Best way to purchase/download music?


I have used iTunes for the last few years to buy music. Now that I am back into HiFi with a good system, what is the best way to buy music in Lossless or music convertible into Lossless? I still want to keep using iTunes for consistency, but I need higher def files.

Thanks
Jeff
jeffatus
Buy CDs
HDTracks.
Second vote for HDTracks. Some nice high res stuff there too.
I second HDTracks. I've been downloading some of their 192kHz/24-bit recordings and it's the best digital I've heard through my system. Albeit, expensive and still not many offerings. My turntable still sounds better, but new LPs are no bargain either.
Kenny...have you downloaded the same title in 24/96 AND 24/192? I have (4) different albums on each and with all of them, I found the 24/96 to sound as good if not better than the 24/192 versions? There is a paper or review or whatever floating around the web stating that the 24/192 versions aren't as good. Just wondering if you had any experience with the differences.

I found the statements from Benchmark that I referred to above:

All of Benchmark’s A/D converters and D/A converters support sample rates up to 192kHz. However, we strongly recommend 96kHz for optimum performance. There is a performance penalty for operating at 192kHz. The problem is that all A/D and D/A converter chips operate at reduced oversampling ratios when converting at 192kHz. At the current time, the negative consequences of the reduced oversampling ratio far outweigh any benefits derived from the higher sample rates.

At 192kHz the stopband attenuation of the digital filters is usually much poorer than at 96kHz. Many converter ICs have 120dB of stopband attenuation at 96kHz, but only 80dB at 192kHz. This makes 192kHz converters very susceptible to aliasing and poor image rejection. These artifacts clutter the audible spectrum with low-level non-musical distortion.

It can be shown and demonstrated that there is no loss of time-domain accuracy when operating at 96kHz versus 192kHz. It is a myth that 192kHz gives better time-domain accuracy.

To date, Benchmark has no evidence that 192kHz performs better than 96kHz, but we have a substantial body of evidence that shows that 192kHz has defects that are not present at 96kHz. These issues are also shared openly by one of our competitors: Lavry Engineering. We suspect many other manufacturers are aware of these issues, but choose not to talk about them.

Bottom line: Be very careful about any claims that 192kHz sounds better than 96kHz. Our experience points in the opposite direction.

John Siau
V.P., Benchmark Media Systems, Inc.
Very interesting John. You may have a valid point, because I don't have the same files in a lower resolution to compare.

My 96kHz files are all Jazz, and they are open and fairly involving for digital. I expect that from these recordings. They were very well recorded. My 192kHz files are old Rock classics, and even though I heard more detail than I remember from the past, they did sound somewhat flat and uninvolving. Hmmm. However, I credited the SQ to the recording and not the file resolution.

I will have to listen and compare apples with apples.

Thanks,
Kenny
Mofimadness - What John Siau is talking about is update rate of D/A IC. This IC (AD1853) is updated in Benchmark DAC1 from asynchronous rate converter (AD1896) at about 110kHz independently of input rate. The reason for that is not only 20dB better filtering but also lower THD of the DAC at 110kHz compare to THD at max update rate of AD1853=192kHz. Penalty for that is bandwidth of 55kHz vs possible 96kHz but there is very little harmonic info above 55kHz. It all has nothing to do with input rate. He is also talking about oversampling rates in general terms since DAC1 is not oversampling but upsampling meaning that rate is not even multiple anyway. In case of Benchmark DAC1 it is in order of million times upsample then downsample to 110kHz thanks to mathematical manipulations.

In general 192kHz carries more info than 96kHz but I doubt you can hear any improvement.
Does Downloading HD Tracks also allow for transfer to iTunes? Keeping everything in Apple Lossless would be convenient for our iPhones, sharing, etc. I would obviously keep the original downloads....just like I keep cd's.

The one thing I really like about not buying cd's is I like buying one or two songs at a time and not the whole album
i buy used CD's for the bang for the buck, either at the local music store or online through amazon. i've just started trying some high rez music from HD Tracks with very positive initial results. i also bought jriver to replace itunes, along with the JRemote app (which is a must) for my iphone/ipod touch/ipad. pretty happy so far, and am looking forward to investing in more HD Tracks soon.