Old 25th September 2007, 18:45   #1
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Amazon takes on iTunes for the music crown

Remember when Amazon.com was just a bookstore? On Tuesday morning, the online retailer launched the public beta of its much-anticipated rival to Apple's iTunes Store: Amazon MP3, which features over 2 million songs free of digital rights management copy protection, which means they'll play on any computer, music player, or music-enabled cell phone.

Because of Amazon MP3's DRM-free focus, that means the selection isn't as wide as the iTunes Store's. Several major-label conglomerates, like Sony BMG and Warner Music Group, have not jumped onto the bandwagon and hence aren't offering their music for sale in Amazon's new store. Nevertheless, the retail giant has played up the fact that there are still 180,000 artists represented from 20,000 major and independent labels, including several prominent indie labels that are offering their music for the first time in "naked" format.

Each song is encoded at 256kbps, the file quality that Apple offers for its DRM-free iTunes Plus premium music selections, which it sells for $1.29 apiece rather than its usual 99 cents. Amazon's pricing for Amazon MP3 ranges from 89 cents (including the top 100 best-selling songs) to 99 cents; albums are priced from $5.99 to $9.99.

It goes without saying that Amazon is aiming squarely at Apple, and it's attempting to hit the digital music monopoly where it hurts--with regard to pricing, file quality, and versatility, all of which have come under scrutiny by critics. But this could also be a painful blow for eMusic, the online music store that has made a small name for itself by selling exclusively DRM-free music.

While the iTunes Store started its digital download empire with music sales, Amazon has already operated a movie download store, Amazon Unbox, for a year now. Unbox was off to a rough start at first, but tweaked features, partnerships with companies like TiVo, and a solid selection have improved the company's reputation for media downloads.

I know its one of those "blog" posts but its relevant news. I've read the FAQ at Amazon and by the description, it seems that they are using ABR for some albums and CBR 256kbps for others.

Though I wish that they would have used 320kbps.
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Old 25th September 2007, 22:07   #2
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I was under the impression that MP3 only really went up to 256kbps. Really though there'll be no audible difference between 256kbps and 320, the next logical step up is really lossless.

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Old 26th September 2007, 00:07   #3
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It depends on the type of music whether or not you will notice a difference. But my ears are better than most.

Though they probably did it that way for size/quality reasons.

And for reference:

MPEG-1 Layer 3: (KBPS) 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 80, 96, 112, 128, 160, 192, 224, 256, 320.
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Old 26th September 2007, 00:51   #4
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This looks pretty nice. I may actually buy some of the songs. I'm pretty sure I'll at least buy one, just to try it out.

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.
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