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Big Aura's picture
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Amazon and bitrates

Hello all

I downloaded an album from Amazon on Saturday night - Trilogy by Nina Simone and found it to have alarmingly low bitrates. I know Amazon do a 256kbps variable thingy, but some of the tracks were as low as 139kbps. Really poor; it's a pity they don't pre-warn you as to what you're actually getting.

To Amazon's credit, they refunded me the price (they apparently don't normally accept "returns"), and I bought the CD from them (which, oddly, was £2.50 cheaper, delivered!).

CD here, http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0031IL61U - I wouldn't link the mp3 version, just in case!

Anonymous
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RE: Amazon and bitrates

Hi. According to Amazon the variable bit rate means

"Where possible, we encode our MP3 files using variable bit rates for optimal audio quality and file sizes, aiming at an average of 256 kilobits per second (kbps). Using a variable bit rate allows us to allocate a higher bit rate to the more complex sections of music files while using a smaller bit rate for the less complex sections. The average of these rates is then calculated to produce an average bit rate for the entire file that represents the overall sound quality. Some of our content is encoded using a constant bit rate of 256 kbps. This content will have the same excellent audio quality at a slightly larger file size."

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=200665450

 

So the lower bit rate will maybe a simpler piece of music. You get that with lossless as well, my collection ranges between 1158 and 388 kbps. But it is still all lossless.

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

Can I ask why you downloaded the album in the first place and not buy the CD? Convenience? Instant access? Or because Amazon or some search engine pointed you there first?

 

CD = £3.99 (free delivery in the UK) 

MP3 album download (256K) = £7.49

All 37 MP3 tracks purchased individually = £32.93

 

CD is £3.50 cheaper and you can rip to lossless and convert to whatever bit rate you want.

:?

 

 

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

tino wrote:

Can I ask why you downloaded the album in the first place and not buy the CD? Convenience? Instant access? Or because Amazon or some search engine pointed you there first?

 

CD = £3.99 (free delivery in the UK) 

MP3 album download (256K) = £7.49

All 37 MP3 tracks purchased individually = £32.93

 

CD is £3.50 cheaper and you can rip to lossless and convert to whatever bit rate you want.

:?

 

 

I always do a similar calculation and then do whatever on a case by case basis. Generally I don't want whole albums.

 

Sorry OP, not sure that helps.

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

Hello  -  when I look at past Amazon downloads in iTunes, it says "256 KBPS (Variable Bitrate)".  These all simply had a flat bit rate, all of which were less than 256, some exceptionally low (the average bit rate across the album was probably abour 170).

The reason I downloaded the album was that I'd googled it, and the response took me to amazon's mp3 store only. 

Obviously this is to get more complex - the CD is rubbish!  It's been skipping from new (and is unscratched).  It took about 45 minutes to upload to iTunes too.  I need to relisten to it again to see where it's faulty and then complain.  Again...

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

Big Aura wrote:
Hello all I downloaded an album from Amazon on Saturday night - Trilogy by Nina Simone and found it to have alarmingly low bitrates. I know Amazon do a 256kbps variable thingy, but some of the tracks were as low as 139kbps. Really poor;

Does it sound really poor? As someone else said if it's dropping as low as that it's simply because the music is very simple and it doesn't require any higher bitrate than that to keep the same level of quality, that's what it's supposed to do, it's not a conscious decision on Amazon's part.

If you're happy with the quality of the audio then I think you're worrying over nothing.

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

I only played it through my laptop's internal speakers so cannot comment on the actual quality.  When I downloaded the CD at lossless it ranged from 780-950 range, so there must be a bit more detail in there!

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

Big Aura wrote:
I only played it through my laptop's internal speakers so cannot comment on the actual quality.  When I downloaded the CD at lossless it ranged from 780-950 range, so there must be a bit more detail in there!

Well, obviously, because it's lossless compared to lossy compression but I'm surprised you haven't sent the CD back, that should be 1411Kbps, 780 is barely half that, it must be rubbish!*

 

 

 

 

 

*For the hard of thinking, yes, I know!

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

if you'd read the thread, you'd see I'm probably sending the CD back....

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

Big Aura wrote:
if you'd read the thread, you'd see I'm probably sending the CD back....

I have read the thread but you're not sending back because of the bitrate are you?

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

Big Aura wrote:

The reason I downloaded the album was that I'd googled it, and the response took me to amazon's mp3 store only. 

That's why I asked as it's happened to me too ... the searches seem to be weighted to send you to the MP3 music store, but since I don't currently buy downloads, I then have to search again within the store specifically for the CD format which invariably is cheaper for the whole album.

 

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

I'm most confused.

I understand wanting CDs as (so far) there are bands who's music I will always buy on CD. But this is jus a quirk of mine, I don't hear a difference between CDs and downloads so I'm happy withy them most the time.

So, if you're happy with the sound of the download, keep it. If you're unsure as to whether you're missing any (audible) quality, get a CD copy that works.

Anonymous
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RE: Amazon and bitrates

I am pretty sure that unless a bit rate has been fixed, all vary to some extent. So Amazon have covered themselves by calling it a variable bit rate and then quoted the highest it will get to.

 

It is a bit like internet service providers saying "up to ?Mb" and then quoting the absolute maximum possible, which hardly anyone can get.

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

The Walking Dead wrote:

I am pretty sure that unless a bit rate has been fixed, all vary to some extent. So Amazon have covered themselves by calling it a variable bit rate and then quoted the highest it will get to.

 

It is a bit like internet service providers saying "up to ?Mb" and then quoting the absolute maximum possible, which hardly anyone can get.

It's not a question of covering themselves, that's how vbr encoding works!

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

tino wrote:

the searches seem to be weighted to send you to the MP3 music store, but since I don't currently buy downloads, I then have to search again within the store

You could always type doubleyou doubleyou doubleyou dot amazon dot co dot uk in the browser bar...

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RE: Amazon and bitrates

John Duncan wrote:

tino wrote:

the searches seem to be weighted to send you to the MP3 music store, but since I don't currently buy downloads, I then have to search again within the store

You could always type doubleyou doubleyou doubleyou dot amazon dot co dot uk in the browser bar...

I don't necessarily choose to buy from them, so search engines are usually the first port of call on the interweb, but my point is that I don't like that the search results are being weighted in favour of the more expensive product. As a non consumer of downloads it doesn't affect me in the least, other than cause annoyance.

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