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Universal digital music download file format

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I used mp3 players for a few years but I honestly never really got into it. There are several reasons-2 of which could be solved with the cooperation of several music download services and electronics manufacturers.

1. there's never been any kind of standard for digital downloads of music- when you download stuff from the internet it's always some weird thing like .m4a or .c8ny0ugu355wh1chpl8y3r1sc0mp8t1ble3 (ok I was kidding about that last one) different formats often have copyright protection or some such BS that is no doubt INTENDED to stop piracy (or at least make it more difficult) but often causes compatibility headaches-If you get a different player than the one that the jukebox software is designed for, you always have to convert files with all sorts of special software and all that garbage, because the jukebox program with this so-called "protection" music doesn't have facilities to do that! (again a measure against piracy)

It's not a format war, it's not as though one came after the other and the newest one dominated, it's basically like there's 10 different formats, not one of them being any more popular than the next!

2. you CAN rip from CD's, because ripping software allows you to rip to a myriad of different formats, BUT!!!!!!! the CD has to be absolutely brand new-if there's the TEENIEST TINIEST MICROSCOPIC "dropout" or as I like to call them "sour notes" (tiny missing parts) many MP3 players will simply freeze completely, requiring a reboot or (if removable) a removal of the battery-from such infinitesimal dropouts/skips that would have absolutely ZERO effect on even the world's worst CD player!!!!!!! In fact, one mp3 walkman I had to reformat just because I tried to play such a song, it crashed and when I rebooted it, several items had been erased AND SOME MENU ITEMS WERE MISSING????? So basically a CD that has been played one too many times before ripping, or even the tiniest hiccup in an internet connection during a download, can leave you with a permanently unplayable song.

So here's 2 possible solutions-

1. do away with any kind of obscure formats that have copyright protection and just use MP3's FOR DOWNLOADING

2. Use a "protected" format that is compatible with a wide variety of players, any player supporting it comes with a CD with the software for this, and has a big logo of some description both on the box, and the player itself.

#1 may sound great-but it also widely opens the door for piracy to even someone who has a very old computer, so that's probably not going to be adopted by many recording companies. #2 sounds more realistic to me.

This format's jukebox software will "sync" with the player and put on whatever you want that you have- BUT! as a measure against piracy, any player that is "synced" with your computer, if plugged into a different one, will not allow you to copy the files FROM THE PLAYER INTO THAT COMPUTER. It will simply prompt you to sync with this computer, and clearly say that if you do so, all the music that was not on this computer is erased from the player. And yes, you can still rip CD's with this jukebox software if you want to.

What if my computer dies and I need to copy the music left on my player to my new computer (and I didn't have a backup- DOH!)? No problem-grab the CD that came with your player and look at the back of the player, and the CD itself-there will be a number written here! if you need to copy stuff back, you must enter the ID # written on the back of the walkman, and the # written on the CD itself. If the #'s are correct, the walkman will be "synced" AND any music on the walkman will once again be copied to your library.

Any walkman that supports this file format (and it's jukebox software) will have some kind of error correction/recovery programming. If the walkman encounters a "dropout" it will simply "skip" ahead by a second, and if there's still nothing there, it will repeat the process until it finds something that can be played. It will then place a "mark" on the file that can be read by both the walkman and the jukebox software. If you want to "fix" this problem you simply connect to the internet and select "fix a song or other audio file" and you simply select it. The online service then verifies that it's really a song (i.e. it's not just a renamed text or picture file:) then it will find the missing or messed up part of the song, and "stitch" it back in!

If the walkman you have has a memory card slot, the jukebox software will allow you to EITHER put music on the card OR on the player's memory. The walkman itself will allow you to MOVE files between the memory card and itself, but not COPY the files. The memory card will be an existing format, such as a CF or SD card

Dickcheney6, Oct 10 2009

Wikipedia: mp4? m4a? What's the difference? http://en.wikipedia...M4A_file_extensions
[jutta, Oct 11 2009]

The real thing http://www.youtube....watch?v=lD2OsUcgb00
Live without a net [doctorremulac3, Dec 30 2010]

Brand X http://www.youtube....watch?v=SOI4OF7iIr4
With heavy vocal digital correction [doctorremulac3, Dec 30 2010]


       Kind of a "let's all" idea, isn't it?
krelnik, Oct 10 2009

       1. MP3s are a 'lossy compression' which means the sound quality is discernably poorer than other formats.   

       2. Many or most musicians have to sign away their rights to big entertainment companies in order to get published. These big entertainment companies have a lot of vested interest in continuing to charge for proprietary protected formats.   

       3. Many if not most personal portable audio players are purchased on price not quality. Is there any surprise that many people a) find them buggy and prone to crash, and b) can't hear the difference between a CD and an MP3?   

       i.e. your 'problems' can be easily solved by buying good equipment and using it properly.
pocmloc, Oct 11 2009

       Ogg vorbis or FLAC. MP3 (and ogg vorbis) are both lossy.
nineteenthly, Oct 11 2009

       This thing is based upon PAID DOWNLOADS. If I were stealing crap of course I would be pissed about different formats and garbage- that's what all these different formats are SUPPOSED to be pitted against. However, the super-huge myriad of different formats also makes it hard to find a player that is well designed that ALSO supports your particular downloaded format. Again, they can be converted with proper software, but it's tedious to do this if you have anything more than the most modest collection in your library.   

       This idea is to still have measures against piracy, but not such that it will cause compatibility "headaches"- in other words every player that can use this format has a standard logo of some sort. The "measures against piracy" basically are designed (in this idea) such that they will almost never cause any problems with legitimate users- i.e. it's not an obscure file format that is not widely supported.- all it does is ensure that people can't copy, copy, copy a zillion times to so many systems, but it *DOES NOT* prevent someone who has had a problem with their computer from re-loading their music back onto the computer.   

       This format would allow one to do PAID downloads of music to their heart's content (and their wallet's) and use it on a somewhat wide range of players with many different feature sets, from several different manufacturers, and buy players with confidence that they will play their format of music.   

       The term "walkman" simply means compact portable music player. Several different companies also have such players that are designed around a specific piece of software.   

       "1. MP3s are a 'lossy compression' which means the sound quality is discernably poorer than other formats."   

       This format is not an MP3-it's different than that. If it were an MP3 it would not need to have it's own specific "jukebox software". On that note, I'll just say it will be of higher quality than that- comparable to that of other paid downloads.
Dickcheney6, Oct 11 2009

       It so happens that i don't download music, but if i did, what if i also did the "equivalent" amount of work for the price of the download? For instance, i download a CD's worth of music which would have cost me fifteen quid, and in return i do three or four hours work for nothing, maybe for an employer in the music industry. So, i do the roadie stuff for one concert or work at HMV for half a day. Would that mitigate it?

The other thing is, just as home taping was said to be killing music, isn't this bringing live music back? Does it not mean that bands are encouraged to perform live because they can't make money off recordings?
nineteenthly, Oct 11 2009

       3 or 4 hours work for a 15 quid CD?
Has the recession really hit that bad?
MikeOliver, Oct 11 2009

       I was being generous. The work i've done as a shop assistant paid the minimum wage, which is now about six quid an hour, so i'm assuming that working in a record shop would pay the same. I was also taking into account the idea that stealing is wrong and so increasing the compensation.
nineteenthly, Oct 11 2009

       God, why is it so often the kiss of death when i add an annotation?
nineteenthly, Oct 11 2009

       I did download illegal MP3s in the past but over the last few years there has been no need to do so. There is now such a wealth of music available online for free and legally so that unless you insist on slavishly following the particular band the major record company is pushing this week then you can be both legal and keep your pennies.   

       Add to this the large number of online radio stations that allow you to listen to something more suited to your tastes than mainstream FM broadcasts and the justification for illegal downloads is entirely defeated.   

       Finally, MP3 players play files ending in .mp3, not .m4a or anything else. Download the right file and it will work fine. I have never seen an MP3 file crash, hang or damage an MP3 player; the worst case scenario is you get a clicking noise and have to skip to the next track.
vincevincevince, Oct 12 2009

       "Add to this the large number of online radio stations that allow you to listen to something more suited to your tastes than mainstream FM broadcasts and the justification for illegal downloads is entirely defeated."   

       Do you not get it? this is a PAID DOWNLOAD SERVICE where EVERY PLAYER THAT IS COMPATIBLE WITH IT is clearly marked as so with a easily recognizable logo. There will never again be any question to what is compatible with the walkman or not.   

       This is a format that produces CD-quality music, not actually mp3 which as you all know is #1. a somewhat "lossy" format #2 Not all record companies are willing to distribute their music in this format because it's something that you download that is totally easy-as-beans to put on some random file sharing site with even the most basic computer literacy, thereby losing them money.   

       This format is designed not to allow it quite that easily, however the ONLY thing it does is prevent you from actually MAKING A LARGE NUMBER OF COPIES beyond what anyone would reasonably expect a legitimate user to do.   

       But, if you have *ANYTHING* that can possibly identify that you bought the song you can re-download things that you already paid for but somehow lost due to equipment failures or your computer mis-wrote a single byte of information and screwed up a song. Seriously, has any computer ever been built which has NEVER EVER EVER EVER throughout it's entire lifetime accidentally "lose" even the teeniest tiniest little piece of something? It seems that so many players are designed without any thought whatsoever given to how to handle a single split-second screwup in a song: It so happens that on my particular walkman, it does hang up on that part and just stops. cant FF or REW or in any way bypass that part of the song. All I can do is back out to the menu and select another song. In some cases it freezes completely and has to be restarted (though not every time). One case that I had was after I ripped a cd that had a few scratches on it, which apparently caused several different songs not to be playable as an MP3 file on the computer or the walkman. However, the same songs on said CD played ABSOLUTELY FLAWLESSLY on a $27 CD player made by an off-brand company. No skipping, static or dropouts whatsoever. On a stupid little radio. That's just ridiculous.   

       I have even had paid downloads get "messed up" like this. It's not like it has happened to a quarter of my library or anything, because if it was happening that much I would suspect that my computer was broken or something, but it's so frustrating to have a song that I paid for suddenly become unplayable randomly. It doesn't matter how much or how little you play it. It's not like it happens a lot, but when it does happen it's totally random.   

       There doesn't seem to be any way to prevent this from happening. See, I thought that was supposed to be one of the chief advantages to MP3's- since you're not using any physical media exchanged on a regular basis to store them directly, they shouldn't "wear out". However, if ever your computer ever crashes while reading something in your library or a single bad sector pops up in a hard drive that's running all day every day, then some random file loses a tiny little bit of it. Usually such things don't really matter much, and it's not like it happens every day (and possibly not even every month!) but if it's an MP3 file or other music file, you're screwed.   

       This format would mitigate those issues. Again, if you still have access to your account in some way shape or form you can just re-download what you've already paid for. It's not as if people would want to post their account access information on a P2P network because they'd be giving everyone who sees it the ability to use the account to "buy" music with said account thus "throwing away" so much of their money.   

       Pretend you're a record company manager. Would you rather use a somewhat low quality format (MP3) which is totally open to anyone who knows how to download it to make as many copies as they want and give them all away, or even sell the copies and make money themselves! Or, would you instead offer it in a format that is protected to some degree against piracy, yet designed to be compatible with a wide variety of devices, AND it's specifically designed to be user friendly and attractive to those who have in the past attempted to use not-so-user-friendly download services and turned up their noses, and proceeded to start doing illegal downloading garbage, yet they'd be willing to pay if a downloading service had a more widely-use format that is compatible with a device that fits their "tech-tastes". (for instance, maybe they want a player that isn't super-expensive and/or complicated)
Dickcheney6, Feb 20 2010

       This format is higher quality than MP3, every walkman that can play it has a big logo on the box, there's a wide variety of players from different manufacturers that can play it, and the format has copyright protection, but it is designed so that a person is solely prevented from doing file-sharing websites with zero chance of impeding legitamate use of it.   

       Songs that are bought are "remembered" on your account, so if your library gets lost or scrambled due to a hard drive failure, all you've got to do is enter your user name, email and password (or use a "secret security question" or contact tech support if you forgot your password) and all the songs you paid for re-appear in your computer. And to ensure that people don't simply post account info on the internet to allow other people to use it to download the songs that the user paid for, logging into the account allows the purchase of songs without any further measures (besides re-entering your password at purchase time, in case someone left the computer while they were still logged in). This would discourage people from doing that because then they would be allowing basically everyone who saw the information to buy songs with their account, thus losing money on songs they may not even like. However, a user name and password can be easily changed-just enter the old ones, then re-set them, or contact tech support if you don't have the old ones.   

       In short, pirating of downloaded music files would be rather difficult, but there's so many provisions to prevent any problems for the legitamate user that no one would be inclined to crack the protection for any other reason. The quality is higher than that of an MP3. All these things would make a highly attractive format for both the consumers and the recording studios- I would think that most recording studios would want to use a user-friendly downloading system that still tries to prevent piracy, instead of simply selling MP3's which are of lower quality and can be easily copied and pirated with basic computer knowledge.
Dickcheney6, Dec 28 2010

       I would say the options are: Ogg vorbis, FLAC, .WAV files or that AU thing, or even MIDI. You could maybe do something weird like losslessly compress a .WAV file. Nor do i think the sampling rate of an AU file is too low. I was perfectly happy with a reel-to-reel mono recording of the Apollo moonlandings and early 'seventies pop music off an AM tranny placed next to the mike and i don't see that rasterbating the quality is anything other than a way of getting me to replace my thirty-year old speakers unnecessarily.
nineteenthly, Dec 28 2010

       I, for one, am somewhat like you, nineteenthly. I don't really care to spend more money on something solely for better quality. Those who are happy with the quality of a cassette player probably wouldn't spend a lot of money upgrading their equipment. The .AAC files that Itunes uses are comparable to the quality of a CD, but that format isn't very widely supported.   

       The idea here is to create an audio format that is widely supported by many different kinds of walkmans, but with the measures against piracy mentioned above so that record companies would be more likely to actually offer their music in this format.
Dickcheney6, Dec 28 2010

       Sorry, i'm afraid it's been over a year since i read the initial idea - should've read it again. Due to my daughter's enthusiasm (misplaced i think) for Apple, we have a lot of AAC files. I've also stuck AAC files on CD and played them on a DVD player without any problems. Not sure about a portable player, but iPods are all over the place. More than a bit annoying to be tied into them of course.   

       Going off-topic now.   

       Concerning cassettes, the audio quality went up immeasurably during their time. At the start, the idea that they were a viable alternative to LPs was laughable, but by the end they weren't that much worse even than CD quality apart from the obvious wow and flutter.
nineteenthly, Dec 29 2010

       All that old analog stuff was more pleasant to listen too because of the coloration that occurred during the process. Transients, spikes and stuff outside a set dynamic range was still recorded but got squished by first going through these nice sounding old compressors or limiters, many times using tube amplifiers which gave a nice sound and then hitting a tape which would squish those peaks further and in a pleasant way. Tape saturation coloration was a nice effect. So nothing would hurt your ears just due to the limitations of the technology. With digital there are no such limitations and what you record is what you hear out the other end. Listen to a cymbal crash for instance recorded on analog and then on digital. Ouch! These transients accumulate and to make something sound pleasant, you need to tweak your sounds appropriately. So ironically, the mp3 compression probably helps by making digitally recorded stuff sound less awful, but a lot is lost in the process.   

       Another wrong turn in musical playback in my opinion was the marketing of easier to make and ship so called "micro speaker" systems that use a separate subsonic driver to give you your lows, the theory being that longer wave low frequencies aren't really directional anyway so why bother having two big 12" speakers on either side of the room? Just throw them in anywhere in mono. Problem with that is, if people buy that low frequencies aren't that important, might as well make that sub driver smaller as well since it's cheaper to make. So instead of having 2 12" speakers on either side of the room, you've got one 8" speaker facing the floor over there behind the tv. No, it doesn't sound the same.   

       So you've got all these little speakers all over the place that are technically getting the sound to you, but that don't sound nearly as good as just putting enough speaker cone area up there to move lots and lots of air.   

       Let me put it this way, if you tried to set up a recording studio with those little speakers you'd get laughed off the map. That's because they suck. But they're cheap to make, they're easy to warehouse and ship and they sell them as being "superduper sound quality audio-terrific" and people buy it.   

       Not to mention the art form itself. I grew up with Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, later discovering the Beatles etc. My daughter is being sold Justin Beeber for her musical entertainment.   

       Before Rome fell did the music get really shitty? Just curious.
doctorremulac3, Dec 29 2010

       I don't see any problem with using mp3 as the lowest common denominator (amazon sells music in mp3 format for instance). Also your parents probably thought the music you listened to was shitty as well.
Spacecoyote, Dec 30 2010

       //Also your parents probably though the music you listened to was shitty also//   

       Not at all. In fact, I first heard Led Zep when I was about 9 years old because a friend's parents had the first 2 albums. My parents listened primarily to show music and my mom liked crooners and romantic balladeers and my dad thought the Beatles were brilliant. No generation gap in our house, it was very musical. There was also a level of quality and effort in that music that doesn't exist now that allowed it to cross over the generations.   

       Let me put it this way. Think Justin Beeper fans (sp on porpoise) will still be Justin Beeper fans when they grow up? Many years ago I went to a Pink Floyd concert and saw young and old alike. Not going to see that for the Beeb's 40th anniversary concert primarily because there won't be one.   

       I also speak with young people from time to time and they say the same thing. Music used to be great and now it sucks ass.   

       Maybe it'll rise again, who knows. I cap on the baby boomer generation a lot but one thing I'll say for them, they made nice music.
doctorremulac3, Dec 30 2010

       //Not going to see that for the Beeb's 40th anniversary concert primarily because there won't be one.// People probably said the same thing about Micheal Jackson when he was young (not that I'm a fan, but obviously he has his fans still.) There's good music being made to this day, I don't mean to sound hipster but truthfully you're just not likely to hear it on the radio (playtime correlates with marketing $$$ and not musical soul/talent)...slowly indie music is gaining recognition so maybe years from now the music created today will be remembered. There's also the (unlikely) hope that the mainstream industry is actually "suffering" and not just whining when they say "home taping^H^H^H^H^H^Hdownloading is killing music" and they'll collapse and the actual starving artists can rise from the ashes.
Spacecoyote, Dec 30 2010

       Coyote, babe, I'll post a clip of Michael Jackson preforming and one of Justin Beebee and let you judge.   

       When Michael Jackson came out having just been discovered by Diana Ross, he was a phenomena that set the music industry on it's head and set a new standard for preforming excellence.   

       Whereas Justin B just sucks A.   

       I started and owned a very successful recording studio for over a decade and have a wall full of gold and platinum albums so I know a bit about this subject. I look at music both from an art and a business perspective and believe a firm foundation of the former is the best way to build the latter. I know appreciation of music can be subjective but also believe in the concept of objective quality. In other words, I might not like a song but can appreciate that it's done well. There's well crafted songs and there's rehash crap designed to sell to people who don't know any better before they grow up and figure it out.   

       But anyway, check the links and you be the judge.
doctorremulac3, Dec 30 2010

       I saw a home video of JB from before the start of his "career" and well, he's immature, but not stupid or tone deaf and there are worse singers (I seem to recall he played the piano...probably wrong about that.) As much as I hate defending him I must say it's possible that he could become a decent artist yet (by decent I mean maintaining an actual following besides 12 year old girls...doesn't mean *I'll* like his music.) I'm a bit of an odd judge though as I'm of the opinion that anyone can sing decently if they get some self-confidence, find their niche and take the time to practice and learn technique (for instance other people told me since I was young that I could sing good but I didn't think so myself until I took choir.)
Spacecoyote, Dec 30 2010

       Ok, but he better get good fast.   

       Besides, I have a seven year old daughter so I have to listen to this stuff. If you had to actually live with it you'd know where I'm coming from.
doctorremulac3, Dec 30 2010

       Just hope its only a phase (my little sister's 16 y.o. boyfriend still watches Thomas The Tank Engine.)
Spacecoyote, Dec 30 2010

       That's ok, I like Thomas and even took her to take a ride in the life size mockup they have touring the country a while back. That's where they put this big fiberglass cartoon character train engine on one end of the train and pull it with the real engine on the other end.   

       I'm pretty easily amused so I had the time of my life.
doctorremulac3, Dec 30 2010


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