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Sunday, May 06, 2007

iTunes: Why I will not buy anything from the Apple iTunes store.

A couple of weeks ago I came very close to making my first purchase of music from the iTunes store. For some time I have wanted to purchase the Silversun Pickups album Carnavas, but I had not had the opportunity to get to the store. So, one evening I’m sitting at my computer and thought – why don’t I just download the Silversun Pickups album?



I fired up my iTunes version 7.1.1.5 and then I entered the iTunes store to find what I was looking for. I quickly found the album Carnavas by the Silversun Pickups and considered the $9.99 price for the entire album. That is when I paused.

Why did I pause? Because, I quickly realized that the album is only available in the 128k ACC / MP4 format from the Apple iTunes store. That is not a problem if you are just going to listen on your iPod, iPod Nano, or iPod Shuffle with your headphones that came with you iPod. However, if you are going to listen to it on anything else – it is an absolute disaster.

If you have a decent stereo in your car, decent headphones, or any kind of home stereo – high fidelity or otherwise at your house then 128k ACC / MP4 sounds absolutely awful. So awful in fact, that an album like the Silversun Pickups with their intended distortion on the guitar will be difficult to listen to at any decent volume.

When is Apple going to fix this problem? This was initially an issue several years ago during the iPod and iTunes store launches – that the music quality was significantly poorer than CD’s and in some cases even worse than cassettes. One would have thought over the past couple of years, you would have the option to choose higher bitrates in order to get the sound to a reasonable quality that it could be used anywhere.

Apparently there has not been enough consumer demand for them to make an optional, higher-fidelity version of the albums available through the iTunes store. However, I can tell you that this consumer demands it and iTunes will continue to lose sales from me until they can provide at least 256k VBR tunes through their site.

Oh, and by the way, Target is offering the Silversun Pickups album for a buck cheaper in store right now. At $8.99, it’s a much purchase. The price is good through mid-June.

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