After surfing the internet for 6 hours, reading countless articles, I wound up here. This looked like the most informed place by far, so I dug in and signed up. I have a list of about 20 songs that I am interested in downloading (more to come I"m sure), and I already own enough “one hit wonder” CD’s. I tried eMusic, but the selection (or lack of) just didnt make it worthwhile, so I am still in the process of joining a legitimate downloading site. I have narrowed it to Yahoo or Napster. I like Napsters choice count, and I am fine with paying .99 per song. Now for my question(s):
If I go with Napster Light, the songs I d/l for .99, are they MINE to keep, and do as I please, or do they have the DRM standard applied?
In my travels around the net on this subject, I have read (on other sites) that each song as some lossy issues. Would that apply to the .99 songs also?
Has anyone ever had any luck listening to streaming radio/music on 56K and would there be any settings that I could tune to help out?
I think with Napster Light even though you pay the .99 for the tracks, you can’t transfer them to another device or PC. I can’t say for sure, since it has been a while since I bothered with Napster. My personal choice is Yahoo.
However, if you do the monthly subscription, this thread might help answer some questions.
On Napster, regardless of the subscription you choose, the 99c tracks you pay for individually all function the same: You can transfer them to a WMA DRM compliant player or burn them to CD. If your MP3 player supports WMA DRM, it will mention this somewhere on it or within the manual. These tracks also do not expire, however you will have to be careful to keep a backup of your Windows Media Player licenses in case of a hard drive failure. To do this after you purchase and download music, go into the ‘Tools’ menu within Windows Media player (click the ‘drop-down’ arrow at the top-right of the window), click ‘Tools’ and select ‘Manage Licenses…’. Click ‘Back Up Now’ and follow the on-screen steps.
WMA is a lossy compression, which means that when the audio is compressed from a CD Quality source, some audio information supposedly in-audible to the human ear is thrown away. The purpose of this is to reduce the file size by a factor of about 10. For example, a typical 4 minute CD Quality track would take up about 40MB, where as the same 4 minute track compressed in WMA or MP3 at 128kbps (the bitrate most music services use) would take up about 3.8MB.
If you are well familiar with the sound quality of MP3, but have not tried WMA yet, your likely first impression will be that WMA sounds better, since WMA does not have the same audio compression artefacts as MP3. However, once you listen to WMA for a while at 128kbps or lower, you’ll soon start noticing the artefacts caused by the compression. In my opinion, WMA sounds worse than MP3, however I know people who say the other way around. It all depends on how annoying you find the audible artefacts and that’s if you notice them.
Napster uses 128kbps encoding from what I recall for all its music, whether purchased as permanent downloads or as part of its unlimited subscription service. The best way to get an idea of what Napster’s music will sound like is to try compressing a CD in Windows Media player at 128kbps. To do this, click the drop-down arrow to the top right of the Windows Media Player window, click ‘Tools’ and select ‘Options…’. Go to the ‘Rip Music’ tab and drag the ‘Audio quality:’ slider until it shows “(128 kbps)” (if this is not already chosen) and click ‘OK’. Click the ‘Rip’ tab and insert a music CD to rip into Windows Media Player. When the player rips the music, it compresses this into WMA; the same audio codec Napster uses. Finally, go into the ‘Library’ tab to play the music you’ve ripped and use a good pair of headphones to see what you think.
If you are not happy with the sound quality of WMA, then unfortunately Napster would not be suitable for your needs. iTunes uses MP4, which has been tested to be better quality than both WMA and MP3 during blind audio tests. Unfortunately, the majarity of music services use the WMA format.
Unfortunately, the only streaming radio services that work well over a modem would be services that stream at 32kbps or lower. A 56k modem only effectively transmits data at between 32kbps and 40kbps. The best way to check your effective transfer rate is to try downloading any item and monitoring your transfer rate. Multiply this by 8 to get your speed in kilobits. For example, if you get a speed of 4.5KB/sec, then this works out at 36kbps, which would be the maximum streaming speed your modem can handle. BT Openworld provides several 5MB to 15MB dummy files to test one’s transfer rate, which can be accessed at http://www.btopenworld.co.uk/speedtest
Sean, thanks very much for your very informative reply. I will do the test here on my PC, and make a decision. As I stated earlier, it is only about 20 songs I am looking for, so its not the end of the world.
Having listened to Amy macdonald’s ‘Poison Prince’ streamed from her ‘Myspace’ site and then compard it to the WMA downloaded from Napster and what I hear on the analogue radio, I have concluded that thre Napster one loses lots of high frequencies that I can hear and totally changes the music experience.
As for protection; the WMA from Napster was DRM protected but all you need to is cut to a CDRW (use it later again) then rip the cd and you have music without the DRM. Still lossy though :o(
I’m just seeing this post for the first time so I’m sure by now you’ve resolved your issues. I’ve tried ALL of them, the online music. Napster by far, has the best library of music as well as the best audio quality. I’m a Napster to Go customer and it is the only way to go. Every song I’ve paid for, I’ve put on CDs and lost no quality whatsoever. Maybe it depends on your plan. I don’t think so, but they are by far the best of all of them. I’m cancelling Itunes and Rhapsody. Both treated me like crap when my computer crashed. Napster let me redownload everything at no cost.