Following on from the old forums page and dating back to beyond 2012, when are we likely to see Amazon start using FLAC as an optoin when downloading music files, MP3 has it's place, but for anyone with a fairly keen ear or a half decent Hi Fi some form of "Loss Less" format is needed.
Why is it taking so long with so many of your custommers asking for it, ........still nothing while the likes of Tidal, Deezer, iTunes, Qobuz and many others offer a lossless or Hi resolution download Amazon is being left behind.
After all music is about hearing sound but the MP3 compression is just for cheap earphone users.
Is there any point to not adding this option, when so many people are asking for it?
Unfortunately it is purely a financial decision; I suspect the desire of yourself and myself to buy flac place us in a relative minority compared to those who are happy with mp3.
I also suspect that a decision to make flac available via their site will only occur once the market for flac downloads is large enough for them to be able to justify he required investment into the disk space, servers, server space, bandwidth and site alterations, and promotions to push flac sales.
The relative quality difference between flac and mp3 to a corporate leviathan like Amazon is not a consideration – only the market and what the market will buy to the point they make profit.
They are missing out on my custom for music though. If music I want to buy is available on flac, I buy it from the online store making that available rather than CD or MP3 etc.
If nowhere has it on flac, then it is the CD as my second choice.
However, I am delighted to find so many places now offering flac format music to buy, I hardly ever have to buy the CD. I now find that there is a relatively healthy competition between many of the online stores now, and I can opt for the best offer(s). I discover music from one of the online streaming services, and if I like it enough, I will buy the flac album. If possible from one of the sites offering the best deal for the artist.
I have wondered why the other online music retailers do not just offer mp3 downloads , like Amazon, it would cost them less and they would probably make more money; or would they.. mp3 is a crowded market place now, and they are not making any offers to sell that is any different from the big players, and i think that this is where competition via the unique selling proposition and differentiation comes in; their offer of flac sets them apart form Amazon, and despite the cost, they are probably small enough payers that it justifies their investment in the long run to attract the market \ potential market interested in buying flac... they can get the foot in the door, and the loyal customer base and possibly snatch them off the larger slower moving behemoths such as Amazon (although if Amazon were feeling particularly spikey and spiteful, they could probably do an online Wal-Mart in this respect at some point and make flac a loss leader and wipe the smaller online flac retailers of the face of the virtual earth)
Meanwhile, Amazon still probably sell scads of MP3’s because most people do not notice its inherent flaws.
You need some serious cash thrown at equipment to be able to critically tell the difference between flac (or any lossless) and mp3 ar decent bit rates. A jibe at “cheap earphone users” is rather disingenuous as I listen with “not the slightest bit cheap” earphones and differences can be heard when I’m concentrating -whether that is due to “quality” or just that it sounds different is a hot topic.
discernible differences are almost always confined to certain genres of music e.g. classical.
I have a large collection of music in 320mp3 and lossless. It is nigh on impossible to tell the difference in the vast majority of music in blind listening through speakers (again not the slightest bit cheap)
i would agree that Amazon could up their bitrate for those with a bit quality gear to listen to it on. Different mp3, as lossless do, sound different according to what codec is being used to code them and decode them. So what is right?
other than buying the CD and self-ripping them (or buying flac version) something that is slowly disappearing, the alternative is streaming services of which those who provide lossless have been mentioned. But those services cost considerably more, and I mean a LOT more, than Amazon’s offering. Even then, downloads are usually mp3.
i susbscribe to Deezer and in keeping with other servcies, so much music so little time. I have discovered much new music and enjoy being able try lots of stuff out. I have a personal lossless collection of some 50,000 tracks which would take, I think when I last worked it out, some three years to listen to at 8 hours a day. I now have 40 million tracks to choose from. The subscription is far less than I used to spend on music each year, all securely stored.
@BlueOfTheNight - your first paragraph goes into more detail re my last sentence as to a reason Amazon probably won't move over the flac anytime soon. Most cannot tell the difference due to their equipment AND how they listen to music most of the time, and that isn't a jibe at them, they have much better things to do than OCD nutters like me :D - There is no point Amazon trying to sell to a mass market that probably does not exist (until say the cost of storage and bandwidth comes down to the point there's not much in it).
With apologies to Malc for the slight OT diversion from querying "..when will Amazon offer flac.." (and it will be my final comment on my personal experience of MP3 "v" flac here, unless Malc is ok for such a discussion to take up his thread); for me, personally: In the car, in the office, walking about, in waiting rooms \ waiting areas, i listen "casually" to music encoded in the highest VBR MPs, LAME codec (down converted from my flac library) on an Android phone with half decent earbuds, and it is perfectly fine for me in those circumstances. HOWEVER.... at home, relaxing, become immersed in the music on my much more revealing headphone based systems... MP3.. noooo. For any genre i have tried, i score 100% in blind tests spotting a difference between MP3 at 320kbps and flac on my main, and secondary system. The caveat of course is that i am "actively" engaged and listening under these circumstances. I have also found (non-blind though) that the difference between flac and one of the streaming services is so stark, it is as if the difference is due to them being a completely different mix or master or something. But, do i hear such differences when out and about, distracted, with my phone, no... not so much, mainly because i am up to other things too. .. YMMV
Thanks for your reply. I understand your point of view perfectly.
there are, of course, differences between mp3 and lossless that are identifiable but I have found that they can be very difficult to identify (gneres aside).
I think the first hurdle is that it is extremely diffcult for a blind test as the two will sound different anyway due to codecs. Just as I can tell the difference between my lossless tracks, from a NAS, and the same track lossless streamed. And trying to match volume levels...Weird!
it’s all a mystery. I consider the best way forward is a music subscription - I have discovered so much “new” music that this is now the majority of what I listen to.
I can tell the difference between my lossless tracks, from a NAS, and the same track lossless streamed. And trying to match volume levels...Weird!
I have read somewhere that the streaming services apply some form of manipulation, compression or something to their libraries, which may well explain this. One of the mp3 only services have apparently even applied it in such a way that if a release is retardely brickwalled to death >.< it will sound crud in comparison to something more sanely mastered. Which is great news IMO.
I consider the best way forward is a music subscription - I have discovered so much “new” music that this is now the majority of what I listen to.
lol.. are you me? Couldn't agree more. The streaming services are what i use for "discovery", and if i really like it, i buy the flac if available via one of the online retailers, if not, then the CD. It's getting expensive due to the amount of incredible stuff out there, but if an artist has enriched my life to some degree, the least i can do is send them a few ££££, and if up to it, see them live etc.
For the former there is also the consideration of codec differences for it sounding different. Perhaps if I used better words that is what I meant. I understand, or I should say it is my belief, that after a certain level things only sound different rather than better (diminishing returns). Then personal choice defines what is the best “different”.
From time to time some kit outperforms everything else at the price point and changes the “posts” for everyone much to the delight of the listener.
I would add my voice to this request. I would much prefer flac downloads from music I have purchased on Amazon, rather than mp3. In fact I tend to buy the CD and then rip to flac using Windows Media Player wherever possible.
There IS a demand for this format from audiophiles like myself. If Microsoft recognise it and support flac in WMP, I am disappointed that Amazon have yet to get on board.
I purchase CDs and rip to FLAC. I then re-encode to MP3 VBR Q0 (220-280 kbit/s). I cannot tell the difference between the two even on the most expensive equipment. However, I consider it imperative to possess a lossless version of my music files for archival purposes. It's the ability to re-encode exactly how I want that makes the lossless version a sine qua non when ripping. For that reason I wouldn't dream of purchasing digital files if they were not lossless.
I prefer to purchase CDs rather than stream (I do however have subscriptions to Qobuz and Spotify) for these reasons:
1) I like to tag my music files exactly how I want.
2) I find it much easier to organise as a result of 1 above.
3) Much of the music I listen to is not available unless I purchase it.
4) I really like artwork and being able to scan it how I want is a big plus. I find the accompanying notes invariably indispensable.
5) I own over 2,000 CDs. I would not want to rely on a streaming service to maintain a library of similar size. Thus, for example, if the library were lost for some reason, it would be a nightmare to have to find and bookmark the files again.
But, yes, I find streaming very useful especially for auditioning music. Far better the £30 or so I spend on subscriptions each month than wasting many times that amount on buying music that I find I don't like.
Although FLAC has less loss, unless you know how the original was recorded there will actually no improvement. All digital recording/transmission methods cut out some of the audio, whether it is noticeable is another matter but only analogue from end to end will give the original audio.
The job of the recording engineers, at least in principle, is to record sounds as accurately as possible. But what you will hear on a recording will inevitably be different to what is actually heard in a studio or concert or wherever. That is down to technological limitations and both conscious and unconscious manipulation of the music by those engineers.
All lossless codecs are mathematically indistinguishable from the original music files.
@Bob. FLAC is lossless and identical to the original.
Yes as I said it depends on how the original is recorded, or where the source is taken from.
I am not convinced despite claims how lossless it actually is as the analogue audio is converted to digital (this is not entirely lossless) then compressed and decompressed then finally converted back to analogue to listen to.
The process sounds as if it will affect the end result but it doesn’t.
digital recordings are made at a much greater data stream to enable a lot of headroom for editing before downsampling for end use. This gives far superior results to pure analogue recording where the headroom is not there.
the different sound analogue produces is just that. Different. Not better or worse.
The source is the CD. I rip my own so I always know. If a store passed off a lossy file as a lossless file they would be guilty of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception (i.e. fraud) although why they'd bother, I haven't a clue. And it's actually possible to ascertain very easily pretty much everything about a music file including the level of compression and even the original ripping program.
The quality of the file and listening equipment are both essential. The cheapest way to listen with an assurance that the quality is OK is with a decent amp and headphones. I'm currently listening with Sennheiser HD 800s and a Sony TA-ZH1ES amp.
For your further edification:
What Lossless File Formats Are & Why You Shouldn’t Convert Lossy to Lossless
The analogue sound is purely dependent upon playback equipment. The Beatles albums were remastered to give an analogue feel on CD.
FLAC is better than MP3 and becomes particularly noticeable on certain types of music e.g. classical. That said, mostly is it difficult to distinguish between FLAC, and other lossless codecs (CD is just a lossles codec), and a 320kbps MP3.
Nobody would convert an MP3 to FLAC. The MP3 bitrate defines the sound quality, along with codec.
I am old fashioned I still use my "Leak stereo 20" valve amp (somewhat modified) with a couple of Warfedale W90 speakers, I have recently replaced the turntable with a Thorens TD 350 apart from scratches my collection of LPs sound to me much more like the original then any of the newer methods.