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How important is audio quality?
Old 19th November 2007
  #1
Lives for gear
 
andychamp's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
How important is audio quality?

In your experience, how much do the downloaders/buyers care about audio quality?
When given a choice, what is their favorite format/resolution/bitrate?
How much does pricing influence this decision?

Or is it really "only about the song"?
Old 20th November 2007
  #2
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
 
PeterTuneCore's Avatar
 

Gnereally, if a fan downloads a song and isn't happy with the quality, we don't hear about it, because the fan contacts the store.

But we can infer that quality is important, which is why iTunes, the biggest store, has started iTunes Plus with increased bitrate for better quality. There must have been demand...

--Peter
peter@tunecore.com
Old 21st November 2007
  #3
Founder CD Baby
 
Derek Sivers's Avatar
 

Smile how much do the downloaders/buyers care about audio quality

Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp View Post
how much do the downloaders/buyers care about audio quality? what is their favorite format/resolution/bitrate? How much does pricing influence this decision?
Be careful when you find yourself thinking of "buyers" or "they".

Instead, think of each of your fans.

How much does Tracy care about audio quality?
What is Camille's favorite format?
How about Brian?
What bitrate does Amber prefer?

The answer, of course, is that some care, some don't, some want choice, some want you to tell them what to do.

The lovely thing about this electronic world is that you don't have to manufacture more of one thing or decide in advance how many of a product to ship to Chicago.

Give choices, so that people can decide.

And provide a preference for those that want you to choose for them.

It's an artistic decision on your part, same as the choices you make while recording. Even, perhaps, deciding NOT to give them a choice would be your artistic decision (providing WAV-only), if you want your fellow audiophiles would applaud you.

It's wrongly simplistic to only think of "them".

(This applies to communicating with your fans, too. When you write an email to your list, don't write it to "them", write it to Amber, Brian, Camille, David, etc.)
Old 24th November 2007
  #4
Founder, CEO, President - Tunecore
 
Jeff Price's Avatar
 

I really love my vinyl - nothing sounds better, warmer, fatter... the EQ range is broader, I even love the clicks and pops.

However, it seems that people buy music based on other criteria aside from "what sounds the best"

Point in case is the Sony Walkman. Prior to the advent of the Walkman, cassettes were approximately 2% of the marketplace. Vinyl dominated and 8 track was in there as well.

Compared to vinyl, most cassettes sound horrible, and prior to Dolby Noise Reduction, they sounded even worse (although the original Dolby noise reduction also seemed to suck all the high end out of a recording). However, once the Walkmen was introduced to the world cassettes jumped to almost 50% market share.

Why? They sure don't sound better. You can't stare at the album art the way you would a 12" vinyl album. It was the convenience factor and portability. For the first time it was easy to bring your own music with you and listen to it in your own self contained world (I remember the first time I got my Walkmen and popped in my English Beat cassette. A very magical moment).

Convenience and portability trumped sound quality. And the same seems to hold true for the general population. For most people, the difference between a 128 kps MP3 and a WAV on their headphones sounds more or less the same to them. Besides, they get what they really want, something the size of a pack of cigarettes holds thousands of songs. Instant portable of all their music wherever they go.

I believe there is a base line to the minimum quality of the music that people will accept, and its pretty low. Convenience, costs and portability will always trump as criteria

And remember, even the best recorded, mixed, mastered and EQ-ed songs at the highest bit rate possible will still sound mediocre if the headphones (or speakers) are not up to speed. And most of the world is used to the quality of the iPod headphones.

Jeff Price
TuneCore
TuneCorner
Old 28th November 2007
  #5
Gear maniac
 
Larrysings's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=Jeff Price;1649614]I really love my vinyl - nothing sounds better, warmer, fatter... the EQ range is broader, I even love the clicks and pops.

However, it seems that people buy music based on other criteria aside from "what sounds the best"

Point in case is the Sony Walkman. Prior to the advent of the Walkman, cassettes were approximately 2% of the marketplace. Vinyl dominated and 8 track was in there as well.

Compared to vinyl, most cassettes sound horrible, and prior to Dolby Noise Reduction, they sounded even worse (although the original Dolby noise reduction also seemed to suck all the high end out of a recording). However, once the Walkmen was introduced to the world cassettes jumped to almost 50% market share.

Why? They sure don't sound better. You can't stare at the album art the way you would a 12" vinyl album. It was the convenience factor and portability. For the first time it was easy to bring your own music with you and listen to it in your own self contained world (I remember the first time I got my Walkmen and popped in my English Beat cassette. A very magical moment).

Convenience and portability trumped sound quality. And the same seems to hold true for the general population. For most people, the difference between a 128 kps MP3 and a WAV on their headphones sounds more or less the same to them. Besides, they get what they really want, something the size of a pack of cigarettes holds thousands of songs. Instant portable of all their music wherever they go.

I believe there is a base line to the minimum quality of the music that people will accept, and its pretty low. Convenience, costs and portability will always trump as criteria

And remember, even the best recorded, mixed, mastered and EQ-ed songs at the highest bit rate possible will still sound mediocre if the headphones (or speakers) are not up to speed. And most of the world is used to the quality of the iPod headphones.

Jeff Price
TuneCore
TuneCorner[/QUOTe


Soooo...Sad how the human species is devolving aurally and spiritually(read: not caring about the "actual" sonic excellence or artistry put into a recording). We are becoming a complacent, a.d.d. afflicted, overweight, undereducated, bunch of couch potatoes. Where multiple stimuli on any level is suitable enough to satisfy the saccharine craving for us to fill a banal moment in time. I love the convenience of my Ipod at the gym, but do all I can to hear the nuances of my music when enjoying the art form.
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