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peterw
2008-08-14, 17:40
In March I announced my PlayLog plugin
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=44582 (info page: http://www.tux.org/~peterw/slim/PlayLog.html)
I thought there was a chance of actually recouping some money on it -- one of its features is easy links to search Amazon (well, its US store) for CDs or MP3s of music you've heard on your Squeezebox. I figured some folks would surely use PlayLog to track down interesting songs they'd heard on Internet Radio or music services and buy legit copies of those songs, or other records. So I applied for an Amazon Associates account and tagged the links to Amazon. The results? Only a few dozen actual click throughs to Amazon, and no orders at all. Zero.

With Amazon only giving me something like $0.04 for every $0.99 MP3 sale, and cutting no checks until something like $10 (about 250 MP3 sales), I certainly didn't expect to quit my day job. But in five months, not a single sale? I wouldn't be surprised if relatively few folks used PlayLog, but do Squeezebox owners not buy music at Amazon? Not even the DRM-free MP3s?

-Peter

iPhone
2008-08-14, 18:10
In March I announced my PlayLog plugin
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=44582 (info page: http://www.tux.org/~peterw/slim/PlayLog.html)
I thought there was a chance of actually recouping some money on it -- one of its features is easy links to search Amazon (well, its US store) for CDs or MP3s of music you've heard on your Squeezebox. I figured some folks would surely use PlayLog to track down interesting songs they'd heard on Internet Radio or music services and buy legit copies of those songs, or other records. So I applied for an Amazon Associates account and tagged the links to Amazon. The results? Only a few dozen actual click throughs to Amazon, and no orders at all. Zero.

With Amazon only giving me something like $0.04 for every $0.99 MP3 sale, and cutting no checks until something like $10 (about 250 MP3 sales), I certainly didn't expect to quit my day job. But in five months, not a single sale? I wouldn't be surprised if relatively few folks used PlayLog, but do Squeezebox owners not buy music at Amazon? Not even the DRM-free MP3s?

-Peter

Hey Peter,

Where I can only speak for myself, Amazon, MP3, not no but hell no. I do not even buy CDs from Amazon, muchless MP3s. All my music if ripped from the actual CD or is a FLAC download. Do people with Squeezeboxes buy MP3s? I bet they do. I would think the biggest seller is iTunes.

But my thing is why waste good money buying inferior MP3s when for a few bucks more, one can have the whole CD which is DRM Free and at full resolution when ripped to FLAC! I get most of my new music from YourMusic.Com, off of EBAY, or the CD buying/trading website.

radish
2008-08-14, 18:33
I buy all my CDs from Amazon (typically a couple a week), I have bought a few of their mp3s - but I typically am not interested in lossy downloads.

Eric Seaberg
2008-08-14, 18:42
I do buy quite a few CDs from Amazon, and have also done MP3s. Their downloads are at 256kbps without any DRM, so they play with SC very well. I usually buy MP3s of music that may be 'restored' classics, like Billie Holiday, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra's mega compilations from Capitol, etc.

If the source material doesn't warrant the time to purchase, rip, encode, etc., then I'll usually buy it from Amazon.

Goodsounds
2008-08-14, 18:54
I think a fair number of people buy MP3 files from Amazon. I know I have - it's quick, convenient, and it's the non-Apple alternative. When I just want a song or two, and not an entire album, that's where I go.

When I want to get a good copy of something, I go vinyl, if available. More audio DVD use, that's a plus. But I'm resigned to the fact that CDs are the most common carrier and are convenient - no reason to get upset about it, it's how it is. I'm amused by people who think a FLAC file of a CD is anything special, not realizing that what they are doing is getting an accurate copy of a quality compromised copy. No reason to fear a lossy copy of a CD - the CD itself is already lossy. Most people don't know or hear the difference. People who are really picky never get anywhere near a CD, other than as a coaster for a coffee cup.

Oh, and yes, I buy CDs from them too - convenience factor and reasonable prices.

dem
2008-08-14, 18:59
I've bought a couple hundred MP3s from Amazon, mostly when I find individual songs I want to add to my playlists.

radish
2008-08-14, 19:53
No reason to fear a lossy copy of a CD - the CD itself is already lossy.

That makes no sense. However "bad" a CD is, a lossy rip of it is "worse" surely?

Goodsounds
2008-08-14, 20:31
Hi Radish,

Yes, a lower quality lossy rip will sound worse. A higher quality lossy rip will sound less worse. A non-lossy rip will still not sound great because of the inherent lossy nature of CD sound. Artists have been complaining about CDs since they came out - I did a quick search, and found a recent quote from a recording producer calling CD sound "a Xerox of a Polaroid of a photograph of a painting". Google those words, you'll find the interview.

The record industry squashed the DAT format for consumers sometime ago, maybe it was 15 years or so, out of fear that that would put "master" quality sound out on the street. But the recording industry was just fine with CDs, because it is far from master quality. The low sampling rate, which is the problem, was chosen to allow enough capacity for hour long albums, +/-, on the form factor chosen. Therein lies the compromise, the sampling rate is really too low to capture the full spectrum of the sound, and that is why CDs are lossy. Most people don't know or hear the difference.

Mnyb
2008-08-14, 20:35
I use only lossles files but not only for soundquality.

Lossy files can not be transcoded without artifacts, what will be the major file format in 25-50 years ?
Ripped from CD or DRM free lossles it is for me.

I use mp3 for my car or and sometimes for my portable where it has merit's (storage space) it's a practical temporary format.

Otherwise i buy music for eternity (or at least my lifetime).

Btw Amazon is not selling mp3's in Europe there some very few retails of DRM free mp3's in Europe most are DRM, if you find any there are much more expensive than in the US (even itunes is more expensive here), i think such designed market compartmentalization is Evil. The real distance around the world today is about 200ms if ping an US server, so one world one file one price imho. For this reason alone i'm very reluctant to pay for downloads.

Mnyb
2008-08-14, 21:02
Hi Radish,

Yes, a lower quality lossy rip will sound worse. A higher quality lossy rip will sound less worse. A non-lossy rip will still not sound great because of the inherent lossy nature of CD sound. Artists have been complaining about CDs since they came out - I did a quick search, and found a recent quote from a recording producer calling CD sound "a Xerox of a Polaroid of a photograph of a painting". Google those words, you'll find the interview.

The record industry squashed the DAT format for consumers sometime ago, maybe it was 15 years or so, out of fear that that would put "master" quality sound out on the street. But the recording industry was just fine with CDs, because it is far from master quality. The low sampling rate, which is the problem, was chosen to allow enough capacity for hour long albums, +/-, on the form factor chosen. Therein lies the compromise, the sampling rate is really too low to capture the full spectrum of the sound, and that is why CDs are lossy. Most people don't know or hear the difference.

O thats probably correct in theory but how many recordings actually sounds that good that the CD format is an bottle neck ?

I have an DVD-A player and approx >100 dvda's some of them do sound spectacular, the ones that are actually recorded in 24bit with modern equipment. The remastered records from old masters is rarely special, if they are I have niggling suspicion that it is because of a better master not the hi-rez format.
I think the death of hi-rez formats is due to fact that most recordings is crap (relatively speaking) and wont merit from it.

Btw there are some spectacular remasters done in 5.1 from original source mtrl (and many bad ones), correct use of surround channels and center actually makes sense.

pfarrell
2008-08-14, 21:13
Goodsounds wrote:
> The record industry squashed the DAT format for consumers sometime ago,
> maybe it was 15 years or so, out of fear that that would put "master"
> quality sound out on the street. But the recording industry was just
> fine with CDs, because it is far from master quality.

This is rubbish. DATs were 48khz x 16, RedBook is 44.1kHz x 16.
There is nothing more than theoretical differences.

DAT was killed because it was recordable. The idiot labels thought that
recording/sharing was going to kill their industry. CDs are very early
1980 technology, they were designed to replace the hated cassette tape,
which was crap audio quality, but recordable. The CD was better audio
quality, as convenient, and not recordable. At least not until 1995/96

On the olden days, CDs had DRM, you had to own a mega dollar pressing
plant to make them.

RedBook recordings can sound very good. But only if the artists,
producter, label, etc want it that way. Most folks don't care, and so we
have loudness wars.

SACD and DVD-A were pushed by the labels as "better" but mostly because
consumers could not make copies. In pratice, lots of SACD and DVD-A were
the same signal as on the RedBook.

I expect that one could technically make their own SACD in theory, but
there was never a demand for it. DVD-A died before DVD burners became
mass market.

--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

seanadams
2008-08-14, 21:22
The record industry squashed the DAT format for consumers sometime ago, maybe it was 15 years or so, out of fear that that would put "master" quality sound out on the street.

DAT is the same 16-bit PCM data as a CD, just sampled at 48 instead of 44.1 KHz. And DAT can run at 44.1 too. Back in the day I bought used, degaussed server backup tapes for $0.25 ea and used them to *ahem* back up my CD collection.


But the recording industry was just fine with CDs, because it is far from master quality.

No, they got behind CDs because consumers loved the random access capability and the ooh shiny factor, and because they are dirt cheap to make. They also (if handled properly) last indefinitely - and if not, well, they sell more replacement CDs. DATs take more physical abuse, but degrade after many playbacks.


The low sampling rate, which is the problem, was chosen to allow enough capacity for hour long albums, +/-, on the form factor chosen.

You are talking about the difference between a frequency response of 0-22.05 KHz vs 0-24 KHz, and a difference in minutes-per-megabyte of only -9%.

Goodsounds
2008-08-14, 21:58
Sean,

Thanks for weighing in. You're the expert here, I will always welcome the opportunity to hear your views. And I will do so quietly.

So, what is your take on the CD quality issue? I personally prefer vinyl to plastic based on my listening experiences, but do you think that to be unfounded? I'm an amateur like most in these parts, but have long heard the artists complain about the CD format. I had some involvement 10+ years ago with the Bay Area company that was trying to move forward with HDCD - Neil Young (who has long been one of the vocal anti-CD format types) was an investor in the company. One of his long awaiting project - the release of archival material- keeps getting delayed, most recently because it is now being remastered for DVD-A.

Any basis in reality to this?

pfarrell
2008-08-14, 22:04
Goodsounds wrote:
> anti-CD format types) was an investor in the company. One of his long
> awaiting project - the release of archival material- keeps getting
> delayed, most recently because it is now being remastered for DVD-A.

DVD-A is dead. No company is preparing to release material in that
format. Some tiny amount of "classical" material is being made in SACD.

Any future archival releases that aim for quality will be BlueRay.

Goodsounds
2008-08-14, 22:17
Right you are, his delays get delayed and his sidetracks get sidetracked. Young's BlueRay announcement was just before summer started, but of course the BlueRay matter was a subsequent development to his remastering project that has changed direction many times over the past many years. The hour is late.

Read any other part of my posting, have any other comments, or just looking for things to jump on? No matter to me either way.

pfarrell
2008-08-14, 22:27
Goodsounds wrote:
> Read any other part of my posting, have any other comments

You should do more homework before making ungrounded absolute
statements. You may want to check out the audiophiles section for
background on audio quality.

The mass market record labels care not a whit about sound quality. They
care nothing about their customers or the musicians and artists.

All of this is well documented. No reason to speculate.

seanadams
2008-08-14, 23:11
The mass market record labels care not a whit about sound quality. They
care nothing about their customers or the musicians and artists.

Well, they used to care about their customers insofar as they wanted to make sure they kept buying stuff. Not any more of course, but I'd like to think that sound quality was one factor that spurred the move from tape to CD. There hasn't always been a "loudness war", and it hasn't always been this bad.

Mnyb
2008-08-14, 23:44
AIX is still releasing DVD-A disc's :-) and making new recordings, but they are trying to shift this to downloads in high res.

But practically it is dead AIX market share is 0.000001% :-)

brookheather
2008-08-15, 04:01
If I hear something I like playing RadioIO on my Squeezebox then I will either jot down the song or go to the website which shows the playlist for the past day. If I use Last.FM then I can "Love" the song and then use the website to review these saved songs - it also lists what I have been listening to recently.

So once I know the name of the song I would typically look for either a CD with the song (eBay, Amazon etc.) as I prefer to rip using FLAC and then convert to AAC for my iPod. If I can't find a CD then I would look around for a DRM-free download as a last resort.

- Simon.

aubuti
2008-08-15, 06:06
But in five months, not a single sale? I wouldn't be surprised if relatively few folks used PlayLog, but do Squeezebox owners not buy music at Amazon? Not even the DRM-free MP3s?
Getting back to the OP: Peter, I wasn't aware of your plugin, or hadn't recognized it's potential usefulness. I buy the occasional MP3 from Amazon, generally single tracks from older albums (often stuff that used to be on the jukebox of 45 singles I had in my first group house after university 25 years ago...). And I buy lots of CDs from Amazon -- as much as I like to support local shops, the price and convenience of Amazon is always tempting.

pfarrell
2008-08-15, 10:05
seanadams wrote:
> I'd like to think that sound quality was one factor that spurred the move from
> tape to CD.

Sound quality was, for sure, an argument for the move from cassette tape
to CD. As was reliability. In the early 80s, when you drove along any
Interstate, you would see long strings of 1/8" tape, where a car's
cassette drive had eaten the tape, and the driver ripped it out and
threw it out the window.

The Labels wanted something not consumer copyable that was better sound
than a cassette and more reliable. The RedBook CD met that need.

The CD was not aimed at the LP, but the cassette. That it nearly killed
the LP was not all that important. Amazing to me is that vinyl now has a
growing market.

I saw my first CD burner in October 1996. Don't know when they first hit
the market. They were expensive, SCSI, and not too reliable. But that
was the beginning of the end.

--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

jh901
2008-08-15, 14:02
A well performed, produced and mastered recording may sound different on an LP versus CD, but why does one have to be better than the other?? And who gets to make the final judgement?

The LP crowd should just relax a little bit. They seem to have some superiority thing going. Bad recordings won't miraculously sound great on an LP or a CD. And sure, a great recording, if "pressed" very well to LP or CD will surely sound different, but better??

Digital audio is the future and hopefully someday soon we will have the best possible digital recordings. The mainstrean doesn't care about sound quality now due to the iPod craze, but sooner or later the 'long tail' will prevail. Frankly, it is WAY more enjoyable to free your music with squeezebox than to mess around with LPs. I do see where the ritual of playing an LP is attractive (and the album art, etc), but for everyday listening it is not convenient.

exile
2008-08-15, 14:38
back to the OP...

I used the plugin for a bit and then found it to not work well with my updated squeezecenter so I quickly abandoned using it.

But in defense of amazon downloads, I do download regularly from amazon as well as emusic. I think my last physical cd purchase was in early 2007.

Nonreality
2008-08-15, 16:09
In March I announced my PlayLog plugin
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=44582 (info page: http://www.tux.org/~peterw/slim/PlayLog.html)
I thought there was a chance of actually recouping some money on it -- one of its features is easy links to search Amazon (well, its US store) for CDs or MP3s of music you've heard on your Squeezebox. I figured some folks would surely use PlayLog to track down interesting songs they'd heard on Internet Radio or music services and buy legit copies of those songs, or other records. So I applied for an Amazon Associates account and tagged the links to Amazon. The results? Only a few dozen actual click throughs to Amazon, and no orders at all. Zero.

With Amazon only giving me something like $0.04 for every $0.99 MP3 sale, and cutting no checks until something like $10 (about 250 MP3 sales), I certainly didn't expect to quit my day job. But in five months, not a single sale? I wouldn't be surprised if relatively few folks used PlayLog, but do Squeezebox owners not buy music at Amazon? Not even the DRM-free MP3s?

-PeterSorry Peter, I do use your plugin but I forget about it. It's kind of hidden and I seem to stumble upon it just every once in a while. It's a great plugin and I do buy from Amazon, it's been fine and DRM free, but just haven't in the last couple of months. When I do buy some again I'll try to remember and run it through your link.

Phil Karn
2008-08-16, 01:08
On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 9:58 PM, Goodsounds <
Goodsounds.3e649z1218776401 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> So, what is your take on the CD quality issue? I personally prefer
> vinyl to plastic based on my listening experiences, but do you think
> that to be unfounded?


Wow. A vinyl fan who is actually open to the possibility that CDs might
actually be better? I think you are the first I've ever seen.

This has been a hotly debated topic ever since the CD came out in the early
80s. This is unfortunate because there's a perfectly good way to settle the
issue scientifically, once and for all.

My reasoning is as follows. The purpose of an audio reproduction system is
to reproduce the original signal as faithfully as possible. It should not
add or take away from that signal in any way. Making a recording sound
"good" is the job of the recording engineer; it is not up to the
reproduction system to modify the engineer's work product in any way.

Ergo, if you can't tell the difference between the original and reproduced
signal, then you can't complain about the quality of that reproduction
system.

So here's what you do. You start with your favorite test signal in analog
form. It can be from any source you like, including a vinyl record; your
choice. You produce a digital version of that signal by running it through a
44.1 kHz 16 bit/sample A/D and D/A, being careful to set the overall analog
gain to exactly unity (0 dB). Now we have two analog signals, one direct
from the input source and the other having been passed through the codec.

Next you construct two audio switches. The first switch, the listener
switch, has two positions labeled simply "A" and "B". The second switch, the
control switch, has four positions and is physically placed so that the
listener can't tell its setting. The control switch affects the behavior of
the listener switch as follows:

1. Positions A and B both play the analog signal.
2. Position A gives the analog signal, position B gives the digital signal.
3. Position B gives the digital signal, position A gives the analog signal.
4. Positions A and B both give the digital signal.

It's important to construct the circuits so the listener has absolutely no
cues as to the setting of the control switch. For example, there must be no
audible switching transients or changes in gain, latency, bandwidth or
phase. This means ensuring there is no perceptible latency in the A/D - D/A
chain.

You can see what comes next. The experimenter randomly chooses a control
switch position. The listener must then determine whether the listener
switch does anything. Note: the listener is NOT asked to determine which
position is analog or digital, or to evaluate which one "sounds" better. He
only has to tell if the switch does anything or not.

You do this a number of times, each time setting the control switch to a
random position determined by a pair of coin tosses (the experimenter should
NOT choose the switch position by himself).

The bottom line is simple. If the listener can't tell with better than
chance accuracy whether his switch actually selects between the original and
digital signal sources, then it is clear that the digital path is not
modifying the signal in any detectable way. And if he can't detect the
difference, he can't claim that the digital system is somehow "worse".

The listener may have other perfectly reasonable reasons to prefer a vinyl
version of a recording over the CD. For example, the mixing and equalization
on the LP might be subjectively better. But that is not something you can
blame on the CD (or digital audio) per se; the fault is the recording
engineer's who prepared the signal given to the CD mastering system.

--Phil

peter
2008-08-18, 11:15
Pat Farrell wrote:
> The CD was not aimed at the LP, but the cassette. That it nearly killed
> the LP was not all that important. Amazing to me is that vinyl now has a
> growing market.
>
I don't get this. Surely, the main difference between LP and cassette
was the recording capability of the latter? To replace the compact
cassette Sony created the mini disk (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini_disk ) and Philips (who created the CD
together with Sony) came up with the (horrible) Digital Compact Cassette
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Compact_Cassette ). So the
inventors apparently hadn't noticed that their CD was aimed at the
cassette. Sure, the CD was much more portable than the LP, but it
wouldn't be recordable for a long time, which is rather important for
some people ;)

Regards,
Peter

pfarrell
2008-08-18, 11:52
Peter wrote:
> I don't get this. Surely, the main difference between LP and cassette
> was the recording capability of the latter?

Correct. And the Record Labels hated the ability to record LPs. They
wanted you to buy the LP, have your friends buy the LP, etc.

> To replace the compact
> cassette Sony created the mini disk

Which was not CD quality, No way to get CD quality out of it. It was
lossy compressed.

> Philips (who created the CD > together with Sony) came up with the (horrible) Digital Compact Cassette

Philips was not a record label, its a hardware company. They had
different business goals.

> cassette. Sure, the CD was much more portable than the LP, but it
> wouldn't be recordable for a long time, which is rather important for
> some people ;)

As I said that a CD was not recordable for 15 years was the main
advantage of it. It was smaller and more portable than an LP and still
not recordable.

I'm not sure I understand what you don't get. CDs were not recordable
for 15+ years, SACDs were never recordable, DVD-A were only slightly
recordable. This is how the labels wanted it.

The labels are not artists, musicians, recording studios, etc. They are
lawyers.


--
Pat Farrell PRC recording studio
http://www.pfarrell.com/PRC