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iTunes ALAC Music File Downloads

Discussion in 'Ripping, Converting, Files & Formats' started by Paul Phelps, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. Paul Phelps

    Paul Phelps New Member

    I have quite a discerning musical ear and, where deserved, like to download my music in CD quality 44/16 or studio 24/96 ALAC files. I do this mainly via Qobuz, as iTunes do not offer ALAC downloads. I use iTunes solely for my 256 kbps AAC downloads and like the Mastered for iTunes albums.
    I heard rumours a few years ago that Apple was considering offering ALAC downloads but alas, since then I have heard nothing more.

    Any update?


  2. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    No. Here are my thoughts from nearly two years ago:

    When Will Apple Start Selling Lossless Files on the iTunes Store?

    I would add now that, with Apple pushing Apple Music, we won't see lossless downloads any time soon. Unless they go into lossless streaming, which would be a mistake, because hardly anyone cares.

    And I wasn't sure that Qobuz was still in business. I know they were put in receivership some months ago...
  3. Paul Phelps

    Paul Phelps New Member

  4. Paul Phelps

    Paul Phelps New Member

    Thanks for the prompt and informative reply Kirk.
    Guess Apple has decided on 256 Kbps AAC, as a balance between sound quality and file size. I must admit, for 80% of my music collection it is fine, via my iPhone and Bowers and Wilkins P5 and P7 cans. However, my special collection of albums need to sound that little bit better that ALAC 24/96 format affords.
    Yes, Qobuz is still under receivership but there are two firm offers on the table, which are being reviewed by the French courts.
    It still offers great lossless downloads for us Europeans, who cannot access the US download providers due to US law. It has a bigger selection of genres than most providers and I have found it easy to use. I genuinely hope it gets the support of all audiophiles but guess some US marketing would be helpful to boost its presence in a competitive market.

    I love Apple products but they need to realise there is quite a large niche for audiophile, lossless downloads.

    Thanks again for a great forum!


  5. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Nothing to do with US law, it's simply that those companies haven't negotiated (or don't want to) licenses to sell their services abroad. Remember, it took Spotify years to launch in the US, after gaining a foothold in Europe. I know Qobuz had been planning to do so, but I don't think they ever will.

    I subscribed to Qobuz for a while when I lived in France, and, while the service was pretty good, there were many labels that weren't available (at the time, Harmonia Mundi, among others).

    No, there isn't. It looks like it if you're interested in it, but it's really quite tiny. :)
  6. Paul Phelps

    Paul Phelps New Member

    I bow to your greater experience and better judgement on such issues. :) My emotions and love of music got the better of me!
    I am not paying a streaming subscription to Qobuz, rather have just subscribed for individual ALAC downloads. I just downloaded Blackstar and The David Bowie album from Qobuz and haven't found a better service in Europe for rock, indie and jazz ALAC downloading.
    Are there better ones out there, unbeknown to me?
    The post war 'baby boomer' generation of Brits like me, love their music and hi-fi (hi res) reproduction of it. Totally spoilt of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zepp, Bowie, Pink Floyd etc; I guess, I am one of a dying breed... :)
  7. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Qobuz probably has the best selection in Europe for lossless downloads. You'll find that smaller labels sell their own music directly, especially classical labels. But the majors don't want to get into that; they'd rather let other companies deal with it.

    The fact that there are no big companies offering lossless downloads shows how limited the market is. I would think that someone might start doing this. I know Tidal sells some music by download now (originally, they were streaming only), but I'm not sure if it's just selected albums or if there's a large pool of downloadable stuff.

    Looking at the Tidal site now, you can download the new Rihanna album. In MP3, it costs £11.99; in FLAC, it's £21.59. They're taking people for suckers.
  8. Otto Nikolaus

    Otto Nikolaus Member

    The MP3 is the same price at Amazon. Why would anyone not buy the CD for only £1.00 more? You can then choose any sort of rip, plus you have the disc too. Does it tell us at Tidal if the FLAC is CD or hi-res? I can't find that.

    The failure of DVD-Audio and SACD tells us that hi-res doesn't interest most people. It would be interesting to know just how much HD Tracks, Pono, and the specialist labels like Linn and Naim actually sell. Many must be put off when they find that at least some of the Pono and HD Tracks "hi-res" stuff is actually upsampled CD, so you're paying extra for wasted download bandwidth and disc space, not for better sound quality.
  9. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    I assume the Tidal download is a 16/44 FLAC file, not a high-res file; they would trumpet that if it were. But, yes, if you can buy the CD for the same price, or a tad more, it makes sense to do that.

    I think these companies sell enough to stay in business, and have a fair amount of profit, enough to make them plan to expand their catalogs. I personally know of one mid-sized label that sells their own files that was surprised by the interest, and is selling more high-res files than they expected. (They also sell lossless and lossy.) So there is a demand, it's not very large in the broader scheme of things, but it's enough to make a living for some people.

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