I have always had two questions in the back of my mind about purchasing music online. First, how do the record labels/music stores decide what quality to encode an audio track at for sale? And secondly, how can they charge similar prices for CD’s and online music, the latter of which is generally much lower quality than a CD? Well I still don’t know the answers to those questions, but I discovered via Om Malik a new service called MusicGiants that sells high quality music:
Musicgiants, a high-def digital music download service is all set to launch on Wednesday. Billed as a download service for audiophiles, the 15-person company will offer songs that are uncompressed and are encoded using windows media technology at 1100 kbps. In comparison, Apple’s iTunes and others like Real’s Rhapsody offer music at a compression rate which is a tad lower than the CD-quality, mostly to keep the file sizes down. Musicgiants’ business model is predicated on widespread deployment of broadband and speeds which can handle the big-phat downloads. So far, the service works only on Windows PCs.
The songs cost $1.29 a download, and you have to pay $50 a year membership fee. The Nevada-based company claims its sound quality is seven times that of other download services.
I generally rip CD’s into WMA at very high quality, though not as high as MusicGiants – I guess I am a “sorta-audiophile”. I can’t really tell the difference when I play music on my computer, but I definitely can on my Zen with good earphones. MusicGiants looks like a very interesting concept, but I am not sure how well it will fly. Most people seem to be pretty happy purchasing from iTunes and others at a lower quality bitrate.
Oh and if you’re in Canada, don’t get too exicted, you currently have to live in the US to use the service.