iTunes selling low sound quality MP3s?
Everyone knows that the MP3 file type popularized music downloading and CD ripping because it is a compressed version of the original, meaning you can fit lots of them on your harddrive or download them quickly. Compression is a fact of life when it comes to music being used on a computer, because of current bandwidth and harddrive limitations. This doesn't bother most people, certainly when you rip a CD you can set the program that is doing the ripping to record the songs at a bit rate that is high enough that the average listener can't tell the difference between the CD and the MP3. However, if you buy the MP3s from iTunes it may be so low quality that the difference is audible.
Customers [of iTunes] are led to believe that they are getting a CD in all respects except the trouble of going to the mall. The iTunes store does not warn about the permanence of its method of compression; once freeze-dried, there is no way to reconstitute the music into CD quality for playing through a good stereo.
Ah, for simpler times, when we never had reason to look up the bit rate at which music is digitally sampled for CD's: 1,378 kilobits per second. The bit rate for iTunes, 128, is so low that when played side by side against the original, the difference is audible not only to audio enthusiasts, but also to mortals with ordinary hearing. Wes Phillips, contributing editor at Stereophile, says "128 is like an eight-track," and he describes the combination of iPod and iTunes as "buying a 21st-century device to live in the 1970's."
So, if you plan to use the music you buy from iTunes on your home stereo instead of the tinny earbuds you get with the iPod, it may well sound like crap. Tech Law Advisor thinks this sounds like the litigation over the PC harddrive size claims, that it is nitpicky and ridiculous. I have to disagree, I play my music on various systems, and although I'm no audiophile, if I buy MP3s from iTunes then I want ones that sound decent at least. Bringing a lawsuit over this would probably be frivolous though. I have never purchased from iTunes, if you have let me know what you think of the sound quality.
NYT article here. Via Tech Law Advisor.