• iTunes Match Review (Article Formerly Known As - iTunes Mismatch Review)

    Monday November 14, 2011 Apple released its iTunes Match feature as part of the iTunes 10.5.1 software upgrade. iTunes Match, available for $24.99 per year, stores music in Apple's iCloud. Matching music is Apple's marketing mantra that's supposed to separate iTunes Match from the likes of Google Music and Amazon's Cloud Drive. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this service is all hat and no cattle. iTunes Match is very similar to the previous Dead On Arrival Cloud services that offer access to music one has already purchased. Is iTunes Match for audiophiles, music lovers, or anyone for that matter? Read more to find out.

     


     

    iTunes Match Is Finally Here (A Couple Weeks Late)

    Monday's iTunes 10.5.1 software update introduced iTunes Match. A service that can, "Store your entire music library in iCloud, including music you've imported from CDs, and enjoy your collection anywhere, anytime, on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, computer, or*Apple TV."*The vast majority of the 250,000,000+ iTunes users will likely fall in love with iTunes Match. Access to one's music from anywhere is cool, but I suspect the iCloud backup of one's music may be the hidden gem users don't know they'll need sooner or later.

    What is the Cloud and why is it called the Cloud? Audiophiles should think of the Cloud as an endless computer network (the Internet) containing numerous independent data centers. This network begins at a home user's Internet modem, provided by a cable or phone company, and usually ends at places like Apple's new Maiden, North Carolina iCloud data centerlink. This Billion dollar 500,000 square foot data center contains several petabytes of disk space [Linklink]. Users uploading music via iTunes Match are actually uploading files to this NC data center. In simple terms iTunes creates a connection to a server in North Carolina and stores one's music that isn't matched on the server's hard drive. The Cloud is simply an off-site hard drive. Never use the previous statements when answering a question on an exam. It's merely a simple explanation for a complicated process that is the subject of many textbooks and IT certifications. The term Cloud is derived from network diagrams created by phone companies and almost all Enterprise IT network staff. When creating a diagram of one's network containing computers, switches, and routers the symbol of a Cloud has always been used to depict the Internet or an external network [simple network diagramlink]. Not a very technical reason for the name Cloud but it has been the industry standard for decades.


    iCloud: This is Apple's service that stores and synchronizes photos, documents, apps, books, email, calendars, contacts, and iTunes purchased music and movies. All of the aforementioned content is available from any iPhone 3GS or newer, iPad, or iPod Touch 3rd gen. or newer running iOS 5 or newer. [Linklink]


    iTunes Match: This is Apple's $24.99/year service that incorporates all music on one's computer rather than just iTunes purchased content. According to Apple iTunes Match, "[D]etermines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device.*Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are, your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren’t, iTunes has to upload only what it can’t match [limit 25,000 tracks not including iTunes purchases]. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it to any of your devices. Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality."

     

    iTunes Match In Action

    First and foremost iTunes Match (iCloud) does not support lossless compressed or uncompressed music. iTunes Match doesn't alter any local music either. This means all local lossless music either from CD rips or file imports will remain lossless on the local computer and be available at 256kbps via iCloud. iTunes Match will either upload or match your lossless music but the matched downloadable version of the music will only be available as a lossy 256kbps AAC file. Not a big surprise, but more of a bummer than anything.

    On June 8, 2011 Chris Foresman authored an article for the Ars Technica website [Linklink] in which he stated, "Another question our readers asked was what happens if your library is filled with higher quality rips, such as tracks encoded in Apple Lossless (ALAC) format. Matched tracks will still be in 256Kbps iTunes Plus format, while uploaded tracks will retain their original format (emphasis mine - CC). Tracks aren't replaced in either your iTunes library or on your devices unless you request them to be, so the lossless files in your main iTunes library will be safe. Sticklers might balk that matched tracks won't be available via iCloud in a higher-quality format, but if you don't require lossless quality on your mobile device, having access to smaller 256kbps AAC files via iCloud may be a benefit."

    The following day June 9, 2011 I corresponded with Chris Foresman about his statement that unmatched lossless files would be uploaded in the original format. His article was the only writing on the Internet mentioning lossless uploads. Normally I would blow it off as misinformation, but Ars Technica is a high quality site and great source of thoroughly researched information. Chris responded to me by saying, "The information we got is all from Apple, either from its website our from our sources there speaking on background. Songs which do not match up will be uploaded *as-is.* If you have an ALAC track, it will upload that exact file. When you request to pull that file to your mobile device, Apple will send that exact file. I admit I'm not 100% sure about ALAC support on devices themselves, but as long as your iPhone can play ALAC files (which I think it can), then that ALAC file will be downloaded and added to the library on your mobile device."

    Because of this email exchange I held out hope that unmatched lossless files would be uploaded. I tested this wishful feature as soon as I signed up for iTunes Match as was expectedly disappointed.
     

    Quirky

    Using iTunes Match with iCloud I found some interesting quirks such as matching and downloading tracks not in the U.S. iTunes Store, matching and downloading tracks from a band that will not allow its music in the iTunes Store, conversion of 24 bit / 48 kHz material that's uploaded, matching several tracks from an album with tracks from different albums, and matching some tracks but not all tracks on a single album.


    Subscribing

    Subscribing to iTunes Match is as simple as clicking the subscribe buttonlink and agreeing to pay $24.99 per year with automatic yearly renewal. I subscribed to iTunes Match with a completely empty library as I wanted to use a very controlled test environment. Shortly after subscribing iTunes Match went to work on my empty library populating iTunes with links to every track I've purchased that's still available from the iTunes Store. My library went from nothing to full of album artlink and little cloud icons very quickly. iTunes Match uses a three step process. Step one gathers information about one's library. Step two matches one's library with the songs in the iTunes Store. Step three uploads artwork, metadata, and any unmatched music. After subscribing to iTunes Match the service must be enabled on one's iDevice. Enabling Match will replace all the music on the local device however [Imagelink].

     

    General Usage

    After the iTunes library is populated with iCloud icons and album art there are a few new items to note. Purchased music available via iCloud has a small cloud icon to the left of the album name [Imagelink]. Hovering one's mouse over that cloud icon turns the icon into a gray box with a down arrow inside the cloud [Imagelink]. Selecting this new icon downloads the 256kbps lossy AAC file(s) to the local computer. In iTunes 10.5.1 Apple introduced two new columns that must be enabled manually. To enable these columns simply right-click or control-click any column heading and select the two new iCloud headings. The iCloud Download column displays a small icon if the tracks can be downloaded or when the iTunes Match is attempting to match the tracks with the Apple "skybrary." The iCloud Status column displays information such as Matched, Purchased, Uploaded, Not Eligible, or Error [Imagelink].

    Music that is ripped via iTunes will not have a cloud icon next to the album name when viewing the album art, but will display an iCloud Status. The available Statuses for ripped or manually imported music are Matched, Uploaded, Not Eligible, or Error. There appears to be a difference in iTunes Matching capability that depends on how the tracks were "imported" into iTunes either ripped in iTunes or imported manually into the iTunes library. I'll cover these findings a bit later. For now here are some screenshots depicting iTunes' behavior after importing three unique versions of Beck's Sea Change, AC/CD's Back in Black, and Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. I'll focus on Beck's Sea Change to illustrate how iTunes Match effects imported music. I imported the regular version of Sea Change in addition to the Mobile Fidelity and HDtracks 24 bit / 88.2 versions. Immediately after importing the tracks iTunes listed these three albums as 33 individual albumslink. This usually happens if there are guests artists on an album and if there is no Album Artist metadata tag. In this case Beck was the only artist and he was listed as the Album Artist. After iTunes Match scanned my library subsequent to the album import the albums appeared correctly as three individual albumslink. No user intervention was required although I'm not sure what iTunes Match has to do with organization of imported albums. The screenshots below illustrates iTunes Match's ability to match local music with cloud music. All tracks from the standard album display matched, five of thirteen tracks on the Mobile Fidelity album were matched and the remaining eight were uploaded, while the high resolution version was listed as Not Eligible. Astute readers have likely noticed iTunes Match indicates a match for some of the Mobile Fidelity tracks although the iTunes Store does not contain the MFSL release. More on that later.
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    Bit Depth & Sample Rate Support

    It should come as no surprise that iTunes Match does not support high resolution content. The Bill Evans screenshot below displays the Waltz for Debby track at 44.1, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 kHz. Only the 44.1 version was accepted by iTunes Match. I tested 24 bit / 48 kHz files using Peter Gabriel's album Half Blood available through B&W's Society of Sound. Rumor has it when iTunes HD Music becomes available the tracks will be 24 bit / 48 kHz. This rumor makes the 24/48 test a bit more interesting. The Half Blood album is not technically available in the iTunes Store, but all of the tracks are available on the New Blood album. I imported the 24/48 version into iTunes after downloading from B&W SoS. After iTunes Match scanned all ten files nine were matched and one was uploaded. The nine matched tracks were matched to the 16 bit / 44.1 kHz versions in the iTunes Store. Not apples to apples at all. Whats more the one uploaded track named Intruder was not matched with its 16/44.1 counterpart. This enabled me to analyze what iTunes Match does to 24/48 files. I deleted Half Blood from my library and downloaded the matched and uploaded tracks from iCloud. All the matched tracks came down as 256 kbps 16 bit / 44.1 AAC files. The uploaded track came down as a 256 kbps (VBR) 16 bit / 44.1 AAC file [Imagelink]. It stands to reason that iTunes resampled the 48 kHz track to 44.1 and converted it using Variable Bit Rate AAC prior to uploading as the entire process is rather slow. If nothing else the process of iTunes Match ruining perfectly good audio is interesting.
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    Matching, Really?

    The major benefit of iTunes Match is said to be its matching capability that Google Music and Amazon Cloud Drive don't offer. Matching the audio instead of uploading the audio is far faster. But is it better? I put this matching capability to the test with a few albums. I used the previously mentioned Beck Sea Change albums and the Sony AR1 SACD Samplerlink that I knew was not in the iTunes Store or even the CDDB database. The Sony AR1 disc had no matching metadata from iTunes so I input all track names, artist names, etc… After ripping the disc iTunes Match uploaded eight of the fourteen tracks and matched the remaining six tracks with music already in the iTunes catalog. As these tracks were previously available on different albums I saw this as a bonus. However, after checking the matched tracks in the iTunes Store I saw this as an unpredictable disservice. Selecting the Ping drop down arrowlink displays the option to locate the album, artist, or track that iTunes has matched to one's local track. The first track from the Sony AR1 disc I tested was number seven Snowflake by Lara Ruggleslink. The iTunes Match version of this track is available on Lara Ruggles' Out of an Eggshell -EPlink. The matched track appeared to be identical to the track on the disc. Then the matching went awry. I attempted to match track fourteen Sting Quartet No. 4, IV: Still Life (Absolutely Strict) by The Fry Street Quartet. Moments after the disc was ripped iTunes matched this track with String Quartet in F Major, Op. 77, No. 2: Allegro Moderato also by The Fry Street Quartet [Imagelink]. That was mistake number one and a disservice to users thinking their tracks have been matched. Now for the unpredictable disservice. A couple hours later I was looking over my notes and needed to check the iTunes Match for the same Fry Street track. This time track fourteen Sting Quartet No. 4, IV: Still Life (Absolutely Strict) by The Fry Street Quartet was matched with Rorem String Quartet no. 4: VI. Head of a Boy by The Fry Street Quartet [Imagelink]. Not only was this incorrect but it was the second incorrect match for the same track.

    Moving on to Beck's Sea Change once again, specifically the Mobile Fidelity version imported, not ripped, into the iTunes library. The test track I used was number three Guess I'm Doing Fine. iTunes Match indicated a match in the iTunes Store / iCloud for this track even though this was the MFSL remastered album. I confirmed there was no MFSL version of Sea Change available via iTunes. Here is where it gets interesting. The MFSL version of the track is 4:58. The standard release of the track is 4:49. When browsing this album in the iCloud via my iPhone iTunes listed the track as 4:58. I though this was one indicator the actual remastered track was available. I proceeded to download the 4:58 version of Guess I'm Doing Fine to my phone. When the complete album track list is viewed on my phone this downloaded track still listed 4:58 as its length. However, when I played the track the Now Playing window clearly listed 4:49 and the track length indicating the iTunes Matched version is from the standard CD release not the remaster. I switched back to the complete track list for Sea Change (MFSL) and track three was still listed as 4:58 even though it clearly was 4:49.
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    Does this really matter? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Yes, and no. This does matter because those of us who care about listening to the best version of a specific album may be fooled into thinking we can here such a version via iCloud / iTunes Match. I'm not making this into something larger than I should. Frequently a great remastered album can sound better at 256 kbps than a dynamically compressed version of the same album at 16/44.1 or even high resolution 24/96. Thus, I can see music lovers settling for the supposed matched remastered album at 256 kbps when they are away from home without access to the lossless copy. I would hate to be away on a long trip with an iCloud full of mismatched music that only presented itself as I listened to each album individually. What a bummer.
     



    Matched, Not In U.S. Store, But Downloadable

    The talk thus far has been that iTunes Match uses the Apple iTunes Store catalog to match one's music and to upload what isn't available in that catalog. Even Apple clearly states that as a fact. My testing revealed that music unavailable in the U.S. iTunes Store was matched and downloadable from iCloud. In addition, music unavailable from any iTunes Store worldwide was matched and downloadable even though the band has not made its music available through iTunes.

    I recently received the album Miniatures & Folklore by Gavriel Lipkind and Alexandra Lubchansky from Naxos America. I ripped it to my iTunes library where the iCloud Status displayed Matched. I tested the match by selecting track one from the drop down Ping menu. I was presented with a pop up stating, "Your request could not be completed. The item you've requested is not currently available in the US store" [Imagelink]. Not the end of the world but interesting given Apple's statement about matching what's in the store. I switched to my iPhone and attempted to download the Matched version of the album. Lo and behold the tracks downloaded without a hitch [Imagelink]. I guess it's possible to let Apple off the hook as the music is supposedly available in at least one of its iTunes Stores. The next rip v. import example defies all Apple logic.
     

    Rip v. Import

    According to the iTunes Match algorithm a ripped album is not the same as an imported album. I can see some logic behind this as a CD's TOC Table of Contents likely plays a role in matching an album. However, the iTunes Match results differ so greatly between a ripped album and imported album that it defies logic. Further defying logic is the fact that a ripped album can have an iCloud even though Apple has never sold the album and the band has never allowed its music into the iTunes Store. Case and point AC/DC and its Back In Black album. ( See AC/DC vows to keep denying fans iTunes digital downloads [Linklink])

    First up is the Back In Black album ripped to FLAC and converted to Apple Lossless using dBpoweramp with full embedded metadatalink. The album was subsequently imported into iTunes through the Automatically Add To iTunes folder / feature. The album imported perfectly. iTunes was able to read all the metadata. After a fresh scan of the library Back In Black's iCloud Status displayed Matched [Imagelink]. Given AC/DC's avoidance of the iTunes Store I was surprised at the match. I tested the match by following the matched links to the iTunes Store. Track one on Back In Black is Hells Bells. iTunes matched this to track three on the album A Tribute To AC-DC (Whole Lotta Rosie) by the AC-DC Tribute Band [Imagelink]. The remaining tracks from the Back In Black import experiment were just as mismatched and just as disappointing.

    Next up is the Back In Black album ripped to Apple Lossless using iTunes 10.5.1. iTunes found the correct metadatalink through CDDB but didn't offer any album art. Lack of album art was expected as this is typically only available for music in the iTunes Store. After the rip completed and a fresh scan of the library Back In Black's iCloud Status displayed Matched [Imagelink]. Given the previous results this was not surprising. I quickly tested the match by selecting You Shook Me All Night Long from the Ping drop down menu. The link took me to the iTunes Music Store's section of New & Noteworthy Rock music, not even AD/DC tracks by a cover band. This behavior was somewhat similar to the Miniatures & Folklore album that was unavailable in the U.S. iTunes Store. I switched to my iPhone where Back In Black was listed as available from iCloud. I downloaded Hells Bells and to my bewilderment the real AC/DC version of the track at 256 kbps was delivered to my phone. Where's the logic? iTunes Match never uploaded a single track from Back In Black during my tests and the album is not available via iTunes. Maybe Apple is concealing some information about iTunes Match. That's hard to believe from such an open comp… only kidding.
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    Concluded: iTunes Match Is A Mismatch

    Apple's position is that matching one's library is better than uploading one's library and therefore iTunes Match is inherently better than Google Music and Amazon Cloud Drive. If Apple could deliver on its marketing promise and correctly match one's local tracks with tracks located in the iCloud it might have a case. Unfortunately iTunes Match with iCloud is no better than the previous cloud offerings. Clever terminology such as "Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it to any of your devices" is completely misleading. What the statement actually means is the music must be downloaded (streamed) to one's device and stored on that device. Real streaming doesn't consume real storage space other than a temporary file during playback. iCloud doesn't stream music. Period. Plus, completing with real streaming services like MOG is not a game Apple should play. MOG offers real streaming and real downloading of more music than iTunes and it's all available in better quality 320 kbps MP3 files. I can't see the draw to iCloud over a service like MOG. Why would people continue to purchase music through iTunes at 256 kbps and only have access to the music they've purchased through iTunes when they could simply subscribe to MOG for $10 per month and access all that and more? iTunes Match isn't for audiophiles, music lovers, or anyone for that matter. iTunes Match and iCloud are Dead On Arrival just as Google Music and Amazon's Cloud Drive were back in May 2011. Apple is a day late and a dollar short with iTunes Match and iCloud.



     



     



     
    Comments 61 Comments
    1. almaatakz's Avatar
      almaatakz -
      hmmmm... of limited, if any, use to me, too. Although it may be useful for some.<br />
      <br />
      So, apple, where is the quality? Sicne apple went from 128kbps to 256kbps (how many years ago?) there were no real quality advancement steps taken. they have since dropepd the CD picture from itunes logo ('cd is so last century ...') but still, even several years later, did not match the very CD for quality/resolution. <br />
      <br />
      I want lossless (16/44 or higher) tracks from itunes and happy to pay for it. I do not want icloud. not in its current form.
    1. tmornini's Avatar
      tmornini -
      I'll be the devil's advocate here.<br />
      <br />
      I'm using Match, and so far, so good.<br />
      <br />
      I use Time Machine for backup of my computers, and I also remote back up to BackBlaze from my Music server. I don't EVER want RIP all my music again. :-)<br />
      <br />
      Since my definitive library on my music server. I matched from there first.<br />
      <br />
      Then I deliberately trashed my iTunes folder on my laptop and matched. BOOM! A few minutes later I had a completely populated library (which no doubt has a few issues), INCLUDING my playlists. Very cool.<br />
      <br />
      Then I set it up on the phone. Again, BOOM! everything is there. Nice.<br />
      <br />
      No more syncing, ever. Good riddance!<br />
      <br />
      Yes, it's true, my iPhone is 100% lossy though my library is 95% lossless.<br />
      <br />
      The most negative thing I agree with you about, Chris, is that it's not matching my hires files. I'm willing to bet that this is more about a poorly discriminating filter than a policy by Apple. However Apple is doing it's signatures, it could certainly do it against the hires versions, as signature creation is done locally.<br />
      <br />
      I'm pretty confident that I'll soon update my Match and fine that my hires music has been matched, or down sampled and uploaded, and is now available everywhere just like everything else.<br />
      <br />
      Apple fanboy? You bet.
    1. SeeHear's Avatar
      SeeHear -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Did I read correctly - you ripped an SACD sampler? How? I would love to be able to rip my SACDs.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks,<br />
      <br />
      James<br />
    1. Akapod's Avatar
      Akapod -
      I certainly agree that mis-matching is a problem, but I think iTunes Matching has a role that even audiophiles may appreciate. <br />
      <br />
      If Apple had pitched the product as something that would allow you to conveniently access 256 AAC files of most of your music on a mobile device for $2.08 a month, I think it would be better received. <br />
      <br />
      When you think of the product as something for mobile devices, then the loss in quality of the music files is understandable. The biggest factor affection sound quality is going to the mobile device -- the files will be run through a very modest onboard DAC chip, and then amplified through the device's tiny amp.<br />
      <br />
      (The only exception I can think of would be using an Apple TV which could then route the signal, via optical or HDMI, to an outboard DAC. But I think (and I may be wrong) that doesn't happen very often.)<br />
      <br />
      For the sake of comparison, you could buy a 64 GB iPhone 4S for $399 (and a carrier plan) or a 32 GB iPhone 4S for $299 and four years of iTunes Matching for the same price. If you figure an average AAC file is about 8 MB, then 25,000 songs would mean 200 GB of storage. <br />
      <br />
      (For more comparison, DropBox will offer you 100 GB of storage at $20 a month. So you could get five months of storage for $100, instead of four years, and you'd lose the iTunes interface).<br />
      <br />
      So, roughly, 32 GB of onboard storage would cost you the same as as 200 GB of cloud storage, albeit in an inferior format. If that inferior format -- 256 kbps AAC -- is acceptable to you for mobile use, then this is a pretty good deal.<br />
      <br />
    1. arcman's Avatar
      arcman -
      Hmm. I have not had any problems with iTunes match so far (17,000 tracks). I never expected hi-res files to be "streamed" or redownloaded into hi-res. My Hi-rez files (including entire Peter gabriel new blood deluxe) uploaded and is available on all my devices (at 256). When I rip a cd that has a track with another artist listed I do either of two things (depending on the amount of tracks). I reset all tracks as a composition or I move the guest artist to the song title (Title featuringXXZ). I do have a few duplicates due to changing a few titles.
    1. Dan Gravell's Avatar
      Dan Gravell -
      I can't help but thing both HD and higher bitrate music will be new offerings on new 'plans'. It's just like the move from 8-track -> cassette -> CD... the music industry is very good at perpetuating this!<br />
      <br />
      Worrying to hear about the mismatches... especially the AC/DC cover band one! I know this is subjective, but to the human ear how different do these tracks sound?
    1. glt's Avatar
      glt -
      I think is great. I signed up yesterday and it "matched" my lossless collection: 2000 tracks were matched, 1000 tracks were uploaded. Lets not forget that this is v1 and that copyright restrictions also applies (e.g. lack of true streaming may be a copyright restriction). But having my collection automatically and immediately available on up to 10 devices for $25 is a heck of a deal.
    1. jfkbike's Avatar
      jfkbike -
      Seems perfect for what I intend to use it for. Like when I travel on business and the hotel has that cheap radio with a iPod dock, put my phone in and listen to any of the music (15,000+ songs) I have on my music server (all lossless and or hi-res) available to me, and the 256kb is plenty for this use. The matching worked well for me although I have not checked every song. If at higher resolution I think it would use too much bandwidth for some of the crapy wi-fi connections or 3G connections. I never buy music from iTunes, my tracks are all hi-res downloads or from CD's I own and have ripped. I guess MOG could work but have never tried it and would rather pay $25/year and have Apple's slick integration than pay $120 for something like MOG. When I want to quickly hear a song I do not have I'll use Pandora or similar. Also my understanding is that yes it is downloaded to your device but does not remain there for long and therefore the issue of consuming storage is mute. Is that incorrect?
    1. petewilson's Avatar
      petewilson -
      Alas, no magic. It's a dual-layer disk and so one simply rips the CD layer.<br />
      The SACD layer remains impenetrable.
    1. timlmd's Avatar
      timlmd -
      Contrary to the statements in this article's final paragraph, iTunes Match does indeed stream music. Rather than clicking on the "Cloud" download button, just hit play like you would on locally stored music and after a 3 or 4 second buffering delay your music will start to play. No storage space consumed. <br />
      <br />
      It also buffers the start of the next song in the album/playlist while playing the current song, so no additional delays occur. Gapless playback even seems to work well, although I heard one slight bobble during the Abbey Road side two medley.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Guys - iTunes Match and iCloud do not stream. Selecting a track from an iDevice will play the track as it's downloading but the track is then stored on the local device. A true streaming app plays the track and leaves no trace of the track after it's over. <br />
      <br />
    1. heyjp's Avatar
      heyjp -
      Tim is correct. On your iOS devices you can choose to download and keep or simply stream and remove.<br />
      <br />
      On the AppleTV, it ONLY streams, since there is no persistent storage.<br />
      <br />
      I think this is a very interesting concept and service. It is barely version 1.0 right now and it will grow and improve in the future. There are some interesting possible future ramifications... If Apple ever moved to a new generation codec or a higher bit rate for AAC (e.g. 320 Kbps)... you're entire library would SUDDENLY be available some morning with an improved version of every song.<br />
      <br />
      Also, I think you'll see the matching get much smarter in the future too. Right now it appears to match each song individually. In the future it could look at the context. I have found several albums where 8 out of 9 songs are recognized as "purchased" and the remaining song "uploaded" since it miss-identified it for some reason.<br />
      <br />
      There are interesting questions. If a "remastered" version of an album is released, which are you matched with? Which do you WANT to be matched with? Many audiophiles might want the earlier, less tampered-with version. While others might consider the remastered a freebie bonus! <br />
      <br />
      Hard to satisfy us 'philes.<br />
      <br />
      Jim
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Jim - Please attempt to stream a track to an iDevice and let me know if the track is stored on your device. This is not streaming. It's simply quick playback while downloading. <br />
      <br />
    1. blaine78's Avatar
      blaine78 -
      to be honest, i really don't see the point of this cloud storage thing. just more electromagnetic radiation floating round. just yet another way to charge people for unnecessary products.
    1. timlmd's Avatar
      timlmd -
      I've streamed tracks to my iPad, my iPhone, and my Macbook Pro. Nothing is stored on any of the devices. It's real honest to goodness streaming! Really.<br />
      <br />
      Edit: Whoops! Not true. I double checked and while the Mac is definitely streaming, it appears the iPad and iPhone are indeed downloading each song! (Sorry Chris, I should never have doubted you.)<br />
      <br />
      This is exactly the opposite of what you'd want to happen. It should download to the device with the large hard drive, but stream to the ones with limited storage space. And if you can stream to one device, why not stream to them all?
    1. Mark Powell's Avatar
      Mark Powell -
      We used to call it 'Radio'<br />
      <br />
      But now you have to<br />
      <br />
      (1) Make up the programmes yourself.<br />
      (2) Pay for it.<br />
    1. Dan Gravell's Avatar
      Dan Gravell -
      <i>This is exactly the opposite of what you'd want to happen. It should download to the device with the large hard drive, but stream to the ones with limited storage space. And if you can stream to one device, why not stream to them all?</i><br />
      <br />
      Here's a possible reason - the storage may be there on the portable devices to guard against times when you lose Internet connection when on the move. That said, I suppose you might lose connection on the MBP too when out and about!
    1. diw's Avatar
      diw -
      when installing iTunes Match on a particular iPhone or other iOS device, it states that this replaces the existing library on that device....while I think that having access to portable quality copies of your entire music library anywhere you have an internet connection is a good deal for $25...what about situations where you don't have internet access or more importantly, when you want to listen to the higher bit rate versions that you ripped or downloaded to your home library? How can those be synced to your device in the regular way and used alongside iTunes in the cloud?<br />
      <br />
      For those interested I found that the uploading process, which applied to around 25% of the tracks in my library, very little of which has come from iTunes, took around two days for the 4500 tracks it couldn't match, which may be a consideration for some. It may be a consequence of the load on Apples servers in the first days of the introduction of the service<br />
      <br />
      Increased use of the Cloud services in the future reminds me of the value of the unlimited data plans that some of us signed up for with our initial iPhone and iPad contracts, which ATT has had to grandfather in but takes any opportunity from payment delays, failed automatic credit card transfer etc to cancel. When they do this, you have to ring them up and argue for reinstatement of the option ( which, to date, they have always done, bless them ) otherwise it can't be renewed once relinquished
    1. HiFiGuy528's Avatar
      HiFiGuy528 -
      One thing I am unsure maybe you know the answer. If ALL my music is on say MacMini at home. I have a MacBook Air with NO music stored on it. Does iTunes Match stream the music to it like it does on other Macs at home or does it download a copy to the Air HD like it does on the iPhone?
    1. heyjp's Avatar
      heyjp -
      As I understand Match, and from my personal experience in just a couple of days, once you activate iTunes Match from your Master Library and it synchs everything to the iCloud... you can turn on Match on other computers or iOS devices and synch all or part of your library. <br />
      <br />
      For an example, let's say you have 100 playlists and 10,000 songs on your master library.<br />
      <br />
      When you turn Match On with any other device, you are immediately given a choice: "Show Only What's On this Device" or "Show All Available".<br />
      <br />
      If you "show all available, after a minute or two of "thinking", you will see all 10,000 songs and all 100 playlists on your iPhone or MacBook Air (or whatever). At that point you can either tap and play a song, an album, or a playlist. If you scroll to the bottom of any selected playlist, artist, or album.. you will see a "download all" button to download a copy of all songs for that entire playlist, artist, or album to your device. <br />
      <br />
      It appears to me that if you tap the left side (name) of any song, it will immediately begin playing that song. If you tap the right side (cloud with down arrow) of any song, it will begin playing it, but will keep the song on your device whether you listen to all of it or not.<br />
      <br />
      Your 10,000 songs might take up 50 GBytes on your master library. If you have a 16 GBYTE iPhone, they all can't possibly fit, but you have access to any of them. So you can download 10 playlists and 30 artists and at that point choose to see "only what's on your phone" or "all songs in your iCloud". You can delete a playlist and download a new one for the day, then delete and download a different set for tomorrow.<br />
      <br />
      Or if you have enough storage on your MacBook Air, you can choose to download and sync your entire library. As you buy new music on your master or on your Air, the new acquisitions are automatically downloaded to all devices that you set the "download new purchases" control for.<br />
      <br />
      There is a lot of capability (and a few bugs) in the iTunes Match system. Over the next few months, it will become a VERY interesting concept.<br />
      <br />
      Sure, the pure audiophile may not realize a perfect solution with the current version. But you don't HAVE to use it. Now or in the future. But, as it settles down, I think we will all find a way to exploit its functionality.<br />
      <br />
      Jim