• Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music Beta are DOA

    The current crop of popular cloud music storage and playback services are dead on arrival. DOA for audiophiles, music aficionados, and even the average "civilian" iPod user. As an audiophile it's hard to accept anything but lossless music. As a music aficionado who wants his favorite tunes anywhere, anytime, in almost any quality (if necessary) these services sound promising at first blush but are quickly identified as nonstarters upon further review. I'm not an average "civilian" iPod user but I am well versed in the habits of such users. These civilians have the lowest music quality expectations but often very high ease of use and functionality needs that are far from met by the current cloud offerings. The services from Google and Amazon, and likely Apple's iCloud, are easily outmatched by lesser known free and inexpensive paid services. The large press-darlings consume all the ink but sadly aren't even in the same league as the competition.



     

    Al Capone's Vault Cloud

    Computer Audiophile readers likely remember when Geraldo Rivera cracked open Al Capone's vaultlink at the Lexington Hotel in Chicago in 1986. The amount of hype was inversely proportional to the amount of booty found in the vault. The whole underwhelming televised event will be remembered as two hours of our lives we'll never get back. Similar to the hype surrounding the opening of Al Capone's vault is the hype surrounding cloud music storage from Amazon, Google, and in my estimation Apple. Everyone is talking about the beauty of storing music in the cloud, accessing this music from anywhere, and even the lack of licensing agreements with the major record labels. Apple is said to be close to agreements with the labels but to be honest, who cares. Instead of CA readers spending two hours researching this modern day Capone vault that is cloud music storage, I've wasted my own time on their behalf. This article is going to give readers those two "Al Capone" hours of the 80's back.

     

    Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player

    The race to launch a music service capable of storing consumer's purchased content in the cloud was won by Amazon March 29, 2011. There are two pieces to the Amazon cloud puzzle, Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player. The names are fairly self explanatory. Cloud Drive enables consumers to store all Amazon purchased music on Amazon's servers in addition to storing content uploaded from a local hard drive. Cloud Player enables consumers to stream the content stored in Amazon's cloud via any web browser or Android based device running the Amazon MP3 application featuring Cloud Player. That's the concept, now the details.


    • Currently all music purchased from the Amazon MP3 store is lossy 256 kbps MP3.

    • Uploaded files are limited to the lossy MP3 and lossy AAC formatslink.

    • It's possible to upload less-lossy 320 kbps files with the required Amazon MP3 Uploaderlink.

    • Offline listening to files one already owns.

    • No files over 100MB permitted.

    • First 5GB of storage free then prices increase incrementally to $1,000 per year for 1TBlink.

    • Sorting by Track, Album, Artist, Genre, and Time. Yes, this is listed as a feature.

    • Playback via web browser on computer or iOS devices (no iPhone app) and Android application.



    That's what all the Amazon cloud music hype is about. Streaming low quality files that one has purchased via a clunky web interface or an Android device. Suggesting that offline listening, where the player caches a copy of selected music on the local device, is a nice feature is comical. If consumers already own the music it follows they can store this music on an Android device without the use of any cloud. When testing this service I converted about 1GB worth of music to 320 kbps MP3 and uploaded the tracks with the required help of Amazon's MP3 Uploader. Uploading this music was a long process even with my current Internet upload speed at 10Mbps. The vast majority of Internet users have upload speeds much slower than 10Mbps. Download speeds are something entirely different for those less learned audiophiles. For the most part if a feature was not mentioned above it's unavailable. Sounds a bit like Al Capone's vault.

     

    Google Music Beta

    Second place in the cloud music race was won by Google with its Google Music Beta service. The term Beta is built right in to the name. So far the service is available via invite only. After this article I wonder if my invite will ever arrive. Google's and Amazon's music services are very similar. The one major difference is the lack of a music store in Google's service. Google doesn't have an online store equivalent to Amazon's MP3 store. Thus all music stored in Google's cloud must be uploaded from one's computer. Google's Music Beta advertises the same benefit of access to one's purchased music from anywhere at anytime. Similar concept, similar details.


    • Uploaded files are limited to the lossy MP3, lossy AAC, lossy WMA, and FLAC* formats.

    • It's possible to upload music up to 320 kbps with the required Google Music Manager application.

    • Offline listening to files one already owns.

    • 20,000 tracks worth of free storage while in Beta.

    • Sorting by Track, Album, Artist, Genre, Rating, Plays, and Time. Yes, this is listed as a feature.

    • Playback via web browser on computer or iOS devices (no iPhone app) and Android application.

    • Ability to edit metadata.

    • Automatic or manual synchronizing of music between computer and cloud.

    • Sound quality decreases as available bandwidth decreases.



    Just like Amazon's Cloud service Google is excited to let the consumer cache his own music on his own local device. Both services have enabled this feature mainly to check the box that says Offline Playback to compete with much better services that have much better implementations of offline playback. I can see one benefit to Google's and Amazon's offline playback feature. Sitting at the airport and downloading that forgotten new album to one's phone before the flight would be nice. Lack of an online store to purchase and store music may be an issue for some people, but without better quality from such a store it's of no consequence to audiophiles.

    *By far the biggest disappointment with Google Music Beta is its purported support for FLAC files. Simply put Google Music Beta does not support FLAClink files. According to Google itself FLAC files are transcoded to 320 kbps MP3 files before uploading! Hopefully writers reviewing Google Music will read the fine print about FLAC "support" and turn it into large print**. Google bring us one step closer to Al Capone's vault opening by claiming a booty of FLAC file support, but delivering unremarkable transcoded lossy MP3s.

    ** Google Music Beta does not support FLAC. Transcoding FLAC into 320 kbps does not count as supporting FLAC.



     

    The Competition -> MOG, Audiogalaxy, and Subsonic

    Competitors to Amazon and Google cloud services have been around for years. These applications and services frequently offer more features for free or a nominal fee. The only feature competing services don't offer is the ability to store one's music in the cloud. Fortunately there are other non-music related services like Carbonitelink or even Amazon's S3link that can store one's music collection in the cloud. I've selected two types of services and applications that both accomplish much more than Amazon or Google offerings. MOG is an online music service that I absolutely can't live without. This service offers access to ten million tracks in higher quality than Amazon's Cloud and at least as good as anything allowable in Google Music Beta. Applications such as Audiogalaxy and Subsonic are run locally on one's computer. These applications offer streaming access to all the music one owns on that computer. Access via web browser or mobile device is supported. Best of all these applications have been around for awhile and are free. Amazon and Google cloud services don't look so good after the most cursory of looks at MOG, Audiogalaxy, and Subsonic. Now for the real details that have me listening to more music than ever.

     

    MOG


    MOGlink is an online service that completely does away with the need for Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music Beta. MOG doesn't allow uploads of one's own music but does allow one to access ten million tracks for $5 (web only) or $10 (web and mobile) monthly. Wy upload music if it's already there? MOG has almost every track I've ever search for in its database. There are no Beatles tunes of course, but as most everyone owns The Beatles it's easily synchronized to a mobile device in lossless quality anyway. MOG is not an audiophile's service as it doesn't offer lossless streaming. It is however a service for music aficionados and civilian iPod users. Please keep in mind that audiophile and music aficionado are not mutually exclusive terms. I count myself as an audiophile and music aficionado. Unlike Amazon, MOG streams music at 320 kbps and allows mobile device downloads at 320 kbps for offline listening. Every Tuesday when new music releases are available I download many of these releases at 320 kbps to my iPhone. After listening to the albums I frequently make a trip to the local record store and purchase the physical Compact Disc or download the lossless version if available elsewhere. MOG also features a web interface that is far better than Amazon's. Discovering new music is quite simple throughout MOG as well. Enabling MOG Radio allows the listener to hear music very similar to or somewhat similar to a specific artist. MOG Radio is in a way similar to Pandora with the exception that MOG allows access to specific tracks at all times. Rhapsody is also similar to MOG with the exception that Rhapsody offers streams at 256 kbps instead of MOG's 320 kbps. Here is a little comparison of MOG and the Amazon and Google Cloud offerings.


    • Amazon Cloud Drive / Player and Google Music Beta = Limited online storage, additional space for price.

    • MOG = No need for online storage.

    •  
    • Amazon Cloud Drive / Player and Google Music Beta = Offline listening to music one already owns.

    • MOG = Offline listening to any of ten million tracks.

    •  
    • Amazon Cloud Drive / Player and Google Music Beta = Android app for mobile or clunky web interface.

    • MOG = iOS and Android mobile apps plus nice web interface. Google Chrome browser extensionlink is very nice.

    •  
    • Amazon Cloud Drive / Player and Google Music Beta = Purchase 256 kbps music or upload up to 320 kbps music.

    • MOG = Unlimited 320 kbps streaming and offline listening.

    •  
    • Amazon Cloud Drive / Player and Google Music Beta = Upload all music and synchronize when needed.

    • MOG = Music available as soon as released by record label.


     

    I simply can't imagine purchasing or uploading files to Amazon or Google when I can listen to the exact same files plus nearly ten million more files for $10 per month. The music aficionado in me can't get enough exposure to new music and will settle for a 320 kbps stream when necessary. Maybe if my iPhone had a dCS Ring DAC and linear power supply I would think otherwise. The civilian iPod user really has no need to purchase an album or individual track through the iTunes or Amazon MP3 Store at 256 kbps and upload that track to a cloud service. It makes no sense when a 320 kbps stream is available for online and offline listening. Plus, users not schooled in backing up to an external hard drive etc… don't have to worry about losing purchased music with MOG. Services similar to MOG include Rdio, Rhapsody, and Napster.

         

         

       

         


     

    Audiogalaxy and Subsonic

    Audiogalaxylink and Subsoniclink are applications that enable users to stream their entire music library directly from their computer to anywhere in the world. The applications themselves are free. Extra features and some mobile applications are available for purchase. There are many other applications like Subsonic and Audiogalaxy. Some of them have been scooped up by the big players like Google while others continue to innovate and add better features. Audiogalaxy and Subsonic are simple apps to install on Mac, Windows, or Linux (Subsonic only) computers. Once installed the apps can scan folders for music and make it available via web browser and mobile application. There is no need to synchronize by uploading tracks to a cloud server. The one possible drawback is the computers running these applications music remain on at all times one wants to access the music.

    As an audiophile Audiogalaxylink and Subsoniclink have more promise than Amazon or Google cloud services for one reason, lossless file support. I say more promise rather than something else because obtaining lossless playback through these applications is far from certain. Within Subsonic it's possible to disable transcoding of lossless files, but I was unable to play these files without getting a Ph.D. in Subsonic. A main feature of Subsonic is the ability to play lossless files by transcoding them into MP3 for streaming. I was unable to find a definitive answer stating it is 100% possible to stream lossless without transcoding. Streaming is accomplished through Subsonic's plethora of mobile appslink for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Again, Subsonic has promise but it's not perfect. One note about Subsonic is it can be installed on Sonore Music Servers.

    Audiogalaxy is a bit different and bit easier to use. The general purpose of the application is the same. Streaming audio from one's computer to anywhere in the world. I was able to easily select and stream my music stored as FLAC files using both the Audiogalaxy web interfacelink and iPhonelink or Androidlink applications. However, I am unsure if there is any transcoding before the music arrives at my phone. There are no transcoding options within the Audiogalaxy settings. This could be a good sign for audiophiles.

     

    A Note About Apple's iCloud

    It appears that Apple will call its forthcoming cloud music service iCloud. Most the information available at the time of this writing surrounds Apple's licensing deals with the major record labels. Unlike Amazon and Google, Apple is seeking to fully license the material it offers via iCloud. Based on Apple's history I'd say audiophiles shouldn't expect much from iCloud. I'd love to be wrong and announce to the world iCloud supports lossless file formats.

     

    Hey (Hey) You (You) Get Off of My Cloud

    There are many reasons why this site is named Computer Audiophile. Chief among them is a passion for reproducing music with a computer at the highest possible quality. Even though I really like some of the music services mentioned in this article it's still highly unlikely I'll use any of them for playback in my main audio system. However as a music aficionado discovery of new music is completely different. It would be nice if all music discovery came through 24/192 capable music services and downloads. Right now that's only a dream. Access to a virtually unlimited music library and the ability to stream that library anywhere in the world is only a convenience at this point. Services like MOG have made Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music Beta dead on arrival. Even the lowest common denominator, civilian iPod users, have better options than these two cloud services. Allowing users to stream lower quality versions of their own files and to store these lower quality versions on a mobile device is marketing at its best. What's more, charging these users for the "privilege" of accessing their own music is a joke. Without lossless support there is no need for a cloud music service that doesn't literally allow access to ten million tracks like MOG. Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music Beta just don't make sense. Services with such limited features are singing the praises of their offerings out of one side of their mouth while singing Hey (hey) you (you) get off of my cloud out of the other side. The big cloud music services thus far are like the reopening of Al Capone's vault in 2011. All bark and no BYTE.

     

     
    Comments 63 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Paul - I haven't seen a single advertisement with MOG.
    1. Paul R's Avatar
      Paul R -
      Hot Dog! Must just be something I hit on the home page. At $10/month, they are worth a try for sure. <br />
      <br />
      -Paul<br />
    1. dsnyder's Avatar
      dsnyder -
      Hello Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Thanks again for doing the research and sharing your findings. I have been a long-time Rhapsody subscriber, but I have signed up for MOG and will give it a try for a week or two.<br />
      <br />
      One of the things that I have really liked about Rhapsody is that I can download the tracks to local disk and then play them using Mediamonkey, foobar2000, or J.River using ASIO or Kernel Streaming drivers to my USB DAC. For whatever reason, this produces the best sound with the fewest glitches on my systems vs. using the (somewhat flaky) Rhapsody application or web interface.<br />
      <br />
      As far as I can tell, MOG does not support a similar model, and I have not discovered a way to configure the browser based player to use ASIO or Kernel Streaming. Although MOG should be streaming 320 kbps audio, the sound quality that I'm getting sounds a lot more like 128 kbps. If I can get the sound quality up to Rhapsody levels, this will be a great way to explore new music in addition to or instead of Rhapsody. Otherwise, I suppose that Rhapsody is not too bad.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks again.<br />
      <br />
      -- David<br />
    1. HiFiGuy528's Avatar
      HiFiGuy528 -
      I could barely get a decent 3G signal here in S.F. Forget about steaming music. Oh, don't forget about the 2GB data cap each month. Thanks AT&T for killing my buzz.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi DJ - What a bummer. Here in Minneapolis I get a pretty good 3G signal now, plus I still have unlimited data :~)
    1. timbo's Avatar
      timbo -
      I gather you guys are all talking US based services, I love Spotify here in the UK and Europe but I gather they are having trouble getting into the US. 1 million subscribers so far this side of the pond, 10 million users and 13 million tracks, 320kb for paying customers - the usual £10 per month including mobile app for iOS and Android :-)
    1. ScottB's Avatar
      ScottB -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Very nice review of all the available options. Although I do know that this site and blog relate to "audiophiles" we need to consider mass market. There was a day when only raw CD data files were considered "quality". Of course that excludes those who can't stand a digital sampling bandwidth limit and refused to drop analog audio (records.) For the mass market, convenience will dominate. Accessing licensed audio from anywhere (car, phone, PC and audio system) at any time...will win!<br />
      <br />
      I respect your position but it is more like the unfair situation with the spelling of words. If enough people incorrectly spell a word...it magically becomes...correct!
    1. Pale Rider's Avatar
      Pale Rider -
      Speculating about Apple's iCloud at this time is pretty much a waste of time. Notwithstanding Apple's occasionally miserable execution of MobileMe, I suspect their views on ease of use, and what I see as a tester of the forthcoming OS, will end up delivering an improved cloud service. But as an audiophile, I doubt I will find much use for it in that realm. I use iTunes as my organizer, with Fidelia as my front end, but I long ago quit getting my music from iTunes. Still, I would bet that users already accustomed to Apple's ecosystem will find utility because of the integration within that ecosystem. But make no mistake, that iCloud will be much more than a music locker.<br />
      <br />
      I have zero use for the services you described here as music services, because I get my music differently. I have tried all sorts of cloud and streaming services, but the fidelity and the nearly inevitable presentation of some pain in the a$$ element just doesn't make it worthwhile. That's only and just me. Others obviously find merit in some or all of these. I get MOG; don't use it, but it makes sense.<br />
      <br />
      But for reasons a bit different from what Chris articulated, I agree that Google and Amazon's music clouds are DOA. Functionally, they are truly very, very poor. Being first to market is only an advantage if there is traction and sustainability in what is presented. Both from a licensing and functionality perspective, these two services fall very short IMHO.
    1. ScottB's Avatar
      ScottB -
      While both Amazon and Google's first cloud entries may be lacking, the trick is to launch something and morph it into the killer app for consumers. The real issue is buy a license...access anywhere and anytime without bothering or worrying about file management, copies or access!<br />
      <br />
      They will get there and the content owners don't yet see that this is the best deal for them...you can't illegally share what you don't need!
    1. blindjim's Avatar
      blindjim -
      <br />
      some web service on a pay per storage/time/event, via a cell phone, or smart phone…. But I just don’t get it.<br />
      <br />
      I often wonder why? And, just how smart is that practice?<br />
      <br />
      There is a time and place for everything. <br />
      <br />
      I believe it is true.<br />
      <br />
      Can-Heads can have their cake and hear it too by carrying along only a small notebook size case which includes a HP dac/amp, HPs, and a HDD.<br />
      <br />
      A fair sized laptop bag could fit into an overnight bag or surely a backpack, with quality active speakers, and a laptop with a 1TB drive, loaded with music and flicks too!<br />
      <br />
      2500 CDs fit onto a 1TB drive in lossless formatting.<br />
      <br />
      BTW… my HDD charges me nothing for this and will go wherever I want it to go.<br />
      <br />
      Were I to drive? Plug in my iPod to the car’s audio system! Again, no charge!<br />
      <br />
      Truth be told, if I’m going to pay for storage or subscribe to hear my own stuff at my very whim… I believe I’d care to pay to hear something I DON’T OWN INSTEAD.<br />
      <br />
      Pandora comes to mind.<br />
      <br />
      Vudu sells a brand new Blu Ray movie! Well, virtually anyways, you can watch it as often as you like via their site… as you get no hard copy sent to you… and oh yeah… from anywhere! Anywhere there’s a pc or a Mac you can log on with! Oh, and you have the priviledge to pay full retail too!<br />
      <br />
      I suppose there are reasons why anyone needs constant contact with entertainment, although I feel it a spin off from the addicted to texting, smart phone apps, etc., than it is anything else. It underlines the overt need for immediacy our culture THRIVES UPON.<br />
      <br />
      Exactly how meaningful a relationship does one then have with listening to music? Having my fav music on all the time, wherever, and whenever, would lessen my appreciation for it, and could undermine or distract my attention to where it should be… my work.. my family.. my friends… my ability to further safe driving practices… etc.<br />
      <br />
      Isn’t that why we quit listening to AM/FM radio? Didn’t they just play our favs to death?<br />
      <br />
      On construction sites I recall boom boxes being allowed from time to time… but no one listens to them, except maybe during lunch. Not if you want to keep your fingers, or framing nails out of your boots.<br />
      <br />
      If music is your ally at work. your tunes are on tap and you’re taking out time for digging them… deduct that time from your paycheck on payday. Unless you’ve made some arrangement with the employer you can devote your attention to outside things while on the clock.<br />
      <br />
      Casual music is abundantly prevalent, at every location. When I have developed the absolute need, or perceived desire for editorializing playlists for all of my life activities, and must be surrounded by it at all times… I’m figuring something is dreadfully wrong with me.<br />
      <br />
      Whatever the initial motive is within this endeavor, I’d say it likely is not the prime mover in truth, and only a smoke screen foor the actual instigator… quite probably it is my own ego, or some insecurity manifesting itself. <br />
      <br />
      I want what I want, when I want it.. and I will because I can. Purely childish behavior.<br />
      <br />
      Keeping music special, devoting special times for listening to the new disc or download… Well, now that has considerably more merit and continues my musical appreciation in a higher regard. <br />
      <br />
      It seems the more material and electronic conveniences bestowed upon us, the more we want of them, and there lies a darker truth. An eroding of our social strata. A lessening of our own tolerance and paitience levels. It lends itself too an undermining of our moral fiber as well. For us to side step traditions and their inherent charms and take the fast track to gratification at each and every turn, leads to a dismal and sordid destination.<br />
      <br />
      TIVO lifestyles have virtually implanted surgical blinders to our focus and our vision as human beings, and aids the reduction of our society to merely becoming human doings, and little else.<br />
      <br />
      Loving anything intimates an appreciation for it, not an unrelenting need for it’s presence . <br />
      <br />
      When one can’t do without a thing… isn’t that a dependency? An addiction? <br />
      <br />
      I’ll continue to appreciate and adore music, but I’ll not strive for co-dependency. I don’t feel I’m that crazy just yet. A couple more years perhaps.<br />
      <br />
      I’m actually looking forward to senility so I can cary my complete musical collection anywhere, and anytime on one CD! <br />
      <br />
      Well, it works for Goldfish! <br />
      <br />
      Lastly, I’ve enough exposure of my personal info online as it is… so one has to think about security too. Not just the venues access and security, but your own. It appears more and more these media giants, are more concerned with gaining subscribers than they are with protecting them! The list grows daily as to which website has been compromised. Meaning? You are compromised. <br />
      <br />
      A simple matter of paitience severely limits your own exposure with online music storage sites. It’s free too requiring only a pinch of fortitude. <br />
      <br />
      Such a deal!<br />
    1. Joebah's Avatar
      Joebah -
      See:<br />
      <br />
      http://www.thedailyswarm.com/headlines/facebook-and-spotifys-partnership-real-and-imminent/<br />
      <br />
      and<br />
      <br />
      http://blogs.forbes.com/parmyolson/2011/05/25/facebook-to-launch-music-service-with-spotify/
    1. ScottB's Avatar
      ScottB -
      Couldn't agree more, but we are dinosaurs. Brings to mind the "kids" that can't do anything or go anywhere without ear buds! I wouldn't hire them either...and besides they have nothing to say that is worth listening to (of course this is probably because they never listen either.) One thing I can guarantee, on assembly lines in Japan, Korea and China...there are no ear buds permitted.
    1. Paul R's Avatar
      Paul R -
      Mind, I do not totally agree with you. Music surrounds us almost 24/7, and I find listening to my own tunes preferable to Musak. (Does it not frighten you that the guy that thought up Muszak might be thinking up something else?) <br />
      <br />
      But it was a great post indeed. <br />
      <br />
      I also really enjoy your signature line. It is a plethora of cool stuff, though I admit to being just a wee bit disappointed when I figured out Elrod's were just cables. I had hoped they were magical, and perhaps, made by elves. Ah well... <br />
      <br />
      Yours,<br />
      -Paul<br />
    1. DaveLew's Avatar
      DaveLew -
      All these objections will disappear as time goes on. Within a year, every home in Korea will have 1 GB service for $27 a month, we'll get there sooner (or later). The major providers will provide whatever sample rate or encoding that the market demands. Just like the dozens of RISC architectures well swamped by x86, the minor players will disappear. You can either figure out how to make these work to your advantage or you can follow the lead of King Canute at the seashore. The tide still came in.<br />
      <br />
      Remember, volume and marketshare is the only thing that matters. Your high end $5000 dac wouldn't exist without the mass market for high quality IC dacs.<br />
      <br />
      Chris, your 3G, I upgraded to Verizon LTE, and I'm getting 20MB down, 7 MB up, competative with most wired offerings.
    1. ScottB's Avatar
      ScottB -
      These days everybody is a twittering about an Apple patent that portends to show how to make audio more responsive by storing snippets on the local device in order to accelerate playback. I haven't read it yet, but one thing I know, as do you, before they get it going we will have almost universal 3G coverage for a reasonable price with family data plans and all at every dropping prices...and then Apple's elegant technology won't matter anyway. Bandwidth, storage and compute power all follow their own 1/2X cost every 18 to 20 months. Where there is interest and demand...it will be met. The tide will come...no matter what.
    1. soundsolutions11's Avatar
      soundsolutions11 -
      Thanks Chris for confirming exactly what my thoughts have been about these Cloud services. I could never wrap my mind around how these various services could be of any benefit to me. When I want to listen to my music collection, I want it served up in the highest quality on my own (constantly improving)system. I have not been using my ipod lately for anything but having music in the vehicle. <br />
      <br />
      I am also with your comments on music discovery, which is my interest in listening to iRadio streams (Radio Paradise) one of my favorites, which does not have advertising but does have some announcements concerning play list and raising some private donations to stay alive. They actually have to pay royalties to stream artist's music, one would think that would not cost them but it does. <br />
      <br />
      I did try using an app called Simplify Media to have on the go access to my own hard rive of music, while it worked I just found I do not want to listen to my music that way. So music discovery is my prime reason for listening to anything other than my own library and the bit rate/resolution of the stream is of less importance as I am not sitting down to give that critical listening. <br />
      <br />
      Finally, why on Earth should there be any licensing involved for cloud storage if all you are doing is uploading music you already own?
    1. MusicTrax's Avatar
      MusicTrax -
      Chris commented: <em>"Based on Apple's history I'd say audiophiles shouldn't expect much from iCloud. I'd love to be wrong and announce to the world iCloud supports lossless file formats."</em><br />
      <br />
      Well, there's always the hope they would support Apple Lossless. Even if it wasn't, I wouldn't consider Cloud storage to be my <em>only</em> option for music listening -- it'd just be another way of listening, after my existing servers and iPods.<br />
      <br />
      The key to me will be how much storage they make available, and at what price. $1000 a year for 1 Terabyte doesn't appeal to me. If they could do it for a hundred bucks a year, that'd be fine.<br />
      <br />
      Bear in mind that users are still liable for data charges through their existing ISPs. If you're streaming lossless music 24/7, you'd probably run smack into the ISP's data cap limitations.<br />
      <br />
      The other question is: how will they prevent users from giving access to friends and relatives? In other words, what if I give you the password to my account, allowing you to stream a terabyte of music from my collection? I can see where the record companies would be nervous about this.
    1. blindjim's Avatar
      blindjim -
      Paul, thanks for the kind words<br />
      <br />
      I agree we can always disagree... on anything. That's what mature, intelligent, self motivated audio nuts do.... albeit not usually without flames or passion, and sometimes without any notion of political correctness. The latter currently causes me enough irritation to reach for the Pepto. I've had my fill of the stayed, hypocritical and superficial posturing so many avow as a social platitude. I could just retch.<br />
      <br />
      I’d be more than remiss too if I did not congratulate Chris for yet another insightful discertation of modern man seeking an esier softer route to selfish concerns. Enlightening. Thanks Chris. I would personally never have known about such matters and am glad to become apprised regardless my own sentiments on the subject.. it is a sincere effort and I congratulate you for it. Really.<br />
      <br />
      Audio nuts IMO are and will remain the middle children at best, and often they are dismissed far too handily, and as well, quite poorly treated on occasion... even by the vendors we subscribe to!<br />
      <br />
      If economics has a lot to do with this new cyber range fire, and it likely do, please remember the Golden rule!<br />
      <br />
      He who has the Gold... rules.<br />
      <br />
      Owning the digital acreage and it's apparent abundance or pittance per square yard doesn't mean it translates to that value being streamed along to those who would have it so…. Or in other words… ‘us’.<br />
      <br />
      This is how $$$$ are made. Think about Andrew Carnegie. The steel magnate. His efforts drove down the cost of steel far below it's then selling price, but he out produced everyone else, becoming 'THE' primary source for steel.... in the world! he therefore could call the shots as he deemed fit.<br />
      <br />
      Likewise when America became the worlds top producer of oil! It was at $3 per barrel. During the Texas oil boom in the early 1900s, the price dove to mere pennies per barrel.<br />
      <br />
      Although the prices in vastly diferent markets were forced to receed initially, the entire of the globe was altered. The fashion and methods previously routine, were vacated and the new princes of these industries were able to demand eventually their own terms to those who were now on board with these industrial giants, and commercial avenues affecting their lives. Albeit in a far more positive manner than remote storage and immediate access of mere data. This resource is available now to anyone who owns both a laptop and a desktop… or stores data redundancy online.<br />
      <br />
      This new ‘let us rent back to you, your own stuff’ approach is the height of mindless self serving idiocyncratic logic. But it will generate cash flow. Substantial cash flows I’m sure.<br />
      <br />
      What statement does that make about us?<br />
      <br />
      The most major and duly considered difference from a century ago to today is much simpler a discovery. It’s us. <br />
      <br />
      Indeed it is our own society. People. Innovations, new technologies, and a vanishing geography which forces us to live on top of one another strangles any iota of innocence away from us. Cultural changes have redesigned us all . our values primarily, and our concerns for security, privacy, and we now are more an isolated people. A considerably different atmosphere lays heavily on us all in our present age. <br />
      <br />
      Doors which were left unlocked are locked today. Streets that were once safe and familiar are no longer. Children that used to walk to their schools or stops alone, now require chaperones, and guards. Even Halloween wears a mask that can cause grave concerns.<br />
      <br />
      These current business trends of predatory practices veer wildly away from the benefits, donations and contributions a former age of people have provided to us all. As time erodes mountains, ceaseless selfish concerns for immediacy have eroded ourselves, our vision, and our ability to grow towards a more enlighten mankind. <br />
      <br />
      what can be quite attractive initially can turn out to be something else in due course. Something drastically poor in concept and deed. Especially if it goes without scrutiny. Certianly if it is allowed to be a negative draw on resources, versus a contribution to them, or a replenishment for them Renting cyber acreage once appropriate redundancy is attained, is superfluous. Laughable. Serves little and solves little more.<br />
      <br />
      I find it quite doubtful and definitely dubious, to entertain the vendors of these online 'you store it you lock it and you keep the key to it' affairs are happily eyeing any subscribers with Terra Bit lossless content huge file type aficionados and their voluminous libraries. <br />
      <br />
      Rather, their looking towards the ipod plug & play crowd as that sectors buying dollars control both the majority and electoral college votes… in every state in America, and now, the the world.<br />
      <br />
      The devoted and enthusiastic audio hobbyist will continue to be left out in the cold. Ignored and disenfranchised as the world moves on merrily without him. He and she, stalwart in their own affairs, diligent, and erstwhile, are the enigmas of modern times. Those perverse souls who aspire to honesty and purity in the content which sets their hearts afire and lifts them aloft. Yep. We’re the duckbill platypuses. The Doe Doe of the 21st century. The curious side dish, never the entre. <br />
      <br />
      Our major problem? Past the we’re really nuts, bit?? Democracy. <br />
      <br />
      The world has gleaned one thing from the democratic ideal… if nothing else… the ayes have it! Or, the majority of the buying demographic gets favored and intended treatment, first and foremost.<br />
      <br />
      Watch as these cyber streaming lockers, explode on the scene right off, but are absorbed, dwindle, and are summarily extinguished in due course. <br />
      <br />
      I thinkit’s just another hoola hoop. The presence will linger on a mite longer than the big round tubes, given the sheer vastness of the numbers of possible clientele, but the fire will soon become embers People will figure out eventually, they can do this for themselves and at much less cost.<br />
      <br />
      The Bose crowd are a target I suspect. They are into a less personal, and uninvolved approach to entertainment where content reigns. A place where quality and effort are less than after thoughts. People aren’t people any more…. And the term ‘user’ has acquired an anonymous but ever present dread when it is thought of.<br />
      <br />
      The times they are a changin’…. Too true Bob. Way too true.<br />
      <br />
      Would have been nice were it all for the better… and much has been for the better, but it’s time to start ripping open the curtains, and peering straight into the face of ‘what’s really back there’…. And at ourselves.<br />
      <br />
      Global warming? Too bad.. but look! There’s a Terra bit iPod! <br />
      <br />
      Religious Gihads terrorizing the worlds population indiscriminately? Hey, how about those new 3D Tv’s? <br />
      <br />
      Sweat shops and enormous hikes for medicine as our health is being ransomed back to us? Gee… Check this out! I can stream Netflix on my Who-zit!<br />
      <br />
      We’ve gone from being the worlds richest country, where manufacturing saw no peer, to being one of it’s largest debtors and one that shoves it’s production onto distant shores. Oil manufacturers hike up the price on fuel at alarming rates and then reduce it partly back down to appease us while the end result is an unconscionable and unjustified rate increase, the world over.<br />
      <br />
      But it’s OK… Look! I can stash my music files online and pay for the privilege to surround myself with my very own music where ever I go! <br />
      <br />
      Wow… Lucky me. This took way more thinking than the Mu-sak fella ever came up with… but it took a lot of listening to Mu-sak to muddle enough minds so much so, they would not see this new tact for acquiring their hard earned $$$ as anything more than fun or a necessity. It isn’t and it isn’t.<br />
      <br />
      Now and then there’s a lemming that doesn’t leap off the cliff with the rest of the herd.<br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      I received my Google Music Beta invite today :~)<br />
      <br />
      <center><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0526/gmb-invite.png"></img></center><br />
    1. Notung's Avatar
      Notung -
      Thanks Chris your excellent review on the much hyped cloud fashion. I tend to agree with you in most of your conclusions. Until most music labels don't offer 24-96 FLAC files for download and you can stream them without dropouts they'll not conquer the audiophiles' pockets. What I'd want as cloud service is a combination of my own music library plus the ability to discover new music quickly and easily, I think all cloud services have a long way to go as far as GUI is concerned. Personally, I still prefer to carry a notebook with a 500GB disk with 1500 albums in FLAC , than any cloud service.