back to article Classical downloads service hits right note on DRM

If you prefer Bach to the Beastie Boys and Mozart to Madonna, then you’ll be pleased to hear that an iTunes rival’s been created that panders only to the desires of classical music fans. Passionato – which launched today in the UK – houses the world's largest collection of classical downloads, the company claims, with over 18, …

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Anonymous Coward

Format

You forget to mention that the iTunes format is AAC.

I've been led to believe (might be wrong, though) that the 256kb/s AAC is at least as good as 320kb/s MP3.

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Joke

quality

Even 320kbps is going to have classical buffs turning their noses up. How's that going to sound though those valves? !

Pah, Vinyl or SACD/DVD-A are the preferred choice. CDs are of course *inferior*, and downloads... "meh!".

Joke - because I can't find the tongue in cheek icon. Yeah I know 320kbps is practically indistinguishable but you know what these people are like ;-)

Actually, it is one of my beefs though with downloads. Frequently the rate is low enough for it to be distinguishable, especially on hi-end equipment.

I'd still prefer a lossless format than MP3 for buying music as then I'm not going to lose anything if I convert to another format for whatever use. A CD is lossless. MP3s and similar lossy downloads are not. Hence I feel I'm not getting full value for money.

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Gates Horns

slashdotted and typo'd!

1/ it's borked:

http://www.passionato.com/technical_issues.html

"Thank you for visiting the Passionato website. Due to the extreme popularity of the website following our launch this morning, we are experiencing a few technical problems. We are working to resolve these. Full service will be restored as soon as possible."

2/ the html page gives the wrong name - passionanto - despite being correct in the text

hopefully they'll get it back up soon and fix their typo!

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Finally!

Finally a music service that realizes that anything less than 320 is unacceptable! And no invasive DRM! Now if iTunes would figure that out maybe they could sell me a track or two.

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Anonymous Coward

Getting there... but not quite

I am pleased to see people moving away from DRM and embracing lossless. As a lover of classical and digital music, I was quick to visit the site to see what they have on offer. The selection looks dandy, but I was disappointed to see that they still can't seem to get the pricing right. Perhaps I'm just stingy, but it just doesn't make sense to me that digital downloads requiring nothing but bandwidth and storage space still should cost as much or more than a physical disc. I'm not a huge fan physical discs and artwork and could do well without them, but I see no point to prefer a digital format when I can get the physical thing for the same money, which the opportunity to sell it second-hand if I so choose in the future if I don't like it or get tired of it.

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Jobs Horns

FLAC

People complaining about MP3 should RTFA again. They also offer lossless FLAC.

Besides if the MP3s are encoded in LAME, then I don't see a problem.

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Thumb Up

Also high-bitrate mp3 is perfectly fine for classical

mp3's algorithm is excellent at things which can be encoded as a combination of sine waves (MASSIVELY oversimplifying, of course); where mp3 falls down is things like square waves and white noise, which frankly don't come up that much in classical/symphonic works.

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LAME

"Besides if the MP3s are encoded in LAME, then I don't see a problem."

LAME is great, but on my Hi-FI if I stream via my Squeezebox, the same CD ripped to Flac vs the Flac converted to MP3 encoded with LAME (with a standard "Hi-Fi quality" 190kbps VBR encoding), I can tell the difference.

Generally the difference is not with artefacts, but in dynamic range (greater with Flac). It's not huge, but it's there.

On a portable device, even with good headphones (most are crap which is why people put up with crap downloads), it's not possible to tell the difference.

But that isn't the point. Flac is archive quality and lossless. It *is* the original. So you can do with it what you like. Should you decide Ogg is better than MP3 some day, you can go do Ogg conversions of your music collection whilst still retaining the archived Flac in the same way as a CD.

But yeah, they do Flac I see anyway, so all good :-)

Pales against 96/24 lossless though. If there's one area where "better than CD" and even HD audio is of interest to anyone, it's classical music. Online services really need to offer this as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Quote: "Flac ... *is* the original ... "

but (quote) "pales against 96/24 lossless though"

So it's *not* the original is it, duh? Even 96/24 isn't, except for music that has never existed outside the digital domain. Ultimately all recordings (digital or analogue) are compromises in some regard. One format may be closer to the original than another, but none can ultimately be claimed as definitive, and the original sound waves have long since dissipated for comparison.

The key issue is "does it sound good?"

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Thumb Down

Sample of one

The one I looked at the FLAC version was same price as the same CD incl postage. Unless you're in a hurry what's the point?

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Rip-Off!

Shouldn't those pound signs be dollar-signs? Pah and Bah! Humbug. I'll get me classic from the record shop.

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Nothing new here except good PR...

Like a number of other classical music sites, we've been offering downloads of our historic recordings in multiple non-DRM formats for months, including 24-bit FLAC, 16-bit FLAC and 320kbps MP3.

We may not have the kind of catalogue Passionato are offering (when the site's up) but ours is available worldwide and has been around longer than just about all of the rest in the classical market.

What we don't have is tons of money to spend on PR...

Andrew Rose, www.pristineclassical.com

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