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EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #75
This simply rocks!!! No DRM. 256kbps AAC is transparent. $1.30 to buy ONE song at transparent quality that I can play anywhere (that supports AAC). A great day for digital music!!!

...and yet still certain people at HA complain. Some things never change.

Thats because some people will never be satisfied and just complain for the sake of complaining. First they complain about drm and 128kbps. Then they complain about AAC and 256kbit. Afterwards, they will complain about apple-lossless and the 1,30$ pricetag.

Even tough, some of the arguments are valid, they are at the wrong time at the wrong place. When the industry moves into the direction you want, then the reasonable reaction to that should be thumbs up. Its not necessary nor reasonable to act like "thats perfect, no need for any further changes" - however, anyone who complains, when an announcement about an improvement is made, didnt deserve the improvement in the first place.

- Lyx
I am arrogant and I can afford it because I deliver.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #76
This is merely a marketing gimmick.

I believe Ryan Block, a writer on Engadget, states my thoughts perfectly.

Quote
The finer details of EMI and Jobs's announcement today were also dubious. Despite the silver lining, which is that full albums should cost the same but will now default to DRM-free files, the two businesses still conflated DRM-free music with the discerning tastes of audiophiles. Steve mentioned that 128-bit AAC just isn't good enough for the sharp-eared, so uncrippled tracks are being bumped to 256Kbps. This gives Apple the ability to sell the music as a separate product and price point, while giving consumers the illusion of greater value. But we don't believe having free, usable, uncrippled media is a feature -- it's what we deserve, and we demand it. Asking customers to pay 30% more for no DRM and a higher bitrate is a distraction, a parlor trick to take our attention away from the philosophical issue: EMI is still selling DRMed music. EMI CEO Eric Nicoli said, "Not everybody cares about interoperability or sound quality." Since when did the two become so intrinsically linked? Sure, not everyone cares to vote either, that doesn't mean it's a premium privilege


Source

After thinking about it about it more last night, I've come around to this mindset too - 256 kbps AAC?  Come on, 128 kbps AAC is transparent to virtually everyone, including the large majority of us here at HA.

I agree that this is:
(a) A "parlor trick" (I like this term  ) to give the illusion that the buyer is getting something more ("better quality") for the premium price;
(b) A longer term strategy to sell the next-gen iPods with greater capacity.

There's an entire universe of people who are going to think (if they don't already) is that "higher bitrate = better", which for lossy audio is not the case.  The best bitrate for lossy is that which yields the smallest file but which is still transparent to the listener.  And for the overwhelming majority of the iTMS-buying public, this is still 128 kbps.  If they were really committed to delivering better quality, 128 kbps VBR would be a much better choice.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #77
Would be interested to know how 256 AAC compare to 320 Mp3. And is 256 VBR or is it still CBR? Has apple actually been doing any active development on the AAC encoder?

The listening test at http://www.soundexpert.info/coders320.jsp concludes that AAC LC (iTunes) is no better than LAME in the CBR 320 range, and I guess CBR 256 should be quite alike.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #78

Would be interested to know how 256 AAC compare to 320 Mp3. And is 256 VBR or is it still CBR? Has apple actually been doing any active development on the AAC encoder?

The listening test at http://www.soundexpert.info/coders320.jsp concludes that AAC LC (iTunes) is no better than LAME in the CBR 320 range, and I guess CBR 256 should be quite alike.


Unfortunately soundexpert's testing methodology makes the tests useless or at least inherently flawed.

You can read more in this thread: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=43656

The conclusion of the 320kbps test is a big warning itself:

"High bitrate AAC+ coder by Coding Technologies bundled with Winamp 5.2 has substantial increase of perceptual quality margin over all other contenders of the test. So it could be a good candidate for distribution of high quality audio content over the internet"

Does anyone else think, cutting off all audio above 11025 Hz and replacing it with noise (using SBR), make any sense at this bitrate? Pfft...

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #79
Unfortunately soundexpert's testing methodology makes the tests useless or at least inherently flawed.

You can read more in this thread: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=43656

The conclusion of the 320kbps test is a big warning itself:

"High bitrate AAC+ coder by Coding Technologies bundled with Winamp 5.2 has substantial increase of perceptual quality margin over all other contenders of the test. So it could be a good candidate for distribution of high quality audio content over the internet"

Does anyone else think, cutting off all audio above 11025 Hz and replacing it with noise (using SBR), make any sense at this bitrate? Pfft...


Sorry to sidetrack this thread, but that's not how the high bitrate aacPlus encoder works.  It uses "Oversampled" SBR mode - basically it encodes the AAC LC portion at 44,100hz (like normal) and is using SBR to fill in the ~16-22khz (varies depending on bitrate) range that gets cut off by the pre-encoding lowpass.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #80
Another questions is someone mentioned that itunes music are actually compressed from a lossless image of the production CD. Is that true?

I have at least heard from one supplier of compressed tracks for online stores (I think including iTMS) that they rip from CD to FLAC, then generate compressed versions from their FLAC archive.

Josh

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #81
Another questions is someone mentioned that itunes music are actually compressed from a lossless image of the production CD. Is that true?

I have at least heard from one supplier of compressed tracks for online stores (I think including iTMS) that they rip from CD to FLAC, then generate compressed versions from their FLAC archive.

Josh


I believe that bands/record labels use Apple's software for making iTunes Store content.  The people making the content load the digital masters into Apple's software and it gives them the option to either output in 128kbps (I think CBR) or Apple Lossless before sending the files to Apple.  Apple can then store the lossless files on their server and transcode those lossless files to lossy for iTunes Store selling.  I imagine this is why it will take about a month to get those DRM-free 256kbps AAC files up on the store.  EMI must make sure that every one of their artists have submitted lossless files to Apple, then Apple must transcode those lossless files to 256kbps AAC.  Some tracks purchased off of the iTunes Store are in fact 128kbps VBR though.  I have purchased a few new singles and their file sizes all indicate that they are 128kbps CBR though.  That is how a "artist" described the process on iLounge's forums.  Whether it is the same for every artist/record label, I don't know.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #82
Another questions is someone mentioned that itunes music are actually compressed from a lossless image of the production CD. Is that true?

I have at least heard from one supplier of compressed tracks for online stores (I think including iTMS) that they rip from CD to FLAC, then generate compressed versions from their FLAC archive.

Josh



Just like me!   


Anyway, what's this bosh about 'doubling the sound quality' by doubling the bitrate?  Someone needs to call bullshit on Jobs for this idea that 'sound quality' increases linearly with bitrate.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #83
Another questions is someone mentioned that itunes music are actually compressed from a lossless image of the production CD. Is that true?

I have at least heard from one supplier of compressed tracks for online stores (I think including iTMS) that they rip from CD to FLAC, then generate compressed versions from their FLAC archive.

Josh


I know allofmp3 does that for sure.




Unfortunately soundexpert's testing methodology makes the tests useless or at least inherently flawed.

You can read more in this thread: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=43656

The conclusion of the 320kbps test is a big warning itself:

"High bitrate AAC+ coder by Coding Technologies bundled with Winamp 5.2 has substantial increase of perceptual quality margin over all other contenders of the test. So it could be a good candidate for distribution of high quality audio content over the internet"

Does anyone else think, cutting off all audio above 11025 Hz and replacing it with noise (using SBR), make any sense at this bitrate? Pfft...


Sorry to sidetrack this thread, but that's not how the high bitrate aacPlus encoder works.  It uses "Oversampled" SBR mode - basically it encodes the AAC LC portion at 44,100hz (like normal) and is using SBR to fill in the ~16-22khz (varies depending on bitrate) range that gets cut off by the pre-encoding lowpass.


Nice, I wasn't aware of that. It doesn't really matter though, it's just an example of, in my opinion, flaws in the testing methodology. I won't sidtrack this thread any more that I've already done. Just a quick question, what would the lowpass be in this 320kbps "test"?

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #84
Another questions is someone mentioned that itunes music are actually compressed from a lossless image of the production CD. Is that true?

I have at least heard from one supplier of compressed tracks for online stores (I think including iTMS) that they rip from CD to FLAC, then generate compressed versions from their FLAC archive.

I believe that bands/record labels use Apple's software for making iTunes Store content.  The people making the content load the digital masters into Apple's software and it gives them the option to either output in 128kbps (I think CBR) or Apple Lossless before sending the files to Apple.  Apple can then store the lossless files on their server and transcode those lossless files to lossy for iTunes Store selling.  I imagine this is why it will take about a month to get those DRM-free 256kbps AAC files up on the store.  EMI must make sure that every one of their artists have submitted lossless files to Apple, then Apple must transcode those lossless files to 256kbps AAC.  Some tracks purchased off of the iTunes Store are in fact 128kbps VBR though.  I have purchased a few new singles and their file sizes all indicate that they are 128kbps CBR though.  That is how a "artist" described the process on iLounge's forums.  Whether it is the same for every artist/record label, I don't know.

I don't doubt that's true for individuals and little suppliers, but for the big ones it seems improbable, I think for them they sub it out.  the company I'm talking about supplies tens of thousands of titles and it would be a big logistical problem to get digital masters and re-author.  they have specialized hardware to rip many CDs in parallel at high speed, then archive to FLAC, then generate whatever lossy flavor their customer wants.

Josh

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #85
This is not about DRM either, it's about the iTunes+iPod lock-in. Apple's FairPlay DRM system is totally closed. Only Apple can use it. Microsoft does a much better job in this regard, they license their DRM system to others. If Apple would license out their FairPlay DRM technology to other companies making portable music players (Creative and such) this case would never excist in the first place.


Actually, Microsoft adopted the closed Apple model with Zune and its online music service. It was only their old not-so-aptly named PlaysForSure service that was licensed out to other manufacturers.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #86
I don't doubt that's true for individuals and little suppliers, but for the big ones it seems improbable, I think for them they sub it out.  the company I'm talking about supplies tens of thousands of titles and it would be a big logistical problem to get digital masters and re-author.  they have specialized hardware to rip many CDs in parallel at high speed, then archive to FLAC, then generate whatever lossy flavor their customer wants.

Josh


I just think it is a little odd that Apple would use technology, such as FLAC, that wasn't developed by them.  Then again, the new version of Mac OS X is supposed to add native FLAC support.

Either way, the move to non-DRM files is a step in the right direction.  People can now purchase tracks off of iTunes and play them off their PSP, PDA, AAC CD compatible car deck, Microsoft Zune, or any other device that supports AAC playback.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #87
oh, I'm not talking about apple using it, I'm saying some of the suppliers of the encoded files do.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #88
I just think it is a little odd that Apple would use technology, such as FLAC, that wasn't developed by them.  Then again, the new version of Mac OS X is supposed to add native FLAC support.


Apple always uses available technology, if it is "good enough" for them, and doesn't try to re-invent the wheel like Microsoft does. Examples: AAC, USB (previously they used their own ADB, which was much better than the old PC keyboard and PS/2 ports, but abandoned it when USB came out), PostScript (only created TrueType fonts, because Adobe kept Type 1 fonts for themselves), H.264, JPEG, SCSI, NuBus etc.

The only reason they created Apple Lossless and did not use an existing lossless format is because they needed  a format with fast encoding in addition to decoding for their AirTunes technology where sound is encoded to Apple Lossless on-the-fly before it is transmitted wirelessly to the AirPort Express.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #89
Due to problems with MS Vista compatability and Windows Media Player 11 not working with their DRM-tracks, the Weedshare (www.weedshare.com) music sales system is officially suspending operations.

Read their press release here on CDBaby.org:
http://cdbaby.org/stories/07/04/03/6098077.html

A Microsoft-DRM music store casualty. It appears Microsoft either can't or won't fix Weedshare's compatability problems with both Vista and Windows Media Player 11. So much for Microsoft supporting its DRM digital music partners.

It looks like Apple's/EMI's anti-DRM movethe other day  tipped the hand for Weedshare, as reported in the following article, and they may go DRM-free soon:
http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=2...rnetAndServices


EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #91
The only reason they created Apple Lossless and did not use an existing lossless format is because they needed  a format with fast encoding in addition to decoding for their AirTunes technology where sound is encoded to Apple Lossless on-the-fly before it is transmitted wirelessly to the AirPort Express.
Ahh... so, now that FLAC's license have been modified (enabling decoders to be bundled with non-open-source products like WinAmp -- I bet this is also why Apple only now considers giving FLAC support), will Apple be pushing FLAC and leaving Apple Lossless?

Speaking of which, how's FLAC & Apple Lossless' compression performance?

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #92
The only reason they created Apple Lossless and did not use an existing lossless format is because they needed  a format with fast encoding in addition to decoding for their AirTunes technology where sound is encoded to Apple Lossless on-the-fly before it is transmitted wirelessly to the AirPort Express.

they should have at least talked to me first then... it's proven quite easy to speed up the flac encoder, much easier than to invent a whole new codec.

Speaking of which, how's FLAC & Apple Lossless' compression performance?

FLAC compresses more than ALAC, faster than ALAC, and decodes faster too:
http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison.html

Josh

edit:
PS that has always been true BTW, see this comparison from 3 years ago: http://flac.cvs.sourceforge.net/*checkout*...l?revision=1.22

that's why I think it's an unlikely reason for developing ALAC

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #93
So if I understood correctly new iTunes tracks will be AAC 256 CBR. Interesting, are they to disclose the encoder used. I would include it in SoundExpert 256kbit/s test.
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #94
So if I understood correctly new iTunes tracks will be AAC 256 CBR. Interesting, are they to disclose the encoder used. I would include it in SoundExpert 256kbit/s test.


Obviously they would use the latest Quicktime.
iTunes 10 - Mac OS X 10.6
256kbps AAC VBR
iPhone 4 32GB

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #95
Obviously they would use the latest Quicktime.

Well, I would say “most probably” but how to know this for sure? Any ideas?
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #96
If they had bumped up the quality to around 160-192kbps it probably would have been good enough for many HA members, but 256kbps seems to be a bit overkill. It's not good enough for the most puritan of audiophiles, yet it seems a little big for what mainstream users want, considering that they probably own either an iPod mini or nano and lack the room.


Apple has to give people a reason to buy new iPods. More storage is usually the main reason why people upgrade, some more features, smaller size and longer battery life act as a bonus.


I'm kinda confused by all of this. Why would Apple release music in AAC at 256kbps?

Headroom for the watermark?

has this been confirmed that the DRM tracks contain watermarks?
--alt-presets are there for a reason! These other switches DO NOT work better than it, trust me on this.
LAME + Joint Stereo doesn't destroy 'Stereo'

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #97
Obviously they would use the latest Quicktime.

Well, I would say “most probably” but how to know this for sure? Any ideas?


Uh, because it is an Apple application that rips/uploads the files?

Why wouldn't Apple use their own encoder?
iTunes 10 - Mac OS X 10.6
256kbps AAC VBR
iPhone 4 32GB

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #98
I too would think that the 256kbps AAC files would use the latest QuickTime/iTunes AAC encoder.  There are non-QuickTime/iTunes AAC files on the iTunes Store but they are few and hard to find.  Though I would imagine that the popular AAC encoders like the iTunes AAC encoder, Nero's, the one included with WinAmp, and the Helix AAC (not sure if that is the name, it is included with RealOne) encoder would probably all perform about the same.

I would like to see the experts perform a 256kbps test here on hydrogenaudio.  Maybe comparing WMA, iTunes AAC, Lame mp3, WinAmp AAC, and a fifth format like OGG all at 256kbps.  Then again, that is asking a lot as I am sure 256kbps is hard to distinguish and having 5 formats to test at that high of a bitrate would make a lot of work.

EMI and Apple to remove DRM from most of their music on iTunes

Reply #99
I would like to see the experts perform a 256kbps test here on hydrogenaudio.  Maybe comparing WMA, iTunes AAC, Lame mp3, WinAmp AAC, and a fifth format like OGG all at 256kbps.  Then again, that is asking a lot as I am sure 256kbps is hard to distinguish and having 5 formats to test at that high of a bitrate would make a lot of work.

I asked about this early on in this thread, and the only reply I got was that it would be to heard to do a 256K listening test. The poster thought that there wouldn't be enough difference to notice I believe.

 
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