Friday, December 17, 2010

updating the bits.

I am re-ripping my entire cd collection in 320kbps. Most of it had been previously ripped at 128 back when I had the creative software. I had NO idea about bitrates until recently when:

*I recently checked the box in my iTunes to "convert higher bitrate songs to 128kbps" when transferring to my phone and it gave me 7GB more space and I was so excited. I researched online before I checked the box and a lot of audio snobs were whining about 128, but they admitted that most people can't tell the difference anyway, so I did it. I decided I was no audio snob. I can handle it. And it took nine hours to convert what little I did have in higher bitrates to 128 for my phone named Sister of Avalanche. But I immediately noticed a difference. Songs were muddled and hole-y. Note that this conversion to lower bitrates was done to transfer to my phone ONLY; it did not change the files in my music library! I'm not that daft!

*Then, I was listening to MOG (online music app) and put the audio quality at "high" and it sounded FABULOUS...and it was 320. And I compared a Them Crooked Vultures song in 320 from the app to the 128 version I had on my phone and there was a HUGE difference. How could anyone NOT tell? How did I live all these years with so much of my music in muddled low quality.

*On the way home from watching the Lady GaGa episode of Glee with my mom at her friend Paula and Gene's house (she was dawg sitting) I wanted to rawk out to "Bad Romance" on the way home and I just wasn't feelin' it. And I normally do. I felt disconnected from the sound. From the "ra ra ra-a-ahh", and that's just not right. Because GaGa isn't as big in 128. Also, I have to turn the volume way up in my car to feel encompassed by 128. That's not right.

So, I made two decisions right then and there:

1) That the 160GB iPod Classic I've had my eye on, that I look up online every couple of days just to stare at lovingly, was now a totally justifiable necessity, not just a fantasy that felt excessive. Ever since I gave up my Zendra (60GB Creative Zen mp3 player) I got back in my early 20s, I've wanted something that could fit all of my music. My Sister of Avalanche has been maxed out at 128kbps (she's 32GB and I have 45GB of music [BEFORE everything has been converted to 320, btw -- probably end up with 60 or 70ish GB at the end of it all] so she's just not gonna cut it), and she'll hold less than half as much music when I switch her to 320. I don't need to have all my music on me at all times, but I will acquire an iPod classic for road trips and parties and whenever I just want to grab my music and stomp out the door on a walk or something. I already know what I will name her and what engraving she will have on the back. She will be named Strict Machine (after a Goldfrapp song) and will have an adaptation of lyrics from the song engraved: "Wonderful electric, cover me in your white noise." Pretty good, right? I'm so excited. I'm waiting until I get some Xmas money and then I'll save up the rest from my cleaning job and hopefully have that baby by February.

2) That I'm re-ripping EVERYTHING to the highest capacity my iTunes converter can handle without going lossless. Lossless is way too big. And I have the CD hard copies for that.

So, I was going to wait until after xmas to do this enormous project (I have around 400 CDs still, I think -- and I've gotten rid of a lot!), but I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I started it Tuesday. I'm in the H's (ripping Billie Holiday at the moment) and I'm loving every minute of it. Hole, incidentally, doesn't sound much different in 320, but everything else sounds noticeably different. The highs and lows are more defined. I'm hearing nuance in music I've loved for years and never heard before. I'm discovering that a lot of the music I've loved intensely (such as Air's Talkie Walkie) happened to be at higher bitrates all along. So, I don't even know what I like anymore!! How much more music will I love at higher bitrates?

This is a wonderful wonderful thing. I'm rediscovering my music. I'm falling in love with The Cure again. I'm appreciating classical in a new way, as strings sound FAR FAR better in high bitrates, needless to say.

I'm in love with music again! I highly recommend, if you've never done so, checking the bitrates on your computer music collection. If they're low and you still have access to the hard copies, re-rip those babies!! It's totally worth it!!