Legal music services sell songs in a variety of proprietary formats

Legal music services sell songs in a variety of formats. “In the age of instantaneous Internet downloads, music fans have more to consider than just the name of the artist when they buy a recording,” Lucas van Grinsven and Bernhard Warner report for Reuters. “They must also familiarize themselves with a new lingo of geek-speak – an alphabet soup of compression technologies, codecs and DRM – if they want to play a song at all.”

“The latest to enter the fray is Sony. On Monday, the Japanese consumer electronics giant prepared to launch its Connect online music store in France, Germany and Britain. Using a proprietary technology called ATRAC, Sony has begun selling song downloads that play only in Sony-branded devices, such as its Walkman,” van Grinsven and Warner report. “Sony says that with ATRAC a consumer can store more songs on a personal computer or digital music player while retaining the best sound quality. It is also easy on energy consumption, allowing hours more playing time on a single charge than rivals’ technology, Sony says.”

“Apple made similar remarks when it launched iTunes Music Store last year, saying it would use AAC compression format and Apple’s FairPlay software to protect songs against piracy. The songs can only be played in its iPods,” van Grinsven and Warner report. “Microsoft MSN Music Club sells songs encoded in Windows Media Audio, which is available in a wide selection of players. It too claims its compression codec is the best.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In at least one independent listening test, iTunes AAC beat both WMA and ATRAC3 pretty handily. More here.


  1. Interesting data…

    I thing I noted was that the bit rate for the ATRAC tested was 132. SONY is advertising that they can hold 13,000 songs at a bit rate of 48.

    If SONY Connect is selling songs at the lower bitrate, then it will definately be a major flop.

    Also, why the name ATRAC? It sounds too much like 8-track making it destined for failure.

  2. IIRC, ATRAC = Acoustic TRansformation Adaptive Coding.
    Sony can advertise number of songs based on any bitrate on their player, but if their music store sells songs at that bitrate, it’s a guaranteed failure.

    Manufacturers do tweak their numbers to make them look better, even if it sounds silly when you realize it. Look at the food industry, they are famous for this… potato chips have great nutritional numbers unless you see that the serving is only 4 chips. I think Sony’s users will realize that they will have to increase the bitrate, use up more HD space and power to make the songs enjoyable and the numbers touted by Sony are just advertisement like nutritional info.

  3. Sony marketing has really tweaked the numbers for their new Walkman. I’ve seen comparisons where they use the 40 gig iPod to compare price but the 20 gig to compare capacity and don’t acknowledge which model they use for either.

  4. All one really needs to read to learn about this latest Sony debacle is http::// – scene 4797 (or currently the second one down on the page as of this post).

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