Writer worried about proprietary iTunes songs wants his WMA instead

“Over the weekend, I read several mainstream articles about the iPod and iTunes (as well as several other digital music stores and players), including a well-written but somewhat disagreeable piece in the local San Francisco Bay Guardian. After immersing myself in audio codecs (as research for a future article) and re-ripping most of my own collection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really like WMA — and I really don’t like the whole iTunes/iPod thing,’ Jason Cross writes for ExtremeTech.

“AAC is a perfectly fine audio format. It sounds good. I don’t really want the music I pay money for to be encoded at 128k, but none of iTunes’ competitors are offering a higher bitrate, so I don’t have much choice there. The problem with AAC is that it doesn’t really have digital rights management, so songs you buy through the iTunes Music Store have an Apple-specific proprietary digital rights management scheme called FairPlay attached to them. AAC may be a format that many desktop applications (like Winamp) can understand, and it’s certainly possible for non-iPod portable players to build in support for it, but iTunes and iPods understand FairPlay. If I buy music through the iTunes store, it will only play on iTunes or an iPod. That’s it, until the end of time. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it for me. How do I know what music player I’m going to want to buy in four years? How do I know my next car won’t have a built-in digital music player? I certainly don’t expect Apple to make a CarPod. All those iTunes songs I pay for today are going to be useless tomorrow. I generally don’t want to play back my music through iTunes — I want to use a smaller, faster, less obtrusive playback client like Winamp. With music purchased through iTunes, that’s not an option.”

Full article here.

43 Comments

  1. >> If I buy music through the iTunes store, it will only play on iTunes or an iPod. That’s it, until the end of time. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it for me. How do I know what music player I’m going to want to buy in four years?

    Just between us girls, this is a compelling argument. Of course, I can always burn an audio CD and then rip it into any format I like, but that can’t be good for the file quality. Hopefully, Apple is making efforts to spread the FairPlay technology to other devices and applications.

  2. He’s essentially crystallized the DRM issue that the market is facing. The fact that he prefers WMA to AAC is misguided. The problem isn’t that one format is better than another–the problem is that there are multiple DRM formats, and some players won’t work with some formats. It’s true that we have no idea if any of the songs purchased today will work on any hardware available in 5 years. That’s not a problem with AAC, that’s a problem with the entire industry. For all we know, WMA may cease to exist.

  3. The biggest shame in this argument is that he is saying… Microsoft will monopolies the format like it did the computers, so why not just save the trouble of fighting it. It is a sad day. But I will fight the good fight!

    Matthew

  4. “I generally don’t want to play back my music through iTunes — I want to use a smaller, faster, less obtrusive playback client like Winamp. With music purchased through iTunes, that’s not an option”

    Click the minimize button and it becomes “less obtrusive” – dumb*ss

  5. i dont notice any loss of quality when i rip it into another format so you could then innfact transfer it to another player. but then again why would i want to. i can use this product with the same interface and ease of use across multiple platforms how many other players can boast that. there is no advantage to wma. its as simple as that. aac is an industry accepted format. apple also has the largest library of music of any service and it continues to grow daily. windows users just cant beleive apple has finally gotten a strong hold on a market and windows is unable to compete due to lack of competence. they cant even get the service out there to start making a draw. imagine how far behind longhorn will be and as they rush it there wilkl be MAJOR holes. would you trust your songs that you paid for to that?

  6. Most people know this, but you can transfer a protected iTunes AAC to ANY player, stripped of all DRM, with NO quality loss and NO hacks, by the SAME well-known re-rip-from CD method. How? Rip to lossless WAV or AIF. The price you pay is file size, but don’t overlook the option.

    Also, there’s VERY good reason to say AAC is better quality than WMA. (That means truer to the original–not that one person can’t prefer whatever they like.) Link:
    http://www6.tomshardware.com/consumer/20020712/2u4u-05.html

    PS you can totally Hide iTunes and control it from the Dock icon’s popup menu, even giving ratings… or use a menu bar controller like PTHiTunesNotifier. Obtrusive?

  7. This kind of comment gives you lots of confidence in a writer ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    “The problem with AAC is that it doesn’t really have digital rights management, so songs you buy through the iTunes Music Store have an Apple-specific proprietary digital rights management”… Hmmm….

    (PS, if you’re looking to the “future” as a reason not to use any one company–except the beloved MS–then in the “future,” HDs will be much cheaper than today, making the lossless WAV solution an even better last resort to help you sleep at night. Oh–and there are of course many car options for iPod–including a slick in-dash one from Alpine.)

    Luckily, a few ignorant people who cling to MS aren’t enough to stop iTunes’ popularity.
    http://lovemarks.com/list.php?order=pop&self=YES

  8. Dont know about you guys… but im more than happy playing my AAC files on iTunes and iPods….. When you have the best software, and the best hardware, why would you want to play your music on anything else? (Although now that you mention it, windows users never were terribly good at knowing quality when they used it….) Cheers to iPod and iTunes year 2010.

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