Cory Doctorow, SF writer and EFF fighter, gave great speech to Microsoft employees on DRM. The short course, make a record player that plays everybody’s records and you’ll make a mint. Here’s my take, it’s already done! When I buy a song or an album on MSN music, my first stop is to burn it to a CDRW, RIGHT FROM INSIDE WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER, OMG!!! Bingo, 100% loss-less CDs that are recognizable by EAC and freedb.org as the originals. Instant MP3 tags, Batman! The original WAVs get stored on DVD (never to be lost). CD’s copies get burned for the car, MP3’s get ripped to HDD. Double-bingo, no more DRM. Thank you Microsoft, Andre Wiethoff @ EAC and all the folks at freedb.org!!! I’ll never pay more that 8.91 for an album again and I won’t even pay that if I can just buy the one good song for 99 cents! Free the music!
So when did the online music stores begin selling lossless audio files? Lastime I checked every store offered in WMP10 was lossy. You might burn them to CD, but they’re not cd quality. If I’m wrong please tell me what store it is because I want to buy from them too. Haven’t bought an itunes song for months.
Unfortunately, MSN Music does not use lossless compression. The following quote is from the MSN Music Service Fact Sheet:
From my experience of testing Microsoft’s WMA format, I can hear audible artefacts up to 192kbps CBR (constant bit rate) depending on the music and similarly with up to 192kbps using 1-pass variable bit rate. However, from 160kbps up using 2-pass variable bit rate encoding, I find it difficult to make out any difference between the original and the encoded WMA file unless the track is quite complex. Going by some reports I came across, MSN Music does use 2-pass encoding, so from what I would imagine, the music should sound like the original to most listeners. I would still prefer if they along with other music download stores would offer lossless compression as a choice, considering how large and cheap hard drives are getting as well as the speed of the ISP’s.
I can confirm that burning music to CD does not restore its original quality, but instead the sound quality of what the WMA file has to offer. For example, if you rip a song from a CD to a very low bitrate WMA or MP3 and then write this song back to CD-R using Windows Media Player, the sound quality of the recorded CD will be identical to what the low bitrate WMA or MP3 sounded like. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to write your MSN bought music to CD-R/RW and then rip it back off in a non-crippled format.
See my signature, I can get carried away!
You guys are both right, I need to retract the “100%”. My intention was to point out that there are ways to buy a 99 cent song and then free it from DRM. Having said that, I’m not buying 99 cent songs or $8.91 albums to play on my home theater surround system. I agree that I can detect artifacts in pretty much the same range as you on the Pioneer/Bose setup. However, in the car stereo, or the Marantz/Sony in the garage the standard WMV sounds the same as the CD, I’ve tried it. When your intention is portability AND quality, I think that you have to agree the MSN Music combined with a CD burner and EAC gives you a lot more versatility (MP3 Player, CD player in car, boombox, etc., audio MP3 DVD, etc.) for it’s size than anything that has come before (78, 45 and 33 Vinyl record, 8 track, cassette tape) with quality that far surpasses its predecessors.
Finally, I have to agree again: If MSN would offer the same music in a lossless (but slightly larger) file, Bill Gates could buy another island.