Radiohead responds to bitrate critique
Give people potentially free music, and they’ll still find a reason to complain. Some complaints have surfaced about the bitrate of “In Rainbows” digital distribution – it clocks in at 160Kbps, compared with iTunes standard rate of 128K (though iTunes “enhanced” tunes are available at 256K). Guitarist Johnny Greenwood responds as such:
“I don’t know, we talked about it and we just wanted to make it a bit better than iTunes, which it is, so that’s kind of good enough, really. It’s never going to be CD quality, because that’s what CD does.”
Here’s why people are stupid, and Greenwood’s response is utterly spot-on, despite its tossed-off insouciance. You’re buying shitty digital tracks. Period. MP3 has long been demonstrated to introduce artifacting into tracks – if you buy it, you’re basically saying, I don’t care about quality, I care about small tracks that can fit onto my flash drive. Sure, going from 128 to 192K can offset the quality difference, but y’all aren’t pumping this stuff through your vacuum tube amplifiers, I guarantee. There are no doubt some audiophiles out there that can spot the differences, but the vast majority of the audience out there would not be able to tell in a blind taste test.
Given the number of folks who stick with their stock iPod earbuds and don’t invest in some quality Shures, it’s hard to take such concerns seriously. If you want CD-quality, buy the official box set and rip it to an uncompressed .WAV file.