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Lossless (ALAC) iTunes downloads?

93196 Views 68 Replies Latest reply: Oct 13, 2013 8:46 AM by Roger Wilmut1 RSS
  • proaudioguy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 3, 2013 8:19 PM (in response to Chris CA)

    To sampe 20KHz without massive distortion artifacts you need a sampling frequency of at least 40KHz.  44,100Hz and a very steep anti aliasing filter allows samples up to around 20KHz.  We can't consiously hear higher.  The issue is whether or not the waveform is being reproduced acurately.  If you sample a 20KHz sine wave at 40KHz when you play it back it's a saw tooth wave.  That is DISTORTION.  96K and 192K allow a more detailed reproduction of the orignal waveform.

    If we have 8 samples or so (192K) at 20K instead of 2, then imagine how much closer we can reproduce the complex waveforms that include much lower frequencies.  The goal of digital is to be no different than analog but to eliminate the issues of the analog media.  24bit is probably as much dynamic range as we would need.  16bit is plenty for popular music.

     

    Whether you can hear higher frequencies has been tested.  Consiously no, but I recall reading even back in the late 80s early 90s they could measure higher brain wave activity when playing back material that contained super sonic audio.  This was clasical music as I recall and the listiners could not HEAR a difference.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9 (73,410 points)
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    Jun 3, 2013 8:24 PM (in response to proaudioguy)

    proaudioguy wrote:

    ...

    You cannot download ALAC from iTunes store.

  • proaudioguy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jul 28, 2013 5:34 PM (in response to Chris CA)

    What is your point?  HD Tracks sells ALAC.  I can rip my CDs in ALAC.  Getting ALAC encoded tracks is not an issue.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9 (73,410 points)
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    Jul 28, 2013 6:32 PM (in response to proaudioguy)

    (2 months later...)

     

    Chris CA wrote:

    You cannot download ALAC from iTunes store.

    then

    proaudioguy wrote:

     

    What is your point?

    You must have been reading a different thread and responded to this one.

    "My point" is self-explanatory.

    You cannot download ALAC from iTunes store, which is the topic of this thread.

    Getting ALAC encoded tracks is not an issue.

    So you can get ALAC from the iTunes Store?

    How?

  • proaudioguy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 8:48 AM (in response to Chris CA)

    Oh I wasn't reading the thread nor answering the op. I was replying to Alice.  See sometimes discussions move off the original topic, it's called a conversation.  It's my understanding that iTunes used to offer ALAC.  My google search for information pulled the 3rd page of this thread up.  I saw some misinformation and corrected it.  Simple as that. Now why are we wasting bandwidth while you ***** at me?  And besides I see nothing about the iTunes store in that subject line.  I see lossless downloads and iTunes.  I use lossless downloads with iTunes.  Seems not so far off topic....

  • Roger Wilmut1 Level 9 Level 9 (64,095 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 9:11 AM (in response to AliceWonder32)

    AliceWonder32 wrote:

     

    High definition audio is snake oil. It's fraud. Yes, technically there are more samples and higher bit depth to those samples, but that extra is useless. It does not benefit the reproduction of an analog wav in the frequency and range that we can hear any better than CD standard does.

    It's really not as simple as that. You are tending to assume that a 20 kHz signal will be accurately rendered as long as the sampling rate is above the Nyquist limit: as has been pointed out this is not so. Furthermore it's essential to filter all frequencies above that limit to prevent aliasing ('birdies'): brickwall filters, no matter how sophisticated, introduce their own problems of phase shift.

     

    Many years back Quad, who had designed speakers capable of reproducing supersonic frequencies, did a test with some experiences but older listeners whose hearing had lost the higher frequencies as part of the normal ageing process. Though they could not hear continuous tones above around 10 kHz, they could detect in blind listening tests when a 20kHz filter was switched in because of the phase shift effect on transients.

     

    CDs are capable of producing extremely good results - the nasty effects on some of them are often the result of bad mixing or recording, not the process itself - but SACD with its higher sampling rate and - even more important - greater bit depth is definitely better. Of course you need really good equipment to appreciate the difference - five-dollar ear-buds are hardly going to benefit - but it's there. (I may add that I can appreciate the improvement, and I'm 71 with an upper continuous frequency limit of 11 kHz, which is very good for my age.)

     

    Oddly enough when there is an improvement in possible quality there are always people who complain about it because it's not what they are used to. The 1950s Quad Electrostatic speakers were condemned in some quarters as being 'clinical' - in fact they were the only speakers of the period with anything like accuracy. There were complaints about move to electrical recording in 1925 and the introduction of LPs in 1950. And look at the outcry over 48fps in 'The Hobbit' - I've never thought 24 fps was enough as I can clearly see strobing (and Edison never thought it was enough either) but some people don't like it because it's not what they've been used to seeing in the cinema.

     

    So there is a worthwhile improvement in using hi-definition recording for those who have the equipment and the aural perception to detect the improvement: the entire area of perceptual audio is extremely complex and can't be covered by blanket assumptions about theoretical frequency range.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9 (73,410 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 9:35 AM (in response to proaudioguy)

    And besides I see nothing about the iTunes store in that subject line.  I see lossless downloads and iTunes.

    You may see it that way but that's not what is written.

    Why did you move iTunes out from between lossless & downloads?

    It is Lossless (ALAC) iTunes downloads.

  • proaudioguy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 9:31 AM (in response to Roger Wilmut1)

    What Roger said......

     

    I'm not sure if I said this, but a big quality issue is also mastering.  One of the reasons vinyl sounds so much better than the same music digitally is because the original mstering engineers were left out of the process when remastering.  Remastering is a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.  Seems to me if you had the finest turntable, cartridge, RIAA preamp, etc it could all be modelled digitally and applied to those recordings as they were originally mastered and get much closer to the intended sound you would have had from a half speed master vinyl record.

     

    Chris CA as long as you keep trolling me, I'm going to keep replying.  I assume the CA stands for California and that would explain a a lot.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9 (73,410 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 9:44 AM (in response to proaudioguy)

    I was replying to Alice.

    Then why did you click Reply on my post?

     

    proaudioguy wrote:

     

    Chris CA as long as you keep trolling me, I'm going to keep replying.

    Me responding to your question to me is in no way "trolling".

    You popping into the middle of a thread stating incorrect, off topic information is the classic definintion of trolling.

     

    I assume

    You can do whatever you want but that does not make you correct. It does sometimes make the person assuming something, an ?

  • proaudioguy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 9:51 AM (in response to Chris CA)

    Why does GOOGLE not care what the order of the words are when I search them?

     

    I clicked the only reply that was available at the bottom of the thread.  I do not know why Apple has it set up this way.

     

    You trying to argue for the sake of argueing is trolling.  I answered this several weeks ago and you are now posting to tell me I'm OT.  I read back the earlier page and now I see you were doing the same thing to others.  Hey we all have mom's we don't need another one.

     

    My information is in no way incorrect.  I never once stated you could buy ALAC files from the iTunes store.  You could claim it was irrelivent, but it became relivent with Alice posted bad info.  It's a self moderated forum.  That means the users call BS.  I have no beef with Alice.  I was attempting to help Alice with a bit of education.  Roger added significantly.  Now all this back and forth between you and I is pure mud in an otherwise clear thread.  That being said I'm not going to lay down and let you walk all over me.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9 (73,410 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 10:07 AM (in response to proaudioguy)

    proaudioguy wrote:

     

    Why does GOOGLE not care what the order of the words are when I search them?

    Because that's how it is programmed.

    But perhaps you should read the page you get to after you do the search instead of blindly replying to a single post.

     

    I clicked the only reply that was available at the bottom of the thread.  I do not know why Apple has it set up this way.

    There is a Reply at the bottom of every post.

    My information is in no way incorrect

    I never wrote or suggested it was incorrect. Just irrelevant to this thread (downloading Apple Lossless files from the iTunes store).

     

    I never once stated you could buy ALAC files from the iTunes store.

    No, but you did specifically ask me, "What is your point?" which is why I responded to you.

    Had you responded to Alice (if that was your intent) and not me, I would not have responded to the question you posed to me and that would be that.

    Not trying to "walk all over you".

    No need to reply. Simple mistake. Understood.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  • Roger Wilmut1 Level 9 Level 9 (64,095 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 10:27 AM (in response to proaudioguy)

    proaudioguy wrote:

     

    ...a big quality issue is also mastering.  One of the reasons vinyl sounds so much better than the same music digitally is because the original mstering engineers were left out of the process when remastering.

    Whether vinyl is better is one of those discussions which will run and run. I've been collecting vinyl since 1952, and I'm not a great fan of it. It can sound very good (and LPs are a very attractive collectable product, much more so than CDs), but the inherent limitations and the ease with which even unplayed copies can deteriorate is very worrying.

     

    Each of the three main systems have inherent problems which it is important to understand.

     

    Microgroove records are vulnerable to low frequency pitch variations ('wow'), rumble and mid-range effects ('grundle') both in the mastering/pressing and in playback; and pinch effect which though minimized by the use of elliptical styli can never be completely elimated and produces increasingly unacceptable levels of distortion towards the end of sides. Further complications are the 'spring back' on cutting which can be countered, but only approximately, by a raked stylus (15 degrees forward rake is the usual compromise). Arm resonances add to the issue; and this is before wear, clicks and plops and general deterioration as time goes on.

     

    Tape has the battle between noise level and peak distortion. Peak level is usually defined at the point at which you reach 3% distortion, which is rather a lot by modern standards. HF bias is necessary to get the tape transfer characteristic away from the center of the hysteresis loop which would otherwise cause high levels of distortion at the crossover point. Noise is only barely acceptable, even at 15 ips, unless Dolby or other noise reduction is used, and this inevitably introduces its own distortions though properly handled it's very effective.

     

    Digital has at least the advantage of the issues being calculable before you start. The CD paramaters were chosen to get Beethoven's 9th symphony (75 minutes) on a single 5 inch disk and are a carefuly chosen compromise. The inherent noise level of -90dB is acceptable, but the brickwall filter necessary at around 19kHz is a serious limitation as we've discussed: and the 16 bit sampling, though acceptable when at its best, is heavily dependent on a completely steady clock frequency (variations - 'jitter' - inevitably introduce distortion) and and an incredible level of accuracy in the sampling 'ladder' (1-bit playback - 'oversampling' - evades this problem on playback).

     

    The problem with remastering is often that moden engineers get too clever and start introducing equalization, filtering, and - worst of all - dynamic range processing. It's complicated by the fact that the tapes can deteriorate with time (one well known example is Siegfried's horn call in the Decca 'Ring', which had been played on a magnetised head at some stage).

     

    I was really glad to get into digital when it arrived in 1983, though of course there's always going to be good and bad - this has always been the case right back to the beginning in the 1890s. But if I were asked to put together a system for making a really good recording the absolute minimum spec. would be 96 kHz and 32 bit - higher would always be better. People with ear-buds won't notice, but it matters.

  • Chris CA Level 9 Level 9 (73,410 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 10:29 AM (in response to Roger Wilmut1)

    Roger Wilmut1 wrote:Whether vinyl is better is one of those discussions which will run and run. I've been collecting vinyl since 1952, and I'm not a great fan of it. It can sound very good (and LPs are a very attractive collectable product, much more so than CDs), but the inherent limitations and the ease with which even unplayed copies can deteriorate is very worrying.

    Vinyl seems to be making a somewhat limited comeback nowadays.

    Just curious how it compares (now vs. say, 30 years ago when CDs came about)?

  • proaudioguy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 10:54 AM (in response to Chris CA)

    I asked what is your point because you replied to my message with the post I replied to.  OK done.

     

    The state of the art of home turn tables was getting quite good when they went away.  Now you have to pretty much buy a professional DJ unit.  Not real convenient but the quality is quite good.  The advantages are the sound of the old records.  There is no real reason to issue new releases on vinyl.  That's just gimmacky.  The disadvantages are the same as they always were (what Roger said).  Dust is extremely noisy and the only way to avoid it is a clean room the likes of intel, that is the big one for me, there is a practical limit to what you can record in regards to channel count and even the mix.  For example if you have a heavy bass beat and pan it to the left side, the needle will jump out of the groove.  There are other related issues.  That's part of what made the mastering so critical.  What I want is the original mastered recordings in a digital format after going through a processor to simulate the vinyl pressing and playback process.  What did that process do to the sound,....do that to the sound in the digital realm and it should same about the same.  THe original masters sounded terrible when they went straight to CD becuase they were preemphasized (manually) by the mastering engineers because they knew the medium was vinyl or worse, cassette or 8 track, which no one took seriously.  That led to remastering the original mix down tapes, by a bunch of fresh green CHEAP engineers right out of soundschool, or fresh off the janatorial staff.  Maybe it wasn't that bad, but often they didn't even ave the mastering engineer's notes.  The cost of a good mastering engineer is high.  It really has a big affect on the outcome.  Less needed now with digitally produced music, but still needed.  It's an audiophile persoective.  I'm not a mastering engineer.  I'm just a regular mix engineer.  I'm good at what I do, and I know that job is a different job than mine, even though there is some overlap now.

  • Roger Wilmut1 Level 9 Level 9 (64,095 points)
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    Jul 29, 2013 10:54 AM (in response to Chris CA)

    I haven't bought any vinyl in recent years: one would like to think that pressings were done to a consistently hgh standard, but that was never the case in the past. There was always a wide variation in quality; and there are so many variables. Cuttng discs is an art in itself and can introduce a lot of problems: and the pressing process (master, matrix, mother, stamper) has every opportunity to bring more issues. I have a number of LPs which still sound really very good; but also a lot with unacceptable distortion, noise and pitch instability.

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