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  1. #1

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    Default High Quality Downloads

    For the first time, I downloaded some music from Amazon.com. Amazon has its own MP3 software for downloading music, then it goes to Windows Media Player. Of course, I want the highest possible fidelity, so what should I do? Do those specially made blank CDs (i.e., gold, audiophile, etc.) make a difference?

    Thanks.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

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  2. #2

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    Quality on Amazon & iTunes MusicPlus downloads (and most legit sites basically very similar (256 bit). I prefer iTunes cuz searching is much easier. Amazon's MP3 software just 'aids' download process has nothing to do with encoding quality - (actually a big pain compared to iTunes)

    If your looking for Classical, better (320 kbps) is available thru Deutsche Grammaphone: http://www2.deutschegrammophon.com/home

    HOWEVER: Actual quality varies far more due to condition of original recording than anything else. (I've some old 128 bit AAC's that sound better than some of my old CD's). So your best bet is to have moderately decent speakers attached to you PC and use your own ears.

    I assume any source that doesn't use DRM should work with WMP. So just use sites who's interface/catalog works for you.
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  3. #3

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    There are a few sites that offer WMP lossless and better, but the selection is either limited or the selections cost just as much as purchasing the CD.

    http://www.computeraudiophile.com/node/12
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

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    This is the truest statement. I generally do everything in 128 bit. From copying my cd's to downloading. Some are terrific & some are absolutely horrible & it stems from the horrible recording of the master in the first place so it won't come out good no matter what you do!


    Quote Originally Posted by xandra View Post
    HOWEVER: Actual quality varies far more due to condition of original recording than anything else. (I've some old 128 bit AAC's that sound better than some of my old CD's). So your best bet is to have moderately decent speakers attached to you PC and use your own ears.
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    so...it's a crapshoot ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    so...it's a crapshoot ?
    As mentioned above, it depends on the original recording.

    But, unless it's poorly recorded, you should be able to tell the difference between a lossless track and a run of the mill MP3. Provided you have your rig hooked up to your computer. But, if you're using regular computer speakers, stick with MP3's.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  7. #7

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    Let me be more specific -- now that I have the files in Windows Media Player, all I've done so far is stick a generic blank CD and burn it onto a disc. I can't control the quality of the recording, yada, yada, yada...I'm wondering if I can attain a better quality recording by manipulating the settings in WMP or get a higher quality balnk CD or use a different burner software.

    Thanks.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  8. #8

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    Run it through a transformer.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B. View Post
    Let me be more specific -- now that I have the files in Windows Media Player, all I've done so far is stick a generic blank CD and burn it onto a disc. I can't control the quality of the recording, yada, yada, yada...I'm wondering if I can attain a better quality recording by manipulating the settings in WMP or get a higher quality balnk CD or use a different burner software.

    Thanks.
    The key to quality is the bit rate. If one goes with mp3 get at least 320kbps; for wma get at least 192kbps. Bits are bits as they say and nothing you do with software or media is going to make the compressed download any better; you can of course make it sound a whole lot worse by compressing it into smaller files.

    Most folks use the compressed formats like mp3 and wma for portable and other low-fi applications. If you are serious about your music insist on at least CD quality....or go with SACD which gives vinyl (where there are no bits) a great run for the money.

    That said most who are serious about digital recording will go for "lossless" formats like flac and ape. These formats produce much larger files than mp3 and wma, but are much smaller than the original wav files one finds on a redbook CD. The flac and ape compression preserves all the bits and will produce and exact duplicate of the original CD.

    Several legitimate sites sell flac downloads for that purpose; do a Google search for them. Nero burning software has plugins for flac or ape so one can burn these directly into a music CD every bit as good as store bought. Lossless downloading will require a high speed connection.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B. View Post
    For the first time, I downloaded some music from Amazon.com. Amazon has its own MP3 software for downloading music, then it goes to Windows Media Player. Of course, I want the highest possible fidelity, so what should I do? Do those specially made blank CDs (i.e., gold, audiophile, etc.) make a difference?

    Thanks.
    There is NO such thing as a high quality download when a lossy format is used. Don't waste your money on "special" cdr's as it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.

    Windows lossless (as they call it) isn't lossless either and the fact that Amazon uses their own proprietary software most likely means it's even poorer than a good codec like Lame or the Freuhouffer (sp).

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B. View Post
    Let me be more specific -- now that I have the files in Windows Media Player, all I've done so far is stick a generic blank CD and burn it onto a disc. I can't control the quality of the recording, yada, yada, yada...I'm wondering if I can attain a better quality recording by manipulating the settings in WMP or get a higher quality balnk CD or use a different burner software.

    Thanks.
    Their is no way to manipulate it or make it better or re-encode, etc. What you get in the finished product is what it is. No amount of super quality cdr or settings will improve it.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    Their is no way to manipulate it or make it better or re-encode, etc. What you get in the finished product is what it is. No amount of super quality cdr or settings will improve it.
    OK, thanks.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B. View Post
    For the first time, I downloaded some music from Amazon.com. Amazon has its own MP3 software for downloading music, then it goes to Windows Media Player. Of course, I want the highest possible fidelity, so what should I do? Do those specially made blank CDs (i.e., gold, audiophile, etc.) make a difference?

    Thanks.
    +1 to heiney9

    If it matters to you and you want that last bit of quality in terms of a compact disc, get a CDR that's thick. Sorry, I don't have a recommendation but I like the thick non-flimsy CDR's, especially the black ones. As for "Audiophile", "Gold", "Platinum", I realy don't care. Of course, you'll have to test the thicker, pitch black CDR's in your player to make sure your player can read it so go buy 1 for testing.

    Do black, thick CDR's make an audio difference? Dunno. I just like the feel and quality.

  14. #14

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    Early: one thing NEVER to bother with is directly re-encoding an already compressed file.
    (example: Don't take 256bit Amazon d'load and re-encode as 1024 bit) Everytime a file is compressed some data is lost. Simply changing the bit rate or encoder will likely make things worse, not better.(garbageIN->stinkyGarbageOUT)

    If you don't like the sound of your original download -- there's really nothing you can do to make it sound better (assuming you're not an audio engineer with some mighty fancy equipment).

    But don't get depressed, I've really found quite a few beautiful sounding 256bit MP3's which I've burnt as uncompressed audio data (AIFF on Mac) to CD. The good one's actually stand up just fine when played on a nice system.

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