Feeds

Lossless music goes High Street

Quality downloads for the masses

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

British digital download store 7Digital is expanding the range of lossless music available for download. Albums will now be available in the industry standard FLAC format from artists such as Radiohead and Enya - in some cases cheaper than the MP3 equivalent.

Both 24-bit and 16-bit versions will be available; FLAC is a container format, and can handle both. 7Digital's prices start at £9.99.

Currently lossless formats aren't available from any of what you might call high street digital download stores. Both Apple, the leading download site, and Amazon only sell music in compressed lossy formats.

Yet dozens of specialist sites cater to music lovers, as do many small indie labels, and have done for years. Veteran electronic music sites Bleep and Beatport both launched in 2004. The former offers FLAC and the latter WAV and FLAC formats to DJs and dance music fans. Linn Records caters to jazz and classical fans with music from over a dozen labels.

Two more US-only stores, iTrax and HDTracks, specialise in high quality digital downloads. At iTrax there's an informative article explaining why HD digital formats often disappoint: because of filters applied during the "upmastering" process, the result loses audio fidelity.

In a statement 7Digital founder Ben Drury said, "Internet connected music devices that provide a ‘better-than-CD’ quality sound are becoming commonplace in the home. These devices rely on higher quality digital music downloads to provide superior quality music playback, and appeal to a broader base of consumers beyond the average audiophile."

Yet FLAC remains an industry standard without big industry support. Neither Windows 7's Media Player nor Apple's Mac OS X iTunes support FLAC playback - in each case, you need a plug-in. Microsoft prefers the lossless version of WMA format. Perhaps this can change - but it requires people voting with their wallets.

Here's a radical idea: why can't the industry sell lossless music and include a physical backup with it? The two could be bundled together.

The whole package could come with a nice booklet written by a proper writer who tells you interesting things about the artist or their music, and include decent shots from a professional photographer. Perhaps it could include lyrics or a music score or even some original artwork. The artwork could be enjoyed in its own right - and even help enhance the artist's brand.

Sounds too good to be true. I doubt it will ever happen. (That's enough sarcasm - Ed) ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.