While video quality has improved, sound of music remains muddled

  • Article by: Kevin Hunt , Chicago Tribune
  • Updated: February 22, 2013 - 2:24 PM

While video quality is constantly improving, music continues to get the short end of the resolution stick.

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snickelodeonFeb. 23, 13 8:27 AM

The author is simply wrong when he says that, "No technological, or practical, reason prevents music downloads from matching sound quality available in the home since the 1990s." For one thing, 119 million Americans lack the broadband internet service he takes for granted. And sadly, those of us who have broadband are increasingly facing the prospect of data caps and metered service from broadband providers. But the main problem is his basic premise: video downloads have gone hi-def but audio lags far behind. The reality is, for both audio and video there is a significant difference between what's available on physical media, and what most of download. Apple's 256 kbps ACC files are not CD quality. But Netflix, Hulu, and the so-called hi-def video you get from cable or satellite are not blu-ray quality either, but far from it, and for basically the same reason: the signal is highly compressed. It's not the just the music that's muddled, but the author's reasoning. I'd bet that if he compares a high quality blu-ray and a video download side by side, the sacrifice in quality would likely be even more noticeable than the difference between ITunes and a CD.

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benedict636Feb. 23, 1312:35 PM

I think the author is on target. Bit rates of audio streams need to go higher. These low bit rates discourage investment in decent audio systems. For instance there is no excuse for the low bit rate streams from MPR, they sound awful. especially that choral stream which "twinks" like crazy. If they would go to 350kbs AAC they would best analog FM easily. But I agree loss less codecs like FLAC are the way to go. An underlying problem is that all this technology is pop geared and for most of that rubbish it doesn't matter what the bit rate is. If Internet providers start metering bits, I think there will be a big move back to hard media. Actually what is required is a move to loss less MKV file downloads. I'm unconvinced that streaming is the best way to distribute program. I would much rather purchase high quality downloads. You can download high quality audio from sites like HD tracks.

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