Will Bueché

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Posted in Music,Personal by Will on Monday, August 25th, 2008 ~ 7pm

Oh God I really can’t decide what sampling rate to use for iTunes. Last July I wrote “Related to tranquility, perpetuating the presence of, I am slowly upgrading my music collection from 128 kbps to 160 kbps because 160 sounds smoother. Because it is a nuisance, I am only re-ripping my favorite albums. And only when I feel like it.”

So it has been a year and a month, and as of last weekend I completed getting nearly everything up to 160 kbps. Plus anything new was imported at that rate too.

But now, with a new stereo an’ all, I am wondering if I should go higher. So I’ve tentatively put some of the artists with especially fine voices — such as Swati, Tegan & Sara, and KaiserCartel — at 192 kbps. And because I’ve heard David Bowie’s Heathen album on SACD and know for a fact that the production quality of that album is the best of the best, I’ve even put Bowie’s Heathen at 256 kbps.

I’d be satisfied, I suspect, with putting my favorites at 192 kbps and calling it a day. But then there’s Steve Jobs. iSteve has, as you may be aware, begun selling some iTunes songs at 256 kbps. So evidently the president of Apple, the father of friendly computers, believes that 256 kbps is what people who expect quality should get from the iTunes store. The iTunes store, you may remember, originally sold its music at 128 kbps, which sounded pretty thin. They’re slowly phasing that out in favor of 256 kbps.

My iPod only holds 8 GB, 7 GB really, so 256 kbps would mean I could fit half as many albums on as 160 kbps. Well not literally half, but, near to half as many. Not that big a problem since I only load my iPod up with a few albums that I want to hear at a time. But, it is a factor.

If iSteve had chosen 192 kbps for the store, I’d have been sure that 192 kbps was good enough for me too. But he’s raised the bar. So I don’t know what to do. Ok, tentative decision:

  • 256 kbps for excellent-ly produced material with complex vocals and complex instruments, like Bowie’s Heathen, Goldfrapp’s Supernature, Tegan & Sara’s The Con, Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi
  • 192 kbps for everything else, including material with great vocals but sparse instruments (such as the modern folk music I like)
  • 160 kbps for everything I don’t want to bother reimporting again, or that wasn’t well produced or well mastered to begin with, or bands I don’t really care about enough to listen to on anything but shuffle play.

Ok, final decision:

  • 256 kbps – anything new, anything newly remastered, anything loved
  • 192 kbps for everything else

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