Sunday, July 27, 2014

Better than MP3

Some people are ahead of me, and some are way behind. If you haven't moved beyond MP3s, listen up. MP3s were patented in 1985 by a German university, which still holds that patent. They don't collect royalties -- thank you very much! The format became popular in the late 1990s because internet speeds were fast enough to actually move them around. Now, we don't need such compressed (ie low quality) digital music. There are many superior formats, and they're usable now because of fast speeds and an abundance of cheap storage. I got a 2TB external for $59 recently. No excuse to listen to highly compressed digital music.

There are several options for better music, and I finally -- laughably in 2014, I know -- downloaded my first track of better music. I grabbed Please Read the Letter, by Plant / Krause. I use the GOM audio player, which I consider the best available, which plays FLACs and WAVs. I got the WAV from It's stunning. I use a low-end laptop for music, which is kind of a joke, along with good headphones and a headphone amp. It's stunning. It's stunning. Did I say that already? Robert Plant, btw, can't hit the high notes anymore, but he still has the chops. He won a Grammy for the album the song was included with. The song was written, of course, with Jimmy Page. I admit that part of the reason I like the song is because long ago I sent a letter to a girlfriend, just as we were breaking up, and she returned it unopened with "I'm not reading this" written on the outside. Never forgot that. It was a last ditch effort to save things, and it failed. If only she had read that letter! It was as if the song were written for me. Ever feel that?

To give you a comparison, the MP3 version of the song is about 6MB, and the WAV is 199MB. With cheap audio equipment an MP3 is fine. In fact, 256k and up is fairly good. I have a lot of that, and I don't mind listening to that stuff. But, we're way beyond that level of quality. MP3s date to 1985, and it's 2014 now. Think about it.

The only problem I'm seeing at HDtracks is that most music is available only in album format. I went through the plastic record scene, and I'm unwilling to return to buying an entire album so I can listen to two songs. That's a deal killer. Some are available per track, though.

After listening to the lossless Please Read the Letter, I listened to the MP3 versions of Embryonic Journey by Jefferson Airplane and Medley by Leo Kottke (which is an astounding example of mastery). They sound fantastic. MP3s aren't bad. Still, we can do better.

On a totally unrelated subject (because this is no longer a political endeavor), I just finished the first draft of my new novel. It's only the second time I've done that, and the first one was not good. I never showed it to anyone, let alone try to find an agent or publisher. This one is different. It's fantastic -- although I'm biased, of course. It's about a guy who discovers he has a triple helix, instead of double. It's how he makes the discovery, and what it means for him, and against him, and the effect the discovery has on humanity. Sci-Fi, technically, although it's character driven. Not much science until the halfway mark. Wish me luck. My odds of publishing a fiction novel just went from 20,000,000:1 to 15,000,000:1!

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