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Apple launches iTunes Plus

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Apple Launches iTunes Plus:

Higher Quality DRM-Free Tracks Now Available on the iTunes Store Worldwide

Apple® today launched iTunes® Plus—DRM-free music tracks featuring high quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings—for just $1.29 per song. iTunes Plus is launching with EMI’s digital catalog of outstanding recordings, including singles and albums from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, John Coltrane and more than a dozen of Paul McCartney’s classic albums available on iTunes for the first time.

iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today—128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM—at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside the higher quality iTunes Plus versions when available. In addition, iTunes customers can now easily upgrade their library of previously purchased EMI content to iTunes Plus tracks for just 30 cents a song and $3.00 for most albums. ...

And was also launched iTunes U:

Apple® today announced the launch of iTunes® U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) featuring free content such as course lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights and campus tours provided by top US colleges and universities including Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University and MIT.

“iTunes U makes it easy for anyone to access amazing educational material from many of the country’s most respected colleges and universities,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “Education is a lifelong pursuit and we’re pleased to give everyone the ability to download lectures, speeches and other academic content for free.” ...

The change has now begun. :)


Edited to add:

Forgot to add that you will need iTunes 7.2 for Mac to get the benefits of iTunes Plus.
 
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oooh I smell blog entry material! :D (Funny, I was just talking about posting a note about this here like 3 minutes ago...darn you MHC...always beating me to stuff! ;) )
 
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yea yea...my sonic screwdriver is cooler than your headset! ;)
 
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Well I just spent 22€ on iTunes Plus songs... there was no way I was going to buy instrumental stuff (Penguin Cafe Orchestra) at 128K...
 
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Very very interesting.

Nice move from apple. Im interesting to see how this Itunes U works out.
 
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iTunes Plus, and iTunes U! Sounds neat!

I'm not a sound guru by any means, and I definitely have bad ears, and can't hear distortion, but my brother is a quality nut; he will probably love this!
 
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How much of an improvement in sound would you see comparing 128kbps to 256kbps?

After listening here at the office, there is a distinct difference. It's like peeling back a couple layers of a muting film across the sound. Things are definitely clearer...but then I have good ears for music. I'm sure it'll sound totally different on stereo systems optimized for music.
 
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How much of an improvement in sound would you see comparing 128kbps to 256kbps?
It is a fair difference... but the 128K stuff wasn't that bad either.

I find you notice it particularly when listening to drum kits (the cymbals sometimes sound a bit distorted) or vocals (again, occasional distortion on female vocalists).
 
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Yep I had a listen last night to some of the new tracks and sound came out more separated then the previous versions on my Altec Lansing speakers.

Apt, you are right in saying the previous versions aren't too bad though. Just that this latest iTunes Music Store offering sounds roomier, more 3D like.
 
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The difference in quality of sound on my iPod can be heard. I purchased an album by Corinne Bailey Rae, the clarity is really noticeable
 
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faster?

Don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the iTunes store seems a lot faster now too. Pages load quicker and downloads are much faster.
 
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Actually the album I bought (containing around 25 songs) wouldn't download at all for the first 2 days.

I think the store was seriously overloaded, so they must have added quite a bit of bandwidth and servers to deal with the additional load.
 
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Actually the album I bought (containing around 25 songs) wouldn't download at all for the first 2 days.

I think the store was seriously overloaded, so they must have added quite a bit of bandwidth and servers to deal with the additional load.

I was going to mention the same thing. For the first day or two it kept telling me that it couldn't find the file or the song, but wouldn't tell me why or what file/song. And I was only upgrading one album and maybe 11 individual songs (cost me $6 in the end). However it finally worked over on Sunday, so I'd agree with the overloaded site or possibly some bugs that they had to work out.

I read some articles mentioning comparisons in the sound quality, and for the most part it sort of seemed like it didn't make a big difference. Although strangely the iPods sounded better with the earphones that came with them compared to a nice set of earphones that the review was also testing with. I have yet to play them though anything but my MBP's speakers so I can't comment personally.
 
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Actually the album I bought (containing around 25 songs) wouldn't download at all for the first 2 days.

I think the store was seriously overloaded, so they must have added quite a bit of bandwidth and servers to deal with the additional load.

You're likely right. I had a hard time accessing info there on Friday, so I'm waiting til tonight to get some of the stuff there i want on itunes plus. Most notably that Beach Boys album...30 songs for $13 :D

("Wouldn't it be nice" is one of the songs of theirs I love now...one of the first movies my soon-to-be fiancee and I saw together was 50 First Dates...and it resonated in that movie and is a part of our relationship now...go figure. :))
 

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