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What are your thoughts on the New iTunes 11?

112987 Views 1,597 Replies Latest reply: Mar 19, 2014 11:37 AM by Mark Block RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • verbcrunch Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
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    Jan 21, 2013 5:15 PM (in response to pegaudet)

    pegaudet wrote:

     

    So, which sites would you recommend for online music purchases? (I have found some in the UK that are looking to provide flac as an option, but so far are still 320kbps CBR and there might also be region laws that prevent me from buying some things from them.. I'm in Canada)

    Depending on what you listen to..    A lot of interesting indie bands self distribute their music through Bandcamp,  FLAC is a download option, though I usually grab the 320 kbps mp3.        FWIW CD quality is constrained to 16bits,  most pro audio rolls at 24bits now, but it's hard to buy music at 24 bit / 96K - they tried with "CD-HD" (DVD's really) but they didn't sell well.

     

    This whole episode with iTunes 11 arbitrarily yanking needed features has shocked me into realizing how dependant I've become on Apple for managing my music and photos.      

  • Bernard Knight Level 2 Level 2 (235 points)
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    Jan 21, 2013 5:33 PM (in response to rustyintegrale)

    @ rustyintegrale

  • pegaudet Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 22, 2013 8:28 PM (in response to verbcrunch)

    verbcrunch wrote:


    Depending on what you listen to..    A lot of interesting indie bands self distribute their music through Bandcamp,  FLAC is a download option, though I usually grab the 320 kbps mp3.        FWIW CD quality is constrained to 16bits,  most pro audio rolls at 24bits now, but it's hard to buy music at 24 bit / 96K - they tried with "CD-HD" (DVD's really) but they didn't sell well.

     

    This whole episode with iTunes 11 arbitrarily yanking needed features has shocked me into realizing how dependant I've become on Apple for managing my music and photos.      

     

    (with a bit of a diatribe in there)

     

    I suppose I should try out a few of the indie bands, but I'm definitely feeling like an old **** by the music I listen... I have a good collection of music that pretty much spans the past century in many many genres, though a good chunk of it is big names in rock from the 50s to the 80s or so.

     

    I actually tried to get Jeannie C. Riley's greatest hits on CD not all that long ago, but the CD store I go to couldn't get a copy of any of her CDs any more from any of their suppliers... so until a better alternative is found, itunes store is the unfortunate back up plan.

     

    My problem is my interests lie in stuff that is getting harder to get a hold of as more and more music is being phased to strictly digital only copies, if they deem it's "economically worth it" to even both selling online. Physical medium aside, it's really the quality of the recording that bothers me quite a lot about compressed music.

     

    I'm fine with CD quality since the sample rate is twice as high as the hearing threshold of most people, it's the final mix that matters most, so it can be down-sampled to the CD rate and the raw wave of CDs won't produce additional artifacts that bleed into the hearing threshold once CD quality is properly mastered. Due to the nature of digital sampling, you need twice the bit rate and a properly tuned low-pass filter to properly represent the range of frequencies you're interested in without extra artifacts. The bit rate you would need for CD quality is about 1.4Mbs, and that is a raw direct bit for bit representation. Encoders such as MP3 deconstruct the signal and produce a series of mathematical equations to approximate the original signal, sacrificing fidelity for savings in bitrate, but compressed is really a euphamism for "approximation of the original within certain set criteria".

     

    As the bitrate drops, the encoder (MP3 or AAC) has to make decisions as to how to shape the signal to stay within that target bitrate for CBR or psychoacoustic perceived quality for VBR. It might not seem like much, but there are tell-tale signs that you can pick up even on cheap earbud headphones, far more easily the closer to 128kbps you go. The biggest culprit is percussive instruments. The sudden demand for more bits to faithfully reproduce the attack of a drum beat, especially while other things are going on will often produce a muted or dull sounding drum beat, far more noticeable as you're approaching 128kbps. It still sounds like a drum beat, yes, but you lose the subtlety and nuance that normally distinguish a human performance from, say, a drum machine... There's a very big difference in sound when the drummer hits center v.s. nearer the rim and it is those differences that get sacrificed first.

     

    The more I listen, the more of a connaiseur I become and the more a "well it's good enough for a throw away society" starts to sound like nails on a chalkboard. I really appreciate the heart and soul that performers put into their music as they and their instruments become one, especially for the music that stands up to generations. Led Zeppelin is, bar none, my favourite band and when Jimmy Page starts his guitar solo about 3:30 minutes into "Since I've Been Loving You", every fret noise, change in guitar pick style, change in gain on the pickup coils, etc, gets me going, every time.

     

    Indie bands probably have a hard time getting known or to get their stuff out there and some of them are probably quite talented. Bandcamp probably fills a niche like this quite nicely. I think though, I might be a bit too old for a lot of indie stuff.

     

    I suppose some of the stuff I'm looking for is in a similar situation for the opposite reason that the ones who have it probably don't see any value in continuing to sell it... Hence I'm on the lookout for a CD quality digital copy version of the itunes store (**** I'd even pay $1.50 a song to apple if they would offer me apple lossless and the ability to save as raw wave, which I'd promptly recompress as flac and mp3, then reimport, for as long as they'd allow me to do that).

     

    As for itunes, it started because I bought an iphone since my cell carrier would only support computer tethering with an apple phone and a whopping 3 years ago, the only way to manage that phone was through itunes... And at the time, I was glancing back and forth between my stack of CDs (sadly a much much much smaller pile then) and this pig called itunes, and I thought I'd give it a try... and it kinda grew on me for its media management design.

     

    It grew on me then, but I can say, it hasn't won my unbreakable devotion. I've been an Apple "customer" for 3 years now and in all that time, I have discovered the recurring "Apple giveth, Apple taketh away" thinking just doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to any sane rational person, for so many things... Got some media server on some version of OS/X that we gave you for free? not a problem.. we'll just remove that so we can steer the sheeple to an apple tv and you can have two devices draw electricity instead of just one and still have to point to the media on that first device (the very one that the "front row" thing got yanked). Got a perfectly good working music player that plays stuff we didn't provide? That's ok, we'll slowly cripple then destroy your capability of managing your music your way and steer you back to our music store... (and from what I hear, a lot of people are fairly P.O.ed that it "reintroduces" music they bought, listened to a few times and deleted when they discovered it wasn't particularly pleasant to their ears, only to have it brought right back because "clearly you bought it once and it's yours, so here's a shiny new copy for your listening pleasure").

     

    (end diatribe)

     

    So.... My main focus is, without having to troll through countless online "stores", to buy CD quality (lossless compressed such as flac will do just as well) music that was at one point in time quite popular for a reasonable price and to manage it with a music player that has about as much functionality and flexibility as itunes 10.7 and to transfer to my ipod.

     

    If I can find a non apple solution for that (perhaps one that runs on Linux), I would be just as happy.

     

    The one truly "good" and innovative product I've ever seen from apple is their ipod touch, particularly as a music player, though I'd much prefer to see a 128Gb model... that and maybe roll that back to the one they had with IOS 5... I find the one with IOS 6 is just not quite as nice, but I can't quite say why.

  • verbcrunch Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 23, 2013 8:10 AM (in response to pegaudet)

    I recently found a site that lets you download super high quality recordings - 192 kbps/24 bit.   A lot of classical and traditional music, nothing contemporary.      If I can find the URL i'll post it..

     

    You *should* be able to purchase "HD" versions of Led Zeppelin recordings.    I got one of Queen's Night At the Opera.   I would check Amazon or other music retailers.     Presume you could play these discs on a computer or DVD player.       24 bit depth recording imparts far more information at the same sample rate compared to 16 bits, and now some recordings are made at 32 bits.          I agree with you about percussion, and I make an effort to secure the highest bit rate I can get of any "lossy" compressed audio, but my hearing is too shot to really discern the difference between a 320 kbps mp3 and the CD version, so I tend to store music as mp3's seeing my iTunes library has topped 500 GB.       

     

    Something I've been doing a lot is transcribing vinyl - recording my old records on a state of the art turntable/cartridge into state of the art Analog / Digital convertors at 96k/24 bits.    Then downgrading the capture to a 320 kbps mp3, stored in iTunes.   This is mostly for things i have that never made it to CD.


    As far as new (Bandcamp) vs old.. I've been on the same college radio station for over 30 years, and have a deep affinity for a lot of 60's & 70's rock,  yet am constantly blown away by new bands that continue to output exciting new music.      I would submit that the quantity of music is much higher now compared to when "gatekeepers" (the record companies) would filter what we were exposed to via the radio.     Now with self discovery of music replacing the old model, there's a deluge of music that requires you do the work of filtering - and it's a lot of work !       But anyone who says "there's nothing good out anymore" is just not doing their homework.      I pay $2.99 a month to subscribe to Paste magazine - they really lay out a nice, well balanced mix of excellent new songs that even us old timers will enjoy.    (With free downloads - usually at 256 kbps).

     

    Getting back to the topic:  iTunes - my migration back to 10.7 from 11 is complete.    It was a lot of work getting the last month of library revisions incorporated into my last iTunes 10 compatible backup.     I still have working copy of iTunes11 and go back and forth, but for now I'm likely to kill all versions of iTunes11 I'm currently running (on 4 Macs) until Apple restores features necessary to managing our libraries.     I'm also, for the first time, actively researching alternatives to iTunes moving forward so I'm no longer at the mercy of a monolithic company's arbitrary decisions - my music library is far too important to me to allow an executive to have control over how I manage my music.

  • rustyintegrale Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
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    Jan 23, 2013 10:54 PM (in response to pegaudet)


    So, which sites would you recommend for online music purchases? (I have found some in the UK that are looking to provide flac as an option, but so far are still 320kbps CBR and there might also be region laws that prevent me from buying some things from them.. I'm in Canada)

     

    And for that matter, have you encountered any itunes alternative that can manage the ipod as completely as itunes can or as closely to itunes as you can get?

     

    Hi Pegaudet,

     

    Apologies for the delayed response - I have internet issues...

     

    There are many resources for high definition online downloading - some legal and above board, others perhaps not quite so.

     

    Those I've found that are legal include...

     

    http://www.linnrecords.com

    https://www.hdtracks.com

     

    But by far the biggest resources are found by using Google and a little imagination. There are hundreds of ISO files that have been made from SACD (Super Audio CD) discs and uploaded. These are 176.4KHz, 24 bit recordings and the sound quality is awesome. Sites such as ISOHunt and Bitsnoop apparently have these.

     

    To convert these ISO files into useable files requires access to Windows (via Parallels on the Mac for example) and some software called Foobar. This will extract the audio from ISO files and you can save them as FLACs or you can simply use mac software such as Burn to write the ISO files directly to a blank DVD disc. These will play in a multi-format disc player capable of handling DVD-A discs. I bought my used Denon DVD-2910 on eBay for £40 and it will play SACD and DVD-A discs.

     

    If you go the Foobar/FLAC route then after extracting as FLAC you can used XLD for Mac to convert to Apple Lossless files and import these to iTunes.

     

    Don't forget, Apple machines do not play high res audio by default. You have to go to Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup and set the machine up to play the best quality it can. Even then your ALACs will be downsampled to match the setting you choose.

     

    In my case I have a 2010 iMac, and use a cheap FiiO DAC (digital audio converter) that I bought on Amazon for about £30 connected via optical cable to the Toslink digital out on the back of the iMac. This in turn is connected to the analogue RCA ports on an old pair of amplified VideoLogic speakers. I have Audio MIDI set to Digital Out, 96KHz, 2channel 24 bit so all my audio at higher resolution still gets downsampled to that - still much better than CD quality though! It also improves the sound of AAC/MP3s too.

     

    All the files are stored on an external FW800 Western Digital drive and backed up to a Drobo (soon to be replaced).

     

    I also use BitPerfect available from the AppStore to play files through iTunes. I run this in 'hog mode' so iTunes is literally just the database and interface. All the audio is controlled by BitPerfect.

     

    I do have some issues with clicking that BitPerfect support is looking into for me. It seems to happen when tracks change from one format to another so I am currently experimenting with playlists arranged by format to see if that helps.

     

    Regarding your other question about alternative iPod management, you could take a look at http://www.ilounge.com They have a software list and links to other sites that might provide a suitable alternative.

     

    Hope that helps!

     

    Rich

  • rustyintegrale Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 23, 2013 11:08 PM (in response to verbcrunch)

    You *should* be able to purchase "HD" versions of Led Zeppelin recordings.

     

    Unfortunately not! I have never found any SACD/ISO or DVD-A files. Apparently there were never any made.

     

    There is an album called 'How the West Was Won' that is supposedly hi-def but I believe that to be in SHM-CD quality - a special pressing/manufacturing technique developed in Japan that uses polycarbonate plastic and a highly reflective data layer that is supposed to allow extraction of more detail by the laser.

     

    I have a limited edition Japanese boxed set of Led Zeppelin mini-albums that has all the recordings Led Zep made in SHM-CD format complete with mini replicas of the album art, inner sleeves and original labels. It is an exquisite package (only 5000 copies made) but hand on heart I'm not sure there is a significant improvement in the sonic quality. The advantage is these SHM-CD discs are playable in standard CD players and you can get a lot of music in this format from http://www.cdjapan.co.jp

     

    Cheers,

     

    Rich

  • rustyintegrale Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 3:23 AM (in response to rustyintegrale)

    This is for Pegaudet. Converted from SACD. 176.4KHz24 bit audio file...

     

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/oa3o0fark105s08/d9yDg12Mse

  • Mark Block Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 5:08 AM (in response to rustyintegrale)

    rustyintegrale wrote:

     

    ....

    I also use BitPerfect available from the AppStore to play files through iTunes. I run this in 'hog mode' so iTunes is literally just the database and interface. All the audio is controlled by BitPerfect.

     

    I do have some issues with clicking that BitPerfect support is looking into for me. It seems to happen when tracks change from one format to another so I am currently experimenting with playlists arranged by format to see if that helps.

    I use Pure Music rather than BitPerfect, and am very happy with it. It integrates with iTunes and takes over the playback pretty transparently. Like you, I have a very mixed library: 16 and 24 bit; 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 196k sampling rates. Trying to manually adjust the Audio Midi settings is a nightmare -- and a huge flaw in Apple's music playback system -- but luckily Pure Music makes it a non-issue. I've never had a click or glitch when Pure Music automatically switches sample and bit rates between songs. And as you probably know, Pure Music has a zillion other features that may or may not be needed by normal music lovers.

     

    When you start Pure Music, it automatically launches iTunes and docks itself alongside. (You can also minimize Pure Music if you don't like looking at it.) One little touch I just discovered is that you can cue up the next track (like iTunes itself does with Up Next, formerly DJ). When I'm hopping around my library and find a song I want to play next, I just select it in iTunes, then click on the "Queue Selection" button in Pure Music.

     

    The Pure Music developer also has a great app called Pure Vinyl for digitizing LPs. I think it's for serious audiophiles only, but it's pretty cool, in that it does the RIAA equalization in the digital domain at 64-bit resolution, so it sounds better than any analogue phone stage.

  • CrofootN Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 8:55 AM (in response to Porf)

    I love the new feature that ignores all older Apple devices when you try to sync them. The new iTunes refuses to recognize any of our iPods. AND ZERO SUPPORT from Apple! Apparently the developers are too busy doing things like creating earbuds that aren't round or making a Do Not Distrub button on the iPhone.

    HATE

    HATE

    HATE

    this new version.

  • verbcrunch Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 9:02 AM (in response to CrofootN)

    Apple has never reciprocated all the loyalty they enjoy.      After a time, old gear gets dropped, rendered imcompatible.     Thanks for your business, as long as you keep buying our latest stuff.  

  • CrofootN Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 24, 2013 9:15 AM (in response to verbcrunch)

    Sadly true.

    Can't wait for the official response which will be something like:

    "We will be glad to help you. Follow the link below to purchase a new $20 dongle which is required to sync with this years marginally updated software. You will also need to purchase this new $30 adapter for the new $20 dongle in order to interface with that Apple relic you purchased last year for $300. But as an added bonus to our loyal followers, you can get your name engraved on the dongle for free! You're welcome."

  • Paul Richards4 Level 1 Level 1 (75 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 1:09 PM (in response to Porf)

    The danger from computers is NOT that they will eventually get as smart as men, but that meanwhile we will agree to meet them half way.

    Bernard Avishai

  • lordnibbler Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 1:14 PM (in response to Porf)

    The stock dropped 12 percent today. That's a 35 percent drop since the 700 dollar high.

     

    Apple, you are appleing wrong.

  • crashanywhere Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 3:31 PM (in response to lordnibbler)

    OK, I've given iTunes 11 a solid two week run. Everything works. The one thing it doesn't do, however, is play music the way I want it to. I have grown accustomed over the past few years to using iTunes DJ with the cover flow view. It was so nice. I find iTunes 11 unlovable as a music player without those features. Up Next is pure shiite. The whole experience is lousy. I will revert to 10.7... again... and hope for the best.

  • Ziatron Level 4 Level 4 (3,255 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 3:38 PM (in response to crashanywhere)

    I will revert to 10.7

     

    That seems to be the common procedure.

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