The future of downloads – Superior to CD!

The new album by Autechre is worthy of note for more reasons than one.  Firstly, the deluxe vinyl edition looks really..really nice and I will be very tempted to buy it when it’s released on 22nd March.  But what I think is especially interesting about this release is what you get as a download with the album.

Autechre - Oversteps

Autechre - Oversteps

For a good couple of years now some vinyl releases have come with a download code for the whole thing in MP3 format, which has been a great idea.  I would always prefer vinyl over CD; the only problem being that there is only one place in my world where I can listen to vinyl.   So having the MP3 too enables me to own something special, yet listen in places that are not particularly special.   I thought it was only a matter of time before bandwidth and hard disk size meant there was no longer any need to compress audio files into the expedient MP3 format for home use.   This Autechre album takes us to this next level and beyond.

For what you get with this new album is not just an MP3 download, and not just a download of the album as 16bit CD quality WAV files, but the option of supersizing your WAVs to 24bit.  And you get this not just with the vinyl, but also with the CD.  I won’t get all geeky on you (actually I probably will just a bit, but bear with me) but  basically CDs are only 16bit / 44.1kHz. Much of today’s digital recording is  done at 24bit / 44.1kHz.  You might need to be an audiophile (like me) to appreciate the difference, and you might need to be a musical tech-head to understand the difference (even I don’t quite get it), but you don’t even need a GCSE in maths to determine that 24 is a larger number than 16.

There is, of course, no advantage to 24bit mastering if it’s just going to end up on CD, or even worse, in MP3  format.    But now, with the option of a 24bit WAV download, what’s on your hard drive will actually be of superior quality, not inferior, to your CDs.  You will, however, need a whopping great 1.06GB storage space for the full Autechre album at 24bit.  But now we’re into multi-terabyte storage capacity, this may soon seem just as convenient as an 80MB MP3 album does today.

I’ll continue to buy vinyl though, in case you were wondering.

More about the new Autechre album on Warp Records, Oversteps
And if you want to try and understand bit depth


3 thoughts on “The future of downloads – Superior to CD!

  1. avatarA

    It does not matter how higher quality the audio files are unless you have the kit to play the sound. And you need some serious kit to take advantage of 24 bit sound (a system that is hooked up to your pc that will probably set you several thousand).

    A HD, surround sound, blueray disc will still be rubbish played on a old SD, mono black, and white tv…

    This is why MP3s are popular, who can tell the difference when they have crappy ear plugs in on a train with a child screeming next to them..

    What set up do you have albo?…I like to image you retire to your audio room, light a candle, pour yourself a glass of red wine, and listen to wilful missing on a loop until your so drunk you vom down yourself, you do of course listen on a giant Tape recorder.

  2. avatarAlbert Post author

    Ha ha! One day Adam, one day I will have a candle lit audio room, where I can drink wine while listening, although I probably won’t be listening to Wilful Missing. You’re right of course, that there are very few people who can afford to hear the difference with 24bit audio. I think DVD as well as Blueray is 24bit audio isn’t it? So in reality that’s probably the only way most people will hear it, but as you say, even then it may not be noticeably better.

  3. avataradmin

    People would be surprised by how much better there music would sound if they played it though some headphones not ear plugs….

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