I’ve been following the Pono story on this website. For those not familiar with it, Pono is a Toblerone-shaped digital music player backed by Neil Young, which is designed to play high-resolution music. It’s started shipping recently, and, curiously, I haven’t spotted any reviews or even comments of any depth on forums. Also, the Pono […]
Whether the rot set in with the arrival of iTunes, or the earlier availability of music through illegal file-sharing sites, isn’t clear, but it seems that a whole generation now has the belief that music is essentially a free commodity, rather than something for which one should pay.
Part of the problem is that the very forces held up to be the saviours of the music industry sometimes do themselves no favours, for example by treating music as nothing more than a promotional tool.
Andrew Everard makes some good points here, though I disagree that iTunes is to blame. Quiet the contrary; the iTunes Store is what got people to buy digital music. But the commodification of music, and its overabundance, have certainly made it seem that music has little or no value any more. But even more than that: most people just don’t care about music; it’s just wallpaper for them.
Recent reports show that iTunes Store music sales have dropped around 13%. Overall album sales dropped 8% in 2013. Fewer people are buying music, and more are streaming it. Yet most people using streaming services aren’t paying for their music; only 28 million people worldwide were paying a subscription fee for their music in 2013. […]
!It’s a common misconception to measure expected audio quality in terms of bitrate. Intuitively, it seems as if more data will mean higher quality, but this isn’t always the case. The trouble with lossless codecs is that they’re very inefficient – even a compressed lossless format like FLAC or ALAC is generally encoding things that humans simply cannot hear.
People don’t seem to have a problem with this when it comes to pictures. Nobody says “I won’t look at a website unless all the images are TIFF files”, because that’s plainly ridiculous. We’ve all seen badly compressed images on the Internet, and we’ve all seen beautiful ones too. We understand that “what it looks like” is the reliable measure of, well, what it looks like.”
A good discussion of music compression, and the fallacy of thinking that bigger is better.
However, in his footnote, Mr. Doe makes a fundamental error; just because there are higher frequencies in high-resolution music files doesn’t mean that a dog will think they sound better. They will certainly have more audible frequencies, but it’s a truly subjective thing, from the canine point of view, whether those frequencies are desirable, and whether they improve the music.
As of today, it is legal to rip CDs in the United Kingdom. Because, before, it wasn’t. If you bought a CD and ripped it to add to your iTunes library, well, you were breaking the law. Seriously. (I wonder if they every prosecuted anyone for that offense…) But “personal copying for private use” is […]
Much has been written about “the loudness wars,” the trend for music to be over-compressed. This isn’t the kind of compression one talks about when discussing, say, MP3 files; this is audio compression, or dynamic range compression, which reduces the differences in loudness in a song so the entire song can be louder. When a […]
As more and more vendors and artists try to jump on the high-resolution bandwagon, it’s clear that a lot of them are confused. Take this example of the Grateful Dead. Yesterday, the band send out an email saying that they now have “High Definition Dead.” And they are offering high-definition – or high-resolution – files […]
The Beatles have released a free EP containing four solo tracks, one by each of the members of the band, all released after the band broke up. It contains the following songs: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: “Love” (1970) George Harrison: “Let It Down” (1970) Paul McCartney and Wings: “Call Me Back Again” (1975) Ringo Starr: […]