Downloading

November 5, 2008

 

Naxos announced the availability of nearly 22,000 albums on their classics online website today in a move toward making downloading a lower cost alternative and offering very high quality 320 kbps DRM-free files. In my mind this is just another nail in the coffin of the purchase of a hard copy of a CD. We are already seeing fewer choices of places to shop in a traditional brick and mortar operation, especially in the area of classical and soundtrack material. Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart are not the best places to shop for classical material unless you want the greatest violin concertos of all time. Naxos, being a leader in the distribution of classical material, has made a statement that not only is downloading here to stay but it is the future of obtaining music.

Any new technology is going to be met with a certain amount of opposition and this is no exception. LP to CD, Analog to digital, reel to reel to cassette, film to digital, rotary hard wired telephones to cell ones, and tubes to transistor as the list can go on and on. As I type there are sides being taken on this one. A recent comment complained that the Chandos lossless files while superior were too expensive. Yet in the same breath the exact same material on Naxos at the 320kbps download at half the price wasn’t good enough quality. It is true that while the 320 are very good quality there is a difference between that and a lossless or CD quality. The argument is made that a lossless file should be made available and then the consumer saves this as his master and decides what size he wants to use in a particular device. Using something called a zip file, the material can be compressed to ½ the size and there is no loss of quality. Putting together some rough numbers a person could store somewhere between 1500 and 2000 CD quality digital files on a 500-gig external hard drive. Of course because everything should be backed up that means two are necessary at an approximate cost of $200.00 for both. Always back up all files no matter what. In case of fire or damage to your dwelling it is also a good idea to have the back-up unit in another location. Always better to error on the side of caution. With the overall lower cost for downloading as opposed to buying a new CD this cost can be made up in a fairly short period of time. If you still want to be able to hold the product in your hand you can download onto a CD, purchase a jewel case, and print the booklet.

One thing that I would do with the decline of the CD is to seek out an extra player for your stereo system especially if you’re looking for one of higher quality. In years to come you’ll be saying to yourself that this a good move. With the way a lot of equipment is made these days saying “I’ll get it repaired” is almost like telling a joke! Look at it this way. You might still have 8 tracks but can you buy blank tapes and record anymore? Always look ahead in these matters.

The 320kbps file size seems to be a compromise. While the majority will be satisfied with 128 or 192kbps and a select few will only accept lossless the in-between seems to be the norm for right now. I would encourage all to signup at

http://www.classicsonline.com/

and check out their services. It is a free signup with no credit card necessary and you’re entitled to three free download tracks for trying it out. If you have a CD that they have I would urge you to download one of the tracks to compare the quality difference between 320kbps and lossless (your original cd).

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Downloading”

  1. Vinko Says:

    Hi Sdtom,

    I like to point out a typo in your article. All tracks on ClassicsOnline.com are DRM-Free.

    BTW: all digital tracks from Naxos are DRM-Free, including the lossless version we have available at MusicGiants.com


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