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I know I may be flogging a dead horse, but I am coming at this thing from a different direction than many. I know a lot about a little and little or nothing about a lot.


I know that a large segment of the users I am trying to attract to well executed servers are accustomed to downloading their music online. As I mentioned in another post, my experience with this is limited to using emusic to locate a specific performance of a jazz tune that I could use to learn a song I was assigned by my jazz guitar teacher so he wouldn't beat me.


I am aware that there are a handful of sites that offer high rez downloads. I have ripped about 500 CD's in AIFF for my personal use from my CD library. My question is regarding "normal" high fidelity downloads. In other words, something that I can download bit perfect that would be the equivalent of having the CD on hand. As CD sales plummet it seems we are going to need access to this level of download, at a minimum. Also, from an economic perspective, I find that buying used CD's through Amazon, some as low as two or three bucks in mint condition, is cheaper than most downloads and is obviously uncompressed. It seems that this may be the most significant aspect of the CD sales plummeting story. You either do vinyl, which I love, or compressed, lossy digital, except for the handful of sites offering a limited selection of high rez downloads, some of which seem to be of questionable musical desirability.


I love Holt's law, by J. Gordon Holt, the founder of Stereophile magazine and a world class cynic: "The better the recording, the worse the performance".


I may be completely missing something here. I hope that's the case.


Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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This is GREAT! --and you aren't missing A THING. -- I hadn't heard of Holt's Law, but my experience certainly synchs with it. I first realized it when I finally understood that the pursuit of 'the best' classical music was all about finding 'THE PERFORMANCE' and not about the recording quality, or the orchestra, or the soloist, or the conductor. That was in the 1970's for me. This is why I recommend that folks try the various streams of digital music that are out there right now - even though they lack in sound quality. You have to be patient from a 'what it sounds like' point-of-view. I've said it before here: be adventurous. GET THE PERFORMANCE! (Hint: listen to Steven G. Baird's advice. He knows whereof he speaks, re: performances. I like his tastes.)


The spirit and the soul of 'tha dang thing' is not in the sound quality. It is not in the equipment used to play it back (or record it). It is not even in the person of the listener. The 'thing that makes you sing' is IN THE PERFORMANCE.


Having the performances available to us, is the issue that Rick brings up here. I've also said here that the availability of material to us will be directly related to how active we are in PAYING for it. I would now like to add: please tell all your friends that are 'on the fringe' of being audiophiles/audiophools, that they should at LEAST be thinking of buying CD quality downloads, if not Hi Rez versions. Tell them to create their own MP3's (or whatever type of compressed versions) from those downloads if they need them. ..............



You have the world open to you now; you can get almost any song in the world as an MP3. And then, I suppose, if you like a song, you can go out and try to find a version of it that you can actually listen to --- Lou Reed @ SXSW 2008 (Priceless)


PS: Happiness to me recently was hearing Tina Turner singing a Joni Mitchell song produced by Herbie Hancock (thank you, KUT.ORG). RIVER is the name of the album. WOW!



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(@ "I'm Listening to....) Rick posted:

"Hey Mark

I just spotted this. Talk about being slow. I am totally in the dark about much of the download process. I have about 300gig of material stored but all except one album has been from my own CD's. The exception is a Bruce Cocburn album, "You've Never Seen Everything". I have a lovely empty CD case. I think whoever ripped it off took about six of my socks that I can't find the matches for as well. Pervert. At any rate, I downloaded it from the iTunes store and vowed never to do that again. Perhaps if Chris is monitoring we could get a tutorial on how to address the download issue when using iTunes outside of the iTunes store. I'm serious, I am totally clueless. I used to download in MP3 from emusic but that was to have a copy of jazz tunes I was learning on guitar.


If this has been covered, my apologies but I didn't find it. I'm not sure I want iTunes upsampling my music. I find I am agreeing with Gordon about trying to leave the native resolution alone.


Any thoughts?


(Answering last entry first) Hey Rick!, I don't see (or hear) a real advantage to playing back say, 16/44.1 audio at 24/96 resolution (upsampling). I also don't see an advantage to converting a lower resolution digital audio file to a higher resolution digital audio file-- you can't add any audio information of relevance 'after the fact', and the resulting file is bigger than the original. Yep. I think: 'Leave the native resolution alone is the way to go.' Remember too that you have to set the Mac's audio resolution for high resolution in the Utilities folder application "Audo MIDI Setup" BEFORE opening iTunes to actually play the music back correctly.


OK, that part is out of the way. Now if I understand what you posted, you are asking how to use the iTunes program to download music from non-iTunes sites. I don't think you can do that. If there is a way, Chris will chime in with that information - I'm sure. Each music download site listed on CA.com is different in the way that the actual download of music is accomplished. All the music download sites that I have been to, require that you open an 'account' at their site: Name, Address, etc.


For purchasing anything on the web, I'd recommend using a buffer - like PayPal - to send payment. I have a PayPal account. Recently, due to more purchasing on the web because of this 'dang CA website', I added another buffer: I've joined 'Life Lock' to try and ensure that stealing my identity is even more difficult for the cyber-punk types. I've been watching that particular company for a few years now, and I think that what they do is well worth the $100 per year subscription fee.


These downloads come mostly in lossless formats. FLAC is most common, but there are other formats too. You need an Audio file conversion utility. A free one, and one that I use and like is 'Max'. You can get it here: http://sbooth.org/Max/ . You can also find it on the Apple website - type in 'MAX' in the search box and you will find it. It is pretty simple to use, but we can talk about that later if need be.


Let's start - and really, for the most part - downloading music is not much different than buying CD's from Amazon, or downloading an update for your Mac, except for the time taken up by the download. This thought occurs to me now: Let's cover one download site at a time. Maybe that way we can get you started and then you could ask questions about specific download sites.


MusicGiants is the most difficult for me to navigate, and I'm still experimenting with them. I would rather wait until I 'get it' over on their site before commenting.


High Definition Tape Transfers (HDDT) is a good place to start, for one reason - They aren't confusing, AND they offer free trial downloads. Though doing that isn't the same process as downloading a purchased piece of music there.

You can try out their free samples in high def here:



Clicking on the link to the free samples there, takes you to a place that looks familiar to a computer geek (but you DON'T have to be one, and remember that their commercial site selection is different): this is an ftp sort of site that has hyperlinks to the music files available there. Just clicking one of these ISN'T going to be satisfactory for you though. Here's how to do it:

On the Mac, put your mouse pointer over the one(s) you want to try and hold down the "CTRL" key and then click the mouse button. A popup box now gives you the options you need. I recommend selecting "Download Linked File as....". This gives you an Apple 'dialogue box' that will let you chose where you would like the file to download to on your computer or any attached and accessible drives or networked computers. It also lets you (re)name the file anything you would like to, within Apple's file-naming rules anyway... Try it.


After the download completes, you now have a FLAC audio file. This can be played on the Mac in various programs ('Cog' is pretty good and simple - http://cogx.org/) , but not iTunes (not directly as of yet anyway). To use the music in iTunes you will want to convert this to an AIFF file in Max (remember Max?). All the files here are 24/96, so see if you can set Max to work for you at that resolution. If you explore through the menus and buttons, you will see that it will convert the file and place the finished file into iTunes library for you all in one operation, if you set it up that way. There are tagging functions available in Max as well.


Try this first, and let us know what happens, and if you want to 'read ahead' - HDDT has instructions for downloading their 'pay to download' files linked right on the page where you select the music that you want to download. I definitely recommend using the email link that they send you when you purchase the music, to link to their 'paid download' site. I also recommend that you download one piece at a time (as do they, in their instructions) instead of clicking them all at the same time. Don't forget to "CTRL" + click to get the dialogue box that will allow you to direct your download where you want it (but you don't HAVE to do it this way). Don't be 'skeerd' to contact them via the links they provide if you need to. I did, they responded in less than 24 hours, and I think I made a friend there! I really like this company, and the audio IS awesome. .....I'm looking at something I think I will get right now......


Good Luck & don't forget to come back here to tell us what happened! - we can take it.



VISTA = ewwwwwww. No thank you. I have to use it at work - only occasionally, thankfully. The words "you can pry XP Pro from my cold, dead hands" come to mind.... I use ASIO to bypass the kmixer for audio on PC's.





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Hey Guys - Thanks for the post with instructions Mark. MAX is a great app for converting and importing music into iTunes.


Rick - Are you interested in an article about this topic, such as finding hirez music, downloading it, and getting it into iTunes. With screenshots etc...?


I'm not quite sure I'm following ya on this one. I do agree that hirez downloads are pretty expensive right now. Linn Records studio master flac albums are about $30 and the selection is pretty limited. We can only hope that once the labels decide to go vinyl and download only that the offer at least 16/44.1 downloads. My wish/guess is that 24/88.2 will be available since many artists already record with this quality. I hope we don't have to suffer through lowrez followed by hirez and a push from the labels to "upgrade" our music much like cassette to CD.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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I think Mark did a great job of "grokking" me. I was really talking about two different things, hence your confusion. The most important is the ability to download something that is not a dumbed down version, i.e. lossy compression, of what is on a standard CD. Mark's answer makes me realize that, first and foremost, I was not aware of places where you could get access to a "normal" music catalog without it being stepped on. I knew about a couple of the high rez places, but really didn't realize the middle option existed. I really like high resolution stuff, but I don't need any more perfect recordings of 3 virgin Norwegian monks playing "Taking Care of Business" on accordions.


Thanks Mark. I will let you know how the experience goes. I can't remember where I saw it, maybe here, but Elvis Costello's knew release is available as vinyl and download only, no CD's.


The second part was about the high rez thing and how one goes about it. I would be interested in a "how to". Thus far I have used nothing but iTunes for my efforts here.




Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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I'm sure you are right about where I saw it. DANGER, Will Robinson, input overload....


I wonder how many of us are old enough to remember what that refers to.


My biggest issue, which apparently I didn't express well, is that for many people part of the attraction to this approach is not having to own the physical medium. Leaving aside the high resolution possibilities, interesting as they may be, the only download sources I was familiar with are the ones that only offer compressed versions of the standard fare. Other than my little jazz lessons thing, I am totally new to the idea of downloading music. I knew that people did it a lot for their iPods and to store MP3's on their computers but until recently, as an upstanding audiophile, I was disdainful of the whole concept. Now that I see it's potential the question is what options exist to download what I think of as standard CD quality songs to build a library of music that is more standardized fare from jazz to classical to, let's say, Pearl Jam.


The more I learn, the more I find I need to learn. Kinda sounds like life, huh. I have been approaching this thing as if I only need to worry about using one program to handle my music, in my case iTunes. I haven't spent as much time with Markr's welcome tutuorial as I intend to but, at a glance, it looks like that isn't the case.


Just a thought but you might want to share at least parts of your recent manufacturer visit. I know a number of people think high end is rather absurd, and there is sometimes truth to that, but you are obviously well regarded here and your impressions might open some minds as to what the really good stuff can be like.


Best holiday wishes to everyone. I'm looking forward to the parade of babies in Easter Sunday bonnets. I know, I'm a softie.


Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Hey Rick - The options to build a library based on 16/44.1 - 24/192 downloads are few and far between as of today. Fortunately they seem to be growing every day. Some of the more popular artists have been offering lossless downloads via their own websites, which makes it hard to find out about them. For example the new Eagles album was this way. The new Nine Inch Nails is also in this category. Since you mention my favorite band Pearl Jam, I'll add that they release all their concerts as lossless flac downloads available for purchase the day after the concert. Very cool and very good quality. Some of the sites on my list below don't offer lossless, but do offer more well known music. The top three on the ist are the best in my opinion. Once downloaded it is fairly simple to bring into iTunes. I wouldn't even think of using different applications to play music downloaded from other sites. iTunes can do everything much better and give you a single interface. One that is not on my list is MusicGiants. They do offer DRM-free 24/88.2 lossless downloads of some good music from popular artists, but you need a Windows PC to complete the download for now anyway. They also offer 16/44.1 downloads from almos every popular artist and new releases, but these are DRM'd. I wrote a little article on my experience downloading from MG in Windows and converting to Mac OS X & iTunes. Most of the MG stuff is crippled with DRM, so I don't download that stuff. DRM limits our options and what many people forget is that DRM negatively effects the sound. Remember CD watermarking?


I am working on an article right now about my experience Friday, which we have discussed offline, and hope to have it posted tomorrow with photos. I wish I could post all the photos, but respect for the manufacturers privacy comes first. Their willingness to allow photos was fabulous and I will post some pretty neat stuff. FYI for all the other CA readers, I heard the best sounding system I have ever heard, bar none. Nothing at CES came close, even systems worth several hundred thousand dollars! I am looking forward to sharing my experience.


Have a great Easter Sunday Rick.



List of download sites:


High Definition Tape Transfers




Linn records


Naxos Music Library


Classics Online


Deutsche Grammophon




Gimell Records




Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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It's kind of funny. As I think about it, everyone is talking about CD being dead, but it still seems to be what we rely upon for our sources. We have sold many Escient music servers over the past few years. Although you can stream radio broadcasts, basically their concept is based upon ripping your CD's to the hard drive. I suppose we could turn to vinyl and invest in a really good A/D converter but that is not going to happen in the mass market. Kind of a Catch 22. It seems to me that there is a huge opportunity for someone who can make the mainstream music consumer's choices available in a decent format. Of course, this is from someone who was concerned about whether SACD or DVD Audio would triumph and the dominant force turned out to be MP3.






Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Even the slightest glimmer of hope that there is a chance that music distribution could be "truly" full range again brings me like a moth to a flame. I don't really like the way CD's sound but I have to use them, I've made an uneasy peace with them. I'll make my own compressed stuff for "portable situations", thank you. .... And actually, I'm looking at ways to not have to do THAT either - technology (magic) is rampant now.... I want to have full range, high definition audio (whatever you want to call it) wherever I go because, after all.., 'there i am....'. My AKG cans have a mini jack..... and I don't CARE if they look funny....



Keep on Truckin'!

& How about 'S.O.D.A.K.' for a reference, Rick?

PS: It isn't "Easter" for me until next month. I'm an Orthodox Christian... we call it "Pascha"


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