Should we be collecting Audiophile Releases?

The all things strange and weird Boing Boing blog had an interesting article yesterday talking about Audiophile recordings. SACD, DVD-A, and 5:1 surround re-releases could all be going the way of the Dodo bird. Heck even CDs are on their way out. Are we going to be left with only one option? The craptastic MP3?

I’ve personally never heard an SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) or DVD-A but I do know my old vinyl collection sounds superior to my MP3s. Surely we can’t let all our high quality options disappear. I always assumed that when broadband adoption and hard drive space became readily available we would see online music retailers offer lossless formats. So far that hasn’t happened.

“Super Audio CD (SACD) is a read-only optical audio disc format that can provide higher fidelity digital audio reproduction than the Red Book audio CD. Introduced in 1999, it was developed by Sony and Philips Electronics, the same companies that created the Compact Disc. SACD is in a format war with DVD-Audio, but neither format has managed to replace regular audio CDs.” – Wikipedia.org

Richard Metzger over at Boing Boing thinks we should run out and start collecting SACD and DVD-A’s. Personally I don’t think we should encourage more plastic production. We should demand higher quality digital downloads. There are only a few options available today. MusicGiants.com offers “High Definition Music Collections”.

“MusicGiants, the leader in high definition entertainment, aims to deliver the highest quality entertainment experience possible. Still the only digital music service licensed in HD from all of the major music labels…” – MusicGiants.com

We really need iTunes and Amazon to get on board otherwise large portions of the human’s music canon will end up only available in MP3 format. What other online shops sell high quality music downloads?

Check out the Boing Boing article: Audiophile Releases… Get ‘Em While You Can

15 Comments

  1. SACD sounds better than regular cd’s, but to hear it’s full potential you need to have a good stereo system(at least 6-7k euro). For this reason SACD will never become mainstream format. Other reason is that SACD is closed format and you can’t copy them or create your own.

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  2. Many of the specialist retailers offer .wavs for sale.

    Juno, for example: http://www.junodownload.com

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  3. I also wonder if you can even get a car stereo that plays SACD?

    Oh yes… Junodownload… good tip! I forgot they offer WAV.

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  4. Boomkat.com and Bleep.com both offer FLAC downloads. FLAC is a lossless format, easily reconstituted into WAV or AIFF or whatever. Size savings are about 2:1 which isn’t great but is about as much as you can hope for in a lossy format.

    But that’s neither here nor there — the difference in quality between 320KBPS MP3 files and uncompressed 16 bit audio are so small that I know of no rigorous listening test where anyone could correctly identify which was which.

    There’s been a debate on the 313@hyperreal.org mailing list where a lot of people claim that WAV sounds better than MP3 on a good club system. I’ve argued the other side — the amount of processing that goes on before electrons hit the transducers, and the battering extremely loud music commits on eardrums has to obliterate any real differences. But what the heck — some people think using a $500 AC mains cable makes their CDs sound better. At a certain point it becomes moot.

    I will say this, as someone who does digital mastering from time to time: If there was a convenient way to acquire and listen to 24-bit 44.1khz digital audio, I’d be all over it. I hear a much bigger difference between 24-bit originals and the dithered-down 16 bit masters than I’ve ever heard between 16 bit WAV files and properly encoded mp3 files.

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  5. for some reason my first comment didn’t get through – it was massive but in short it mentioned bleep.com also and linnrecords.com, although they veer towards the usual Jazz/Orchestral/Classical/Folk ‘audiophile’ repertoire. However they have extremely hi bitrate and hz lossless WMAs and FLACs which are interesting, and they also have options to buy hard disks and even network hard disks/servers preloaded with their ‘studio master’ quality FLAC’s here:

    http://www.linnrecords.com/collection-complete-collection—lacie-500gb-fa-usb-drive.aspx

    and here;

    http://www.linnrecords.com/collection-complete-collection—ready-nas-nv–1tb.aspx

    and a description of their file and audio formats:

    http://www.linnrecords.com/linn-formats.aspx

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  6. [EDIT] above I meant that linnrecords veers towards the usual audiophile material, as bleep.com is Warp Records, it doesnt really apply to them :)[/EDIT]

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  7. I could never hear the difference, until i actually listened to mp3’s for their quality for a college project – the difference between 96k 24bit wav and 128k 44.1k mp3 is phenomenal especially when you do the phase reversal and listen to the audio thats left behind =|

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  8. For cost and profit reasons electronic formats are the future, whether we want something physical or not (too expensive to manifacture, ship and especially take shell space in stores.)

    So.

    eMusic should stop its insane 192VBR format and move to at least 256kpbs MP3s.

    There might be ways to provide even better audio quality with AAC and MP3s by various operations that might be disabled or tweaked, for example the low-band automatic filtering. We just need a new name for this higher quality AAC or MP3 format. The size might go up 50% but that’s fine in this age of broadband everywhere.

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  9. Oliver, you can listen to sacd in your car, but you need a proper player. I don’t like digital distribution because of it’s cost. You pay the same price, but you don’t get box with artwork and for better quality you pay more(internet bandwidth is cheap like hell).

    Compact Disc
    € 18,00
    Studio Master
    FLAC 24bit 88.2kHz 1,129.0MB € 27,00
    Studio Master
    WMA 24bit 88.2kHz 1,118.5MB € 27,00
    CD Quality
    FLAC 16bit 44.1kHz 278.6MB € 14,00
    CD Quality
    WMA 16bit 44.1kHz 274.1MB € 14,00
    MP3
    MP3 320k 44.1kHz 153.8MB € 12,00

    Total nonsense….

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  10. For some reason i will still be collecting vinyl. Although i buy some mp3’s from online stores , i like the physical product.

    But the sound quality of downloads should be improved anyway. :-)

    On the other hand, most people don’t hear the difference. So for the extra costs te larger formats bring along most companies will postpone this as long as there is no real market demand.

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  11. yes Cornerman that is a good point (and a very worrying one) – the companies probably won’t bother with high quality as long as most people are ok with low to medium quality stuff. We’ve seen before that convenience wins over for most people – the microcassette sounded like absolute shit (even in the Super Avilyn or Metal formats) compared to vinyl and they were produced and sold for ages.

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  12. Just remembered one thing… SACD discs has 2 layers:one is regular cd(so you can play it with any cd player) and other layer for sacd players.

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  13. Exactly Raytrace, as long as they keep selling low cost average quality mp3 files which cost next to nothing in storage and transfer to the customer in comparison to high quality they won’t bother.

    Simple Business, unfortunatly. Personally i hope that Vinyl makes a true comeback.

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  14. or 8 Tracks :p

    nah I could never see vinyl making a big comeback myself unfortunately. I really do think its the best though certainly the smoothest sounding and most toney/musical. The 180gm Black Sabbath album I have is incredible – the harmonica on the Wizard the wahish effects on the bass and the sound of pretty much all transients sound VASTLY superior on my Clearaudio turntable compared to my CD player (which is not a POS, its an Arcam SOLO).

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  15. I didn’t think this post would get so many replies. I think it shows we all wish that all music be available in some high quality format.

    Reply

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