take a stab at proving them wrong.

For those interested in hearing more about the company, the BusinessWeek article is a great read.
post #2 of 26
I wonder if the fact that they're pushing these high-storage dedicated playback systems implies that the DRM they use will restrict customers from burning their own CDs. After all, being able to burn your own CDs from lossless downloads would give plenty of people a reason to be interested in a service like this without caring about their PC's sound card or where to store all of these large files.
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post #3 of 26
total crap, thirty cents more and less selection. High quality is nice for partys with good quality speakers, but is not useful for everyday use. However Apple should join this 'field' and give users an option for this.



nitriletiger
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post #4 of 26
When the time is right, Apple will dive in.

I would say that time has arrived when Apple can make money selling iPods with enough storage space to support playback of 10,000 lossless files -- at the same prices as today's iPods which can only handle that many songs in a compressed format.
post #5 of 26
I'd be happy if this new service, along with the fact that Real and Yahoo are both offering downloads at 192 kbps, encourages Apple to either upgrade to 192 or at least offer it as an option.

I'd be especially happy if I could re-download old purchases at a newly-offered higher bit rate, and would even pay something like $0.25/song to upgrade my old purchases.
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post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by nitriletiger
total crap, thirty cents more and less selection. High quality is nice for partys with good quality speakers, but is not useful for everyday use. However Apple should join this 'field' and give users an option for this.



nitriletiger

There are always people who only buy cheap junk, and there are always people who buy high quality.

I don't have an iPod, and so I don't buy from iTunes. If Apple offered lossless, and I could save it somehow in case I had a crash, I would buy an iPod and buy songs this way. The idea of buying crap and never being able to have a better use for it is something most people such as yourself don't think about.

But I like to listen to most music on my audio system, and I can tell you that 128 AAC is just barely listenable.
post #7 of 26
I'm sure there's SOME market, and I'm always glad for one more option.

I'm guessing that market is too small to be a success, and I'm not personally interested... but I can see that the existing and excellent iPod + iTunes system, with the addition of Apple Lossless, might one day be in demand

As for file size / capacity.... iPod Photo Shuffle, anyone?
post #8 of 26
As has been the case with every format change (LP, tapes, CDs, etc), the music companies want you to buy your music all over again.

Will Apple actually allow and "upgrade" from a lossy format and turn the industry on its head (again)?
Would be nice.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
If Apple offered lossless, and I could save it somehow in case I had a crash, I would buy an iPod and buy songs this way.

If you could save it somehow...let's see...burn to CD...actually store it on an iPod...transfer it to a Firewire or USB 2 drive. If you run it through a sound system with ANY RCA out jacks.

Quote:
The idea of buying crap and never being able to have a better use for it is something most people such as yourself don't think about.

Spoken like a true New Yorker! What a putz!

Quote:
But I like to listen to most music on my audio system, and I can tell you that 128 AAC is just barely listenable.

I mix music for a living and even though I prefer AAC in 192, 128 sounds great on my pro-level audio system. You must have cheap speakers.
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post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
But I like to listen to most music on my audio system, and I can tell you that 128 AAC is just barely listenable.

Well this is because you have a expensive sound system and 128 sound just fine on iPods and the speakers that come from apple, also apple's mp3 format sounds better than most 128 bit songs. And like I said apple SHOULD give users a choice for lossless quality (iTunes-preferences-Musicstore-download quality)This new service will not take any buisness away from the iTMS.

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post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by FoxMulder
If you could save it somehow...let's see...burn to CD...actually store it on an iPod...transfer it to a Firewire or USB 2 drive. If you run it through a sound system with ANY RCA out jacks.



Spoken like a true New Yorker! What a putz!



I mix music for a living and even though I prefer AAC in 192, 128 sounds great on my pro-level audio system. You must have cheap speakers.

You are a nut case. You don't have the foggiest idea of what you are talking about. You also don't know anything about me.

I doubt that you mix anything for a living, or that you have a "pro-level system".

If you had high quality equipment you would know that 128 anything won't sound good on it. While it sounds ok on my computer system with my small KEF's, it sure doesn't sound good on my main system downstairs.

Insofar as saving it goes, that was part of the discussion that we were having. If you knew anything about the industry's DRM worries, you would know that they are moving to prevent the copying of ALL cd's.

I've designed more audio equipment than you will ever hear.

So please don't come on here and pretend that you know something that you obviously don't.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by nitriletiger
Well this is because you have a expensive sound system and 128 sound just fine on iPods and the speakers that come from apple, also apple's mp3 format sounds better than most 128 bit songs. And like I said apple SHOULD give users a choice for lossless quality (iTunes-preferences-Musicstore-download quality)This new service will not take any buisness away from the iTMS.

Im still hoping for IMMS*
iMovie Music Store

I agree, it does sound fine on iPods, and on computer speakers. Also in cars. It's just difficult to invest in something that won't necessarally meet future needs. A high quality format can always be brought down to fit on an iPod, but you can't go the other way.

If some want to continue buying a less expensive format, that would be fine with me. But, as you can see from the post above my last one, when the idea of a better quality service gets people to start sayings like it's "crap" to buy it, or that I'm a "putz" for wanting it, it gets to be a bit much to take.
post #13 of 26
I predict doom for MusicGiant.

For those who listen to popular music (rock, hip-hop, rap, country), I would bet that well over 90% couldn't distinguish between 128 kbps AAC and lossless. I'd further wager that among the remaining listeners, the vast majority of them would fail tests comparing lossless to 192 kbps or even 256 kbps.

Thus, there is virtually no market for MusicGiant among the high volume genres of music.

I'd guess a larger number of listeners of classical and other genres that are acoustic music might be able to tell the difference between the formats. I think these consumers are already so used to being left out of the online download market, I don't believe they will show up en masse to patronize MusicGiant. Sounds like another typical dotcom turd to me.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Instead, the company has argued that iTunes users are happy with current compression standards and that the human ear can't distinguish between CD-quality and bit rates of more than 192 kbps.

They're missing the point. Completely!

The issue is not about not being able to distinguish the sound quality from e.g. AAC vs. CD.

The real issue is a future proof audio format. 5 years from now who knows what kind of codec comes along. If you want to use that to re-encode your AACs then you're screwed. Re-encoding an already lossy file, even if it's perfect 192bit AAC, will result in audibly poorer quality.

Basically it means you're stuck with AAC for the rest of your life.

Any lossless original however, can be re-encoded and re-encoded and re-encoded, ..., and will always have the perfect quality as it is derived from the original CD quality.

It gives you freedom. Freedom to choose any format you want: MP3, AAC, or whichever comes up in the future.

AAC does not give you any freedom - unless you're prepared to lose a lot of quality.


That's why I use AppleLossless codec. Only.
And I don't buy from the iTunes music store, for exactly that reason.

I would - if Apple ever sells the tracks in lossless quality. Until then, I'd rather go with CDs as I can re-encode them into any format I like.
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by hobBIT
They're missing the point. Completely!

The issue is not about not being able to distinguish the sound quality from e.g. AAC vs. CD.

The real issue is a future proof audio format. 5 years from now who knows what kind of codec comes along. If you want to use that to re-encode your AACs then you're screwed. Re-encoding an already lossy file, even if it's perfect 192bit AAC, will result in audibly poorer quality.

Basically it means you're stuck with AAC for the rest of your life.

Any lossless original however, can be re-encoded and re-encoded and re-encoded, ..., and will always have the perfect quality as it is derived from the original CD quality.

It gives you freedom. Freedom to choose any format you want: MP3, AAC, or whichever comes up in the future.

AAC does not give you any freedom - unless you're prepared to lose a lot of quality.


That's why I use AppleLossless codec. Only.
And I don't buy from the iTunes music store, for exactly that reason.

I would - if Apple ever sells the tracks in lossless quality. Until then, I'd rather go with CDs as I can re-encode them into any format I like.

Right! That's one of my peeves too.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by hobBIT
They're missing the point. Completely!

The issue is not about not being able to distinguish the sound quality from e.g. AAC vs. CD.

The real issue is a future proof audio format. 5 years from now who knows what kind of codec comes along. If you want to use that to re-encode your AACs then you're screwed. Re-encoding an already lossy file, even if it's perfect 192bit AAC, will result in audibly poorer quality.

Basically it means you're stuck with AAC for the rest of your life.

Any lossless original however, can be re-encoded and re-encoded and re-encoded, ..., and will always have the perfect quality as it is derived from the original CD quality.

It gives you freedom. Freedom to choose any format you want: MP3, AAC, or whichever comes up in the future.

AAC does not give you any freedom - unless you're prepared to lose a lot of quality.


That's why I use AppleLossless codec. Only.
And I don't buy from the iTunes music store, for exactly that reason.

I would - if Apple ever sells the tracks in lossless quality. Until then, I'd rather go with CDs as I can re-encode them into any format I like.

Here Here or is it Hear Here

p.s. and 128 AAC DOES sound like sh*t, you cannot hear it on sh*t headphones (for obvious reasons)
post #17 of 26
first service that sells online music at CD-equivalent fidelity or "high-definition,"

Not true, Magnatune.com has been doing this since last year.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by nitriletiger
Well this is because you have a expensive sound system and 128 sound just fine on iPods and the speakers that come from apple, also apple's mp3 format sounds better than most 128 bit songs. And like I said apple SHOULD give users a choice for lossless quality (iTunes-preferences-Musicstore-download quality)This new service will not take any buisness away from the iTMS.

Im still hoping for IMMS*
iMovie Music Store

Surely iTunes Movie Store? Anyway what's the point in downloading low-quality video?! It would have to be HD and playable on a TV (who would want to watch video on their iPod?)

Anyway back to the point of the thread - I think higher bit rates are needed - but most people will still buy CDs - convenience makes a huge difference.
post #19 of 26
allofmp3.com

Choice of bit rate encoding and codec, including lossless.
No DRM.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by ericl
allofmp3.com

Choice of bit rate encoding and codec, including lossless.
No DRM.

But why would you pay for illegal music? That's just stupid.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by gregmightdothat
But why would you pay for illegal music? That's just stupid.

But, so many people don't care. It's the old "what's best for me", and make up the excuses.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
But, so many people don't care. It's the old "what's best for me", and make up the excuses.

Right, but if it's already illegal, you might as well just go all the way and pirate it yourself.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by gregmightdothat
Right, but if it's already illegal, you might as well just go all the way and pirate it yourself.

I'm not quite sure I understand that. Would you explain?
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
I'm not quite sure I understand that. Would you explain?

allofmp3.com is a Russian site that sells pirated music. The RIAA can't do anything really because allofmp3.com is fully legal in Russia. However, when you buy from it, you're not supporting artists or labels or whoever it is in the recording industry you want to support, because the music is pirated.

Artists would be getting just as little money from you getting your music from P2P. So if you're going to go the illegal route, why not do for free instead of paying someone in Russia to steal for you?
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by gregmightdothat
allofmp3.com is a Russian site that sells pirated music. The RIAA can't do anything really because allofmp3.com is fully legal in Russia. However, when you buy from it, you're not supporting artists or labels or whoever it is in the recording industry you want to support, because the music is pirated.

Artists would be getting just as little money from you getting your music from P2P. So if you're going to go the illegal route, why not do for free instead of paying someone in Russia to steal for you?

Ok, I understand that. Not happy with it either. I know you're not advocating it though.
post #26 of 26
I have to admit when I listened to my frineds iPod rev.1 I was disapointed in the sound quality. I have not noticed any sound quality issues with down loaded music from iTunes played on my G4. Can anyone else really notice other then aficionados. - A q u a M a c -
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