Audio Downloads are Almost Here!


Yes, I know, you’re thinking, “What’s he talking about? Audio downloads have been available for quite some time now.”

Well, the fact is that I’ve never been a fan of MP3‘s. The idea of paying a $1 for a song rife with compression artifacts has just never worked for me. I have absolutely no qualms with paying for my music. I own several thousand CD’s (original CD’s that I bought, not CDR’s that I created).

However, I’ve always taken to the CD-audio concept. I buy the CD and the song is there for me to “own” (don’t get me started on the own vs. license issue) in full digital glory without all the compression. CD’s aren’t perfect either but they’re certainly much better than standard MP3’s.

When the lossless compression codecs came along it made for a perfect match for me. I could save some space but lose nothing in fidelity along the way. I could also finally rip all the songs I care about onto a single hard drive and not have it take up all that much space. My current library is about 40GB in size which is perfectly fine for me.

The one area that was lacking for me was the ability to buy single songs and download them in either this lossless format or in full uncompressed form. My broadband connection is good enough that I can download 40MB (the size of a typical uncompressed CD-audio song) in a few minutes. That’s plenty fast enough for me. Lossless compression cuts that nearly in half. However, I’ve always felt that the recording industry would balk at providing this level of quality due to their questionable views on piracy.

Much to my surprise, I saw a piece in the news about Steve Jobs coming to my rescue. Apparently he’s looking to provide exactly this for an update to iTunes. Could it be that I could finally become an iTunes user? I doubt that. I tried iTunes a few times and immediately went on a search for a replacement and ended up, for better or worse, with dB PowerAmp‘s Sveta software. I can’t recommend it for everyone but for the power user it’s pretty impressive.

Anyway, if iTunes offers uncompressed or lossless files it won’t be long before the competitors do and maybe I’ll finally start spending money on song downloads. I have my doubts there as well as I fully expect the industry to price such downloads prohibitively. I’ve always said that if I could pay $1 for a quality download, I’d have to take great measures to keep my buying in check. Thankfully the industry itself has been that check all this time.

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