iTMS. Time for 256kbps AAC music !

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Ok. I admit it. I like music and I like the iPod.

But I think it's time to partially ditch the Mickey_Mouse 128 kbps encoding and crank up the quality a notch.

Apple and the Record Labels should provide a quality step for the costumers and start providing 256 kbps AAC music . Why ?



1- Time to cater to the audiophile crowd who won't take downloaded music serious until the files sound like very high quality CDs.



2- Only path to evolving the iPod.

"1000 songs in your pocket" was a great launch catch phrase but now we want 500 audiophile quality songs in our living room.



3- Only decent iPod peripherals are made by low end audio companies like Bose. We want the BIG BOYS to jump in, and High quality is the only way to atract these companies. ( Cyrus, Musical Fidelity, Proac, Krell, Copland, Anthony Gallo, Quad, etc, etc )



4- Costumer loyalty. Provide a free upgrade to all the current bought music ( 5 files per week max rate to keep bandwidth acceptable ). This will further lock the costumers to iTunes.



5- I want it ! mhhh..kay ?



What do you think ?



Nuno
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 67
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    Yeah, good luck with that.
  • Reply 2 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by CosmoNut

    Yeah, good luck with that.



    I love these constructive, rich, articulate opinions.

  • Reply 3 of 67
    It is so much mre than audible quality. Think of the bandwidth that such an increase would take, as well as storage.
  • Reply 4 of 67
    I keep all of my stuff at 192 AAC, and think that sounds fine. I can notice the difference between 128 and 192 so would prefer if Apple sold 192, but the problem is that most people who like but don't love music wouldn't notice the difference. They would just moan that their iPods don't seem to hold the right number of songs any more. I would love to see 192, but I doubt it will happen.
  • Reply 5 of 67
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    If apple were to offer 192 or 256 kbps aac on the iTMS, i'd actually start buying music there.



    Sometimes, I wish I was "normal" and more oblivious to audio fidelity. My electronics habit would be far cheaper.
  • Reply 6 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dfiler

    If apple were to offer 192 or 256 kbps aac on the iTMS, i'd actually start buying music there.



    Sometimes, I wish I was "normal" and more oblivious to audio fidelity. My electronics habit would be far cheaper.




    Spoken like a true audiophile.

    That is what I mean.

    At least 256 kbps. I must say that I have tried, with a small high quality set up, to hear if there is an audible difference between the following:



    1- CD

    2- Apple Losseless fed into a Cyrus X DAC latest upgrade. (through airport Express)

    3- Apple AAC 225 kbps encoded.

    4- Apple AAC 192 kbps encoded.

    5- Apple AAC 128 kbps encoded.



    And the difference is VERY noticeable.

    The 128 kbps sounds like crap compared to 1,2 and 3.

    4 is not that much better.



    Gear used:

    itunes.

    Airport Express Digital out.

    Cyrus 8vs amp.

    Cyrus DAC X.

    Proac Reference 8 monitors.



    CD was originalyy played through a Rotel CD player.



    And , yes , the bandwidth usage would be fantastic in the present day, but not that outrageous in a couple of months.

    People would be more willing in buying downloadable music and would definitely put any quality fears aside.

    Hey, they could even charge more for the 256 kbps versions. I would pay.

    Oh , and by the way the iPod is close to low end audiophile music source but it still isn't quite there yet. A true hifi iPod would be the icing on the cake.



  • Reply 7 of 67
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,664member
    I agree completely. I buy some songs on iTunes but in a "disposable" mood.



    For music I care about I rip from CD. If the idea is to build a "music library" that I can use in a lot of different ways, from my main stereo to car to iPod to iPhoto soundtrack, to me it makes more sense to start with a high quality "master copy" that I can then re-compress according to the application.



    iPod, hard-drive and bandwidth capacities just get bigger, so attempting to save space by starting with a compromised, low bit rate copy doesn't make much sense.



    With Apple and iTunes it's as if Bose and Bang and Olufsen had somehow become the dominant producers of hi-fi equipment, launched a proprietary, so-so sounding format that became wildly popular, and the Krells and Martin Logans of the world just never got a chance to even exist.



    The great irony is that the digital download and portable music business, with it's emphasis on maximizing compression and minimizing file size, took off just as digital sound was starting to shed its reputation as cold and flat sounding thanks to 24 bit recordings, better engineering and new distribution media (such as audio DVD).



    Somebody's got to step up and offer high bit/high sample/lightly compressed music for download, and I wish it would be Apple.
  • Reply 8 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by addabox

    I agree completely. I buy some songs on iTunes but in a "disposable" mood.



    For music I care about I rip from CD. If the idea is to build a "music library" that I can use in a lot of different ways, from my main stereo to car to iPod to iPhoto soundtrack, to me it makes more sense to start with a high quality "master copy" that I can then re-compress according to the application.



    iPod, hard-drive and bandwidth capacities just get bigger, so attempting to save space by starting with a compromised, low bit rate copy doesn't make much sense.



    With Apple and iTunes it's as if Bose and Bang and Olufsen had somehow become the dominant producers of hi-fi equipment, launched a proprietary, so-so sounding format that became wildly popular, and the Krells and Martin Logans of the world just never got a chance to even exist.



    The great irony is that the digital download and portable music business, with it's emphasis on maximizing compression and minimizing file size, took off just as digital sound was starting to shed its reputation as cold and flat sounding thanks to 24 bit recordings, better engineering and new distribution media (such as audio DVD).



    Somebody's got to step up and offer high bit/high sample/lightly compressed music for download, and I wish it would be Apple.




    Excellent point ! I agree completely with that view.

    I do understand the need to start with the highly compressed file sizes. It was about convenience and grabbing a HUGE market, just asking for someone to understand it and put it on it's tracks again.

    The iPod did it. Now , let's move on.

    I wish I could ditch my CD player and use the iPod or iTunes feeding my stereo setup.

    And, I don't want subscriptions, promotions or none of that crap.

    Please let us have our audiophile quality AAC files !
  • Reply 9 of 67
    Couldn't Apple start using HE-ACC to encode their audio files.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HE-AAC



    It looks as though you can get higher quality audio from a lower bitrate than traditional AAC.
  • Reply 10 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Michael_Moriarty

    Couldn't Apple start using HE-ACC to encode their audio files.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HE-AAC



    It looks as though you can get higher quality audio from a lower bitrate than traditional AAC.




    Well...no !



    I mean, if you take notice to all the addittions to AAC, you'll see that the developing codecs aim at further loss and perceptual filtering.

    These are bad things ! They are meant to increase perceived quality at very low bit-rates, lower than 128 kbps. In other words , crap !



    AAC is already very good , from a perceptual point of view.

    Please bear in mind that AAC also is meant to be optimal at low bit-rates.



    We need a change of direction. All these codecs were meant for "real time" low bandwidth audio streaming.

    Well, now we have > 1Mbps internet connections, 55 or 100 Mbps home networks, and high fidelity sound gear. So the need is not there. Plus, iTunes is an OFFLINE source. It could very well sell the 256kbps files with NO PROBLEM at all.

  • Reply 11 of 67
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    I have mixed feelings. I've been an amateur musician forever, mainly jazz piano, so I certainly love music, but I truly don't give a damn about the aural difference between CD quality and the compression that Apple uses. I can hear the difference, but it really doesn't bother me in the slightest, and I sometimes wonder about people who get obsessed about it. File size and download time are at least as important to me, and I bet there's only a small % of people who would rather trade that for higher quality.



    So what do you do? Do you switch everything over to a larger file? I suppose that's feasible with faster internet speeds and cheaper hard drives. But you could also have different file sizes available - do you charge more for the higher-quality version? I don't think you could do that because the prices are already about as high as they can go.
  • Reply 12 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    I have mixed feelings. I've been an amateur musician forever, mainly jazz piano, so I certainly love music, but I truly don't give a damn about the aural difference between CD quality and the compression that Apple uses. I can hear the difference, but it really doesn't bother me in the slightest, and I sometimes wonder about people who get obsessed about it. File size and download time are at least as important to me, and I bet there's only a small % of people who would rather trade that for higher quality.



    So what do you do? Do you switch everything over to a larger file? I suppose that's feasible with faster internet speeds and cheaper hard drives. But you could also have different file sizes available - do you charge more for the higher-quality version? I don't think you could do that because the prices are already about as high as they can go.




    I see your point.

    I do really think you don't have to be fanatic to like better quality on your music. We're not talking about 98KHz sampling and 64 bit DACs

    As I sugested maybe an upgrade path to the currently available files. Free would be nice. If you can and want, just download the better quality ones.

    I'm not listening to my Joe Pass and Kenny Burrel CDs at 128kbps.



  • Reply 13 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by European guy

    Well...no !



    I mean, if you take notice to all the addittions to AAC, you'll see that the developing codecs aim at further loss and perceptual filtering.

    These are bad things ! They are meant to increase perceived quality at very low bit-rates, lower than 128 kbps. In other words , crap !



    AAC is already very good , from a perceptual point of view.

    Please bear in mind that AAC also is meant to be optimal at low bit-rates.



    We need a change of direction. All these codecs were meant for "real time" low bandwidth audio streaming.

    Well, now we have > 1Mbps internet connections, 55 or 100 Mbps home networks, and high fidelity sound gear. So the need is not there. Plus, iTunes is an OFFLINE source. It could very well sell the 256kbps files with NO PROBLEM at all.





    Well the point I was trying to make was that if they used the HE-AAC codec, they could keep bitrates at 128kbs like they currently do and get much better quality audio than normal 128kbs AAC
  • Reply 14 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Michael_Moriarty

    Well the point I was trying to make was that if they used the HE-AAC codec, they could keep bitrates at 128kbs like they currently do and get much better quality audio than normal 128kbs AAC



    Yes, I'm sorry. I guess I wasn't clear.

    Nonetheless, in my opinion, that is quite the same thing as saying:

    "Listen, we discovered a way of making YOU FEEL that the low bitrate is getting more and more quality".

    There is no need to further enhance a method of optimizing a resource that is no longer scarce (bandwidth). It will probably , surely, sound great for the same bitrate, but I garantee it won't sound better is a quality audio setup.

    And that, I think, is the question.
  • Reply 15 of 67
    mrmistermrmister Posts: 1,095member
    Your concerns bear little resemblance to any kind of mass market--so be prepared to keep on ripping your CDs at superhigh quality and so forth.
  • Reply 16 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mrmister

    Your concerns bear little resemblance to any kind of mass market--so be prepared to keep on ripping your CDs at superhigh quality and so forth.



    I beg to disagree.

    So you see the mass market quality evolution deteriorating further ?

    Isn't a consequence of mass marketing, to increasingly offer more value ?

    I guess Apple made a disservice to the market, offering a consistent and quality line of products to downloadable music. The iPod is by far the best sounding mp3 player in the market. It's not marketing trick. ( Well...it is but not in THAT sense...)

    Isn't only natural to increase huge costumer loyalty by offering more for the same ?
  • Reply 17 of 67
    mrmistermrmister Posts: 1,095member
    "Isn't a consequence of mass marketing, to increasingly offer more value ?"



    Only in a classroom. All the market research I've read indicates that over 95% of folks in double-blind tests can't tell Apple's 128 kb AAC music store files from original CD recordings.



    So there will be a market...for audiophiles, and the marketshare is around 5%. Apple currently considers them covered by the lossless codec, or uncompressed AIFF--people that obsessed with quality are unlikely to be happy with any bit rate at the Music Store.



    There is a market; but in Apple's current attack on the industry it isn't worth the cost to chase audiophiles to that degree.
  • Reply 18 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mrmister

    people that obsessed with quality are unlikely to be happy with any bit rate at the Music Store.



    There is a market; but in Apple's current attack on the industry it isn't worth the cost to chase audiophiles to that degree.




    I agree to some point. Audiophiles will never never happy.



    But when the difference is so clear you can perceive it there is an opportunity.

    AAC encoding at 128 kbps is CLEARLY perceived as inferior when listened through a good audio setup. I didn't mean through the Macs speakers. And I sure don't mean through the crappy iTunes phones....

    But to the cellphone-ringtone-crowd, 16 kbps is more than enough.



    Does Apple want to stay there ? Only time will tell.
  • Reply 19 of 67
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mrmister

    "Isn't a consequence of mass marketing, to increasingly offer more value ?"



    Only in a classroom. All the market research I've read indicates that over 95% of folks in double-blind tests can't tell Apple's 128 kb AAC music store files from original CD recordings.



    So there will be a market...for audiophiles, and the marketshare is around 5%. Apple currently considers them covered by the lossless codec, or uncompressed AIFF--people that obsessed with quality are unlikely to be happy with any bit rate at the Music Store.



    There is a market; but in Apple's current attack on the industry it isn't worth the cost to chase audiophiles to that degree.




    This and the added complexity and ramifications of adding various bitrates to the Apple store doesn't make it worth the extra sales. "Audiophiles" and DRM-whiners would still buy standard CDs and rip them with whatever codec they want, hopefully loaded to an iPod.



    If you don't have an iPod and have no intention of buying one, Apple surely isn't going to make the iTMS more complex just to sell you a handful of songs.
  • Reply 20 of 67
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Xool

    This and the added complexity and ramifications of adding various bitrates to the Apple store doesn't make it worth the extra sales. "Audiophiles" and DRM-whiners would still buy standard CDs and rip them with whatever codec they want, hopefully loaded to an iPod.



    If you don't have an iPod and have no intention of buying one, Apple surely isn't going to make the iTMS more complex just to sell you a handful of songs.




    Well...I think iPod is meant to replace the media storage we once knew as a Music Compact Disc.

    The new media, called the iPod, includes a built in portable player and stores in excess of X old CDs.



    This part is done.

    The next part will be to completely make quality concerns absurd.

    You cannot "completely" kill the CD without at least matching its quality.

    That's why I think high quality encoding will be the next ITMS feature.

    Just like we're now having 320x160 h.264 movies but will soon have full screen 1080 p ones.



    IMHO.



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