Note: if this topic is better served in ~music than ~tech feel free to move it! If I wanted to buy Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns, I have the following options: From Amazon 256 kbps VBR MP3...
Note: if this topic is better served in ~music than ~tech feel free to move it!
If I wanted to buy Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns, I have the following options:
- 256 kbps VBR MP3 ($11.49)
- 320 kbps MP3 + 256 kbps MP3 ($12.99) (I'm assuming it's 320 CBR/256 VBR)
- 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC ($16.49)
- 24-bit/48kHz FLAC ($19.98)
From Qobuz, which appears to be a different mastering of the album:
- "CD Quality" FLAC ($14.49)
- 24-bit/48kHz FLAC ($16.49)
- 24-bit/48kHz FLAC ($10.99 with subscription to their $250/year service)
Does paying more for the higher fidelity actually matter? I suspect that this is just a form of price discrimination preying on my want to have an "objectively" better product, because I'm assuming there's a ceiling for audio quality that I can actually notice and the lowest encoding available here probably hits that. I also don't have any special listening hardware.
I understand the value of FLAC as a lossless archival encoding (I used to rip all my CDs to FLAC for this purpose, and I've been downloading my Bandcamp purchases in FLAC all the same), but for albums I can't get through that service it appears that the format has a high premium put on it. Bandcamp lets me pay the same price no matter the format, but every other store seems to stratify out their offerings based on encoding alone. A Thousand Suns costs nearly double on HDTracks what it does on Amazon's MP3 store, for example, despite the fact that I'm getting the exact same music, just compressed in a different way.
As such, is paying more for FLAC unnecessary? Is high-fidelity FLAC in particular (the 24-bit/48kHz options) snake oil?
Furthermore, Qobuz seems to offer a different mastering of the album, which seems like it actually could be significant, but it's hard to know. Is this (and the various other "remasters" out there) a valid thing, or is it just a way to try to get me to pay more unnecessarily?
(Note: I'm using this specific album simply because it was a good example I could find with lots of different stratified options -- I'm not interested in the particulars of this album specifically but more in the general idea of audio compression across all music).