Friday Music

02009-04-10 | Music | 26 comments

Here is what I worked on yesterday evening. It’s unfinished and a work-in–progress – already have new ideas and changes I want to make… It’s for the re-release of The Santa Fe Sessions next year. While we didn’t change In the Arms of Love much for the re-relase last year, I do want to play around with TSFS and see what happens. Check out the beginning, and ending of this version of Heart Still/Beating. It’s the arpeggio guitar from the song, processed by Jon. The alchemy of sound. I love the feeling of silence, when the processed arpeggio ends and right after the guitar chord of the intro starts.

You can download the 320kbps file here.


  1. Carol

    Thank you. That music makes this a day filled with magic. And it’s so beautifully long. ahhhhhh

  2. Matt Callahan

    Headphone candy.

    I’m being to rethink my mp3 bit rate stance. 320 kbps has so much more space inside than 192 kbps.

  3. Ottmar

    Matt: If your ear-brain axis can parse (((pardon the language – been reading Cryptonomicon))) the quality, use higher resolution files. 320 is better than 250 and 250 is better than 192 etc. And when a decent lossless codec becomes available – FLAC is not widespread enough and Apple Lossless too proprietary – I will switch to that for Ottmar-Friends. I only wish people would start demanding higher quality from the industry, like a 24bit 96kHz lossless codec. (((maybe the US has to catch up with Korean web-speeds first?))) I mean 16bit 44.1kHz has been around since the mid-Eighties and while video has gone HD, audio is still over two decade old tech.

  4. Max K

    Thanks for sharing another excellent piece of music with us!

    I have a good (OK, maybe interesting?) article from Rolling Stone magazine on this… found the link:

    What do you all think of the comment in the article that “AAC is slightly superior to MP3 at an equivalent bit rate?”

    I have re-ripped some of my CDs at higher rates and heard stuff I’d never heard before!

  5. Ottmar

    Max: Thanks for the link. I like the first comment to the article you linked:

    we must support the lossless format more than lossy format!! like flac, wav, ape. The mp3 hype must be stopped!! :D if the lossless format got popular maybe the music industry will be once more embrace the hi-fi….

    But, I have never heard of ape and wav is not a lossless compression format. Like AIFF it is UN-compressed.

    To answer your question, to say that AAC is slightly superior to MP3 at an equivalent bit rate seems like a silly generalization to me. It mostly depends on which software you use for ripping. We use the latest version of LAME, which I feel is superior. I can’t believe people are nitpicking about AAC versus MP3 when the difference between 320kbps and 192kbps is much larger than the difference between those formats. We need a truly lossless opensource format (((at a 24/96 sample rate if I am allowed to dream…))) that is embraced by all, including iTunes.

  6. Max K

    I mean I understand you, and the article, but neither completely…. :-)

  7. Ottmar

    Max: feel free to ask! This tech stuff can be confusing and I would be happy to explain, if I can.

  8. Max K

    If there’s a way to edit submissions, let me know. Actually, what I really meant was that I understand the issue, but is there a fix? (i.e., is there a truly lossless opensource format?) If so, what is it? Do the iTunes restrictions on their files affect the quality of the music? If so, how?

    Also, what is a 24/96 sample rate? What would the size of the file be compared to, say, a 320kbps file of the same music?

  9. dave

    Nice start to the weekend. Thanks.

  10. Ottmar


    Is there a truly lossless opensource format?

    FLAC is opensource and is said to be lossless, although Jon Gagan and I both heard a slight loss in the low frequency range compared to uncompressed AIFF files.

    Do the iTunes restrictions on their files affect the quality of the music? If so, how?

    I heared quite a bit of distortion in the old 128kbps AAC files iTunes used to sell. The new 256kbps files (iTunes Plus) are much better. iTunes does not support FLAC and does not allow other manufacturers to license their own lossless codec, which is a shame.

    Also, what is a 24/96 sample rate?

    It means that 24 bits (bit depth describes the number of bits of information recorded for each sample) were sampled at a rate of 96,000 samples (96kHz or Kilo = 1,000 Hertz) per second (that means per second 24 bits were sampled 96,000 times) – versus CD quality which samples 16 bits at a rate of 44,100 samples. The higher the number of bits, the higher the resolution – think of it like photographic resolution, number of Mega Pixels…
    1 second of sampling:
    24 x 96,000 = 2,304,000
    16 x 44100 = 705,600

    What would the size of the file be compared to, say, a 320kbps file of the same music?

    A five minute piece of music would be:
    – about 5MB as a 128kbps MP3
    – about 12MB as a 320kbps MP3 (also MP3 can only go up to 48kHz)
    – about 25MB as a lossless FLAC file
    – about 50MB as a uncompressed AIFF or WAV file
    – about 160MB as a 24/96 uncompressed AIFF or WAV file

    Um, I hope I didn’t confuse you more…. sorry about that.

  11. Ottmar

    I found a listening test from 1998:

    I find that any lack of hearing the difference is directly related to the quality of the listening equipment (amplifier, speaker etc.) and the quality of the listeners ear-to-brain communication. Some people hear a difference and others don’t, no matter what equipment they use. That’s OK, too.

  12. Max K

    Cool. No confusion whatsoever. I think your comparison of file sizes is interesting, and highlights part of the problem. I have a huge ipod so I don’t mind, but people with smaller sized storage space in their ipods, iphones, etc. “benefit(?)” from the smaller file sizes, although that benefit comes at a big cost.

  13. steve

    Ottmar: And when a decent lossless codec becomes available – FLAC is not widespread enough and Apple Lossless too proprietary – I will switch to that for Ottmar-Friends.

    Ottmar … what about mp3HD?

    According to the the Fraunhofer Institute:

    * mp3HD is a lossless audio codec (100% bit-exact replica of CD tracks)

    * Backward Compatible to mp3

    * File extension .mp3

    * Bitrates for music approximately 500 to 900 kbps rates (similar to other lossless codecs), depending on genre

    * Embedded mp3 track and the mp3HD file share the same id3 metadata

    * Encoding parameters (e.g. bit rate), ancillary data and meta data of embedded mp3 track are under control

  14. Ottmar

    Steve: Here is another MP3HD!
    I like the idea, but…

    The problem here is that, as a certain fictional character would put it, Thomson cannot change the laws of physics. Music can only be compressed so far and still retain the label lossless, and other, competing formats appear to be close to those limits. Meanwhile, a high-quality MP3 file also requires a decent amount of space. Put them together in the same file, and you will inevitably get a file that’s even larger than anything a lossless encoder would produce. That’s exactly what CNET UK found when it took Thomson’s mp3HD encoder for a test drive.

    Ars Technica
    I think for now a 320kbps MP3 is the best compromise. The ratio between quality and file-size is good and every MP3 player and computer in the world can play it back.

  15. James

    My question is: to what extent does the differences in technical quality of these various formats affect the power (emotional or otherwise) of music? And to what degree does it make a difference our memory of music? I imagine these are tough questions to answer, however when all is said and done, those seem to be some of the most important criteria to me. Often I find great pleasure in listening to the subtlest detail and depth of sound, and I also believe I am still a happy person after listening to many hours of 128kbs mp3s through a very modest signal chain.

  16. Ottmar

    James: that’s a tricky question to answer. For example, if you first listen to a piece of music on a great stereo or headphones, then your mind will most certainly make up some of the detail when you later listen to it via a 128kbps MP3 file. The brain will add what your ears don’t perceive.

    Then there is the emotional impact that may not be related to the sound quality – the impact might come from the melody or a harmonic change. There are some Bach pieces that have an impact no matter how shitty the sound quality is, for example.

    Or, it could be the little sounds that are not quite so obvious and which you might not hear on a 128kbps MP3 file. The other day I listened to Opium on CD and with wonderful Stax Earspeakers (they don’t like it when you call ’em Headphones) via their tube-amp… it had an immediate impact as everything was clear and spacious and transported me.

  17. Matt Callahan

    Wow! Step away for a little bit and see what happens.

    As much as I like tech stuff, Ottmar’s last line says it all.

    ….everything was clear and spacious and transported me

    It really doesn’t matter what the numbers are. It’s how clear the sound is and how much room there is in it for you. A place for you to slip in and enjoy the ride.

    That being said, another point is that not all music is created with the same care. I know that some of what I have on my iPod won’t sound any better at 320 than it does at 192 simply because the recording is just “OK”.

  18. Brenda

    I am not a techie. I do not know how it works but I like the music that I hear. It is just plain good! Thanks bunches! Yall have fun talking tech.

  19. Kaz

    Hello Friends!!
    Thank you for all the useful teck information ‘made easy’. I guess for me especially lately, I enjoy the three dimensional sense of a higher quality audio file…It’s little like drinking Wine; when we’re exposed to something better it’s not easy to go back to something of a lesser quality……Cheers!
    PS. Jon! Great job on the song,thx.

  20. Steve

    I also subscribe to the Bowers and Wilkens (B&W) music club, and they offer all their monthly downloads as a 24-bit FLAC option. I always download the 24 bit FLAC, since these can easily be transcoded to ALAC for those of us that are (i)pod people. (using a utility like xld or xACT: just drag and drop.)


    “There are some Bach pieces that have an impact no matter how shitty the sound quality is, for example. ”

    VERY VERY TRUE… the poor recording of Pablo Casals playing Bach is a great example of this.

  21. Ottmar

    Steve: interesting! What sample rate are those B&W FLAC files?

  22. Gerry

    Hi everyone,
    Interesting discussion going on here.
    We have a band in the UK (Porcupine Tree) who release their
    albums in mutiple formats. Downloads are MP3 or Flac.
    If you want a hard copy (like myself) the albums come in a double digi-pack or sometimes(double jewel case).
    Disc 1(CD) is the 16 bit stereo mix for cd that everyone can access.
    Disc 2(DVDA)is 5.1 surround sound mix AND high resolution 24 bit stereo mix of the album for audiophiles – with extra tracks.
    Ottmar, maybe you could release TSFS as a double disc?
    I realise that you think cd is dead but you can’t beat having a physical copy to treasure and I would love to hear your music at 24 bit.

  23. Steve

    “Steve: interesting! What sample rate are those B&W FLAC files?”

    They are 48kHz sample rate.

  24. Adam

    Okay, I just listened to this with headphones for the first time. That processed guitar is SO much cooler this way! ;)

  25. Ottmar

    Isn’t everything cooler with headphones? :-)


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