It seems as though the days of CDs are really starting to become a thing of the past, and retailers music sections are becoming smaller and smaller. It seems online stores like iTunes are where it’s at, but sadly for audiophiles like myself, it’s not the same. The music provided on stores like iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 service are compressed and just don’t sound as good as a full CD-quality track, which for me makes the files worth much less than they’re being sold for.
Some of you may be asking what “lossless audio” is, and I will explain. Just beware of a little bit of technical jargon. The music available on CDs are 1411kbps (kilobytes per second) at a frequency of 44.1kHz. The music that is sold on stores like Amazon, Napster, Rhapsody, and iTunes are typically at either 256kbps or 320kbps (and 44.1kHz). Simply put, the music files are about one-fourth the quality of an actual CD, which is the maximum quality for an MP3 file. iTunes Store offers M4A files, which are the same quality. While most people wouldn’t realize this with a typical pair of PC speakers, headphones, or listening to them on an iPod or an MP3 player, music will definitely will not sound as clear on a nice stereo system or even in your car which is not something that audiophiles like myself are not too fond of. There are alternatives though, Lossless audio types such as FLAC or Apple Lossless, which are files that have identical quality to the original CD or source. You’ll be hearing the music exactly as it was intended to be heard by the artists and the engineers who mixed and mastered the music. Plus, you can always create an MP3 copy of the lossless one to put on your MP3 player, and have both. It’s truly a win-win for the consumer.
In an age where high definition and higher quality video is reigning supreme, it somewhat baffles me that people seem to be just fine with lower quality audio.
iTunes has expressed interest in these options before, but nothing has ever come of it. Other music sites like BandCamp offer a range of audio options when you purchase a song. From a standard WAVE, FLAC, OGG, and MP3, which is an excellent way of offering the music at the quality of everyone’s choice.
I think an easy solution would be for these online music stores to provide a lossless option for people like myself who would like to have true CD quality audio. If we’re paying $10.00 for an album on iTunes, why can’t we download them in CD quality like we could when we bought an actual CD for that price. While for now, I guess people who want true CD quality will just have to stick with purchasing CDs, but there will come a day when those are a thing of the past, and it will be sooner than later. The people at Apple really need to consider the future and take offering lossless audio into consideration. There is quite a demand for it.