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Media (Apple) Businesses Media Upgrades Apple

Apple Releases Major iTunes Update 910

shunnicutt writes "Apple has released iTunes 4.5 (and iPod software 2.2 and QuickTime 6.5.1) and relaxed some iTunes Music Store restrictions: now tracks you purchased can be authorized to play on up to five other computers, instead of three. However, they reduced the number of times you can burn a playlist to an audio CD from ten to seven. Another new feature is iMix, which allows you to publish playlists on iTMS, including comments on each track. The iTMS also offers a weekly free single for download." crazney adds "This release also changes their network sharing protocol in a way that breaks the open source iTunes sharing applications that have been released (based on my work on iTunes 4.2's DRM)." kefoo writes "Among the new features is Apple Lossless Encoding, which claims to compress losslessly to half the size of uncompressed CD quality audio." Hm, and I was about to re-rip all my CDs at 320 kbps MP3 ... Update: 04/28 14:56 GMT by P : I just tested, and I can listen to previously de-DRM'd AAC files from playfair, but I cannot use either playfair or FairTunes any longer. The former "Couldn't get DRM key for user," and the latter produces a blank file.
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Apple Releases Major iTunes Update

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  • by Spatula Sam ( 770957 ) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:40AM (#8996118)
    When expanded to properly display the album art and the new large-format videos, iTunes balloons to a size that is far, far to large for any jukebox. It's almost to large to gracefully use on a PB12's display (thank god for exposé). I wonder if this application inflation is part of some nefarious Jobsian plot to make us buy those gigantic cinema displays...

    Additionally, the app now also features a cool track melding feature not mentioned in the heading. This makes it a lot easy to make seamless listening possible for tracks that are supposed to proceed without pausing, So now I can finally listen to classical tracks the way they are supposed to sound. Seamless and lossless. Cool.

  • by radicalskeptic ( 644346 ) <tritone@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:40AM (#8996124)
    One cool feature mentioned in 4.5 is "iMix", which publishes your playlists to the iTMS for all to see. So out of curiosity, I tried to publish my "top 25 most played [onlinehome.us]" playlist. Out of the 25 songs on the list, only seven were available [onlinehome.us] at iTMS.

    Sure, one could argue that I have eclectic taste in music, but on the other hand, they are missing some pretty big names: Radiohead, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Chick Corea...

    On an unrelated note, I wonder if iTMS is going to start offering lossless files. That would be cool.
  • by cflorio ( 604840 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:41AM (#8996132) Homepage
    This whole limit of computers is kind of redundant if they let you burn audio cd's. Aren't most people burning an audio cd, and then ripping to MP3 from there?
  • by hc00jw ( 655349 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:41AM (#8996136)

    Can someone explain why I can't install it through my preferred medium?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:43AM (#8996158)
    Sadly, instead of using this update opportunity to add in basic functionality that would increase iTunes' value to avid music listeners, Apple went the route of throwing in some glitzy features for kids to rave over: "OMG the shufflez is teh party!! THE DJ IS ME!!1" They missed out on a lot of items that get requested on their forums.
    • Speed. Though I'm sure many can provide their own anecdotal evidence on how iTunes works fine on their machines, that doesn't invalidate the many, MANY claims of iTunes being a bloated, resource hog (at least on Windows.). Foobar and Winamp with a little tweaking [inthegray.com] open almost instantaenously, while iTunes lags behind on starting up. Even when minimized, iTunes is taking up far more CPU than a media player should (even more than WMP!).
    • MPC/FLAC/SHN/APE/etc. support. If applications like Foobar, Winamp, and QCD can pull it off, why can't iTunes, with it's beefy 19.5 MB download, play simple file formats like these that've been around for years? Wouldn't it work in their favor to allow their users more choice, to let their users listen to their music in whatever format they've chosen to encode them in?
    • Queueing. Once again, something included with XMMS, Winamp, and even MMJB. If your listening to a huge random playlist of songs in Winamp, but want to hear a particular song after the one your listening to, just select the song in the playlist and hit 'Q'. Winamp will finish the currently playing song, then play the song you selected, then return to randomly shuffling the tracks automatically. You can do this with multiple tracks, picking an order you want to hear those songs, and then shuffling the rest. Or you can hit 'J' to search the list of the songs in the playlist [nunzioweb.com], and select the song(s) you want to enqueue.
    • Downloading Songs Off iPod Through The Media Player. Instead of assuming your user is doing something criminal and (flimsily) preventing them from easy access to the songs on their iPod, why not give them the freedom to move songs back and forth onto their hard drives. ml_ipod [winamp.com], a plug-in that lets you manage your iPod through Winamp's media library, not only allows you to transfer songs from your iPod, but lets you even "reverse-sync" them.
    • Support for competing MP3 portables. I think I read somewhere that iTunes may support another mp3 player besides the iPod, but that really isn't enough. Once again, I think it'd be beneficial the popularity of the program if they supported other players. Have they released an SDK for their community to toy with? The Foobar and Nullsoft teams did this, and they got great results [winamp.com].
    • Gapless playback [pretentiousname.com] on iPod. This is a big deal to audiophiles, and I'm really surprised by the iPod's lack of support on this. The Rio Karma does this. Why not iPod?

    Though I'll admit that the join-tracks feature was much-welcomed, what else did iTunes users get? Instead of downloading songs with propietary DRM, now we can encode our songs with a new proprietary DRM--songs that won't play on anything else? I think I'll stick with FLAC. The ability to publish my important music playlists for the whole world to see? I think I'll stick with Audioscrobbler [audioscrobbler.com]. A free song from another bland RIAA-sponsored band? Epitonic [epitonic.com] has always provided a good sampling of independent artists and their music for you to try out. A wishlist to download those Top 40 songs later? Well, why don't I just download the songs now off allofmp3 [allofmp3.com] now with their ridiculously low prices, in whatever format I want, without DRM? Import unprotected WMA files? Winamp

  • wine? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TMB ( 70166 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:43AM (#8996159)
    Has anyone gotten it to work under wine? I'd love to be able to use it under Linux, but since they don't seem to be forthcoming on a native client, at least it would be a way to let me give them money! ;-)

  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:44AM (#8996172)
    Some initial, unofficial reports [macrumors.com] are coming in that a 4mb AAC translates to about 30mb Apple Lossless.
  • by overbyj ( 696078 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:46AM (#8996196)
    Notice that the DRM scheme has changed. You can now burn 7 playlists to CD when it used to be 10. However, the flip side is that you can now authorize 5 computers as opposed to the old scheme of 3.

    Not a bad tradeoff in my opinion. I can't remember the last time I played a physical CD. Sure, there are going to be those that complain about not having the CD but really, the idea of digital music is so that you don't have to lug around a CD.

  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) * <[ten.lemmuhnhoj] [ta] [lemmuhj]> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:47AM (#8996211) Homepage
    And maybe this is available in other MP3 players - but this is my list after setting up some new Smart Lists this morning:

    1. Nested lists: so I could have one list that says "if genre = rock", then a sublist that just has "if My Rating is > 3" or "if year published is 2" and the other "if My Rating is > 3" (which I use to differentiate between "Background work music" and "Driving kick ass music".

    2. Copy playlists: Another major issue with the above is that if I have 2 playlists that are 90% the same, I'd like to set the first one up, then just copy the list logic into a new one and only edit the 1 or 2 differences.

    3. iSync iTunes I have a laptop, and so does my wife. Right now, all of our music sits on a Master hard drive on a Powermac, then synced to my iPod, which when I'm at work I plug into my laptop and place on "manual" (so it doesn't copy the laptop music files). This works out, but it's not what I'd like.

    What I'd like is to go home, sit with my laptop and have it say "Oh, I see Playlists X, Y, and Z on your main computer have updated, and I've updated these MP3 tracks ratings/tags/etc. Let me sync up."

    Then I could select the lists I want on my laptop from the main machine and only those files would be copied to my box. Since, if I buy music from the iTunes Music Store I can play it on 5 separate machines, it would be nice to have an "auto-sync" kind of system.

    I think that's about it for now. I like the option of a new lossless recording (if I ever get my computer tied into a good sound system I can use it - I think there's some new devices that can stream from your Mac to from about $200 that might be worth a look).
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:50AM (#8996252)
    A couple weeks ago there was a discussion on /. about iTMS. One of the points I made is that I haven't used iTunes in a while because I have 4 computers at home and it was a hassle to keep authorizing/deauthorizing them because you were limited to three authorized systems. Another point was made that Apple should expand the number of authorized computers to 5 because their OS X "family plan" lets you install OS X on up to 5 computers...therefore they should be consistent.

    As for reducing the playlist burn amount from 10 to 7, I don't think anyone will notice. Although CDRs are dirt cheap, they are pretty wasteful for the small amount of music they hold. Flash and HD music players are the way to go.

    Good work, Apple! Next step: Get the songs I buy on iTMS to work with TiVo's Home Media Option.
  • by ncmusic ( 31531 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:50AM (#8996255)
    You also have to remember maybe some bands don't want to be on iTunes. In the case of Radiohead I believe that they only wanted their albums sold as a whole and not individual tracks, because that's how they see their albums.
  • by pgrst ( 662201 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:51AM (#8996256)
    what will be real interesting is if APPLE start selling lossless from the iTMS.

    Previously the DRM limitations forced people to burn to cd then re-rip with out drm. the problem with this is

    drm'ed mp3 > cd > mp3

    the problem was that drm'ed mp3 !=mp3
    because when the mp3 is ripped from the burned cd, it will not be indentical to the original mp3.

    with lossless encoding this problem is fixed because

    drm'ed lossless > cd > lossless

    drm'ed lossless = lossless.

    Obvioulsy APPLE is aware of this, they have effectively removed the DRM issue (at least for files that start as lossless)
  • by grahams ( 5366 ) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:52AM (#8996268) Homepage
    I have always been a Pager/Workspace fan, but a few months ago, after the release of Panther, I decided that I would give Expose a real fair shot as a replacement for the Pager. I uninstalled Codetek VirtualDesktop and forced myself to use Expose for two weeks, and at the end of that time I was going to "declare a victor".

    After about a week of Expose, however, I decided that it was terribly better than the Pager solution and decided to never go back... Now I just wish I had some Expose equivalent on the other platforms I use...
  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:57AM (#8996335)
    According to Apple's press release today [apple.com], Their library is the largest in the world - 700,000 songs.

    One must remember that artists can choose not to distribute their music this way. Notables are easy to recall - Dave Matthews Band, Metallica, Radiohead, The Beatles, etc.

    This is temporary. In a few years, no artist will keep their music from this medium, though they may not distribute through the big 5 either. The same press release shows Apple has 450 indy labels represented with iTMS!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:59AM (#8996357)
    Monkey's Audio [monkeysaudio.com] is another efficient way to compress audio without reducing the quality.
    On its site is a comparision chart. MA is able to compress an album to about 53% of its size, while WinRAR does 61.9% and ZIP using WinRAR 2.7 goes all the way up to 91%.
    MA is not available yet for Mac and Linux, though.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:02AM (#8996376) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about you, but to me half the size of uncompressed audio sounds like a lot. How do gzip, bzip2 and FLAC stack up?
  • Tivo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by simpl3x ( 238301 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:14AM (#8996522)
    I don't understand why Apple isn't getting these apps running under Linux... Or Palm... Or Symbian. Damnit Steve, stop playing the proprietary game already. I respect software which needs to be purchased, but only on apple hardware, or windows--your main competition--is just wierd. Use a few million in cash and get the software ported. I have enough shiny Apple hardware... but, lets talk about that rumored phone... iWant.
  • by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:15AM (#8996532)
    At the time iTunes for Windows was launched, I went to the suggestions page at apple.com and suggested a WMA importer for iTunes, and suggested on /. that others do the same, as a malrge number of users have ripped all their music to WMA and therefore couldn't play it in iTunes.

    I am glad Apple were listening - it's really pleasing to see a major company release a tool which will reduce the number of Windows Media files in existence in the world.
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:19AM (#8996561)
    This update showcases the key flaw with "Rights Management", digital or otherwise:

    Nobody wants to be "managed".

    If I buy a book, I have pretty clear rights. I can read it, lend it to others, quote from it etc but need the permission of the publisher to reproduce sections of it. My rights are pretty much fixed.

    Now, if I purchase music from iTunes, the copyright holders may, through Apple, "manage" my rights. Yesterday I could burn to 10 CDs, today I can burn to 7, tomorrow who knows... it could be 50 or even zero.

    The idea of phonograph records was that you no longer had to play an instrument or attend a concert to enjoy music... you could buy a record instead. Tapes, CDs and digital formats are refinements of that concept.

    The problem that we run into today is that the cartels that sprung up around the centralized manufacture, distribution and promotion of vinyl records, tapes and other media with high overhead cost to duplicate. These cartels controlled the market by controlling distribution and promotion.

    Digital media has a near-zero duplication cost. Buying pre-printed media is now a convenience and guarantee of quality rather than a necessity. History has proven that people are willing to accept inconsistent quality and inconvenience in exchange for lower prices. Enter the problem the copyright cartels face.

    With DRM, something once very simple "lets go buy a CD/record/tape" has become more arcane and complex "lets buy a digital media license". Of course, the terms associated with digital licenses are subject to change by the copyright holder.

  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:22AM (#8996590) Homepage Journal
    Just occured to me that iTunes isn't just for the computer, in the sense that all formats that are 'officially' supported are designed to work with the iPod. iTunes will generally accept anything that Quicktime does, but this fact is not advertised as such to avoid people complaining that they can't use these files with their iPod. If Apple chose to use their own format, as opposed to FLAC, there could be a number of reasons:

    - lock-in?
    - not made here attitude?
    - FLAC lacks a good integer based decoder?
    - ALE has some yet unadvertised advantage of FLAC?
    - something else?

    I have no idea which it is, but time will give us the answer.
  • Rio works on iTunes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:28AM (#8996670) Homepage Journal

    I still just use my Rio500 as my mp3 player and happily it is supported natively under iTunes for Mac. iTunes for Windows doesn't seem to work with it as I think there are special USB needs under the OS or something.

    Of course, I'd love an iPod, but so far I'm still happy with my Rio500 with the 64 meg internal storage and 128 meg smart media card. I flashed the roms with something off the net that improved the display and provided support for the 128 meg card.
  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:31AM (#8996705) Homepage Journal
    I've done iTMS AAC ->CD PCM -> 128kbps unemcumbered AAC conversions in the past and there was no noticable sound degradation. Now, iTMS AAC ->CD PCM -> 128-192kbps unemcumbered MP3 conversions did show obvious artifacts, so obviously a lot of this depends on the format you want to convert to, but it does make sense. MP3 will throw away a different part of the content than AAC would, so in an AAC to AAC conversion, the second AAC is throwing very little away (because it's already gotten rid of in the original pass.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:41AM (#8996828)
    You probably would not be able to tell with computer speakers. If you had good headphones or real speakers hooked up, even a mere mortal could tell the difference.
  • Apple lossless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Josh Coalson ( 538042 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:53AM (#8996962) Homepage
    If someone will host a clip in apple lossless format, preferably a one second sine wave, un-DRMed, along with the original input (WAV or AIFF) and the stream parameters (bps, sample rate, #channels, exact length in time or #samples) I can take a look to see if it's FLAC or FLAC-like inside (I developed FLAC).


  • Re:Is this FLAC? No. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:57AM (#8997008)
    In certain cirlces at least. If Apple had decided to throw their weight behind, it could have really taken off.

    From the FLAC's developer page [sourceforge.net]: (emph mine)
    Make sure to read the FLAC goals first; there are some thing the we don't want added to FLAC, like
    copy protection and lossy compression.
    I bet that's why.
  • by Damek ( 515688 ) <adam.damek@org> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:59AM (#8997033) Homepage
    I thought it was pretty cool at first to be able to shift-click (on Windows here at work) the arrows and have it search my collection - but it doesn't seem to make much sense. For example, say I shift-click the arrow next to an artist, Lackluster. It shows me all the music I have by Lackluster, but what I usually want is all the music by Lackluster *AND* the stuff he's remixed. I suppose if you don't have any remixes or don't care about them, this wouldn't matter, but in any case, no matter what, it just seems to make more sense to just use iTunes' little search field up at the top. I know what I'm looking for, I just type it in, and up it comes. iTunes' search makes even browsing unnecessary for me most of the time.

    I think those little arrows were some marketer's idea to get people to buy more music on iTMS, and then they thought they'd better make them do something else so it wasn't so blatant, so they threw in the option/shift-click thing to zero in on stuff in the local collection. I guess if you just really don't want to use the keyboard, the little arrows would help, but for me, they just clutter up the screen. Thank goodness they made it an optional feature!

    I might be interested in using them to find my music/artists in the iTMS, except that the iTMS really doesn't have pretty much anything I'd be interested in (or don't already have). I know that's more a reflection on me than the iTMS, but that's how it is.
  • by luckypp ( 619541 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:10PM (#8997151) Homepage
    This ought to shut-up the iTunes critics. Lets see what Napster does to try and compete with this.
  • by 32bitwonder ( 684603 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:15PM (#8997203) Homepage
    It's interesting how Apple has chosen to enable two lossless codecs into 4.5. On the one hand, you can use iTunes to import your CD's into it's own Apple (potentially proprietary) lossless format, or you can now import losslessly encoded (or not) WMA files which iTunes converts to AAC.

    (Thinking aloud) Prior to reading about 4.5 this morning, I was encoding my CD collection into a FLAC [sourceforge.net] archive. Using foobar2000 [foobar2000.org] I could then encode my FLAC collection to just about any other format, including AAC. Up until iTunes 4.5 however, there was no direct method of importing losslessly encoded formats (other than wav files). Importing WMA vs FLAC now makes this process at least one step easier - Windows Media Player's WMA tagging is also extremely easy. Using foobar2000, one can also transcode WMA files into virtually any other format as well. WMA arguably has more overall support than FLAC - at least as far as portables are concerned. I'm not saying I'll switch away from FLAC, but it may be worth investigating.

    I find it very odd how a new version of iTunes has me reconsidering WMA as an option for archiving my CD collection, especially as their own lossless codec was released on the same day.
  • by cbiffle ( 211614 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:29PM (#8997348)
    Don't be silly! If you wanted FLAC and Vorbis playback, 16 hours of battery life, and gapless or crossfaded playback, you'd just buy a Rio Karma.

  • CD-Text? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nvrrobx ( 71970 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:32PM (#8997387) Homepage
    Does iTunes 4.5 support CD Text? I have yet to understand why iTunes hasn't had this support! Just about every burner on the planet supports it. Even factory car stereos support it now.
  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:32PM (#8997388)
    This whole limit of computers is kind of redundant if they let you burn audio cd's. Aren't most people burning an audio cd, and then ripping to MP3 from there?

    Why would you do that? Take your protected AAC, open up iMovie, import the AAC, the save it again as an AIFF.
  • Re:By the numbers (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:38PM (#8997445)
    > 100,000,000 - Number of songs projected to be sold in 1st year

    100,000,000 was the number of songs projected to be DOWNLOADED from iTMS - not sold. That projected number also included the Pepsi free-tunes promotion.

    > 70,000,000 - Number of songs sold the first 365 days of the service

    This number does not, AFAICT, include the Pepsi promotion.

    So if 30% of the 100 million Pepsi promotional songs were redeemed then it's still possible that Apple has hit it's 100 million songs downloaded in the first year mark.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:39PM (#8997456)
    It is no surprise that there are no major new features, or that Playfair doesn't work. The main purpose of this release is to close some security holes. This is not surprising; if they didn't do this then RIAA would not let them distribute music any more. Nor is this a big deal. Apple seems to be trying to treat their customers decently. Why should a few pirates be allowed to force them out of the music business? I have no respect or sympathy for the hypocrites at RIAA, who prate endlessly about starving artists while causing said starvation by shamelessly ripping the artists off, but I do respect what Apple is trying to do.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:46PM (#8997550)
    Take a look at most apartment leases. Most of them have a clause about the owner being able to make changes to the lease after 30 days notice. It is not that uncommon to be able to make changes to an agreement.
  • FLAC in iTunes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lordpixel ( 22352 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:26PM (#8998055) Homepage
    Hi Josh,

    iTunes can play any audio file that Quicktime can play, so we could very easily have FLAC in iTunes if someone with the relevant expertise could be found to make a Quicktime Component that plays back FLAC.

    There's already one for Ogg-Vorbis, but it doesn't seem to do Ogg-FLAC.

    Of course, this wouldn't be as good as native FLAC support in iTunes, because I doubt things like the track meta data tags would be recognized through Quicktime. Still, it would be cool...
  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:39PM (#8998213)
    Gapless playback is not achieved by sliding the crossfade period to zero. If you do that, the first song fades out for about a tenth of a second while the new one fades in. That's not acceptable, and surely isn't the same as gapless playback.

    Really, how hard is it to append a new audio stream to an existing stream without a gap? It's just a string of bits, right?

    There is one pair of tracks that makes me want this feature: Parabol and Parabola from Tool's most recent album. Those tracks are essentially one song, and the god-damned quarter-second silence iTunes puts between them drives me CRAZY! it ruins the whole transition!

    I'm just sayin'. I still use and love iTunes.

    Here's a feature I wish it had, though: I wish I could drag around the interface elements. For me, what I really want is for the Artists to show up where the playlists show up, so that I have a whole window-height worth of space to browse my artists. Maybe the same for albums, so that you'd get four columns of data: playlists, artists, albums, and tracks. Perhaps columns could pop in and out of existence contextually.
  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:45PM (#8998294)
    I have over 200 albums, too, (not that I really think that's a lot these days) and ripped them all in a few days with no effort or attention on my part, using the iTunes rip-and-eject mode. Man that's sweet. Pop it in, wait like four or five minutes (or ten) and the CD pops out; then pop in a new one.

    I do wish that the default settings for their encoder were more reasonable but they're easy enough to change.

    I wish iTunes could tell you when it was having trouble reading a scratched CD, though. As I listen thru my music library every now and then I'll come across a messed-up MP3. I have a "re-encode" playlist for this purpose, so I can remember what tracks are junk and go back and try to re-rip them.
  • by TimTheFoolMan ( 656432 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:12PM (#8998709) Homepage Journal
    You own a car that has an interior noise floor lower than 40-50dB? You'd have to have such a vehicle to be able to detect a S/N ratio of better than 65dB or so, which is what it sounds like you're describing (max volume - noise floor > source S/N ratio). Have you even TRIED listening to an iPod coming in through RCA inputs to compare the sound against your in-dash unit's D/A conversion? If you've done so, and the results were truly audible, then I apologize.

    Look, I'm a car audio snob as much as the next guy (sealed-box sub in the trunk, 5-channel amp, component door units with high-mounted tweeters, etc.), but I'm not about to suggest that true audiophile quality sound is possible in MY car (1997 Nissan Maxima). In my experience, there's simply too much ambient road noise, particularly in the sub50 Hz range and too many issues concerning accurate soundstage (misc reflections as well as dramatic phase issues related to my proximity to the driver's side speakers) to consider any car-audio system to be truly competitive with an above-average home system.

  • by gidds ( 56397 ) <slashdot AT gidds DOT me DOT uk> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:38PM (#8999032) Homepage
    I expect it's to do with the way that sound is split into frames for encoding. Maybe the format assumes that the sound will fill a whole number of frames, so there's no way of telling that the sound stops half-way through the last frame?

    Even in that case, though, it shouldn't be too hard for the software to see that the sound stops abruptly half-way through the last frame, and infer the endpoint?

  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:49PM (#8999197) Homepage
    When I upgraded my iTunes and launched it for the first time, Little Snitch reported that it was trying to communicate to a server on wcg.net. Here is a "Whois" for wcg.net.

    Williams Communications Group (WCG3-DOM)
    111 E. 1st ST.
    Tulsa, OK 74103-2808

    Domain Name: WCG.NET

    Administrative Contact:
    Center, Network Operations (YDAAUAZAAI) noc@wcg.net
    Wiltel Communications
    3180 Rider Trail South
    Bridgeton, MO 63045

    Anyone have a clue why?
  • by Fweeky ( 41046 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @04:00PM (#9000134) Homepage
    Sure there is.. even you might notice if you knew what to look for and had a decent sound setup (good headphones, quiet computer, decent soundcard (i.e. not Creative)).

    Chances are it sounds *different*, not necessarily much worse. You should try ABXing* with a lossless source and see when you stop being able to tell the difference. LAME is tuned to attempt to produce such a "transparent" file using --alt-preset standard, but obviously with such a limit format it can't work miracles (some music *really* needs more than 320kbps).

    * ABX involves taking two tracks and distributing them randomly across (A,B) and (X,Y). You flick between them and try to match X,Y -> A,B. Thow in some stats, and you get a fairly scientific assessment as to whether you can tell any difference. On HydrogenAudio [hydrogenaudio.org], you can get banned for making a statement about quality without doing this ;)
  • by UnrefinedLayman ( 185512 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @06:27PM (#9001910)
    I'm curious, which law is this that says if you purchase a CD that you're not allowed fair-use rights (or the UK equiv. of fair-use)?

    Slashdot links are also appreciated.
  • cluestick (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IncohereD ( 513627 ) <mmacleod@NoSpam.ieee.org> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @08:12PM (#9002878) Homepage
    Why does a book have chapters? Why does a play have acts? Why does a symphony have movements, for that matter?

    For an interesting counter-example, one of Kyuss's albums has 4 tracks, with 3 tracks per song. Although a couple of them were later separated out on the 'best of' cd.
  • by plasm4 ( 533422 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @09:28PM (#9003365) Journal
    In all probability if you call and convince Apple that you need to re-download, you can probably work something out.
    I accidentally wiped out about half of my purchased music and I sent apple an email asking if I could re-download. Within 15 minutes iTunes informed me that I could I had music waiting to be downloaded.

Think of your family tonight. Try to crawl home after the computer crashes.