• Sonny Rollins, MusicGiants, No DRM, and 24 bit / 88.2 KHz Downloads

    Sonny Rollins' 1956 album The Sound of Sonny is another very fine recording from one of the best saxophonists ever. If you like the sound of Sonny's sax this is the album for you. The album features Sonny front and center on every song. Very few times does Sonny take a step back for anyone. One great exception is on the song "Just In Time." There is a little lull in the song with some mellow piano, but that is followed with a fabulous drum solo. The drums are sonically spectacular just like the rest of the recording. "It Could Happen To You" is the only Sonny solo track on the album. The song is 3:45 of pure Sonny sax. I absolutely love the lush sound of his tenor on this song. Music lovers looking for some jazz without too many instruments competing for the floor will surely want to purchase this album.
    Format and Sound
    I downloaded this complete album from the MusicGiants online store as 24 bit / 88.2 KHz DRM-Free Windows Media Lossless files. You read that correctly, DRM-Free 24/88.2 Sonny Rollins from MusicGiants! Over the past year MusicGiants has been increasing their selection of DRM-Free music. In addition, they have added what they call Super HD music. These albums are often 24/88.2 or 24/96 downloads. Nowhere else on the Internet can you download music of this quality from the major labels. Comparing iTunes downloads to MusicGiants is like comparing apples and oranges. iTunes downloads are for portable devices like Apple's iPod. MusicGiants downloads are for audiophiles and anyone who wants the best sound quality available. Of course this music can also be put on a portable player. If your player doesn't support 24/88.2 files you'll have to downsample the album. This is pretty easy and again only necessary if you want to copy the files to a portable player.

    As many of you know I use a Mac with iTunes for my music server and I listen to my music as uncompressed AIFF files. I do have Windows installed on a Boot Camp partition and I have Parallels to access that OS while simultaneously using OS X. Since the current MusicGiants store is only available with Internet Explorer I downloaded the music from my Windows virtual machine. The songs all download as WMA lossless files and need to be converted to play on a Mac. Since this album was DRM-Free this was possible, but not without some experimentation. Fortunately I can tell you exactly what you need to know so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Here are the steps I used.

    1. Download the lossless wma music
    2. Use the Windows Media Audio 9 Lossless to PCM Converter to convert the wma files to wav files. This tool will keep the sample rate and size at 88.2 KHz & 24 bit. Beware it is a command line utility, but the syntax is real easy.
    3. (Optional) Move the files to your Mac and use the MAX application to convert wav to aiff. This is necessary to support tags and cover art.
    4. Import into iTunes and you done. MusicGiants 24/88.2 music on your Mac!

    Sonny Rollins The Sound of Sonny  
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Right now the method I used is the only method I know of that doesn't down sample from 24/88.2 to 16/44.1. MAX won't even import the wma lossless files from this album even thought they are DRM-Free. There are other OS X applications that will convert wma to aiff, but they also convert to 16/44.1.<br />
      <br />
      I hope somebody has a solution that we don't know about yet!
    1. glt's Avatar
      glt -
      The question is how do I get the HD out to an external DAC? USB interfaces (e.g. USB to I2S) are limited to 48, Airport Express is limited to 44.1, The only options seems to be sound card with spdif or Firewire to spdif boxes. What's the best (best value) solution?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hey glt - There are very few USB DACs that will convert 24 bit / 96 KHz audio. We started a lits a while back, but it has gone unattended for a while. Here is the link to the forum topic http://www.computeraudiophile.com/node/58<br />
      <br />
      Right now the Benchmark DAC1 USB is a good value. It all depends on your definition of value as well :-) I currently use the DAC1 USB to convert my 24/96 audio.
    1. glt's Avatar
      glt -
      Thanks for the link. Since I've already built a TwisterPear Opus DAC, I'm looking at spdif solutions for HD audio. Do you know if the optical out from a MAC support up to 96K? <br />
      <br />
      Thanks.
    1. glt's Avatar
      glt -
      Just discovered that there is a forum. Found the answer in the forum: yes...
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      As you've discovered in the forum. The optical out on a Mac supports up to 24/192 output. Let us know how your system is progressing glt.
    1. guyapprentice's Avatar
      guyapprentice -
      i ordered the new benchmark media dac1 pre...can't wait for it to arrive next week as they shipped today! i cant wait to try out hd downloads, i've never done it!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Very cool guyapprentice! Please let us know how things are going once you get it setup.
    1. glt's Avatar
      glt -
      Here is another free converter to convert WMA to WAV for windows http://www.nch.com.au/switch/index.html You can then convert to Apple Lossless within iTunes. (Is there anyway to automatically transfer the metadata?)