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Pay 89p for a download.. Maybe 320 kbps or 160 kbps !!!!

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Showing 1-25 of 39 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Oct 2012 12:54:01 BDT
Jay65 says:
I have just had the misfortune to learn that Amazon's downloads are of Variable Bit Rate. This is not reflected in the price.. so you do not know prior to buying and downloading, what quality of download you are getting.

I purchased an album and received a download of tracks varying between 160-320 kbps !! I complained immediately and am pleased to say, a refund is coming.

Sadly I am without a quality version of an album I really wanted (and is not available on cd).

Despite the refund, my concerns about Amazon's practice still stand. I have, and do buy a lot of music. Quality is essential to me.. and many of you too I'm sure.

I do dislike the new 1-Click buying system, but this vbr practice, I totally detest.

At present my only option is to buy my downloads elsewhere. Sorry Amazon but you are losing yet another customer.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Oct 2012 15:29:19 BDT
Johnny74 says:
I must say that I totally agree with Jay65, Amazon should inform you at what bitrate the tracks will be before you purchase. I have had some with terrible quality audio. Also, I don't like the 1 click system because I like to add a lot of music to my basket before deciding which ones to purchase. The 1 click system is convenient if you want to purchase the music immediately. I may give 7digital a try although they don't have all the tracks I want.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Oct 2012 23:16:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Oct 2012 23:16:20 BDT
HobekaStoo says:
I agree too!
It makes sense to have an indication of what bit rate it is on offer. 320K would be ideal or even 256k, but variable without any reference to what these rates are is in my view a bit dodgy. I'm disappointed that Amazon are spoiling what could be an absolutely brilliant digital music store.
Come on Amazon, get your act together!

Posted on 17 Oct 2012 23:18:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Oct 2012 23:22:16 BDT
I also agree with the previous people.

Anyone who takes their listening seriously wants to know the bitrate of the MP3s they're buying.
I spent ages trying to find out before committing to buying, and thanks to the posters above, I have been saved the disappointment of an inferior quality listening experience.

I will have to look elsewhere for my MP3s.

Come on Amazon, take your job seriously and stop insulting our ears with this lacklustre performance.
This is 2012, not the 1930s wax cylinder age.


Posted on 17 Oct 2012 23:56:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Oct 2012 00:11:36 BDT
Jay65 says:
Here is the explanation Amazon gave me as to why they employ vbr:

"Many of our MP3 files are recorded at a variable bit rate, which may cause your media player to report a bit rate different from 256Kbps.

We encode our MP3 files using variable bit rates for maximum audio quality and smaller file sizes, aiming at an average of 256 kilobits per second (kbps). Using a variable bit rate allows us to allocate a higher bit rate to the more complex sections of music files while using a smaller bit rate for the less complex sections. The average of these rates is then calculated to produce an average bit rate for the entire file that represents the overall sound quality.

Some of our content is encoded using a constant bit rate of 256 kbps. This content will have the same excellent audio quality at a slightly larger file size".

Isn't that horrifying ?? A single track could be encoded at different rates during it's length. Complicated passages in a higher bit rate, simpler passages in a lower bit rate. What the hell..

Amazon place great importance in reducing the file size so that it downloads at a quicker speed !

I said people who love music are very concerned with the quality of the media we are buying and listening to.. whether cd, vinyl or mp3
I said, I for one, would support a price rise to ensure we get 320 kbps files. The download speed is no argument for me because computers are so fast these days, a slightly longer download time won't put many people off.

HobekaStoo.. I totally agree. Amazon is ruining what could be a brilliant download store. I'm beginning to think that they have never considered what quality discerning music lovers want. They better wise up or all us audiophiles will be shopping elsewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2012 11:45:48 BDT
er...wax cylinders were pre-1900, and recording techniques were actually quite advanced by the 1930s! I take your point though and agree we should be getting much better service from Amazon

Posted on 19 Oct 2012 16:09:33 BDT
I want Consistency, Quality, Value for Money and Simplicity!!! Amazon are not delivering this with their MP3 Downloads. No more purchasing from me.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2012 04:09:35 BDT
Hum Bleone says:
I am not sure if you tried to convert VBR files to MP3 using the Real Player utility.
It worked in my case and I could choose the acceptable bit rate to boot.
I hope it helps.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2012 09:39:01 BDT
You do realise that when using a lossy format, no matter what convert to, can never get lost bits back. BandCamp offer choice of formats and more extensive pre-purchase sampling so it can be done.

Posted on 21 Oct 2012 19:20:10 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Oct 2012 19:24:50 BDT
Jay65 says:
Thank you Johnny74. I just used 7digital to buy the album I originally wanted from Amazon. I got the full album at 320 kbps for a much lower price than Amazon's variable rate download. No 1-Click scam or Cloudplayer woes either. You can simply download the full zip file to where you want on your computer, as soon as you've purchased. See Amazon.. there are other retailers out there providing a much better service than you. You underestimate music fans. We are a discerning lot and we demand a quality service at a fair price. If we can't depend on you, I think a lot of us will simply go elsewhere.

Posted on 4 Nov 2012 10:18:58 GMT
Callum T says:
The problem is that record companies aren't releasing albums in high bitrates, even sites like 7digital still sell albums in 256k because of record companies.

It's the reason I am still staying away from digital downloads, certain record companies need to start releasing higher quality music.

Posted on 4 Nov 2012 11:44:19 GMT
Mr. B. Tyler says:
I would have bought this album months ago if it was 320kps!!!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Nov 2012 13:15:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Nov 2012 13:17:45 GMT
Jay65 says:
Callum T ..You are of course right in what you say about record companies not providing 320 kbps source files. However, this only makes it more important that Amazon provides bit rate information before customers purchase, and price those differing bit rates accordingly. Personally I would like to see Amazon refusing to sell low quality downloads all together. At present customers have no idea what quality they are purchasing. A complete nonsense. Over the past few weeks I have come to the opinion that Amazon are completely out of touch with what customers want and expect.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Nov 2012 13:26:09 GMT
Jay65 says:
Lange.. D. Macfarlane is right. if you start with a 160 kbps file for example.. you cannot actually convert it into a higher bit rate file. The 160 kbps file you are starting with already has the higher quality information removed, thus it's 160 kbps status. Even though some audio editors allow you to specify the bit rate you want, you can never convert to a higher bit rate than what you started with. Hope this helps to explain.

Posted on 4 Nov 2012 16:47:20 GMT
Onthefence says:
...or you could buy the whole album second hand on Amazon in 'very good condition' for just 0.01p and 1.27 postage, record it at whatever bit rate you want, lend it to your all friends to do the same, then sell it on eBay for 1.50...

Posted on 6 Nov 2012 09:30:42 GMT
J Morrow says:
...or why not go for reasonably high quality and demand entropically encoded 192kHz/24bit or higher?

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Nov 2012 00:11:46 GMT
Nice idea, but I can't see it happening any time soon.
At least these comments pointed me in the direction of other purchasing options, even if they aren't proper hi-def.
It's a shame that places like don't cater for the type of music I favour, otherwise I'd be buying everything there.
Ah well, CD it is then.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Nov 2012 21:43:35 GMT
Jim says:
Agree. I spent a long time trying to find this info on the help pages. Appalled that Amazon clearly have no concern for quality - pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap, that's the Amazon philosophy.

Posted on 7 Nov 2012 23:23:51 GMT
VBR isn't the devil, lossless codecs will employ something similar, albeit without losing audio quality, somewhere in the 900+ kbps range. Everything I have downloaded from Amazon has been around the 256 range, sometimes a little less. Going down to 160kbps mp3 (not even the old iTunes more sophisticated 160kbps AAC) is ridiculous though. Amazon really should get on the FLAC bandwagon, but the lack of iPod support means no big retailer is going near, which is a crying shame as that would potentially offer compressed lossless 24 bit/96k audio tracks. Guess we'll have to wait for the PONO player for that. Spotify uses 320 kbps Ogg Vorbis, so you could try that. The best option really is to buy the CD itself and convert the WAV file into whatever you want/need...

Posted on 8 Nov 2012 14:47:06 GMT
B Brown says:
As someone who has spent in excess of 1,000 on hifi and audio equipment (headphones, custom headphone amplifiers and DACs) I can safely say that I have absolutely no problem with Amazon offering VBR encoded MP3 files. For about 99% of cases you won't be able to tell the difference between Amazon's VBR and raw WAV ripped straight from a CD. Either the reproductive equipment won't be good enough to show differences, the recording itself won't be good enough to be distinguished (and keep in mind that recording quality is vastly more important than bitrate in terms of overall sound) or, shockingly, your ears won't be good enough to pick up the differences.
If you don't believe me you can try a double-blind test and see if you can hear a distinct difference between bitrates. You might be quite shocked by how close a 128kb/s MP3 can sound to a WAV or FLAC file. Does it suck that Amazon doesn't offer archive quality downloads? Yes, kind of. Will it actually matter to the majority of people? No, not at all. CBR doesn't really earn you anything over VBR except for a higher filesize, so for DAP applications a VBR is a much better choice. And if you do really want archive quality, just buy the damn CD.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2012 16:39:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2012 16:42:01 GMT
Jay65 says:
a gamer...Not all music is available on cd. The album I originally purchased was a digital only release, so I had no choice of buying a cd. And yes.. when I found it elsewhere.. I got it cheaper and at 320 kbps cbr. As to perceiving differences in sound quality, I have done double blind testing in the past.. I can definately tell the difference between 128 kbps and 320 kbps. I 'm glad you are happy with Amazon's service. Really I am. But many of us are not, and are responding by no longer purchasing our downloads at Amazon. I have spent 1000's over the years on high fidelity equipment and media.. vinyls and then cds. I think more people than you may think are concerned with quality and can tell the difference.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2012 16:57:27 GMT
Jonny, use the Wish list facility to store up possible future buys. Needless to say Amazon don't highlight this but it works.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2012 17:01:38 GMT
Jay, try the Classical Shop and ClassicsOnline. Both sell different labels from the predictable Chandos & Naxos. The former gives you a choice of bit rates, both high.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2012 17:15:17 GMT
Jim says:
As someone who has spent in excess of 7000 on hi-fi equipment, I can tell you that my equipment and my ears are definitely good enough to distinguish between a 128 mp3 and a CD, with or without a double blind test. In fact, if you have difficulty in distinguishing the difference on a 500 system, I suggest you get your ears checked. I'm happy to concede that when you get past 192kbs it gets a bit more challenging, but even then there is a tangible, although difficult to describe, difference in the ambience which is a highly worthwhile consideration for any music lover.

Posted on 11 Nov 2012 00:11:48 GMT
zargb5 says:
If i have to buy a download i usually do so via HMV (7digital) or artist sites if available. At least they actually state what bit rate you are buying. Its just shoddy and lazy not to. shops who sell Full format files do so at a big premium. If i can i buy them on cd (usually at a cheaper price than the download) Its down to economics as usual - you can just use share that bandwidth between more customers if you use smaller files. Quality is rather low down the scale of their priorities. Just get away with what most people will accept. Never mind the quality feel the bandwidth.
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Discussion in:  mp3 discussion forum
Participants:  24
Total posts:  39
Initial post:  17 Oct 2012
Latest post:  15 Nov 2012

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