Opinions on EMusic and 192K VBR MP3 vs. 128K AAC?

in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
To my own ears, and in listening tests I've read, AAC at a 128K bit rate easily beats even the best MP3 encoders at 128K. But I've only seen comparisons of the same format at different bit rates, or different formats at the same bit rate.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that I'm trying out a trial membership to emusic.com, seeing what iTunes competition has to offer. EMusic is 90% of the way through converting their offerings to VBR MP3s, encoded with LAME 3.92 at an average bit rate of around 192K -- and with no DRM restrictions. Whatever audio advantages AAC has over MP3, I'm thinking 50% more bits, intelligently allocated at a variable rate, could well be enough to offset those advantages. I haven't listened to an extensive variety of EMusic's music yet, nor done comparisons of the same music in different formats, but from what I've downloaded so far (two Snowpony albums that aren't on the iTMS), and the 30-second samples I've listened to, these MP3s sound pretty good, and comparable in quality to Apple's AAC offerings.

Certainly the EMusic experience isn't as slick as iTMS. It's clunkier and slower, both for finding things and for listening to samples. I had to try, try again several times to get some music to download using EMusic's download software. But if the music sounds good, and I can find even a CD or two's worth of music I like every month, the $10/ or $15/month subscription fee would be worth it. If I hit the download maximums (40 at $10, 65 at $15), it's an even better deal. Until iTMS has a lot more indie stuff, the EMusic range of selections is a good complement (certainly not a replacement) to iTMS.

If anyone else out there is using EMusic, I've got a question for you that the I can't find an answer to on the web site: What happens if I hit my monthly download max? I have a hard time imagining that I'd simply not be able to download more music, so I'm guessing that if I hit the max I'll be given the option of wrapping up my current "month" early and starting a new billing period.


  • Reply 1 of 1
    pesipesi Posts: 424member
    i've been an avid eMusic user for a while. soon to be no more.

    the audio quality of the VBR MP3s is good. not that it matters much... much of the stuff on there is pretty lo-fi indie/punk stuff.

    as it currently stands, once you hit the new download limit, you CAN'T download an more. AT ALL. you're SOL. they say they plan to change this in the future, but i've got no faith in their current management.

    also, the service has gotten terrible in the last two weeks.

    it was always a bit of a pain to use their download manager. lots of errors and the need to redownload thing. now, it's just plain horrible. many songs will say they downloaded without an error, while they didn't actually download at all. this requires a trip back to their horrible web page to go and get the damn .emp file again and try try try again. and it usually doesn't work.

    also, the tagging of tracks is just plain horrible. i pretty much need to retag everything i download from them. it's really horrible if you download a lot of compilations like i do. the artist is always tagged as "various artists- so and so record label"

    eMusic was fun while it lasted. the bad things about the service were easy to overlook under the old pricing model. not so much any more.
Sign In or Register to comment.