One Christmas At A Time, FLAC?

edited July 2015 in JoCo Music
Yo, Coultonites.

I've gone all audiophile and have been building up a library of lossless music, including JoCo's, but I just can't find a way to get a hold of lossless FLAC versions of One Christmas At A Time. Amazon only provides CDs and MP3s and iTunes is... well, iTunes.

Anyone know a place I can find One Christmas At A Time in lossless format? I'd sure appreciate it :)


  • I'd be willing to bet folding money that you can't tell, in a blind test, a FLAC from a high-bitrate MP3.

    This isn't to say that you shouldn't pursue lossless generally (I rip Apple Lossless myself, when I buy CDs), but if someone like JoCo is digital only and doesn't distribute lossless, it's highly likely their chosen format is ripped at a high enough bitrate to be a non-issue.

    Or you could just buy the CD. That's also an option. ;)
  • Well. JoCo does sell FLAC - it's right there on the store - he just doesn't sell One Christmas At A Time on the store, I assume because of the collaboration with John Roderick.

    And whether it's a placebo effect or not, I find I enjoy the sound of lossless formats more than even high rate MP3s, and forgive my bluntness but whether I can tell the difference or not is 1) not for you to decide, 2) none of your business and 3) not part of my question.

    I already own the CD, I bought it when it first came out, but CDs are already a lossy format so ripping losslessly from them is kinda pointless. I remember JoCo sold lossless formats when the album first came out, but that option is gone now.

    I guess it might just be quicker to email Scarface about it, I was just hoping maybe somebody on here knew a place to get a hold of the original files. Ah well.
  • I have it lossless, but it's from the CD, so if that's already too lossy for you, I guess you'll have to email Scarface. I don't see why ripping lossless from a CD would be pointless though (assuming you have the speakers and ears necessary to tell the difference between that and a high-bitrate mp3) since it's certainly less lossy than an mp3.
  • Hey Angelastic, long time no see!

    Well it's a minor thing but when music is encoded to the digital format on a CD a certain amount of data (and sound) is lost. So for me, lossless only makes sense if they're direct from master recordings, because if it's a CD-rip, then you're absolutely right, no reason not to just go with a good mp3 :)
  • Hi, skyen! :)

    Are you saying that there's a more audible difference between a lossless encoding of the original mix and a CD than there is between a CD and a high-bitrate mp3? I find that particularly hard to believe; most of the discussions I've seen about hearing the difference between lossless and mp3 have been comparing a lossless CD rip with an mp3.
  • Huh. Most of the lossy vs lossless talk I've been involved with has been the difference between digital and analogue. I.e. the sort of discussion where "the superiority of vinyl" tends to get brought up a lot, although I don't really subscribe to the notion :P

    It really depends on each piece of music how much of a difference you can tell, honestly. Most modern pop is mixed by clever engineers to sound as good as possible in standard MP3 formats through earbud headphones, because that's what most people use - so in that case there's usually not much to be gained.

    When it comes to things like, say, original 1960s-70s Beatles recordings, believe me, the difference becomes actual night and day. This is also has a lot to do with the Loudness War, of course, but a lossy format can kill a LOT of nuance in the sound of old recordings from the age of Hi-Fi.

    Properly recorded classical music also tends to sound miles better in a good lossless format.

    To be honest it's all VERY subjective and I'm sure people can point to blind tests where someone can't tell the difference and go "AHA SEE IT'S ALL BOLLOCKS," but the fact of the matter is I feel a difference, and whether that's psychosomatic or not, I'm still getting a better music experience from lossless audio and that's the only thing that really matters to me :)
  • Huh. Surely what you lose by converting from analogue to digital is already lost by the time you save it in a digital lossless format. But yeah, I've heard of people (wasn't it Bono?) redigitising stuff at higher sample rates or whatever. Actually, someone was thinking of hiring me to write software for players of that kind of Hi-Fi lossless stuff. On top of being wary of making money from what probably amounted to a placebo effect, I was a bit put off by his insistence on deliberately making the devices huge and heavy in order to appeal to old people (apparently old people don't trust light things), especially since old people are even less likely to be able to hear the difference.

    Do you feel the difference even in JoCo's music, which has probably been mixed or even recorded digitally (in one case, using earbuds while on a plane, in another, using samples in a hotel room, IIRC)? I'd think his would be among the music made to sound good in mp3 formats through earbuds.
  • Yeah, I agree, most of the early stuff there's not a lot of difference to tell (a little bit on the drums sometimes, which is typical). Blue Sunny Day has somewhat wider audio, I think, but it's not until Artificial Heart and JoCo Live I start to hear any real differences. 

    Still, I'm a completionist and I'm trying to get all my favourite music in proper lossless, however slight the improvements.

    Re: converting digital to analogue, the point of lossless encodings is they preserve as much as possible outside of a pure analogue recording. There's always SOME loss in digital encoding, but it's... the metaphor I usually use is printing out a super hi-res scan of the Mona Lisa, scanning it again and then printing it again. The first printed picture will never be as perfect as the original Mona Lisa, but with every subsequent scan and print more and more and more is lost.
    So lossless from source is the best way to put as few conversions and compressions as possible between you and the original sound. Well, short of finding really high quality vinyl, but my music library is like 18 days of continuous sound and I only have so much shelf-space.

    And Re: making hi-fi equipment heavy... My parents have a lot of old musicians in their circle of friends and the number of times I've heard them grouse about how modern stereos just don't "feel" like real music equipment because they're not stuffed with 300 pounds of transistors... well, it's just nostalgia. From a marketing perspective it's not a bad idea to appeal to that, even if it's really dumb from a design perspective - I suspect most of the modern hi-fi audience is driven by some sort of nostalgia for a "more glorious past." 
  • Hehe. 18 days. Mine's 114 days, not including spoken word, embarrassing traditional stuff, children's educational songs, and source tracks (I might be a bit of a music hoarder.)

    Boy, am I glad all that isn't on vinyl! It's going to be the more glorious future soon! :D
  • Building your collection one blu-ray disc at a time?
  • I don't even know what that means because I've never owned a blu-ray or a blu-ray player. I play all my movies from trampoline-sized vinyl discs turned by trained passenger pigeons attached to the discs by lines. It's analogue, you see.

    Despite the many lossless files ripped from CDs, my music collection fits easily on one portable external hard drive, which is more than I can say for my photo/video library (from my own cameras.)
  • you could email neil young and see if he's got it on his pono.
  • It looks like he did sell it at one time. I was in the same boat about ripping to flac, but I bought the box set which I guess had come with a download code for mp3s, so I replaced those with flacs when I got to Christmas CDs.  You can always buy the discs...
  • I think you're using an idiosyncratic definition of "lossy" and "lossless."

    Those terms are mostly used to refer to compression algorithms. FLAC is lossless. So is Apple Lossless. MP3 and AAC and Ogg are lossy. 

    CDs themselves aren't really compressed. It's just that the music has been digitized. I get that some people insist that this results in the loss of some of the information vs. vinyl, but nobody has ever been able to prove that in a listening test, so it seems like woo to me, but if you're happy, well, knock yourself out. 

    >Properly recorded classical music also tends to sound miles better in a good lossless format.

    To the best of my knowledge, this has never been shown to be true in a blind test. And I've looked into this a LOT. 

    High-bitrate (>256, and perhaps even lower) compressed formats like MP3 and AAC are indistinguishable from lossless formats. Realistically, any FLAC JoCo sold would be the end result of the same process that produced his CDs, so by your usage it'd still be "lossy."

  • edited August 2015
    CDs are right on the edge of humanly detectable distortion. 128 Kbps MP3s are beyond it. 128 Kbps WMAs even more so.
  • edited August 2015
    On good equipment, it's pretty obvious even to non-audio people that 128kb MP3 is substantially inferior to CD source. 

    I actually ran into this years ago, in the heyday of Napster. My roommate and I were early adopters and would play a game at our parties called "name a song and we'll play it." Guests were generally not aware of Napster, so we looked kind of cool doing it. We amassed a huge mp3 library this way, though we really only used it at parties -- it being 1998-2000 or so, we mostly played CDs.

    When I moved into the house I live in now in 2000, I also upgraded my stereo fairly substantially -- new receiver, fancy new speakers -- and then took a while getting the music server hooked in again. When I did, I was astonished at how horrible the MP3s all sounded, and worried that something was terribly, terribly wrong with my fancy new toys.

    It took me and a buddy an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the "problem" was that, in the intervening weeks, I'd been listening only to CD source. On a much, much nicer stereo. Whereas at the old house, on the old equipment, 128Kbps MP3 and CD weren't THAT different, the new equipment allowed CD to show much more of its potential. The shitty rips from our Napster collection, though, had no more quality to show.

    After that, I basically started over with digital music. All the files ripped at < 256 were useless, so they got deleted. Anything new got ripped at 256 or 320, and usually with AAC instead of MP3. Several years later I just switched to Apple Lossless, figuring that, even if I couldn't hear the delta, there was no point in using lossy compression if Lossless was available at a trivial amount more space (ie, unlike FLAC). 
  • edited August 2015
    It is certainly possible for a badly encoded 128 Kbps MP3 to sound worse than a CD. Much of the pirated music which was traded on Napster was run through primitive encoders such as the one that came with Nero (designed to skirt the Fraunhofer patent; there was a lawsuit about this). But inherently, a 128 Kbps MP3 ought to be better. A CD is only 41.1 Kbps uncompressed PCM. 128 Kbps, plus the compression of silences and expansion of dynamic range you get from MP3 encoding, leaves room for a LOT more nuance.
  • edited August 2015
    Wrong. CD audio is 1,411,200 bits/sec, or 1,411kbps. That will contain vastly more information than 128kbps. And no matter the encoder, 128kbps cannot compare to CD.

    You may be thinking of the CD sample rate, which is 41.1kHz. But that needs to be multiplied by the bit depth of 16 bits (per channel) to be equivalent.

    Chetman is correct. CD and lossless (FLAC, Apple Lossless) are largely identical in how they subjectively sound, but CD is still the standard for uncompressed "raw" audio (notwithstanding other audio formats with 96kHz rates like SACD or Blu-Ray Audio).

    Also, "expansion of dynamic range"? Mp3s do not magically improve the volume of the music. Or add headroom. A poorly mastered, overly loud wav file still sounds like a poorly mastered, overly loud mp3.
  • edited August 2015
    Thanks for saving me the trouble, SemiEvolved! 

    In particular, the idea that a 128kbps mp3 "ought to be better" than the CD it was ripped from is the sort of notion that we might categorize as "not even wrong," with apologies to Mr Pauli.
  • edited August 2015
    Due to the Shannon/Hartley theorem, and the way PCM is encoded (it's not just 16-bit samples, but rather an encoding derived from the output of a 16-bit A/D converter that samples at a particular rate), you can't just multiply the sample rate by the number of bits of resolution to get an equivalent bit rate. (PCM encodes the differences between samples, not all the bits of each one. And it is almost always done using "μ-law" encoding, which is logarithmic, not linear. The distortion is given by a fairly complex integral.) When you do all the math, 128 Kbps MP3 comes out to about the same level of distortion as a CD if the encoding is reasonably good, and better if the Fraunhofer psychoacoustic algorithms, which remove things you can't hear, are used. MP3 also does expand the dynamic range, because PCM by its very nature can't handle large jumps in amplitude easily. So, again, a 128 Kbps MP3 ought to be better than a CD if the audio came from the same source. (I never said that an MP3 ripped from a CD would be better than the CD, or that any encoding method could improve a bad master recording. That would be silly.)
  • Whatever, Brett.
  • I only accept audio recorded on formats that commercially failed like DCC and MiniDisc.
  • I knew a guy who didn't like how lossy mp3 was, so he ripped CDs to aiff, but then to save space, resampled them to 22kHz. He justified this by saying his speakers weren't good enough for him to hear the difference anyway. o_O
  • edited August 2015
    What I want to hear, though, is JoCo live, through a good sound system. (Haven't seen him perform for more than two years now, except once when I happened to be in Brooklyn and popped in for an AMA show.)
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