Re-ripping CDs / Upgrading Music

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    Feb 21, 2012 4:42 AM GMT
    iTunes has been bugging me to upgrade my purchased music to "iTunes Plus" music, which is just their fancy way of saying DRM-free, higher bit rate music. The DRM-free aspect is appealing, but I'm not too sure about the higher bit rate. I thought I'd try an experiment. I have a song that I ripped to the typical 128kbps bit rate MP3 format. I re-ripped the song to iTunes' 256kbps AAC format that all their music uses now. I honestly couldn't tell a difference, even with my nicer earphones. I was surprised. I'm usually picky about audio/visual quality.

    What's your opinion on this? Any audiophiles out there who can enlighten me on why I'd spend the money to "upgrade?" They don't even offer it for all of my purchases.
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    Feb 21, 2012 4:45 AM GMT
    I ripped all of my CDs to 128 kps. Sounds excellent to me and saves a lot of space.
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    Feb 21, 2012 5:44 AM GMT
    You're not going to get better quality from re-ripping an MP3 to a higher bit rate. I guess it doesn't matter. If your ears can't tell the difference, just stick with it. As for re-buying your music, fuck that. You already paid for it. What itunes doesn't offer, just torrent the rest. Or go to a used CD shop and buy the CD for a couple bucks. Then rip to 256kbps AAC files.
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    Feb 21, 2012 6:16 AM GMT
    I re-ripped it from the original CD.

    They don't charge you full price to upgrade your music. I think they only charge you the difference in what you originally paid.
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    Feb 21, 2012 3:32 PM GMT
    Haven't used a CD in 8 years.
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    Feb 21, 2012 3:37 PM GMT
    If you don't have a good home audio set up you're not going to hear the difference.
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    Feb 21, 2012 3:56 PM GMT
    Streaming formats need to make sure that the music you are listening to fits through the stream pipe, which is why they have a time-constrained format. The kbps means "kilobits per second," which is the MOST the stream will be able to encode.

    You will hear degradation only in those streams that have sounds that can't be compressed into the stream resolution. Which kinds of sounds that is depends on the compression algorithm; in general, the more "random" the sound, the more distorted it will sound.

    It is perfectly possible for a great many songs to sound pretty much the same at 128 kbps and 256 kbps. For some songs, though, the lower resolution will sound horrible.

    For a similar effect, look at video that was recorded at low bandwidth: many scenes come across just fine, but where there is quick motion or a rapid change in scene, you see heavy pixelation, color aberrations, and other artifacts - you'd get the same effect in music.

    So, an upgrade should be selective at best. I would upgrade only if iTunes offered a lossless option, like FLAC.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:00 AM GMT
    GwgTrunks saidIf you don't have a good home audio set up you're not going to hear the difference.


    My headphones are decent. I have a set of Logitech G35 headphones that I use for watching movies on my laptop. They don't stack up to the really expensive headphones, but they do a good job with music and surround sound. I have a good home theater system, but I don't have a good way to stream my music through that. I prefer headphones anyway.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:19 AM GMT
    DudeInNOVA saidI re-ripped it from the original CD.
    They don't charge you full price to upgrade your music. I think they only charge you the difference in what you originally paid.
    I seem to be missing something in the original question or generally misunderstanding since I don't use i-Tunes. Why are you paying to upgrade your music? All of my music has been ripped from CDs or direct vinyl transfer using Windows Media Player, Zune music software, or Roxio software. Each permits selection of the bit rate that suits you. Does i-Tunes charge to rip music from CDs that one owns? Sorry for being ancient and behind the times.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:22 AM GMT
    nabob7729 saidI seem to be missing something in the original question or generally misunderstanding since I don't use i-Tunes. Why are you paying to upgrade your music? All of my music has been ripped from CDs or direct vinyl transfer using Windows Media Player, Zune music software, or Roxio software. Each permits selection of the bit rate that suits you. Does i-Tunes charge to rip music from CDs that one owns? Sorry for being ancient and behind the times.


    There were sort of two questions. First, the older music I purchased from iTunes has DRM on it and is at a lower bit rate. They're offering to give me updated music that doesn't have DRM and is at a higher bit rate (presumably better sounding, but I'm not sure I could tell a difference).

    For my pre-iTunes music, the CDs, I ripped myself, I was wondering if there was any reason to re-rip them into a higher bit rate.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:23 AM GMT
    This is not helpful for music you've already bought from itunes... but for future purchases, have you considered Amazon? They've been offering DRM free, higher bitrate for a while now. And they have a nifty app that automagically adds your purchases to itunes.

    I use itunes every day to play music and manage my iphone... but I haven't bought anything from the itunes store in years.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:25 AM GMT
    endo saidThis is not helpful for music you've already bought from itunes... but for future purchases, have you considered Amazon? They've been offering DRM free, higher bitrate for a while now. And they have a nifty app that automagically adds your purchases to itunes.

    I use itunes every day to play music and manage my iphone... but I haven't bought anything from the itunes store in years.


    I'm not sure if there would be any point to switching to Amazon now that iTunes has higher bit-rate, DRM-free music. Originally, I went with iTunes because I had an iPod and because they had a much better selection. Now, it's most just what I'm used to using.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:31 AM GMT
    Isn't itunes Plus more expensive though? They may have stopped charging more for the DRM free tracks.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:32 AM GMT
    endo saidIsn't itunes Plus more expensive though? They may have stopped charging more for the DRM free tracks.


    I haven't checked for a while, but I thought they were all about the same now.
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:36 AM GMT
    In addition to what's been said already, there are a few other issues that determine whether the difference is noticeable.

    First is the actual recording. If the original is engineered by a "Churn out as many tracks as possible in a day" factory, there probably wasn't enough time spent on the production values. Most people don't even know what to listen for when it comes to listening to, recognizing and appreciating an audiophile recording.

    Second, there's more to the statement "good home audio set" than you might think. Most people think that if they spent $500 on their audio system, then it's 'top of the line". As systems get more high end, and far more expensive, the improvements become progressively more and more subtle. I'd say that the $3000-5000 range is most you'd want to pay before you need to start dealing with architectural details (soundproofing, etc.) to get your money's worth.

    Lastly, the music itself makes a huge difference. If your listening to Lady Gaga live or Vienna Philharmonic playing the Opening of the first act of Lohengrin, there will be a far better chance to tell the difference from the later than the former, when it comes to bitrate. Not to mention that there are other factors such as constant vs. variable bitrates, sampling rate, stereo mix type, signal to noise ratios, clipping, compression (dynamic as opposed to size reducing digital algorithms) and so on.

    Look at it like a pretty good photograph that was taken with a medium resolution camera. If you raise the resolution after the picture is taken, it only makes the picture bigger, but not better. You can't make something appear (in terms of quality) that wasn't there to begin with.

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    Feb 22, 2012 12:39 AM GMT
    Gotye - Making Mirrors

    Amazon: $7.99
    itunes: $9.99

    (You do get the nifty digital booklet at itunes)
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    Feb 22, 2012 12:41 AM GMT
    endo saidGotye - Making Mirrors

    Amazon: $7.99
    itunes: $9.99

    (You do get the nifty digital booklet at itunes)


    I'd have to look at the individual tracks. It's extremely rare that I buy an entire album.
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    Feb 22, 2012 4:22 AM GMT
    DudeInNOVA said
    There were sort of two questions. First, the older music I purchased from iTunes has DRM on it and is at a lower bit rate. They're offering to give me updated music that doesn't have DRM and is at a higher bit rate (presumably better sounding, but I'm not sure I could tell a difference).

    For my pre-iTunes music, the CDs, I ripped myself, I was wondering if there was any reason to re-rip them into a higher bit rate.
    Ahh. I get it now. The second part wasn't clear to me in your original post.

    I ripped all of my CDs at 192kbps constant bit rate. I'm happy with it. My hearing isn't all the great anyways. So anything higher is pointless, and a waste of space on my MP3 player.

    I've thought about re-ripping my CDs again, but use FLAC instead. That would create a lossless and "archival" quality rip, and allow me to dump all my CDs. But my MP3 player doesn't support FLAC files. And it's a waste of time to transcode them to MP3 whenever I want to transfer some tunes to my player. So I'm going to keep things the same for now.
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    Feb 22, 2012 6:22 AM GMT
    Are you talking about iTunes Match??? iTunes Plus was done a long time ago (3 years ago??) and now all music is DRM free....or at least I'm able to import my iTunes library (music only) on a Windows Phone 7 phone. It plays just fine. iTunes match allows you to store your library on iCloud, including the option to replace your ripped MP3s with the high quality iTunes version and share them with your devices without out syncing them through your PC or Mac.

    I'm not sure what you mean iTunes is bugging you about upgrading to Plus.....because the only things that exists now is "Plus" and its DRM free. Which version of iTunes are you running?
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    Feb 22, 2012 6:27 AM GMT
    endo saidThis is not helpful for music you've already bought from itunes... but for future purchases, have you considered Amazon? They've been offering DRM free, higher bitrate for a while now. And they have a nifty app that automagically adds your purchases to itunes.

    I use itunes every day to play music and manage my iphone... but I haven't bought anything from the itunes store in years.


    Hmmm . I tried to buy from Amazon and it was only available as a cloud setup so am am going back to Cd purchases.
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    Feb 22, 2012 6:31 AM GMT
    SoloXCRacer saidI'm not sure what you mean iTunes is bugging you about upgrading to Plus.....because the only things that exists now is "Plus" and its DRM free. Which version of iTunes are you running?


    No, I'm not talking about iTunes Match. iTunes has been displaying a message to upgrade my old DRM music that I bought years ago. They're advertising it as if it's something different from regular iTunes. The name "iTunes Plus" really doesn't mean anything.
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    Feb 22, 2012 6:40 AM GMT
    DudeInNOVA said
    SoloXCRacer saidI'm not sure what you mean iTunes is bugging you about upgrading to Plus.....because the only things that exists now is "Plus" and its DRM free. Which version of iTunes are you running?


    No, I'm not talking about iTunes Match. iTunes has been displaying a message to upgrade my old DRM music that I bought years ago. They're advertising it as if it's something different from regular iTunes. The name "iTunes Plus" really doesn't mean anything.


    Ah, that makes more sense. So to help you come to a decision, as yourself these questions. You already said you can't tell the difference, even with nicer head phones. Now has the old DRM'd music been restrictive in anyway?? (i.e. have you even run into a situation in where you couldn't play it on a non-Apple device when you wanted to??) If you answered no, then I'd say stick with what you have already. If you answered yes, pay up or seek an alternative source....just my opinion....it free so take it for what it's worth.

    Anything purchased after 2009ish ( I think) has been DRM free. So anything bought recently, you should be fine.
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    Feb 22, 2012 6:44 AM GMT
    the only reason to use more than 192 is for editing, usually. There is a difference, if you have the equipment to hear it, but it's not a huge amount. for my ipod 192 is fine I down convert my 320's to save space.

    It's pretty much like watching blu-ray on a standard definition TV.
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    Feb 22, 2012 6:50 AM GMT
    SoloXCRacer saidAh, that makes more sense. So to help you come to a decision, as yourself these questions. You already said you can't tell the difference, even with nicer head phones. Now has the old DRM'd music been restrictive in anyway?? (i.e. have you even run into a situation in where you couldn't play it on a non-Apple device when you wanted to??) If you answered no, then I'd say stick with what you have already. If you answered yes, pay up or seek an alternative source....just my opinion....it free so take it for what it's worth.

    Anything purchased after 2009ish ( I think) has been DRM free. So anything bought recently, you should be fine.


    The only thing I haven't been able to do is stream my music to my PS3, which would be how I would play it through my home theater. I don't think DRM has anything to do with that. I don't think the PS3 can play AAC format, but I haven't really researched it. Playing through my home theater isn't that important. I really just wanted to hear it for comparison
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    Feb 23, 2012 10:33 PM GMT
    Update: I listened to a couple of songs on the original CDs and then compared them to the MP3 version. I couldn't really tell a difference. Either my equipment isn't good enough, or my ears aren't. Either way, it doesn't seem worth it to upgrade.

    Thanks everyone.