AfterDawn: Tech news

Spotify, "the music piracy killer", is expanding to U.S.

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 20 Jul 2009 5:39 User comments (46)

Spotify, "the music piracy killer", is expanding to U.S. It is so rare nowadays to see any cool web-based service to be first available in Europe rather than in the U.S. that Spotify is really worth mentioning even for just that (yes, we'd really, really like to get Hulu..). However, this music streaming service that has been dubbed as the "music piracy killer" and has received almost universal praise from its users, is finally planning to expand to the United States in Q3 or Q4 of this year.
Spotify is a music streaming service with quite massive selection of music, available in Ogg Vorbis format (using q5, appx. 160kbps encoding for its free service and 320kbps for its premium service), with simple-to-use GUI and ad-supported monetization model. Spotify's ads run less frequently than what you'd expect with commercial radio and you can get rid of the ads completely by signing up to their premium service (that costs €9.99 per month or €0.99 for 24h period).

As the service provides very good quality, legal, audio streaming with rather massive music selection, it has already become extremely popular in the countries where it is available (Spotify is currently available in the UK, Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Italy and Spain) -- partially cutting down the interest towards illegal music downloads. Our Finnish users have been praising the service for couple of months now and most of them seem to be extremely happy with the audio quality as well as with the usability of the product. Spotify has also announced that they're developing client apps for various mobile platforms, expanding the service beyond PC desktop.

Couple of screenshots from our recent -- Finnish language -- review of Spotify, giving you an idea of the client app GUI:



Fig 1. Searching for music with Spotify



Fig 2. Lazy man's option -- use "radio" to just randomly listen specific genre or decade.



Fig 3. Building playlists..

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46 user comments

120.7.2009 9:17

Personally I do not like this app for one simple reason its streaming. If you listen to music for most of the day like me, and most people its going to cause massive amounts of traffic for ISP.

Considering in the UK most ISP can't handle their amount of traffic already, main note to BT who already trottle most users. It goes to cause most ISP to ahve to trottle even more users. This would be a great idea if ISP could handle the added traffic, but tbh all this is going to do is dramatically slow down the whole internet.

If piracy is the main use of interenet bandwidth, if pirates switch from downloading music to using spotify, everytime they want to listen to a song it'll be like them downloading a song, increasing the bandwidth they use.

ISP are already under massive pressure from the TV streaming revolution in the UK, they will not be able to properly manage this new amoutn of bandwidth that will be used.

Another problem with spotify is that if you don't ahve an internet connection you can't get to your music, although other systems liek steam have had this problem they can get away with it, having an offlien DRM mode, where as spotify doesn't.

TL/DR Uses to much bandwidth, way to slow the internets down! :(

220.7.2009 9:36

Originally posted by MrXenu:
Personally I do not like this app for one simple reason its streaming. If you listen to music for most of the day like me, and most people its going to cause massive amounts of traffic for ISP.

Considering in the UK most ISP can't handle their amount of traffic already, main note to BT who already trottle most users. It goes to cause most ISP to ahve to trottle even more users. This would be a great idea if ISP could handle the added traffic, but tbh all this is going to do is dramatically slow down the whole internet.

If piracy is the main use of interenet bandwidth, if pirates switch from downloading music to using spotify, everytime they want to listen to a song it'll be like them downloading a song, increasing the bandwidth they use.

ISP are already under massive pressure from the TV streaming revolution in the UK, they will not be able to properly manage this new amoutn of bandwidth that will be used.
IMO, that just highlights the shortcomings of a particular ISP -- it is always easier to take the profits and do something nice with them, rather than invest on backbone connections ;-) When they started selling people 10/10Mbps connections, their marketing people sorta forgot to tell their network planning people about it -- if they sell 10/10, they have to have the backbone to deliver it, or not to sell new connections until the network is updated.

Most Swedes have 100/100 home connections and their network backbone doessn't have to throttle anything. It is really just about how good your ISP is -- and BT, IMO, isn't very good, I have too long history with them ;-) World's bandwidth wont run out when 200M new people start streaming music. Particular ISPs' bandwidth might, but that's survival of the fittest, really..

Quote:
Another problem with spotify is that if you don't ahve an internet connection you can't get to your music
Comes with the definition of a streaming service :-)

Exactly like Google isn't available offline nor Youtube. But as most of people have their PC connected to Net 24/7 -- and increasingly, their laptops and cell phones, everywhere (fixed-cost mobile broadband rocks :-) -- it wont be an issue for most people. Like it isn't a very big problem for most people to use Google Docs instead of MS Office or OpenOffice -- Net is available pretty much everywhere and all the time.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 20 Jul 2009 @ 9:37

320.7.2009 9:59

Quote:
Most Swedes have 100/100 home connections and their network backbone doessn't have to throttle anything. It is really just about how good your ISP is -- and BT, IMO, isn't very good, I have too long history with them ;-) World's bandwidth wont run out when 200M new people start streaming music. Particular ISPs' bandwidth might, but that's survival of the fittest, really..

I was mainly talking about the UK, sorry if I didn't make myself clear. But the UK has possibly the worst set of ISP, all it is goign to do is slow UK users down massively. In the UK 10/10MB isn't offered that much anyway, 8MB download is still quite rare and upload speeds are usless still. The UK has only recently just got 20Mb download introduced by virgin media.

I never said BT is good, i agree they are a pile of cr4p.

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Quote:
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Another problem with spotify is that if you don't ahve an internet connection you can't get to your music
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Comes with the definition of a streaming service :-)

Exactly like Google isn't available offline nor Youtube. But as most of people have their PC connected to Net 24/7 -- and increasingly, their laptops and cell phones, everywhere (fixed-cost mobile broadband rocks :-) -- it wont be an issue for most people. Like it isn't a very big problem for most people to use Google Docs instead of MS Office or OpenOffice -- Net is available pretty much everywhere and all the time.
Google is somethign that searchs the interent so obviously you need to be online to use that. In the UK broadband is still a luxury good and most poeople do not have it, especially unlimited bandwidth. This will eat up people's bandwidths as they use it to stream music. In the UK wireless interent everywhere is still massively expensive and you do not get allocated much bandwidth at all, so taking your laptop on the go, would mean for most users having no music if they just use spotify.

You see to take the view that most people have the money to automatically afford unlimted bandwidth and anywhere wireless interenet connection, which still the majority of people in the UK do not have.

420.7.2009 10:33

Quote:
You see to take the view that most people have the money to automatically afford unlimted bandwidth and anywhere wireless interenet connection, which still the majority of people in the UK do not have.
Yup, I agree that with capped connections, such services are hard to justify. Then again, hopefully introduction of bandwidth-hungry services will eventually remove such silly schemes imposed by short-sighted ISPs across the world.

When I lived in the UK for several years, I opted for Telewest (now merged with NTL into Virgin Media) exactly for their no-caps policy. Dunno whether that has ceased to exist since the mergers, but I'm fairly certain that at least in London, you can get some smaller players to offer unlimited monthly bandwidth with reasonable pricing. For outside M25, that's obviously bit more challenging to find..

520.7.2009 11:58

Quote:
I was mainly talking about the UK, sorry if I didn't make myself clear. But the UK has possibly the worst set of ISP, all it is goign to do is slow UK users down massively. In the UK 10/10MB isn't offered that much anyway, 8MB download is still quite rare and upload speeds are usless still. The UK has only recently just got 20Mb download introduced by virgin media.
Actually you are about 2 years out of date - i got my 20 mb line with Virgin Media over 2 years ago.
Their 50 mb service has been available since last christmas and is now rolled out to all territories ( if you are prepared to pay £ 51 a month for it ) :)
The upload speed on their 20 mb service is 768 kbps which probably is useless compared to other countries like Sweden which are less densely populated yet still have modern technology.
A lot of ADSL ISPs now offer 16 mb service or a minimum of 8 mb but of course we all know that the actual speed depends how close to the hub you are.

620.7.2009 12:02

Virgin Media have appalling and crippling traffic shaping for all but the highest offering. Dumped Virgin as the only way to not get 'shaped' was to force the connection down to 1 meg (it was only a 2 meg anyway) via QOS settings otherwise their shaping decimated the connection if you used QOS above 1 meg.

Anyways, back to Spotify, my kids love it and use it heavily, as does G/F. I don't, so can't comment on how much bandwidth it uses. It's a great service though, a great alternative to that awful iTunes.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 20 Jul 2009 @ 12:09



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720.7.2009 12:04

Quote:
Quote:

When I lived in the UK for several years, I opted for Telewest (now merged with NTL into Virgin Media) exactly for their no-caps policy. Dunno whether that has ceased to exist since the mergers, but I'm fairly certain that at least in London, you can get some smaller players to offer unlimited monthly bandwidth with reasonable pricing. ..
http://www.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management.php

and believe me , they traffic manage a hell of a lot more than they claim to do on that page - I have frequently been throttled for downloading well outside the hours, limits and times listed on that page but tell them about it and they just shrug their shoulders at the help desk and tell you they don't have access to that information to verify how much exactly you downloaded and when. (and no - they are unable to put you through to the traffic management department )

820.7.2009 12:16

Originally posted by domie:
Quote:
When I lived in the UK for several years, I opted for Telewest (now merged with NTL into Virgin Media) exactly for their no-caps policy. Dunno whether that has ceased to exist since the mergers, but I'm fairly certain that at least in London, you can get some smaller players to offer unlimited monthly bandwidth with reasonable pricing.
http://www.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management.php

and believe me , they traffic manage a hell of a lot more than they claim to do on that page - I have frequently been throttled for downloading well outside the hours, limits and times listed on that page but tell them about it and they just shrug their shoulders at the help desk and tell you they don't have access to that information to verify how much exactly you downloaded and when. (and no - they are unable to put you through to the traffic management department )
Alrighty then, they've screwed the service level since I moved back to Finland :-) They actually used to have in-house newsgroup server too, holding all those precious alt.bin. groups, so I'm guessing that's gone too :-) Anyway, maybe, just maybe, there are still some non-BT, non-Virgin, non-anyOtherMajorBrand ISPs out there in the Land of Rain that do appreciate their customers -- come it with higher monthly bill, but no limitations or something else.

Anyway, back to the topic... Spotify and other similar services are, in my mind, part of this "Net is your storage" movement. It was originally pushed forward by Oracle and Sun in last decade -- when it miserabely failed due slow connections, slow PCs and bad services -- it has been gaining quite a lot of momentum lately, Google Docs being probably the best-known such service (but followed closely by Photoshop Online, etc).

It is obvious that the "cloud" wont suit for all of us, but in this particular case, I understand it fully. If I suddenly want to hear _one song_, one particular song (that's been playing in my head for couple of days, as it usually happens), opening up Spotify and .. well, just listening it, is so damn trivial that I can't imagine anyone bothering to launch a torrent client for it and to search for a specific album or single :-)

Big nag for me, currently, with Spotify is the fact that it doesn't have S60 client yet. Once they release it, I will most likely start building my playlists through that and use fixed-cost mobile broadband to stream the music to my phone. But apparently, the S60 client is already in their plans :-)

921.7.2009 16:25

Quote:
Most Swedes have 100/100 home connections and their network backbone doessn't have to throttle anything. It is really just about how good your ISP is -- and BT, IMO, isn't very good, I have too long history with them ;-) World's bandwidth wont run out when 200M new people start streaming music. Particular ISPs' bandwidth might, but that's survival of the fittest, really..
That's not REALLY the truth. I've got 10/10, but yes, most swedes have broadband and ADSL is already "ancient" technology. And I COULD easily add a couple of pounds/month to upgrade to 100/100
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 21 Jul 2009 @ 16:29

1022.7.2009 4:39

Quote:
Quote:
Most Swedes have 100/100 home connections and their network backbone doessn't have to throttle anything. It is really just about how good your ISP is -- and BT, IMO, isn't very good, I have too long history with them ;-) World's bandwidth wont run out when 200M new people start streaming music. Particular ISPs' bandwidth might, but that's survival of the fittest, really..
That's not REALLY the truth. I've got 10/10, but yes, most swedes have broadband and ADSL is already "ancient" technology. And I COULD easily add a couple of pounds/month to upgrade to 100/100
Ok, lets rephrase it a bit: "most Swedes have the relatively cheap option to get 100/100" :-) ISPs here in Finland began to roll out 100/100 or 100/10 connections to major cities about a year ago and wont expect those to be avail in any smaller towns -- ever. So, for most Finns, the ADSL with 8/1 or ADSL2+ with 24/3 is currently the fastest available option.

1122.7.2009 6:00

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Most Swedes have 100/100 home connections and their network backbone doessn't have to throttle anything. It is really just about how good your ISP is -- and BT, IMO, isn't very good, I have too long history with them ;-) World's bandwidth wont run out when 200M new people start streaming music. Particular ISPs' bandwidth might, but that's survival of the fittest, really..
That's not REALLY the truth. I've got 10/10, but yes, most swedes have broadband and ADSL is already "ancient" technology. And I COULD easily add a couple of pounds/month to upgrade to 100/100
Ok, lets rephrase it a bit: "most Swedes have the relatively cheap option to get 100/100" :-) ISPs here in Finland began to roll out 100/100 or 100/10 connections to major cities about a year ago and wont expect those to be avail in any smaller towns -- ever. So, for most Finns, the ADSL with 8/1 or ADSL2+ with 24/3 is currently the fastest available option.
:) That sounds nice..
Lets hope you catch up with us soon :)

1222.7.2009 6:12

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Most Swedes have 100/100 home connections and their network backbone doessn't have to throttle anything. It is really just about how good your ISP is -- and BT, IMO, isn't very good, I have too long history with them ;-) World's bandwidth wont run out when 200M new people start streaming music. Particular ISPs' bandwidth might, but that's survival of the fittest, really..
That's not REALLY the truth. I've got 10/10, but yes, most swedes have broadband and ADSL is already "ancient" technology. And I COULD easily add a couple of pounds/month to upgrade to 100/100
Ok, lets rephrase it a bit: "most Swedes have the relatively cheap option to get 100/100" :-) ISPs here in Finland began to roll out 100/100 or 100/10 connections to major cities about a year ago and wont expect those to be avail in any smaller towns -- ever. So, for most Finns, the ADSL with 8/1 or ADSL2+ with 24/3 is currently the fastest available option.
:) That sounds nice..
Lets hope you catch up with us soon :)
Most likely not :-( Our govt isn't subsidizing the countryside's broadband connections like your govt decided to do -- sorta makes it financially impossible to roll out proper fiber across the country.

Oh, as a sidenote for those still reading this off-topic convo, Spotify is a Swedish company :-)

1323.7.2009 11:23

If I can't put the songs on my iPod, then Spotify might as well be Napster.

1423.7.2009 15:52

Originally posted by ChiefBrdy:
If I can't put the songs on my iPod, then Spotify might as well be Napster.
Maybe you should get a better MP3 player? HeHeHe.... :) But seriously you can convert them to your iPod with out a problem so that really isn't an issue.

The 320 res is OK but I would prefer lossless if I'm going to pay $10 /mo. All this streaming is going to get people in trouble due to the now popular cap method and will drive the hi-speed rates up. We may have to look at T1's or in worst case T3's if you have kids. I just love Broadband providers 10-12G service and you're luck if you get 768K speeds, what a marketing scam!

I don't see using this service as I'm not for paying $10/mo and I definately don't want low res sound with advertising! Plus the kids are really into videos now so I don't see them getting to excited over this either.

1523.7.2009 16:12

Quote:
Originally posted by ChiefBrdy:
If I can't put the songs on my iPod, then Spotify might as well be Napster.
Maybe you should get a better MP3 player? HeHeHe.... :) But seriously you can convert them to your iPod with out a problem so that really isn't an issue.

The 320 res is OK but I would prefer lossless if I'm going to pay $10 /mo. All this streaming is going to get people in trouble due to the now popular cap method and will drive the hi-speed rates up. We may have to look at T1's or in worst case T3's if you have kids. I just love Broadband providers 10-12G service and you're luck if you get 768K speeds, what a marketing scam!

I don't see using this service as I'm not for paying $10/mo and I definately don't want low res sound with advertising! Plus the kids are really into videos now so I don't see them getting to excited over this either.
This is one of the things with Spotify, when you get it, you suddenly realizes that you're addicted to it, how scaptical you were from the beginning.

And ISPs promise you 10-12Mbit, which is ~1250KB. So if I understand you correctly, as there's a difference between Mbit and MB...

1623.7.2009 16:25

Pandora is a really good service here in the U.S..
It's different in that you can't choose particular songs but you CAN create your own radio stations based on genres, on songs, and on artists, and you can tweak it to your own tastes by voting yes or no on songs, etc..

Pandora is streaming at 160k for free or 198k with no ads for only $3/month, yes that's $THREE dollars per month U.S..

Pandora is great for finding new music in genres or styles that you like! And - it's FREE!

1723.7.2009 16:53

Originally posted by jimsocal:
Pandora is a really good service here in the U.S..
It's different in that you can't choose particular songs but you CAN create your own radio stations based on genres, on songs, and on artists, and you can tweak it to your own tastes by voting yes or no on songs, etc..

Pandora is streaming at 160k for free or 198k with no ads for only $3/month, yes that's $THREE dollars per month U.S..

Pandora is great for finding new music in genres or styles that you like! And - it's FREE!
Listening to it from a MP3 player with crappy headphones that might be OK but if you're running it through a decent stereo then forget it I'll take the real thing on DVD-A or CD even 192K just isn't that good. And that just seems to be the issue no matter if we are talking video or audio, poor resolution when streaming, I like quality not crap so basically I don't stream unless it is for preview purpose only.

1823.7.2009 17:13

I also do not like high compression but I'm listening to Pandora at 192k through Sony MDR 7506 Professional headphones and it sounds great. I'm not sure how it works exactly but I swear it sounds better than most 192k mp3's I have heard (usually I don't go for 192k mp3's unless I have to). Anyway Pandora sounds good to me, and it's great for discovering new artists in genres you like.

1923.7.2009 17:45

Originally posted by jimsocal:
I also do not like high compression but I'm listening to Pandora at 192k through Sony MDR 7506 Professional headphones and it sounds great. I'm not sure how it works exactly but I swear it sounds better than most 192k mp3's I have heard (usually I don't go for 192k mp3's unless I have to). Anyway Pandora sounds good to me, and it's great for discovering new artists in genres you like.
I've used those headphones and they are good so I could see doing that in certin circumstances, biking for instance. hey if you like it and it works well for you that is all that matters, like I said before 320K isn't too bad of quality and 192K in listenable for me my heart burn would be the $10/mo fee for that and it would make me feel like I have to spend all my time capturing streamed music to make it worth my while. For those with plenty of time and like do such things it might be worth it and fun too.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 23 Jul 2009 @ 17:46

2023.7.2009 19:40

Hi All
Well its not bad, not perfect but for general purpose music server it is acceptable.
There are problems like distorted sound on some tracks when you switch off the normalising and I have caught it out on one artist.
Fast Internet access is important, then its almost instantaneous and it does not seem to interfere with other internet access.

I am sure if it gets ground and new bands get a look in, then it has potential, but it would be nice to store songs on the computer and play then offline.

One thing of criticism of this thread, please concentrate on the subject not your own problems, access it and return with sensible comments.
Chris

2124.7.2009 7:36

There is a new multiplexing routine for cable that doubles band width getting it up near fiber. Apparently the Brits are too cheap to invest.

I would assume

Quote:
very good quality, legal, audio streaming
means 128 BR. Pirates typically download at about 1,000 times this rate.

I am all for more choices. I do suspect that after the media mafia and suckes all the 'juice' out of internet radio they will do the same to these.

2225.7.2009 2:48

Looks similar to itunes. Well darn it! I can't try it, I can't buy it...this sucks. Because I reside in the U.S. and they have no such licensing, the U.S. can't currently even test it!!! Ahh well. Pandora is good. I guess i'll just have to be patient. Since regular F.m. radio doesn't really have a techno station(In my area), Itunes has really only ever been my option. Or recommended by friends. Too bad, I was about to shell out 10+$ for monthly service to try it out :(

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 25 Jul 2009 @ 2:49



To delete, or not to delete. THAT is the question!

2327.7.2009 1:49
AKanadian
Inactive

I am going to have to agree with MrXenu, I feel that this idea is not really a bad Idea however its going to have its draw backs ISP's are going to be swamped with massive amounts of bandwidth usage from their subscribers and with today's technology I feel that the makers of our lovely PC's are going to have to upgrade the hardware a bit more not to mention the wiring that they use is going to have to use some upgrading as well, what i'm driving at is that they (Computer building Companies) are going to have to start incorperating fiber optics in to our PC's and Wiring so that Data Transfer can move at a greater rate and the traffic on the net wont be so congested as we the everday user can foresee happening... Yes Spotify is a good Idea, but Please, if your going to introduce this to program to the North American Continent, Think ahead and introduce better hardware and revamp the entire continent with fiber optics so that our Towns, Cities, Provinces, States & Countries can enjoy what you have to offer with out the headache of listening to streamed music thats constantly interupted due to traffic overload. its kinda like listening to a scratched record, which can get rather bothersome turning the daily user away from the program and driving them right back to torrenting music or downloading from their favorite sites.
MrXenu hit it on the spot when he made his comments and I can certainly see his points and its best that who ever thought up this idea, best wait until technology catches up in order to meet with your fabulous idea.
K@N@DI@N (Tony)

2427.7.2009 7:32

AKanadian, I have to disagree with you and MrXenu. A 3 minute file at commecial bit rate is about 2.5 megs. That is less than a meg a minute. Most web pages are several megs these days and you would go crazy if it took a minute to load a web page.

You need to think about that one. Do the math.

2531.7.2009 16:42

Quote:
I've used those headphones and they are good so I could see doing that in certin circumstances, biking for instance. hey if you like it and it works well for you that is all that matters, like I said before 320K isn't too bad of quality and 192K in listenable for me my heart burn would be the $10/mo fee for that and it would make me feel like I have to spend all my time capturing streamed music to make it worth my while. For those with plenty of time and like do such things it might be worth it and fun too.
Just to clarify re Pandora:
First of all the service is free if you can live with the slightly lower bit rate of the signal and put up with some very short and infrequent ads.
Secondly, if you want the premium service of 192k streaming rate and no ads, it is ONLY $3/month, not $10/month!

2612.8.2009 11:46

Mr-Movies, 192 constant bit rate is concidered to sound the same as lossless to real humans in real life, in a musical format. Even that is concidered over kill. With audio quality is is the users choice as to how much overkill he or she is confortable with. Obviously, you require a large amount of overkill to feel confortable.

Quote:
like I said before 320K isn't too bad of quality

Your average tune cut off for 320K is over 20 kHz and the average male 20 year old can't hear 18 kHz. I am just wondering how old you are!

Just having fun. I like to poke fun at persons who claim they have super human hearing abilities. That is way different than someone listening to lossless just because they want to. I also listen to music with conciderable overkill bit rates and would be a big jerk to critisise some one for being a bit more extreme than I am. I will confess I can't tell the difference between 160 and 192 but rip to a 320 equivelent. It is a free world.

I wouldn't turn my nose up to 192. It is the below 160 that a trained ear can easily hear the difference if it is played on a HiFi system.

Most ear devices can't faithfully reproduce a 128 stream. Computer speakers are far worse than that.

2712.8.2009 12:49

Mez,
SO WHAT!
I cannot hear beyond 12K but I can tell when the mastering is crap or when its been remastered by an idiot.

Its called harmonics, the word you were seeking;
We hear the harmonic changes rather than the actual fundamental, so when its cricified by MP3 encoding we hear the effects of the processing and not what it took out - oh by the way its flash based, most probably MP4.

I doubt whether you have ever listened to a master tape on a reel to reel mqachine or an actual band in a recording studio, I have and do on a regular basis as a recording engineer and if you think that your home collection is accurate then think again.

Spotify provide a service that you do not have to pay for and in my own personal view they have provide an excellent opportunity of listening to music that you do not own, the only drawback is not being able to listen to stored songs when offline.
To be honest, on my first visit I listened to a selection of songs trying to cath them out and have found all except one band and ordered an SACD of Boston because I had forgotten how good this album sounds.
Thanks Spotify...

Please no more comments about bandwidth from misers are not interesting in paying for or cannot get their provider to sort, just the content of the thread - switch off the mormalizing ('American' term)and enjoy, and yes they do care - they responded to my email - how many other services do that.

I am sure there is one band you have long since forgotten that they have on site.

2812.8.2009 14:40

cf1955, I can say the same.

SO WHAT!

Nothing you stated is in conflict with anything what I stated. On the contrary, you ACTUALLY agreed with some of my statements. I will also STRONGLY agree with your statement that it is noce to be able to listen to music you select for free. Infact that is the premise of the artical. Many great bands out of favor with the media mafia actually benifit from pirating. Pirates often buy what they got for free because it was good. This is a safer way to do this. The selection of Pirate Bay would dwarf this site. Still the more options the better.

I was only mentioned bit rates, not remastering or artifacts. You may call tones that should not be present, harmonics in the analog world but phantom sounds are called artifacts in the digital world.

Excuse me for asking, but what does remastering have to do with streaming? I can see bit rates for sure, encoding is also related, but remastering?

That said, welcome aboard! I am sure you will make things more interesting. You seem to know a good deal and are not afraid to mix it up. (Another tail puller)

I had to wrap it up because it was time for me to leave work now I am home.

I actually agreed with Mr-Movies, he is technically astute. I just wanted to keep him 'honest'. He and I both ‘pull tails’ from time to time. Had he not been a ‘tail-puller’ I would not have wasted my breath. The same way I don’t mind you pulling my tail and will not bark back. I actually, deserve a harder yank than what you gave just on general principle.

360lifer of course that is both superior and easier but illegal.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 12 Aug 2009 @ 16:08

2912.8.2009 15:30

I'll stick with shoutcast stations and usenet.



3012.8.2009 17:32

Hi
The quality of the original is more important when streamed than anything else, especially if it is converted to another format.
All my uploads are converted from high rate files and use MP3 pro software, this has a incredible change to the perceived sound quality of the end file, unfortunately many others use standard mp3 which really does mess up the recording.
Spotify have seemed to have side stepped this issue a little by encoding in flash format (MP4) thereby on most material a decent sound quality is maintained.

As you have rightly stated, 320 is a good starting point, I did some experiments a few years ago, transcoding some music files to a higher than 320 this with an extremely good result (many we had problems in separating the original from the encoded version), however this would slow down the download speed even further, however transcoding to MP4 at high rate would keep a large portion of the quality, so there is hope with these servers yet.

As to mastering, the quality of this streamed music is wholy dependent on decent mastering, the better the engineering personel the better the end result becomes.

With many mastering engineers rebelling against the highly compressed, high levels, we will hopefully have a return to sensible levels and quality on these sites, I know this statement is slightly off track but if you understand the effects of compression software like MP3 then you would agree with this.
Unfortunately, many are blind to the adverse affects until it is too late.

3115.8.2009 15:33

You guys seem to know something about streaming so maybe you can answer my question. Maybe this is a dumb question but what the heck? :
I know what it means when a song is compressed to 192kbps vs., say, 320kbps, and I'll have more to say about that in another post.

But what does it mean when Pandora says "High Quality 192Kbps audio streams, the highest quality streaming audio available on the internet..." At first I thought it meant that they were streaming mp3's that were compressed to 192k but now I think I undersand that the 192k they speak of is the rate of the STREAM. If so, how does this compare or relate to a song compressed to mp3 at 192kbps?

3215.8.2009 15:36

Now as to the AGE-OLD argument about mp3's compression and one's ears.
As indicated in my previous post, I don't claim to be an expert about compression and mp3's. I do, however, have very good ears for music, in general, and I will tell you this:

If I hear music compressed at 192kbps I can SOMEtimes tell the difference. And in fact, sometimes I can tell the difference between music compressed to a 320kbps mp3 and the original cd.

This all depends on the type of music it is, and perhaps the software that did the compressing (?). I don't know the specifics of it, all I know is that sometimes I hear artifacts in music that is compressed to mp3 and sometimes there are certain albums that I just have to go out and buy the cd because I can't stand the way they sound as mp3's, yes, even mp3's at 320kbps.

3315.8.2009 16:01

Hi
I think the bit rate is only part of the problem here, other areas are the complexity of the material and also how high the signal is recorded.

Recently, I decided to dissect Boston's album to learn more about the recording techniques, transferring SACD to straight wave at 24bit/88KHz, I found that even at this high rate a simple phase inversion created artifacts that could be clearly heard, so if just adjusting the data stream slightly has an effect what happens when you mess with the whole lot.

My old experiments when I used to design Hi-Fi, I realised that just one D-A converter device was incapable of reproducing all the digital information from a CD with the older signal levels these discs had.
So if this was present 15 years ago, then adding more problems into the equation can only spell disaster.

MP3 is a good format if used with high rates and respect of its limitations, for low importance music it is fine but if you are to be critical of the way the musical information is changed then MP3 is not for you.
Unfortunately pandoras box has been opened, lets hope someone closes it soon.

3415.8.2009 16:35

cf1955 wrote "Unfortunately pandoras box has been opened, lets hope someone closes it soon." I hope you are not referring to the Pandora.com service - I think it's a great service and the sound is quite good. It's mostly good for listening to a "genre" station and discovering new music within that genre.

Also you mentioned ripping with MP3 Pro - what software would that be? (Yeah I can do a google, but I wanted to know YOUR recommendation.)

Also I don't think my question above was quite answered. Let me put it this way:
How would taking a cd and streaming it at 192k sound compared to taking a cd and ripping it to an mp3 at 192k? (Assuming both are heard on the same device.)

3515.8.2009 17:12

Greek mythology;
Pandora's box was the large jar carried by Pandora that unleashed many evils on mankind – ills, toils and sickness.

As to your question, both will sound equally poor, you have already corrupted the original; try converting the CD track to Wave and then comparing to MP3 (the shock begins!!!).

For MP3pro, I used Adobe Audition 2 to convert the music file, this is optimised to provide the best conversion and is used by many professional - you still have the MP3 drawback but less than standard MP3.
Personally speaking, except for bands doing myspace on the cheap, I just chuck the file to a mastering guy and get on with the next job, I do not have time to play with formats.

3616.8.2009 16:05

Originally posted by cf1955:
Greek mythology;
Pandora's box was the large jar carried by Pandora that unleashed many evils on mankind – ills, toils and sickness."

Right. I knew what it was, but I wasn't sure if you were talking about the myth or the music site.

Thanks for answering the question about bitrate quality.

3716.8.2009 21:26

jimsocal, they are one in the same. Mp3s and other audio files are created to play at a fidelity measured in bits/sec. If you play a mp3 compressed to a certain rate when you play it it will be that rate (bits /sec) not more not less.

jimsocal, you seem well read. I like persons that know what they are talking about. You shouldn't be able tell the difference between music compressed to a 320kbps mp3 and the original cd if the mp3 was well made. It is real easy to screw up an adio you have to do everything prefectly to have a 'well made mp3'.

Our ears degrade from the day we are born. Babies can here 20 kHz but a 20 year old male can't usually hear 18 kHz. The cut off for 320 CBR is about 20-22 kHz depending on the complexity of the music, out of a new born's hearing rage. I am not ruling out the possibliity that there might be something but it is extreamly unlikely. We can't hear the high end of our hearing unless it is extreamly loud (not natural). Our hearing sensitivity drops off logrithymically as we approch our hearing limits.

Here is a post on bitrates etc
http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/767310

3816.8.2009 22:27

Mez, thanks for the vote of confidence. In fact I would admit that my ears are NOT anywhere near perfect, I have some loss from listening to music too loud with earplugs over the years.

That said, I can only tell you what my experience is:
When I hear MP3's that are lower than 256kbps, I can usually tell it is an mp3, especially when it gets down around 128 but even 192 in some cases.

I can also tell you this:
I have used EAC which many say is the best way to go, to create MP3's from cd's at 320kbps bit rate. Sometimes I cannot listen to those mp3's because there are certain parts of the music that have sounds that sound over-modulated or something akin to that; that is, there are some kind of artifacts. I have noticed the same thing using MediaMonkey to create mp3's. It would be GREAT if I could figure out how to make MP3's that do NOT at times sound far worse than the cd they came from! That is why I asked the other gentleman about his MP3 "Pro" software. Any advice or comments are welcome. (I have not yet read the link you gave me, but I will over the next week, sometime. Thanks.)

3916.8.2009 22:33

Ooops! Hey, Mez, that link does not work. Wanna try again?

4017.8.2009 9:56

Jim try cutting and pasting.

You have hit upon the great paradox in the audio world. I will probably get a hearing aid this year. I can still heard artifacts and strongly notice a lack of quality that my teenage son can't. He has the better hardware but years of listening has honed my 'software' to a fine edge. By the time you have a trained ear you can't hear the highs. That is all that is removed in the mp3s the highest notes. The highest notes use most of the data. Voice can be faithfully captured at 25 CBR.

You have the maximists who prefer to listen to lossless. Minimalists try to discover just how low can they go and not heard the difference. For a LAME VRB the setting is V-5. I think that is about 160 or lower. I am neither opting for massive over kill but still listen to lossy.

EAC is a cheap, safe way to rip a CD. It uses a secure scan and accurip. I suspect you have some kind of version conflict problem with EAC. If you are having problems with EAC try dbPowerAmp. It is a 'professional' ripper and is concidered at the top of the food chain by persons who are way into the techie stuff. I am only get into the tech stuff enough so I can enjoy my music. There are others that enjoy the techie stuff just to know everything. God bless them but I do not have the time or ability to do most of what they do. I am just greatful for their pearls of wisdom.

There is a 30 day free trial for PA. EAC ought to work perfectly but it is not in your case. What is nice about PA, is you pay your money and it is idiot proof. You down load everything from them. (No version conflict problems) You pay them 25 USDs/yr to make sure what you have is good. It also comes with a to die for tag viewer. That lives on after the experation if you do not uninstll PA. In file exporer if you rest your mouse arrow on an audio file it knows how to read, you will see the tag info in a bubble box. You can read/convert amoung a few dozen file formats with PA. I don't know what I would do without that tool.

Many persons screw up an mp3 and figure mp3s suck. I know that is what I would do. If something screws up just once, often I just move on to something that never screws up. I really can't tollerate a screw up. I do lots of rips and much, much more conversions. I have never found fault once that pointed to PA in 4 years of very heavy use.

Redo the problem CD with PA. If that screws up on you post a complaint in our audio forumn. We will get to the bottom of the problem.

I love media monkey but I don't trust it to alter my mp3s except for tag info and sometimes now even that. I will not normalize using MM. It is probably OK but I an very distrustful when it comes to my music.

4118.8.2009 21:03

Mez, I'm not sure what you mean by a "Conflict" with EAC. With all due respect, I doubt the problem with my mp3's is a conflict with EAC, but rather it is just that I - like many others - can just hear some kind of artifacts that get created when some mp3's are created. I'm not sure if it's in the highs or if it's in very lush types of music - music where a lot is happening all at once. Maybe both...

However, that said, I will try PowerAmp just to see if I find it better.

Yes, the link worked when I tried copying and pasting. I will read it later. I should have thought of copying and pasting instead. Oh well... Thanks for the info.

4219.8.2009 2:54

Ok, a few bits.
First EAC is a good free ripper but it cannot do what expensive ones that professionals use and ripping to MP3 is bad news anyway, it is a convenience format and is not designed for quality.
Mediamonkey converts everything to its format, even a master tape transcription at 24bit/96K, all sounds the same, but there again it is another general purpose music server software.

A little tecnical here, when you convert any music file to MP3, you effectively take the apparent non-important bits away from the data stream, unfortunatley these non-important bits are there because the replay system needs them to maintain the quality.
Removing these bits leads to smearing of the signal in comparison to the original and if you reduce the bit rate even more even the partially deaf will hear the result.

When it comes to hearing, you never hear the fundamental but a combination of the fundamental and the appropriate harmonics otherwise every instrument played will have no character - why can you tell the difference between a steinway grand and an electric piano, replaying without harmonics you would have a lot of problems.

Mez, please do not use that 'N' word, it is what started the loudness war in the first place, music is supposed to have dynamics.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 19 Aug 2009 @ 2:55

4319.8.2009 9:12

cf1955, I have let you go for some time because you are new. Now you have gotten on my nerves!

I don't think you have a clue about what you are talking about.

What 'N' word? Normalize? What is wrong with that if done properly? Most audiophiles normalize their music.

You have talked about re-mastering as it applies to streaming, well it doesn't. If so explain! They are just streaming a premade mp3. They don't do any remastering.

Quote:
MP3 is bad news anyway, it is a convenience format and is not designed for quality.

Where did you get this info? This is wrong. It is widely accepted that a 320 CBR mp3 is ‘transparent’ to live. I will freely admit that it is impossible to prove. Granted, massive double blind testing has been done that supports that but some persons still do not believe the results. That is an debate not worth persuing as long as the lossless followers do not throw stones like you just did. You can believe what you want just don't imply I do not know what I am talking about.

If you ACTUALLY can tell the difference I can give you a complaint URL where you can post your complaint. It must be a complaint about LAME VBR. You can post your complaint, the description of the defect and 2 audio snippets one a wave and the other a LAME VBR. You must include the time index where the defect occurred and the LAME settings used it create it and the version of LAME you used. I have offered this challenge to over a dozen blowhards and none have taken the challenge. I will warn you, you are going in deep water. Here on AD you can say what you want. There you can't spout trash or the members will make fun of you before they throw you off the board. It is against board rules to spout trash. If you post, let us know so we can see what happens.

You talk like you have some understanding about how mp3s are made but you do not. If you actually have some idea about how they are made post it HERE. CBRs are compressed in a lossless fashion with the highest tones are removed to comply with the specified bit rate. That is way different than
Quote:
take the apparent non-important bits away from the data stream
How does removing ultrasonic tones ’ leads to smearing of the signal in comparison to the original’? That makes absolutely no sense!
You say you can't hear
Quote:
beyond 12K
but the cut off for 320 is ultrasonic, over 20K. So you are claiming you can hear the loss of ultrasonics????? That is like claiming red is not red enough because there aren’t enough X-Rays in the illuminating light!

Quote:
When it comes to hearing, you never hear the fundamental but a combination of the fundamental and the appropriate harmonics otherwise every instrument played will have no character - why can you tell the difference between a steinway grand and an electric piano, replaying without harmonics you would have a lot of problems.

This is only true if you can hear the harmonics which were removed. If you can’t hear the tones that were removed, you will not notice the difference.

What doesn't EAC do that affects quality that your ripper does? EAC is just less convenient, and is slower than my ripper but will produce a transparent version of the music it you do it right. This is well known. I don't know where you are getting your information but either that source is not very good or you got the information scrambled. PLEASE be techie.

Quote:
Mediamonkey converts everything to its format

Mediamonkey doesn’t have a format. What format does it have a license to? Enlighten me!
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 19 Aug 2009 @ 9:17

4419.8.2009 11:04

Hi Mez.
Sorry but I am a little thicker skinned than this.
Lets shed some light on areas that people seem to be less knowledgeable than they appear.

It would appear you know little about the basics of digital systems, its problems and what software does to the conversion of one format to another and in this I will explain further - there are two levels.

Level 1; the equipment that is used to replay the equipment has its own limitations not only in the accuracy of the electronics but its contribution to the overall performance of the replayed signal.
This contribution can lead from simple smearing of the data to (in the worst case) a constant clipped sound - the inference on mastering applies to the worst case where the electronics that is being forced with data they were not designed to cope with, i.e. the constant high levels, this has forced cerain official bodies to define the maximum peak signal at -3dB - I feel this should have been nearer -6dB but it is a start.

Did you know that a 24bit dac (digital to analogue converter) cannot reproduce 24 bits.

Level 2; Using software to covert from one to another creates errors, data compression software such as MP3, Flac etc has a problem in separating signal from other influences such as distortion and in this creates artifacts that can easily be heard - anyone who states lossless compression will not affect the end result is disregarding a vast portion of the truth, something that software companies do on a regular basis, for if they told the truth they would not be able to sell their products.
You cannot compress with lossless compression without some form of negative.

For one area that you seem so easy to do, which I am sorry, but I do hate is the use of abreviations without a correct statement; VBR (variable bit rate) which I try to avoid anyway as this setting has its own set of problems.

As to blind testing, this is very easy for me to do, so long as you have a good enough speed to download large files - the saying goes, be my guest, I have quite a few recordings of my own that could be used for test purposes that would not infringe on copyright.

If anyone understood harmonics they would realise that everything you listen to is not pure, it is not the upper level of harmonics outside the audio band that create the character it is the early ones unfortunately it has been proved that Nyquist theory is totally wrong.
These harmonics can be easily heard even if your ears cut off at 10KHz, even that nasty earth buzz that some pop artists seem to delight in adding to their music is also full of harmonics and a FFT analyser would show exactly this - 'it is the truth dear boy' (an english term).
An exaple of the basics: http://www.guitarlessonworld.com/lessons/lesson46.htm

Removing bits from the signal, remember PASC, that wonderful (not) design that removed the low level information from recordings on Minidisc and DCC, we easily proved this was a bad concept.

I throw down the gauntlet in return, tell me what you want format's to convert the original file to and I will do this using professional software for others to judge and upload to my website.

4519.8.2009 12:41

“Hi Mez.
Sorry but I am a little thicker skinned than this.” GOOD!

You sound more focused now I was beginning to think you were an idiot. You do not now. I am also thick skinned.

“Level 1; the equipment that is used to replay the equipment has its own limitations not only in the accuracy of the electronics but its contribution to the overall performance of the replayed signal.”
What does this have to do with why an mp3 lacks audio quality? It is cheating to use one set of equipment for lossless and another for the mp3. If you are using the same equipment to record or play they should cancel out. Tell me how I am wrong.

“Did you know that a 24bit dac (digital to analogue converter) cannot reproduce 24 bits.”
Yes, and I do not care.
Did you know your brain is actually very limited in its processing ability? We can only process about 12 frames a second for a movie, so movies are 14 frames/sec. We can’t tell the difference. You are using the analog junkie’s arguments now. If I use that analogy, they want 100 frames/ sec because they would like to believe their brain is better than everyone else’s that can only process 12/sec. Your brain doesn’t even process everything the ears send it. If the brain ‘thinks’ it can predict the next note or notes it just makes them up right or wrong.

“You cannot compress with lossless compression without some form of negative.” So you listen to wave files because you think you can hear the difference between them and Flac or ape? Just to clue you in, lossless compression has been used in all sorts of applications all over the world without problems for decades. This is the first I heard the world is wrong! I would like to see source information backing up this wild statement from a responsible web site.

“If anyone understood harmonics they would realize that everything you listen to is not pure, it is not the upper level of harmonics outside the audio band that create the character it is the early ones unfortunately it has been proved that Nyquist theory is totally wrong.”
I don’t know what ‘pure’ is but I don’t claim that what I listen to is pure. Purity may be your thing, I just want to hear my music as if it were live. I am positive what you mean by totally wrong in the Nyquist theroy will equate with the Empire State building is not really 1,453 ft, 8⁄16 inches tall. I don’t care it is a millimeter off, it is a big building. Being off a micron or a millimeter does not diminish that it is a big building. The fact that maybe a theory that has been around for about 80 years is off .0000000% doesn’t bother me a bit. I am sure you and I cannot hear the difference.

“As to blind testing, this is very easy for me to do, so long as you have a good enough speed to download large files - the saying goes, be my guest, I have quite a few recordings of my own that could be used for test purposes that would not infringe on copyright.”

I’ll pass. I can read the results from others. I trust the results of hundreds of audiophiles logging hundreds of hrs each coming up with the same conclusion.

If you are so sure of yourself go ahead and post your discoveries. I will give you the URL. Just ask for it. I would love to see what happens to you there.

“Removing bits from the signal, remember PASC, that wonderful (not) design that removed the low level information from recordings on Minidisc and DCC, we easily proved this was a bad concept.”

We are talking about LAME mp3s not PASC. For instance AAC, the best encoder at a commercial bit rate creates artifacts in the HiFi bit rates. LAME creates artifacts if used at the commercial bit rates.

Anyone that says all lossy audios are transparent is a fool. What I am saying is a well made extreme HiFi mp3 will sound transparent to the CD.

I am taking back my gauntlet. You have not answered any of my direct questions. You continue to make wild claims that refute mainstream facts without any documentation and don’t even give logical reasons for your wild statements. You can say whatever I don’t care. You are a waste of time.

4619.8.2009 14:14

Mez.
I offered to make some files available so people can make their own decisions and have constructive comments, but you have decided not to take this up - oh well it would have been nice to prove a point.

If you want to reproduce music accurately then you must have equipment that is capable (cost out a standard recording studio and you would realise that you could not afford the gear they use), you cannot criticise on anything unless you have done precise A-B comparisons - we have done this because we needed to find a medium that allowed our artists to have an acceptability in terms of performance, every conversion downgrades the original, for us it is what has the least effect.

As an 'ex' Hi-Fi designer with quite a few 'best buy products' under my belt, I am even more critical of what I record (recording engineer hat on) and provide for the artists, sadly unless you have been in the recording studio when the recording is made, you have no reference for an argument, trust me what you hear at the beginning is completely different from what you buy in the shops.

Your comment of 'extreme HiFi mp3', there is no such thing, MP3 is a convenient format.

One final word, all your precious recordings are first transcribed on to wave format, even if the end result is CD, SACD, DVD-A or mp3.
This format may be lossy but it is the best, there is nothing that equals this, so the studios use it.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 19 Aug 2009 @ 14:14

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