why pay full price for less data? buy the cd and make a copy with the compression u need.
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I think you're confusing import format on iTunes with download format. Unless iTunes recently added uncompressed music, I'd stick to buying and ripping CDs. I think Rhino Records has uncompressed downloadable music on their site, but the catalog's not anywhere near iTunes'.
If iTunes gave the uncompressed option, I'm sure all the forums would be buzzing about it. I'd love to buy individual uncompressed tracks from them from albums that I didn't care for the entire album. Maybe some day.
We all (for the most part) agree that CDs sound better than iTunes downloads. We also all (for the most part) want something physical to hold. Their in lies the rub...
The OP is overseas and it seems he doesn't want to amass a collection that he'll have to take with him when he comes back.
I don't know the laws where you are (nor where you are), so if what I'm suggesting is illegal, don't do it ;)
You could buy used CDs, rip them onto a hard drive, then sell them. If libraries have music, you could borrow them and rip them. If need be due to legal issues, delete the hard drive's contents when you get home, and buy the CDs when you're here.
Alternatively, if Spotify or a comparable service is available where you are, you could subscribe to that. Not full CD resolution, but there's minimal cost and no lugging around a huge collection involved.
I quit buying CDs about six months ago. I just don't have any place to store them any more. Every cabinet and shelf that I have is full of CDs. Well, I should qualify that. I do buy CDs, if what I want can't be found at a download site that offers downloads in lossless format. If I can download what I want, that's what I do.
I really don't think that the choice has much to do with sound quality, although convenience certainly may have at least something to do with it.
As far as quality goes, there are quite a few sites that sell high quality downloads that at least equal CD quality. I've had good results with the stuff that I've downloaded from places like HDTracks.