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LongtimeListener

Why it is not a good idea to buy music file downloads (and CDs/streaming music probably, too)

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Hi All,
Please have a look at the PDF attached since it has become a little bit longer article. I also have sent the article to the ACCC.

Background is, that I have started to buy over the last 3 years music files for about $300. Within those I had 5, some potentially my music equipment harming faulty products.

 

Those 5 examples are just the ones where the problems are obvious. I did not have time yet to look through all my files, so I expect more problems to come up.

 

I hope this helps others.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why it is not a good idea to buy music file downloads.pdf

Edited by LongtimeListener

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Moderator

this is a really good bit of  work. and a real pity its the case.

 

I happily use streamed music. we have both music in the past. but mainly for convenience. or if not available any other ways.

 

but for buying I think i'll continue to stick to disc

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Not that you should be expected to do so, of course, and nor is it the real issue, but examples 1 and 3 should be able to be corrected using the software that has displayed the waveforms of the music files.

Thanks for bringing the issue to attention.

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Guest Eggcup The Daft

This is interesting, well spotted.

A couple of things:

First, a question. Was (2) a download issue rather than the file?

Secondly, I wonder if anyone has the CD of (3) to check.

 

It would seem that the other entries here are just carelessness. (1) is probably a FLAC file made from the CD with the wrong software or settings. (4) can be avoided by buying standard resolution downloads, but suggests a  lack of care across the recording process. (5) is intriguing. That's a highly regarded recording with several reviews giving top marks for sound quality, and what you have looks like an messy edit (removal of either a wrong note or a spike like in (3).

 

As far as streaming goes, we should expect that these faults will get through as the files are often the same as the download copies. From what I've been listening to recently, Tidal has improved its gapless playback, and you may find that some players would play the download correctly as well - I've found that with some gapless files.

 

The general comment I would make is that this sort of thing is sheer carelessness that would be unlikely to happen with LPs because a mastering engineer is always involved and checking the process.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Eggcup The Daft said:

First, a question. Was (2) a download issue rather than the file?

Secondly, I wonder if anyone has the CD of (3) to check.

2, was a faulty file provided by the label.

3, yes, would be interesting if the CD has the same issue. Does anybody has this CD and could check, please? I can  assist if necessary.

 

4, is the biggest culprit and my biggest disappointment. There is a crackle now and then but the fault is in the in-audible hearing range, very bad!

Channel Classics made this recording and is also the distributor. I bought it directly from them. They bride themselves as high standard audiophile See here. They offer all formats even all DSD formats, having statements how much they care about the sound engineering down to the cables they use, etc.

Why their high res files should be faulty is unclear to me.

 

Cheers

 

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The final example looks like plain ol' brickwalling to me, so I wouldn't be optimistic about a solution. The others appear to be unplanned quality failures, as compared to brickwalling which is a planned quality failure.

 

In the absence of 100% inspection by the supplier before despatch, then your action of inspecting on receipt is sensible.

 

I don't think the problems you've shown are enough to justify saying "Don't buy downloaded high res files." Instead it's like buying LPs - don't expect to find an occasional bad pressing or pressing fault.

 

Your ideas are excellent, of viewing the file on receipt with the free and wonderful program Audacity, and first listening through headphones.

 

It's a risk decision too. Someone with a stereo worth several tens of thousands of dollars to replace, would certainly want to be cautious and assured about the quality of product that's played through it.

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Hello, and thank you for this topic. It is very interesting to me, as I am thinking of subscribing to a streaming service like Tidal's top grade.

 

I understand what the complaints are, but I am not sure if I am missing something? What is the big issue, beyond 5 individual matters, that justifies the advice to refrain from purchasing music via download? What is the ACCC being asked to do?

 

(By the way, problem #4 is very likely standard DSD noise shifting present in the 30-50 kHz region, nothing to worry about and not a flaw. That's how DSD recording works. And #5, to me, looks like any other CD with a bit of clipping, and really has nothing to do with the retailer. Only the most considerate and kindly of retailers, IMHO, would refund a CD that doesn't have the maximum possible dynamic range. I have so many CDs with some clipping that I would almost call it routine, and although it is annoying to think that the industry could probably serve fanatics like myself better, I don't see it as a 'call the cops' problem, and I don't see it as a downloaded music problem?)

 

Regards,

Grant

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10 minutes ago, Grant Slack said:

problem #4 is very likely standard DSD noise shifting present in the 30-50 kHz region, nothing to worry about and not a flaw. That's how DSD recording works.

Hi, I rather don't like a noise in the 30-50 kHz region, to be honest. And yes, you can hear a crackle, too. It is also not a DSD file but a 192/24 file. I also compared it to a 96/24 file of another interpretation/orchestra/label of the work and that one looks as it should without the high pitch overlay.

 

Quote

What is the big issue, beyond 5 individual matters, that justifies the advice to refrain from purchasing music via download? What is the ACCC being asked to do? 

The issue is that

  1. The companies are operating abroad and not the shop around the corners anymore
  2. Downloaded files cannot be returned
  3. I have found 5 issues without even looking through my collection, so the issue is far larger than expected (tip of the iceberg for me)
  4. It cannot be that I have to run after the labels to get the quality I have paid for. They have to raise the bar in their product quality as it is my time and my costs to chase them (case 4 was a 3.8 Gigabyte download)
  5. It is important to get ACCC involved for those reasons above and especially to raise awareness to the issue of sound equipment damage resulting from those faults.
Edited by LongtimeListener

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Hello, thanks for replying. Yes but it is a DSD recording. It will contain the shifted noise energy, despite conversion to 24/192. This could be removed by filtering at, say, 22 kHz... :) 

 

It is best to avoid DSD and SACD if you object to electrical noise shifting into the inaudible frequencies.

 

Regards

Grant

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