Less clueless about lossless

February 16, 2013
A few days ago, the four of us sat down to revisit material that is no longer part of our active repertoire.  Some of the old tunes appear on our CDs Tudor City and I sing the birth, so it made sense for us to listen back to those recordings.  Because we’re on tour and without our CD libraries, we pulled out our iPods…and for those tunes not on our iPods, we turned to the internet.  It was an educational exercise.  Not because we were able to reacquaint ourselves with old rep, but because it reminded us how compression diminishes the sound quality of classical recordings.

VictorolaFor those of you who might not know what we’re talking about, here’s a quick overview.  Music in web-ready digital formats—whether for download or streaming—is subjected to dynamic range compression.  At the risk of oversimplification, it’s a process that smooshes full-range audio into something that’s small enough to fit on an iPod.  To do this, “unnecessary” or “less important” data from the original music file is deleted.  To put things into perspective numbers are helpful.  A “raw” (read: uncompressed) music file on an audio CD is 1411 kbps.  The standard audio resolution of a run-of-the-mill mp3 is 128 kbps.  That’s less than 1/10 its original size!

If you’re listening to your favorite Richard Marx song on YouTube or streaming your favorite CSN&Y record, you’re probably not going to miss a lot of the “unnecessary” data.  However, it’s going to be noticeable when you click on, say, The Tallis Scholars’ Spem in alium.

There’s no need to panic.  Things are changing… which is very good news for classical music lovers.  There are a range of high (or higher) resolution audio formats available… even on iTunes.  However, the most satisfying formats are of the lossless-compressed variety like FLAC.  New York Polyphony’s latest release is available in FLAC format on eClassical.com.

**Go DEEPER with this great article from Stereophile Magazine**

“But don’t I need a special player to play audio in FLAC format?”

Yes, you do.  But don’t be deterred.  It’s WAY easier and less expensive than you think to gather everything you need to transform your home audio setup into a SUPER AUDIO system. But don’t just take our word for it– these videos (prepared by eClassical) will give you all you need to know!

STEP 1: Set-Up
STEP 2: Browser Configuration
STEP 4: Controllers