Author Topic: The Classical Download Thread  (Read 219718 times)

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Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #840 on: October 20, 2017, 01:23:24 PM »
I bought this as a "CD quality FLAC" file from Presto Classical...or so I thought. It's nothing more than a slightly upsampled MP3 file (its bit rate is 595 kbps...a CD quality FLAC is 1114.2 kbps). This is the second time Presto has ripped off customers by selling such files. They refunded my money the first I complained and requested a refund, but they didn't even bother to respond this time. They are dead to me. BUYER BEWARE WHEN DEALING WITH PRESTO. Oh, the music is very intense and powerful, and the sound is decent enough, but it would have been better as a true hi-res file or a CD.



I posted this in two threads deliberately.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #841 on: October 20, 2017, 01:39:13 PM »
its bit rate is 595 kbps...a CD quality FLAC is 1114.2 kbps


I've ripped thousands of discs, and most/all end up below the 1411 kbps bit rate when converted to FLAC.  Yesterday I listened to one disc's worth of FLACs from Yu Kosuge's LvB sonata cycle, which is in outstanding sound, and the bit rate is 500-ish.  It sounds identical to the CD.  I've done dozens of A/Bs and never been able to hear a difference between CD and FLAC, with some previously mentioned (probable) error correction issues on Denon discs. 

I've also noticed that bit rates vary substantially on "high res" 24 bit downloads I've purchased, though they are always above the 1411 CD standard. 

Presto is almost certainly selling perfectly fine FLACs.  It would be interesting to learn if they create them, or if they simply resell files provided by the record labels.  I think you should probably know that before warning people about dealing with Presto.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 02:38:55 PM by Todd »
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Online Brian

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #842 on: October 20, 2017, 01:51:04 PM »
Also, Presto has a more or less sterling reputation among classical shoppers and I have purchased (physical) music from them for almost a decade, so I agree that additional scrutiny is important here. There is a Presto employee on this very board.

Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #843 on: October 20, 2017, 03:10:42 PM »

I've ripped thousands of discs, and most/all end up below the 1411 kbps bit rate when converted to FLAC.  Yesterday I listened to one disc's worth of FLACs from Yu Kosuge's LvB sonata cycle, which is in outstanding sound, and the bit rate is 500-ish.  It sounds identical to the CD.  I've done dozens of A/Bs and never been able to hear a difference between CD and FLAC, with some previously mentioned (probable) error correction issues on Denon discs. 

I've also noticed that bit rates vary substantially on "high res" 24 bit downloads I've purchased, though they are always above the 1411 CD standard. 

Presto is almost certainly selling perfectly fine FLACs.  It would be interesting to learn if they create them, or if they simply resell files provided by the record labels.  I think you should probably know that before warning people about dealing with Presto.

According to my Lossless Audio Checker software, it is not a FLAC file but merely an upsampled MP3. They resell files, so clearly they need someone to check the files to be sure they actually are FLAC or hi-res. None of the hi-res files I've bought from them have been problematic. I've been a loyal customer for a long time, but those days are over until they respond to my email and rectify the problem.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #844 on: October 20, 2017, 03:16:48 PM »
According to my Lossless Audio Checker software, it is not a FLAC file but merely an upsampled MP3.


Interesting, I've never heard of that happening before. 

I would think it might make sense to see if the company resolves the problem before complaining about them.
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Parsifal

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #845 on: October 20, 2017, 03:21:03 PM »
its bit rate is 595 kbps...a CD quality FLAC is 1114.2 kbps

Every FLAC I have ever ripped in my life (and that numbers in the thousands) has resulted in a reduction to 40-60% of the original file size, giving an effective bit rat (bits read per second of audio) of 550-850 kbps.  Effective bit rate depends on the nature of the audio signal an on the details of the compression program and how it was run.

According to my Lossless Audio Checker software, it is not a FLAC file but merely an upsampled MP3. They resell files, so clearly they need someone to check the files to be sure they actually are FLAC or hi-res. None of the hi-res files I've bought from them have been problematic. I've been a loyal customer for a long time, but those days are over until they respond to my email and rectify the problem.

That is something else. It is theoretically possible to convert an MP3 file back to raw wav, then to convert that to FLAC. That would be truly pointless, but it is not so clear to me that it is possible to detect this just by analyzing the FLAC file. You have not specified how you obtained this bit rate of 595 kbps, so it is not possible to evaluate the validity of your claim. And if that is really what they did, your claim is incorrectly specified. You have do have a FLAC file, but it was generated from a mp3 file, rather than from a raw audio file (wav).

« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 03:23:19 PM by Scarpia »

Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #846 on: April 13, 2018, 09:32:39 PM »
I listened to a CD-quality FLAC and an MQA (Master Quality Authentication) file of Nielsen's Chaconne from the 2L label--the MQA sounded much more realistic and less "digital."


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Offline Fëanor

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #847 on: April 23, 2018, 11:59:46 AM »
I bought this as a "CD quality FLAC" file from Presto Classical...or so I thought. It's nothing more than a slightly upsampled MP3 file (its bit rate is 595 kbps...a CD quality FLAC is 1114.2 kbps).

I've ripped thousands of discs, and most/all end up below the 1411 kbps bit rate when converted to FLAC.  Yesterday I listened to one disc's worth of FLACs from Yu Kosuge's LvB sonata cycle, which is in outstanding sound, and the bit rate is 500-ish.  It sounds identical to the CD.  I've done dozens of A/Bs and never been able to hear a difference between CD and FLAC, with some previously mentioned (probable) error correction issues on Denon discs. 

I've also noticed that bit rates vary substantially on "high res" 24 bit downloads I've purchased, though they are always above the 1411 CD standard. 

Like Todd, I have ripped thousands of CDs to FLAC;  invariably the bit rate is less that the uncompressed CD's  1411 kbps bit rate.  The FLAC encoding process compresses the original without loss very much as Zip compresses other computer files without loss.

Also, I agree that the extent of compression depends on the source music:  FLAC uses a variable bit rate.  The highest bit rates I've notice, over 1200 kbps, are in the case of certain Jazz recordings:  in all these case the music included cymbals struck with wire brush.  This creates a very complex sound that requires a much higher than typical FLAC bit rate.

Baron Scarpia

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #848 on: May 11, 2018, 09:08:51 AM »
I've discovered that prestoclassical sells FLAC downloads of most classical CDs for a price which is significantly lower than a new CD, often lower than a good quality used CD. I think that this will become my default way of purchasing classical music.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #849 on: May 11, 2018, 09:18:25 AM »

Presto is almost certainly selling perfectly fine FLACs. It would be interesting to learn if they create them, or if they simply resell files provided by the record labels.  I think you should probably know that before warning people about dealing with Presto.


They resell files from different labels. I have experienced, that defective files must be sent anew from the labels. Defective files are rare but creep in now and then, and in two cases they have not been able to get a new file for me from the label.
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Baron Scarpia

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #850 on: May 11, 2018, 09:29:43 AM »
Presto is almost certainly selling perfectly fine FLACs.  It would be interesting to learn if they create them, or if they simply resell files provided by the record labels.  I think you should probably know that before warning people about dealing with Presto.

I would say that if the label is reputable (so far I've gotten FLAC files from Sony and BIS) it doesn't matter. Even though two FLAC files from the same source may be different, depending on the encoding settings, they will expand to an audio stream with is bit-for-bit identical to the original. I trust prestoclassical. The danger that Toccata alluded to is the possibility that an unscrupulous or incompetent label might start with an mp3 file which is a lossy version of the original, expand it to a wave file, then compress the result to FLAC, producing a lossless copy of lossy audio data.

In any case, I only consider PrestoClassical in cases where the label itself does not make lossless audio file available. Hyperion, for instance, distributes FLAC files from their web site. I think I have gotten a FLAC file from DG, but it was a horrible ordeal, the worst web site design I can remember encountering.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 09:35:56 AM by Baron Scarpia »

Online Zeus

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #851 on: November 15, 2018, 07:42:04 AM »
eMusic has finally exploded.

eMusic, one of the pioneers of the musical download business, seems to have finally gone kaput, at least insofar as their selection of classical music is concerned.

A quick recap of their history to this point.  In the early years, they had a broad selection, but tracks were fairly low quality (ie less than 256 kbps).  A couple of years ago, they switched over to 320 kbps, which is good enough in my book, especially at the prices offered.  Typically albums were priced around $5 to $8 – ie competitive – but it was also possible to prepay for "booster packs" and thus get albums for roughly 50% off.

And the selection was very good too, at least for a time.  For a while, essentially all popular labels were available, excepting only the so-called "major" labels (DG, Decca, Sony, etc), and a few "independent" labels who have traditionally been rather reticent in the download business (Hyperion, DHM, MDG, etc).

The upshot was that almost all the latest releases were available for download in good quality for about $3 a disc.  Note also that double albums were often mis-priced as single albums.

Accordingly, I gorged.  For the last couple of years I've been buying about 200 albums a year – which is a lot for me – but at $3 per album, that's just $600 for year or $50 per month.  Less than I spend on coffee, I'm sure.

Sadly it couldn't last.  A few labels were dropped when eMusic switched over to 7digital's content library.  Over the last year or so, I've seen more labels disappear, often in groups.  But until the beginning of this month, there were enough labels around to keep things interesting.  But this month, Naxos and all the many labels they represent also disappeared.  Now there are just a very small handful of labels available – Brilliant, Audite, some Supraphon, some Naive – plus a lot of garbage.

I'm still in a bit of shock, frankly, and struggling to adjust.  Although I was an early adopter of Spotify, I let my membership there lapse because I preferred the benefits of ownership, even of digital tracks.  Recently I've cranked up the Spotify again – and I'm very very impressed with the current selection by the way – but somehow it doesn't feel the same.  Also my first impression is that the sound quality is not as good, but I could be wrong.

I will still occasionally buy downloads, but not nearly as much.  I can still get Naxos albums for $5 to $6, and most other albums for $10 to $11; but this seems outrageously expensive to me since I'm used to paying just $3 each.

I guess I'm gonna spend more time digesting and enjoying the music I already have.  Lord knows I have a lot of music to get to know better.

I realize that very, very few of you are downloaders in the 320 kbps range (anyone?), but I figured I'd share this news and vent my spleen anyway. 

This is, after all, the classical downloads thread!
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 01:59:28 PM by Zeus »
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Offline flyingdutchman

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #852 on: November 15, 2018, 07:57:07 AM »
I tend to go only for ALAC or FLAC downloads.  I do have Spotify which I pay for each month and it gives some good examples.  If I like it enough, I'll buy the download at FLAC or ALAC level or buy the CDs.  I have the George Szell 100+ set coming which I'll copy to ALAC and then sell.

Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #853 on: November 19, 2018, 07:57:57 PM »
I mostly buy FLAC, preferably 24 bit and either 96 or 192khz, but a few weeks ago I splurged on a DSD download--oh my does it sound good! It's on the Chasing the Dragon label in the UK.

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Offline Border Collie

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #854 on: November 21, 2018, 02:25:47 AM »
Zeus

Try Chandos.net

They carry a bucket-load of labels including Brilliant and Naxos.

Offline amw

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Re: The Classical Download Thread
« Reply #855 on: November 21, 2018, 02:39:58 AM »
In any case, I only consider PrestoClassical in cases where the label itself does not make lossless audio file available. Hyperion, for instance, distributes FLAC files from their web site. I think I have gotten a FLAC file from DG, but it was a horrible ordeal, the worst web site design I can remember encountering.
Old post but do not buy digital downloads from Universal (DG/Decca)—the FLAC files are digitally watermarked in a way that creates audible wobbling and distortion.

Presto is usually ok; Lossless Audio Checker sometimes turns up false negatives. It's usually worth testing a suspicious file with multiple softwares to be certain. (A 16-bit/44.1khz FLAC file may have a bit rate as low as 300kbps, especially in the case of piano music, or as high as 1200kbps, especially in the case of harpsichord and percussion music. An upsampled MP3 usually has a higher bit rate than a common or garden FLAC, because the MP3 compression algorithm produces distortion at high frequencies which is then more expensive to encode losslessly.)

Chandos is.... fairly expensive for MP3s. For cheap MP3s probably have to go with the monopolists, Amazon and Google.