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I-Tunes

Discussion in 'Archive' started by Steve LeVine, Nov 6, 2003.

  1. Steve LeVine

    Steve LeVine Member

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    Here is my point about I-Tunes. Most decent single CDs on I-Tunes are $9.99 For a few dollars more I can buy the same cd locally and get artwork, liner notes and a professionally burned CD. Why pay $10 for songs I have to burn myself on CDs that might only last a few years and have no artwork or liner notes if there is any?

    I like the concept of I-Tunes but only for individual songs at this point
     
  2. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    I don't even like it for that. The sound quality just ain't good enough.
     
  3. 1313

    1313 Member

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    A not uncommon view.

    However, as somewhat of an audiophile with tens of thousands of dollars invested in high-end amps, speakers and components as well as over twenty-five years experience as an audio professional, I must say that I've been delighted with the quality of nearly every track I've purchased from the iTunes Music Store.

    Of course, music quality is all in the ear of the listener, so I certainly wouldn't argue with anyone who claims lossy encoded audio just sounds awful to them.

    I was initially surprised how *much* better many iTMS tracks sounded compared even to those I already owned on recently remastered commercial compact discs. I believe the difference is that the labels (who encode and submit the material to the iTMS, themselves) by and large use original sequenced masters as source material.

    Most consumer-created mp3s, etc. typically originate from compact discs containing audio already "compromised" by red book standards: digitized at 44,100 samples per second (44.1KHz) and in a range of 65,536 possible values (16 bits).

    It's not surprising that many of the resultant files don't sound all that great.

    However, as the labels have the luxury of using superior source material, it also not surprising that much of the material available via the iTMS sounds at least as good as commercial CD counterparts.

    I have to assume that the tracks available via Napster and the rest are generated the same way - although personally I think WMA files sound terrible whatever the source.

    As far as liner notes, covers, etc. go...

    After years and years (and years!) of dutifully collecting, categorizing and cataloging all that stuff, I realized that I never looked at it twice (that was, if I ever perused it at all). So, no, I don't miss that stuff at all. (More and more pertinent details are showing up in the AAC tags each week, by the way.)

    Burn CDs of downloaded tracks?

    I just use iPods in cars and computers at home to generate music. Once in a while I back-up to FireWire drives or DVDs but I don't think I've bothered to actually burn myself CDs for a couple of years now.

    I'm dizzy from standing up on this soapbox for so long. I think I'd better step down now.


    1313
     
  4. Aaron Ulmer

    Aaron Ulmer Member

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    Steve,

    Now you have me nervous!!! What's this "couple of year" business? Is that the life expectancy of a home-burned CD? If it is, what assurance is there that the Wonderland Music CDs are being recorded on anything superior to the drive on my PC? Should we be backing these up as we get them?

    -Aaron
     
  5. Steve LeVine

    Steve LeVine Member

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    There was a study done by some Dutch guys that has me a little worried too. Hopefully they are wrong but it makes you wonder

    It was posted here

    http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/7751

    CD-Recordable discs unreadable in less than two years
    Posted by Dennis on 19 August 2003 - 14:33 - Source: PC-Active


    The Dutch PC-Active magazine has done an extensive CD-R quality test. For the test the magazine has taken a look at the readability of discs, thirty different CD-R brands, that were recorded twenty months ago. The results were quite shocking as a lot of the discs simply couldn't be read anymore:

    Roughly translated from Dutch:

    The tests showed that a number of CD-Rs had become completely unreadable while others could only be read back partially. Data that was recorded 20 months ago had become unreadable. These included discs of well known and lesser known manufacturers.

    It is presumed that CD-Rs are good for at least 10 years. Some manufacturers even claim that their CD-Rs will last up to a century. From our tests it's concluded however that there is a lot of junk on the market. We came across CD-Rs that should never have been released to the market. It's completely unacceptable that CD-Rs become unusable in less than two years.



    On the image you can see the exact same CD-R. On the left you see the outcome of our tests done in 2001. On the right you see the same CD-R in 2003. The colours indicate the severeness of the errors in the following order; white, green, yellow and red whereas white indicates that the disc can be read well and red indicates that it cannot be read.
     
  6. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    I got into CD-R's early, when they were still a couple bucks a disc, so I researched this subject extensively.

    I've got CD-R's going on 5 years old that are just fine, and had others that went bad while still in the shrink wrap. (I won't say whose, but they started with "I" and rhymed with "mation." This was four years ago so YMMV.)

    There has always been a big discrepancy between the quality of the "name brand" CD-R's and those manufactured by the OEM factories in Taiwan and China. Now here's the bad news:

    They just about don't make "name brand" CD-Rs anymore. Almost ALL the CD-Rs sold in the last couple years have been OEM generics. No matter which brand name was stamped on the top.

    The economics of the situation are at fault. The average consumer is perfectly happy with any disc that verifies successfully, since they can't know the longevity of the discs without researching the topic (if it even occurs to them). So of course they're going to buy the cheapest ones that verify successfully. Which means the only way a company can stay competitive is to buy third world generic discs and paint their trademark on the top. Most of the manufacturers that USED to make their own discs (TDK, Sony, Kodak, Maxell etc.) shut their expensive factories down some time ago and started rebranding the generics (or, in Kodak's case, just got out of the biz entirely).

    About the only way to guarantee that your discs are the good stuff is to not ever buy discs made in Taiwan or China. Look for Japan, USA, Mexico, Ireland, Singapore (Matsushita makes high quality discs there) or EEC countries. That's where the quality factories are--the licensed ones run by the name brand companies. Don't be surprised if you can't find any at the first several stores you check, and don't expect it to be the same brands every time. Look closely and you'll find it's not uncommon to find two or three different OEM manufacturers represented in the same store by the same brand, possibly in identical packaging.

    For instance, until recently you could count on Fuji brand discs to be high-quality ones made by Taiyo Yuden, a major brand media supplier in Japan. Unfortunately that's no longer the case.

    I've also found Taiyo Yudens sold as TDK, Sony, Maxell, and Memorex (!). "Made in Japan" almost guarantees Taiyo Yuden, since the other Japanese manufacturer, Mitsui, only makes expensive premium grade discs.

    The good stuff can often still be found (at much higher prices) in stores that supply industries that would require extra reliability--recording studio supply, medical data, etc. I recently saw a box of expensive "premium" Maxells at an Office Depot, and they were the exact same Taiyo Yudens that Fuji used to sell at regular price. Sigh.

    Now the good news: The Wonderland Music Store discs I got a few weeks ago were those swell Mitsui Silvers I told you about two paragraphs ago. Every test report I've ever seen gives these discs the highest marks in the industry in every respect, and many a recording studio refuses to use anything else. As long as you store them properly and don't leave them in sunlight or in the car, they should last a good long time.

    Disney deserves kudos for using them. It's also a wise move from a customer service standpoint, since it minimizes defective or self-destructing discs and guarantees that they'll play in even the worst quality players. But just so you know, I STILL backed mine up. You never know what disasters can befall . . .

    There's a shareware PC program called Feurio, made specifically for burning audio CDs, that will tell you the actual manufacturer of your CD-R when you put it in the burner. If it says any of the following: Ritek (the industry leaders), CMC (suppliers to Imation, see paragraph 2), Postech, Prodisc (famous for the silver flaking off), Princo, or (horrors!) Lead Data, then that's a generic cheapo and shouldn't be trusted beyond a couple years if that. If it comes up with a brand you've actually heard of, or Taiyo Yuden, Matsushita or Mitsui, then you're most likely in good shape. And lucky.

    Incidentally, the color of the disc means next to nothing. Longevity is a function of the quality (or lack thereof) of manufacture.
     
  7. xfkirsten

    xfkirsten Member

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    Wow... so does all this apply to CD-RWs too?

    -Kirsten
     
  8. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    CD-RW is an unreliable format, period. You should not be using it for anything important.
     
  9. xfkirsten

    xfkirsten Member

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    Bleh. Go figure. At least I've mainly just been using it to transfer big files between computers.

    -Kirsten
     
  10. Steve Carras

    Steve Carras Member

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    Try WinMX--ENTIRE songs for FREE! No subscription, no nothin'.Many songs to download.
     
  11. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    Nervous.......

    Thanks all, for the great--and frightening--discussion about CD-R's! I find it fascinatiing that now, in 2003, we're actually seeking out the "Made in Japan" label, which was the former standard of cheapness back in the 60's.

    Great news about the Wonderland CD's being premium--I hadn't even thought of that issue; so then, technically, they are still CD-R's--just better quality, and not "master" CD's with actual digital bits on the disc?

    I've been using Maxell CD-R's, as I've noticed that the CD player in my car--not any portable, computer, or home audio players--sometimes picks up loud background "scratching" noises on some TDK CD-R's I've made, along with some "bootleg" CD-R's I've got(some of which happen to be TDK's....). Any thoughts? Cheaply made CD-R's, or just a touchy CD player?

    So--the bottom line--we have to back up all of our homegrown CD-R's periodically???? Are the Mitsui discs available commercially???

    Worried......
    Mike
     
  12. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    Re:Nervous.......

    Basically. To get technical, CD-R's also have digital bits on them, they're just written by a laser rather than pressed into the plastic. But the Wonderland discs ARE CD-Rs.

    Possibly both. Most (though not all) TDK and Maxell branded discs are now made by Ritek. CD-Rs don't like being left in the heat or sun anyway, regardless of the quality. Even the worst of today's cheapies should be good for at least a few years if you don't cook 'em.

    Not a bad idea, and yes. www.mitsuicdr-store.com is their website. They'll cost ya. The silvers that Disney uses run about $1 per disc--the top of the line Archive Gold discs are $1.60!

    The Taiyo Yudens are nearly as good and not so expensive. Also, check the Verbatim/Yamaha "Blue Azo" discs. I noticed they're still churning some of those out from their factory in Mexico.

    I've been buying Taiyo Yuden silver-tops from these folks, who are local to me: www.qtccdr.com Their prices are excellent, but I see that they don't list the Taiyo Yudens on the website. Give 'em a call and see what's up.

    And try this search on Google:

    +mitsui +"cd-r" +"taiyo yuden"

    Good luck!
     
  13. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    A can of worms?

    Thanks so much for your responses and time.....but as they say, one question leads to another......

    How about opening this can of worms--the ol' DL/WDW Forever Digital On-Demand system--talk about a mixed bag.....

    I looked over what I have, and found a variety of CD-R's:
    --my WDW Forever CD's are all labelled "Kodak CD-R".
    --I happen to have 3 of the Haunted Mansion CD's,
    bought at different times--one Kodak, one TDK, one
    unspecified.
    --I have one Pirates CD that is TDK--and my LE 28 track
    Pirates CD(that I paid.......ouch!) is unspecified(really
    wondering about this one!).

    S-o-o-o-o........what went on? Any quality here? Doesn't look like they went for the Mitsuis.......

    Still troubled(but getting a grasp on things....)
    Mike
     
  14. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    I enjoy and listen to all the music I have, Bill--my main point here is that I'm just trying to get a handle on the technical stuff, so that if I want to listen to something I have a few years down the line, or to have something to pass down to my son and his, hopefully it won't have turned into a piece of garbage.

    I can still listen to old 78's, 45's, LP's(a few days ago just pulled out Leon Russell from......a few years ago--played perfectly)--this may not be the case with CD-R's......

    Mike
     
  15. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    Re: your DL Forever CD-R worms:

    Kodak rolled their own. They made 'em originally for the photo CDs, then branched out to standard CD-Rs, but they shut down their factories and got out of the CD-R biz completely a few years ago. The Kodak-branded CD-Rs are excellent quality.

    The TDKs and unspecified's could be just about anything, but you can find out for sure by getting a shareware program called Feurio. It's an audio CD burning program that comes fully functioning, and one of the neat things about it is that it can read the manufacturer ID from the blank (when you put it in a burner), so you'll know who REALLY made the disc. I listed most of the major cheapo generic manufacturing outfits in another thread around here. If, for instance, your TDK turns up "Ritek" (which is fairly likely), you're in trouble. Back that puppy up ASAP! If Feurio reports that it actually IS a TDK disc, then you should be in better shape, but be forewarned that there was some controversy about how stable the dyes in the early TDK discs were. I haven't heard how all that panned out.

    It wouldn't hurt to back up ALL your Forever and Wonderland discs every few years, just in case. The cost of a 50? Taiyo Yuden might just save your $20 investment!

    I feel your pain, Michael. I have CD-Rs, cassettes, DATs, 8-tracks, VHSs, LaserDiscs, and even a CD or two that have gone to audio heaven through no fault of mine, while I have 78s pressed in 1902 that still play just as good as they did in 1902. So much for progress.
     
  16. ex-wdi

    ex-wdi Member

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    Me too.... I've replaced my Nightmare Before Xmas box set 2 previous times - I haven't watched it lately... I'm too scared to find out what shape it's in!
     
  17. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    Dunno, but I wouldn't be surprised. Since they're digital, the effects wouldn't become obvious as quickly, but we never seem to find out about this stuff until it's too late, do we.

    The few longevity reports I've seen on DVD-R and +R aren't too encouraging either, no matter who makes 'em. (And I don't know of a program that can ID those. Does anyone else?)
     
  18. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    just some fanciful thoughts......

    Thank you, Narkspud, for the great conversation.......right, so much for progress......or has the shadow of Mordor cast itself over the music industry--they wouldn't WANT all this music to periodically self-destruct, would they??? How could something like that EVER happen!!!!!!

    Nah.....it's late, I'm tired, gettin' too excited over the final LOTR installment--and anyway, it's just a story.......

    Mike
     

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