Let It Bleed
I was originally going to review Let It Bleed by itself as it is a great Stones album. Then I thought to myself that no audiophile would admit they haven't heard this album. So, I'm going to compare the ABKO remaster redbook CD layer and the MusicGiants Super HD 24/88.2 download.
This comparison was done on a MacBook Pro using Boot Camp, running Windows XP sp2. Since the MusicGiants download was wrapped with DRM I had to use Windows Media Player for my listening sessions. The Super HD downloads are protected WMA lossless files. I compared these to my AIFF 16/44.1 ripped version of the album. I made no attempt to bypass the Windows KMixer or use and plug-ins or other media players. There certainly is a lot going on here and the conditions are less than ideal. But, I played back both files through WMP and did what a normal Joe Sixpack listener would do. I listened to the music over and over and noted my thoughts on it all.
Some specs on the MG download:
Windows Media Audio 9.2 Lossless
VBR Quality 100, 88 kHz, 2 channel 24 bit 1-pass VBR
Bit rate: 2.94 Mbps
I'm sure everyone wants to know the answer to the big question. What sounds better? I'll be honest, I really like MusicGiants and the content they offer. They even provide us with free music downloads. But, the AIFF uncompressed DRM-free version of the album sounded better in my opinion and under these circumstances. How big was the difference? In many cases there was no audible difference and in others I heard a clear difference between the two versions. For someone who doesn't own this album I think they will be more than satisfied with the very high quality of the MusicGiants download. My situation is a little odd in that I already own this album. No right minded person would purchase another copy of this album when all they need to do is rip it to their hard drive. If the MG version of the album was my only copy I can guarantee I would have been very happy with the sound and recommended it to all the readers of CA.
The main audible difference that I couldn't get over was in the song Live With Me. The opening bass line in the AIFF uncompressed version was noticeably better. The bass extension was better and the sound was fuller. When the drums kick in at 0:05 there is much more air around them on the AIFF version. Along with these specific examples I often felt the MG version was thinner sounding. The cymbals and Mick's voice really stood out to me as being different on the MG version. The difference was subtle but noticeable every now and then on the whole album.
As I said earlier, I was able to compare both the AIFF version and the MusicGiants version back to back and listen to both for long periods of time. Without this ability I would have been satisfied with the quality of the MusicGiants Super HD 24/88.2 download. If you don't own the album go ahead and download it from MG. If you own the album I'm sure you've already ripped it to your library so there is no need to discuss it any further. In the end it should be all about content. This album is a classic and contains two of my favorite Rolling Stones songs of all time, Gimme Shelter, and You Can't Always Get What You Want. Just add it to your cart you won't regret it.
Shine A Light
If you don't know already, the Rolling Stones documentary Shine A Light comes out Friday April 4. The soundtrack will be released on Tuesday just like all albums today. There are some great guest stars playing with the Stones as well as some stars in the audience. I won't recap anything else here because the videos on the next pages are fabulous and cover it all.
FYI - I'll be at my local IMAX on Friday for this one.
Click here for the 1080p Apple HD Trailer