What is lossless music? If you’re a DJ, a radio broadcaster, or just a music enthusiast, your go-to methods of reproducing music will be Vinyl, CD or WAV. These are types of lossless music, or music that the quality of the recording is fully preserved and no information has been cut out of it. Vinyl is analogue, meaning it is reproduced as an electrical signal from a physical medium. WAV is digital, meaning it is reproduced from binary code then changed into an electrical signal by your speakers. Vinyl is ultimately the highest quality of music achievable before WAV. And as much as I would like to applaud you for your freshly-bought, legally acquired Beatport MP3 files, it breaks my heart to tell you that you are only listening to a portion of your music.
That’s right, the process through which MP3s are created is called transcoding, a process through which certain frequencies are removed from music in order to make the file less heavy and easier to carry or transfer; this kind of music is referred to as lossy music, music where information has been lost and the quality of the track is diminished. This is why a 7 minute 320kbps MP3, for example, will weigh 20MB while a WAV or AIFF (another kind of lossless format) file will weigh 100MB. This difference in quality is hardly noticeable by the layman, but is easily identifiable in bigger sound systems. It gets even worse: if you rip a track say off of Soundcloud or Youtube, you are re-transcoding a file that has already been transcoded by the platform, destroying the quality of the recording. Audio files ripped from platforms are easily noticeable by anyone as they will immediately sound “choppy” and “muddy”.
So… how do I get lossless music then? Streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music are not a choice since their max streaming quality is 320kbps MP3. You can either get them from industry friends (record label owners, the artists themselves, use Facebook for this!), buy Vinyl/CD and rip them, or you invest an extra dollar on digital stores for those juicy lossless files… at the end of the day, the common listener won’t notice the difference… but we do!
Written by Mauro Ferreiro