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Old 02-25-2009, 11:26 PM
farfromit11
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Default Audio Quality of Amazon MP3 comparable to buying the CD?

Hi Patrick and Veronica.

I wanted to buy my dad the latest Springsteen album, and being the hip guy that I am I thought I would buy it on Amazon's MP3 store. When I burnt the MP3s to a CD for him he scoffed and said that the quality won't be as good as a store bought CD. Is he being a luddite, or does he have a point?

Thanks!
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:24 AM
xcorvis
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He has a point. Without going into too many details, CD audio is unencoded. MP3 is a "lossy" encoding. That means it throws away data to make the files smaller. If you were to convert an MP3 back into CD audio and compare it to the original source (on CD), you'd be able to see major differences between them. There are various levels of encoding that make it better or worse, but rest assured an audio snob will be able to hear the problems with them.

You should try this at home with one of your CDs. Rip it with iTunes or Windows Media Player. Play the MP3, then play the CD version, see if you can hear the difference. If your speakers or headphones aren't very good you might need to rip to a very low quality to really hear it.

A "lossless" coded like FLAC or Apple Lossless should be basically identical to CD audio, so if you can find your music in that format you should be able to safely convert it to a CD.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farfromit11 View Post
When I burnt the MP3s to a CD for him he scoffed and said that the quality won't be as good as a store bought CD. Is he being a luddite, or does he have a point?
They are not close to being the same. CDs have the potential to sound much better.

Of course, today's market doesn't demand much sound quality from pop albums, so there is no guarentee that the CD will actually sound better. But if the group/artist demands quality, a CD will be much better.

This takes a fairly serious stereo to tell, if you just rip it to play on cheap earbuds on an iPod, it won't matter.
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:51 AM
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This is why I prefer subscription services for download music - I can 'eat all I want' on a player then buy the music (on CD's to be ripped as FLAC for home use, also transcoded to 256K MP3's for mobile use) for the albums I actually want to keep.

It's just the Microsoft PlaysForMaybe technology is pretty unreliable (and I'm sure it's not MS's fault, but just flaky firmware on most of the machines which support it) so it can be sometimes more frustrating than it's worth - and the Zune isn't available here yet. Plus, I prefer listening to Podcasts on the iPod so it results in a nightmare player-juggle.

I'd really love an "iTunes Pass" in a subscription sense - it'd solve my headaches.
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Old 02-27-2009, 07:44 PM
darknessgp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farfromit11 View Post
Hi Patrick and Veronica.

I wanted to buy my dad the latest Springsteen album, and being the hip guy that I am I thought I would buy it on Amazon's MP3 store. When I burnt the MP3s to a CD for him he scoffed and said that the quality won't be as good as a store bought CD. Is he being a luddite, or does he have a point?

Thanks!
My answer. Technically yes, it probably won't be as good of quality. However, unless he's hardcore audiophile, he probably won't notice.

Technical stuffs:
Amazon: usually uses 320 kbit/s, 44 kHz sample rate.
Red Book CD Specs: 1411.2 kbit/s, 44.1 kHz sample rate

Number wise you lose a lot, but it's also worth noting that most software and sites like a CD quality MP3 at 256kbit/s.

Also it's worth taking a look at stuff like this - http://www.lincomatic.com/mp3/mp3quality.html

Summary: I'm not an audiophile. I've bought stuff from Amazon, and it sounds just as good as music I've ripped myself.
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Old 02-28-2009, 12:24 AM
Mal
 
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If you are not in a rush, then buy the CD and convert that to the format you require - at least then you can go back at a later date and use a better technology. I often find it's more expensive to download audio files like mp3, than it is to purchase the CDs anyway.
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Old 02-28-2009, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mal View Post
If you are not in a rush, then buy the CD and convert that to the format you require.
A better approach is to buy the CD, and rip it to flac. Its lossless.

Then you can put the CD away, and convert the flac to any format you desire. There are lots of flac2mp3 utilities around, and flac to ogg, etc. is easy.

You don't want to have to touch the CD again just because you want it in another format.
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Old 02-28-2009, 07:07 PM
gta_bmx
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farfromit11 View Post
Hi Patrick and Veronica.

I wanted to buy my dad the latest Springsteen album, and being the hip guy that I am I thought I would buy it on Amazon's MP3 store. When I burnt the MP3s to a CD for him he scoffed and said that the quality won't be as good as a store bought CD. Is he being a luddite, or does he have a point?

Thanks!
If he's a huge Springsteen fan, I'd just buy the regular CD from the store or Amazon. I own all my fave albums on CD, then I just rip them into Apple Lossless on iTunes for use in my iPod.

Some audiophiles don't even like CD's; they prefer the warm sound of vinyl played through good speakers or headphones.
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Old 03-02-2009, 05:24 AM
waveblade
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gta_bmx View Post
If he's a huge Springsteen fan, I'd just buy the regular CD from the store or Amazon. I own all my fave albums on CD, then I just rip them into Apple Lossless on iTunes for use in my iPod.

Some audiophiles don't even like CD's; they prefer the warm sound of vinyl played through good speakers or headphones.
And some audiophiles need to have a live concert in their home theater room to be satisfied.

Ha ha

In all seriousness, if you're not playing it on a high end system, you probably won't be noticing the difference. But the cost of digital downloads vs. CD is not that much where you might as well buy the CD.

I'm a sucker/collector for physical items especially albums (unless I like 1 song on it)
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waveblade View Post
In all seriousness, if you're not playing it on a high end system, you probably won't be noticing the difference.
If you listen carefully, something like a SqueezeBox Boom ($300) will all you to hear the difference.

Not for more pop/rock/rap, they are compressed to death before they are pressed to CD.

Depends on what types of music you like. If its real instruments and voices, its a lot more audible than for electric guitars and synths
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