Choosing The Right File Formats For Your Music Library

Music file formats

Music files come in all shapes and sizes, so it pays to decide upfront which file formats and quality you’re going to use, and be sure as to why.

In 5 Reasons To Organise Your Music Properly we explained the importance of having a music system, and in How To Get Started Organising Your Music we covered the basics of getting going. So now we can delve into all the considerations you should make in order to make this a success. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “new” collector, the approach taken to starting a new music collection can be applied to existing libraries; you just choose to start at a different point in the journey.

The three components of a well organised library

So, to create an organised library of any items you need three components:

  1. The objects themselves; in our case the individual music tracks or files
  2. A consistent classification system; the way you describe and label these tracks
  3. The right tools and workflow to manage and access your library (we’re talking about the software and apps you use to get your tracks from download to deck-load…)

We’ll give an overview of the first component in this article and cover the others later. So what’s so important about the music files themselves?

Music files and formats

Digital music has come a long way since the early days of services such as Napster, once feared by the music industry as a grave threat to music and physical media. Since those dark times less than 14 years ago the ability to have your music stored and played on your home computer has developed into the reality of accessing to your music from multiple computers or smartphones that could be on the other side of the world.

Filesharing

Thankfully less and less common nowadays, the online peer to peer trading of often low quality music files damaged ears and DJ sets alongside the livings of the artists involved.

CDs have finally been overtaken by downloads as the most popular music media. Vinyl records have seen a small resurgence in recent years since their sales were decimated, primarily down to a small but thriving market of collectors and aficionados, but trying to find DJ-friendly dance music in this format is becoming increasingly difficult. So why does any of this matter if you’re a digital DJ? The answer is that even if you’re only dealing with digital files, those digital files came from somewhere – and knowing where they came from and how good that source is could have a great impact on your music library and DJing.

Think back to when you started collecting music. Maybe it was five years ago, maybe ten. At that time the focus for digital music for many was on getting as many tracks as you could in the hard drive space you had available on your computer or portable music player. People were converting their music from the relatively high quality source of CD into something that was “good enough” to listen to, just to save megabytes of space. How many times have you heard people tell you to only use a certain bit rate MP3 file (eg “nothing less than 192″, “preferably 256″, or “ideally 320kbps”).

This in itself was a minefield but then you had the added complications of digital rights management (DRM), alternative file formats such as Microsoft’s WMA that gained favour due to the computer systems people use to convert their music, and of course the various dodgy download sites that provided low-quality files because internet speeds simply didn’t allow for larger file sizes.

The thing to take from this is that we are no longer in that era and neither should our music libaries be. If you look at your library you might find a mixture of file formats and file qualities. It’s easy to do a quick check as most software such as iTunes allow you to view the sample and bitrates of your files which you can then sort on, although don’t ever trust bitrates on illegally obtained files.

(We’re not going to explore the finer details of file formats and audio quality here – you can find out more by reading What Every DJ Needs To Know About Music File Formats – but the principle is that you should use the best files you can and try to keep that quality consistent – and trust your ears.

Rubbish in, rubbish out

As DJs, the quality of our mixes depends on the quality of each track or sample we use. If they vary widely in audio quality and level this will have a detrimental affect on our mixes, particularly when playing out on a decent loud PA. In addition, having consistent file formats makes it easier to use the right tools in the same way for your entire library.

For example, the tagging structure of MP3s differs from M4A files. Imagine how cumbersome it must be to perform certain actions just on MP3 files, and other actions on M4A, or FLAC files before you can start to use them in your DJ software. Whilst it’s true that most of the software and hardware we use is able to cope with different formats, the more variations of formats you utilise the more chance there is of something going wrong at some stage of your workflow.

AAC Apple

The information stored against a file will vary, depending on the file format. So it pays to think through these variables first, so you don’t get caught out because one of your chosen formats doesn’t support a field that matters to you (say the custom ‘key’ field).

Here’s my personal path through all of this: A few months ago I faced the challenge of rebuilding my music library, not because I lost my music files but because my two year old laptop hard disk drive was running seriously low on space. I could have simply installed a new HDD and copied everything across just the way it was but with a collection of over 15,000 tracks I thought it was time for a major overhaul. Although much of my music had been converted from CDs, my digital files were, until recent years, sourced from all over the place.

I decided that I wanted to get the best possible audio from my existing collection and standardise the various file formats and levels of quality that had crept in. After a lot of research, not only did I install a much larger hard drive but I decided to rebuild my library from scratch, reconvert my backed up CD rips from WAV to Apple Lossless and start the lengthy process of classifying and tagging my entire collection.

Now I only have three file formats in my library, never purchase MP3 files and my priority is to use the lossless or higher quality M4A formats as much as possible. Many top DJs are also realising the benefits of using lossless files now that disc space is no longer an issue (check out the Lossless DJ website for more). In a few years time there will be no reason to use lossy compressed file formats such MP3 at all, so it’s my view that if you’re serious about developing as a DJ there’s certainly no harm in organising your library so that you start to use file formats that are going to last you for the next five to ten years years.

Next time:

In the next article we will look at how to classify your music files, and offer up some and quick tips and tricks for speeding this process up.

• André is a UK-based part-time mobile DJ with over 15 years’ experience.

Have you got any stories about trying to wrestle your music collection into order? What decisions have you taken regarding file formats, and why? Please share your thoughts and views in the comments.

Comments

  1. The format depends a bit on the OS u use.
    I’m a windows user and happily ripped my whole collection cd’s about 15 years ago in WMA lossless.
    Never had any issues with it and very much supported by lots of softwares. A few years ago still had wider support then for FLAC (portable players and stuff).
    Still use Windows Media Player to organise my collecting (included filenaming), altough I’m not so happy the way WMP has been developed since Windows Vista, but I still use it to sync MP3 player, card SD cards and stuff.
    I would like to prefer to use a lossless compression that is an open standard like FLAC. But From my impression it is still unsufficant supported by software.

    For what concerns MP3/WMA/FLAC/etc tagging I recommand MP3 tag. It’s the best there is for Windows and its free.
    http://www.mp3tag.de/en/

    • never, ever used MP3 for master files. It sucks from an audio level.
      Only my mixtapes are in MP3 320 Kbps for upload to mixtape sites.

    • One of the advantages of having your files in any lossless format, in your case WMA, is that you can convert them to any other lossless format without any loss in audio quality. With AIFF, FLAC, ALAC all options, you should be able to find one that works with your kit and your preferred computer OS.

  2. I use apple lossless too, I would use FLAC but it’s not compatible with iTunes. I had problems at first with corrupt files but I think it must of been that version of iTunes because i’ve had no problems since, fortunately! iTunes can convert the files to AAC when syncing to my iPhone too so I can fit more songs on so best of both worlds.

  3. FLAC files for music
    MP3Tag for tagging
    Foobar2000 for listening and converting (MP3)
    Mixmeister Pro 6 for mixing (only takes MP3 :-( )

  4. evil twin says:

    I have AIFF for lossless (whenever it either seems reasonable to pay extra and/or is available in a lossless format), 320k mp3 for the majority and M4A for those bought from iTunes.

    AIFF is probably the best lossless format, because it’s 1) uncompressed 2) widely supported (more widely than FLAC or ALAC) 3) taggable.

    • evil twin says:

      Oh and all the tagging and stuff is done in iTunes (although I need to repeat myself, I really miss iTunes 10)

    • AIFF is not a lossless (compression) format. There is no compression in AIFF. It’s like WAV a raw format.
      People call it lossless because it has the same sound qaulity as a CD.
      The Apple Lossless format is called ALAC and the file extension is .M4A.
      But the file extension does not garantee it’s a lossless format. Just like WMA, many types of format can be in that file container.

      • Let’s not confuse “compression” i.e. taking up less space, with “lossy” i.e. losing information. Both FLAC and ALAC are compressed formats but they are also lossless so bit for bit they will be exactly the same as a WAV or AIFF file once decompressed.

  5. M4rkSp4K says:

    I’m not so sure that you will get much from going above 192kbps VBR with MP3, unless you are a teenager with “golden ears” and some seriously pricey audio equipment (see http://lifehacker.com/5921889/concluding-the-great-mp3-bitrate-experiment for a reasonably respected experiment).

    Having said that, I rip my CD’s to FLAC and try to keep my purchased MP3s to 320kbps where I can.

    • just an experience: i rip to 320kbps an orignal audio cd (Toto – i’ll be over you), and compare both on an HiFi equipment of a friend of mine.

      we heard no different till we play around with parametric equalization. only on bass we felt “some” difference.

      • evil twin says:

        As a side note, DJs mostly play in clubs, therefore it does not matter how it sounds on someone’s Hi-Fi system, it matters how it sounds loud on a club rig.

    • On a club rig anything below 320 will sound awful although wav is preferred. Even mixing from a 320 to a wav file will have a considerable difference.

      Sankeys sound engineer did an article about this a while back.

      • Trust your ears. There are things that are far more important that the difference between a 320MP3 and a comparable WAV is the “real world” – even on hallowed club sound systems.

  6. Here is my rant. In this day of cheap storage etc. Its a shame in this evolving day and age , music download sights (not gonna name them but everyone knows) are continuing to charge more for lossless downloads. I would like to hear how these sights justify charging at premium on WAV AIFF Flac etc. That being said perhaps we will see this change in the coming years.

    • I agree, it is a shame. AudioJelly is one exception as they charge £$0.99 for any format, including lossless. The reason why other download sites charge more is because they believe that the larger file size of lossless files puts more demand on their hosting servers and the cost to maintain this demand has to be taken from somewhere i.e. the customer! Not ideal but that’s the theory.

  7. Robert Wulfman says:

    I use Aiff for when I rip from CDs or when I have the extra money for the bigger file. often I get flacs and wavs from places so I like to convert them to aiff (I’m pretty sure that does nothing to the sound quality? maybe I’m wrong?). most of my collection though is MP3 right now but I’m very slowly upgrading it. I do all my taging in traktor because of the keyboard mapping I made for it. It makes it really easy to tag stuff quickly and then I can add cue points and stuff like that as well. I just import my preparation setting and that switches my keyboard mapping and some other settings so it’s easier to do my track preping. I also make my playlists in traktor usually and then if I’m going to play on CDJs I can just export the playlist as an xml (I think that’s the one) and import it into rekordbox and onto my device.

  8. I try to buy all vinyl for my masters. I then digitize 24 bit 192k sampling rate. I use a Rega turntable with a Grado cartridge. The format I use is AIFF because ITunes is my choice for managing, making smart playlists. My music library is getting around 622 GB last time I added music to it. And of course I have two back up hard drives of all my digital music. I’m a Hop Hop and Reggae DJ so buying vinyl is not an issue for us. (Yet)

  9. DonConti says:

    What many people don’t realize is that even a direct rip from a CD into AIF or WAV formats, is a lossy compressed file format! You are still taking frequency ranges off the recording, that vinyl captures.

    Technology will only improve, and if you collect a bunch of thin and tinny sounding mp3s, they will only sound worse 5-15 yrs down the line!
    If you are recording vinyl onto a digital format, do yourself a favor: record it into 24bit/96khz. On a good sound system YOU WILL hear the difference – don’t regret having lost the original recording in the future, like I have!

    • I can agree with the 24bit due to the higher dynamic range and headroom but 96kHz is kinda unfriendly in size and computing power. Unless you keep it strictly as master recording and convert to 24/48Khz for regular usage, you can wonder if it truly makes sense. The main advantage would not be the higher frequency range (48Khz covers that of even the most delicate ears) but some benefits in the A/D/A conversion process as for example avoiding audible side effects of aliasing but you would need to have extremely expensive gear to be able to truly hear that.

      So for any DJ, to use on the road, 24/48Khz seems like more than enough!

    • You are mixing up sampling and compression.
      There is absolutely no loss when ripping from CD in a WAV or AIFF or any lossless compression (almost all CD’s are 44.4Khz).
      A rip is a copy of bits?

      You are right about losing quality when sampling (not ripping) from an analoge source. Details do get lost simply of the fact you are converting to squares (thats what digital is).
      But that is not compression. That is sampling. Compression is a 2 way process. You compress to make it smaller AND u decompress to make ik bigger again when you need it.

      You’re better of to buy the cd (if you still can find it) than digitizing vinyl.
      To many negative points about vinyl quality.
      1: Rumble
      2: Noise
      3: Very limited dynamic compared to CD.
      4: Lows are not good due to RIAA filters.
      5: Needle worn
      6: Record worn
      7: Groove dust with old records

      • Agreed (though CDs are 16-bit 44.1kHz). Digitizing Vinyl has its downsides and in many cases, it’s a lot simpler to find the digital file of the mix you want and download it. Vinyl rips can also cause problems with beat grids due to inconsistencies with turntable rotation speeds.

    • Just an FYI. The dynamic range of a vinyl: 70dB on first play (max) (and it constantly drops on every play from degradation)
      The dynamic range of a 16bit file: 96dB
      The dynamic range of a 24bit file: 144dB
      The dynamic range of an average Pop song, I’ll even be generous being that people understand dynamic range more than they did in 1995: 11dB

      That being said, I’m a profesional audio engineer, and 24bit does have more depth, and a seemingly wider signal….and even though when I mix spots, we usually have about a 4 dB of dynamic range, 24bit still does make a difference – though I doubt an average listener would be able to tell from their TV speakers….

  10. That’s why I record 24/192. And keep my vinyl. Only time I play digital is when I practice and do gigs. To be honest the Only reason I use 192 sampling rate is because I can. I can’t hear a difference between 96 vs 192. I have a nice system with a DAC to reference the high quality. I prefer the sound of vinyl when I sit down to listen to music.

  11. DJ_ForcedHand says:

    No matter what you do, no choice made today will be “future-proof.” I fully expect that stems will be made available and played in true point-source, spatial surround sound. We currently depend on Stereo as our standard, but it is not the ultimate method of distribution. Saying FLAC is better than MP3 is true, but you’re still dealing with an inferior method of delivery. People will look at your “FLAC Lossless” library in the future, smirk and revel in how quaint things were back then.

    I also fully expect that how we mix will be in some form of 3D. Left and Right will be arbitrary directions (along with Up Down and Front and Back) and become a more important part of set up.

    • Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

      I don’t agree with spatial surround sound going anywhere in our profession. No kind of surround sound has penetrated the clubs. And there are reasons for that. Complexity and price being among them. Is there an audience out there saying “please give us surround!!!”, I don’t think so. Another thing is that surround is mixed from a certain perspective, which if fine if the audience is all sitting facing the “front”. Typically not the case in a club or dancing environment where everybody faces every which way.

      Surround sound for home purposes has never taking off either, not for music that is (it evidently is standard on any movie DVD/BRD). With technology for surround audio having been around for a long time and it never taking off, to me says that there just isn’t any demand for it.

      Finally, I’ll agree that NOTHING is identical to listening to the original source (i.e. band, singer, etx.). As soon as sound hits a recording device (microphone) deterioration of the sound begins. Any meddling in the mix by engineers already represents adaption of a sound by someones personal standards.
      I think, with the way (most of our) ears work, even lossy sound is totally acceptable in large scale, high volume environments with a high noise floor.

      Who knows, in the future we may get small receivers implanted in our ears at birth and listen to music that is transmitted wirelessly. Speaker free clubs! And you’d have individual volume control too, so it is always the right sound level. And with the press of a button you can turn on noise cancellation and you don’t have to listen to your drunk buddy yelling in your ear :-)

      Greetinx,
      C.

      • Some really interesting thoughts here. Whether the future is about surround sound DJing or not the fact is today we are still focused on stereo music replay. Clubs are able to synthesize surround if they wish but the production of dance music is primarily done using non-live environments inside a computer. Right here, right now, getting the best sound out of today’s music is what’s important.

        If and when a different sound format or DJing audio mix comes about we will still need content that has been design for this purpose and as yet, we don’t have this so preparing for something that might never happen is difficult.

  12. Really entertaining to see the preferences/absolutes here on various formats.

    Sometime I might consider getting my entire library in one or two formats, but for now I’m happy with what I have (primarily 320s with older releases in FLAC).

  13. I use 320kbps MP3s. Only time I buy wav files is when I’m producing something and need a sample.

    I still upload mixes as 192 kbps. While I think it’s important to get the best sound possible, I also recognize most patrons really don’t care as long as it’s not some horrible sound, like a canned-sounding 80 kbps MP3.

    For me, convenience and size are key. My reluctance on wav or other lossless formats is the amount of hard drive space they take, and even how they’ll tax a processor.

    I also question how much “better” vinyl sounds nowadays since the music is originally created on computers and handed off as digital files before pressing. I could see it in the past when everything was analog, but now…not so sure.

  14. I think vinyl is just another medium which adds its own sound to the recordings. The debate which sounds better is pointless, it’s what you prefer to listen to. However, I think mixing with vinyl is superior as a Hip Hop DJ. Mixing digital has it’s benifits with cue points, looping etc.

  15. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    I keep all my rips in standard (is original) WAV format on my NAS (Networked Storage). I convert everything I need to 320kbps MP3 Stereo. There is (apart from reading tests by others, we did extensive testing ourselves a few years back) no reason NOT to use these MP3s. Those that say they can hear the difference, wellllll ….

    “… in these days of unlimited storage …” I think this is not quite true. There is also a movement towards more portable ways of transporting your collection. iDevices (64GB being the largest yet totally expensive iPad, so most people will get the 16 or 32 GB version) and USB sticks (64GB available but not common and relatively expensive, here too people usually have between 8 and 32GB). And although respectable amounts of storage space, not all that much if every song takes op 40-50MB of it.

    I think high quality MP3 (meaning 302Kbps Stereo from a reliable source, preferably your own CD rip) is a very decent alternative to lossless, with a compression rate of about 5:1.

    Greetinx,
    C.

  16. AIFF vs WAV – I have always bought WAV files, but is AIFF a better way to go?

    • WAV, AIFF and Flac can deliver the same in Quality, (Flac is loseless compressed Wav) but the advantage of AIFF and Flac are that they are tagable like mp3′s

  17. DaWreked oNe says:

    I buy most of my music on iTunes. So 256 is the max I can download right now. The “Mastered for iTunes” stuff, oddly enough, isn’t putting out as much EDM as I thought it would. I don’t think your typical iPod listener cares to much for it….obviously 192 sound fine through headphones for the normal person. I’m surprised iTunes hasn’t catered more toward DJ’s with their new “Mastered For iTunes” downloads. Just seems like it would be wise for Apple to put anything that’d be played for a dance floor on this better quality download immediately and slowly filter in everything else. Seems like its happening in reverse…..the dance music is the 1 being “filtered in”. I may be wrong….but this has been my experience with it as of late.

    • DaWreked oNe says:

      Im not even sure what the music quality/format is for the “Mastered For iTunes” tracks. Personally I’d love to download aiff or apple lossless. Either 1 works for me. If they did I might even discontinue my use of “Platinum Notes”. Even though the metering on my s4 isn’t great….with tracks and samples I’ve downloaded from other sites and DJ’ed with, w/o running them through PN, I have no trouble at all getting the gain levels right….by metering OR by ear. It’s no problem. Right now I mainly use PN for the added thump it gives my 256 iTunes downloads. I have PN analyze the tracks and output to 320kbps MP3. (320 is the lowest size PN outputs….otherwise I’d use 256 instead of wasting memory)

      • Hopefully with increasing bandwidths and storage capacities, iTunes will eventually upgrade from 256kbps to Lossless.

        Like yourself, I use a lot of tracks from iTunes. I also use PN, but not on 256 iTunes tracks because PN doesn’t have an AAC or 256kbps output option. Up-sampling tracks from 256 to 320 to me is pointless as all you’re doing is increasing the size of your files – not the quality.

        I’ve pleaded with the developers at PN to include a 256kbps option – either AAC or MP3, but they mostly ignore me. In a perfect world we’d all have only Lossless formats. In reality, many of us get our music from places like Amazon and iTunes which only offer 256kbps…

  18. I’m a mobile DJ doing a lot of weddings. Mp3 everything. I’ve thrown a few mixes up to aoundcloud and gave a half thought to bit rate quality before including tunes in the mix but really on any given night if a bride asks me at 2am to play her favourite tune she just remembered and I find i only have it at the lowest bit rate known to man, it’s still getting played. Max the gain out, sorted.

  19. It’s a pure practical matter that concerns the DJ only, when handling a music collection. The public doesn’t care, they don’t know and have no idea. Mostly because 99,9% of people on any dancefloor listen to irregular (most crappy, a few good) files on their portable devices, car stereo, home, etc. so couldn’t care less for file type or quality unless it’s really bad. But also because the mastering of the original is beyond our control, and you’d think this should be sorted out in this time and age but in fact it’s not. And talk about compressing, encription and sampling of files…

    Many DJs look serious about their music collection and equipment choice, but have no clue how to properly use gain and EQ when playing. Least say how to make up for, or correct, a poorly setup system. So much for

    My opinion is that no one can honestly tell a real 320kbps mp3 from an AIFF or WAV going through a chain of compression, digitalization, amplification and God-knows-what-other processing and “colouring” of all sorts on the PA. If the sound quality and volume is OK and the music is good – and no file can make up for that no matter how good or phat – there’s no real reason to go for anything better than 320 mp3.

    IMHO.

    • Voice of reason. I agree completely with everything you say. There’s a real rabbit-hole of numbers, sample rates, encoding formats, etc etc that is not connected to what really happens in the real worl, at least 99% of the time. Rule number one? Trust your ears.

      • Dan Booth says:

        +1 on that Phil!

        I recently played a set on a large and well balanced JBL system set up and run by a competent engineer. It sounded absolutely bone-shakingly, tummy-poundingly FAT! People are still talking about it!

        The files used were 320kbs mp3s.

        Above that for clubbing purposes is the domain of audiophiles, nerds, and the people at Beatport trying to get more cash from you in order to upgrade your collection to “lossless”

        • I certainly don’t think it’s wrong to want the best and to stand by that decision, but equally I approve of people trust their ears and go for what’s right for them.

  20. DJ Gerard says:

    Hmmm. WEll I remember when CDs first rolled around and something didn’t sound right yet people consider it the best. However CD is a lossy format!! How dare you cut off those frequencies above 22K! Don’t give hogwash about science and my ears can’t hear them. WELL my body feels the difference. Anyone ever wonder why a song they used to love that used to make their hair stand doesn’t anymore. Probably because all the harmonic frequencies where chopped off.
    No most people cannot tell when they are listening to a lower quality mp3 BUT we all know and can tell when we hear a quality clear balanced sound on any system :)
    Personal preference per DJ but it is noce when all the music sounds consistant. Wait not as consistant as using Platinum Notes That will just make your ears exhausted after 3 hours. I mean consistant clarity not monotonous EQ levels.

    • This is a looong raging debate with bits of physics, acoustics and lots of esotherism thrown in for good measure. To the DJ coming straight into the CD or digital era of today this may be a huge point, and it´s not without some merith. But looking back a little to the past may show a good chance to have a perspective on this “file quality” debate.

      I remember when all we had was vinyl, and no one cared. We had lousy, decent, good and excellent PA systems but mostly crappy mixers – unless you were lucky enough to have an Urei around which was rarer than gold bars, at least in the clubs and gigs I played. Pioneer was just starting to make car stereo, who would know… so we were very limited for choices in equipment for the most part. No one cared, only us DJs…

      Then you had mastering of the originals, as inconsistent as the pressing of the vinyl itself. On the top of that you had the cartridge and needle and all the wiring of your decks and mixer to worry about. Cheap cables, sloppy tonearms, worn needles, rusty stylus (we used to lick the contacts to make it work) and absolutely horrible crossfaders. Still, we played on and the crowd was there for the music. Again no one cared, only us DJs. You´d get booed if the music stopped or you hit the tonearm, but not if you played a crappy test-pressing white label of a tune.

      My point: of course any DJ worth its name should strive for the best. We´re not into the consumer-listening market and we´re professionals. But that means the same should apply to “all areas” of our playing, which makes “trust your ears” the main motto here. That is the one thing that hasn´t changed: have a good ear for a tune, some decent mixing and sensible sequencing and you´re there. The rest is just details. There´s a limit to all this, the same limitations that have been around since forever and won´t go away no matter how obssessed we get about file quality.

      Remember, files get shared and quality gets lost. But then our vinyl would wear out, get greasy, dusty and sound dull at some point. CDs get scratched. This is club music, dance music. In my experience, not a single clubber ever left the floor complaining of “lack of 22K bass” or “not feeling it on the chest”. Bad music, on the contrary, cleared many a dancefloor, and still do! That´s the law.

      It´s the music that makes your hair stand: the groove, the passion, the originality, the creativity and the emotion. Not the frequencies or the numbers. No one is saying to play 128kpbs or corrupted, Youtube-ripped low-quality files. Go for the best, but keep in mind that that´s not what really matters and there´s more important things for the DJ.

      Again, my 2C ;-)

      • I forgot to add, that just for the record: yes, I´d still play vinyl if I had the choice. I believe in its qualities and I defended it when CDs started making way into DJing. I grew up in love with this iconic piece of our culture, that has become history now, for good and for bad.

        I fell in love with DJing the first time I saw one in a club, and the magic of vinyl spinning on a pair of SL 1200 MKII´s with a mixer in the middle played an important part into this. Even now, 27 years later, it is still magic to me (I still have my 12″ collection and my Techs at home). It´s so basic and simple that´s ethernal, like a bicyle, it´s as intuitive and human as it gets so everyone relates to it right away.

        Since I started playing back in ´86, going from vinyl to CDs and now mp3 files on an iPad or controller, made me realize more than ever the importance of the music itself and to the people on a dancefloor. Technology marches on, but people dance for the exaclty same reasons since men left the trees and stood on the feet.

        I had to let go playing with vinyl – something that I absolutelly love and still miss deep inside – but every time I enter the booth and start playing that sadness vanishes and I fall in love again with the only thing that matters: the music, wherever that comes from.

      • DJ Gerard says:

        C’MON.. You never noticed that you 45RPM vinyl sounded and feels way better (and louder) than you 33RPM?? That is the best example that sample rate does matter! I don’t have to have a degree in Music Recording Technology to recognize this (but I do). Reel to Reel, 8 track, cassette, Vinyl, CD, Hard Disc, etc. Sample rate will always matter!

  21. Alex TC says:

    I have, of course!

    But on that, the question I ask myself is: has ANYONE, a single person, in my 26-year DJ career, at any club, gig, festival, bar, radio show, whatever… anyone, a single time, EVER noticed or questioned, or criticised (or complimented) that fact?

    No. Never once. The crowd is always there for other reasons, say “45rpm” and 100% on a dancefloor will look puzzled or think you´re talking about car engines or something (or you just went crazy).

    I´ve always strived for the best sound I could make from whatever pressing of vinyl I played, every white label I have played either on CD, mp3 or vinyl, and also the equipment I used or had at hand. Do my best with the limitations imposed and I´ll be at peace with myself.

    Of course I´d love to play only 45rpm 7″s and 12″s from the best producers, perfectly masterized originals on the best gear over high-end fine-tuned PAs on accousticaly marvelous places. And for the most discerning, upbeat and in-the-mood crowd, if possible. That perfect scenario has never happened! Even close to that, with everything good and going the best way, only maybe 0.01% of times. If much. I play in the real world, but then I´m no Ghetta of course! Still I´ve had some wonderful, incredible sets none the less.

    Most times, no one seemed to care about the quality of the my sound. A few times I got compliments for it being good, crisp and clear, and a few other times I got criticised for it being not-so-good or even lousy. Every one of those instances it had more to do with the PA, or things beyond my control, than anything else.

    So, I keep an eye on EQ, gain and other parameters at hand. Yes, I try to keep good ears and be sensible, and I invest in good mp3 files from the best sources. But there´s so much I can do and I try not to go crazy or be paranoid, instead focusing on what´s within my reach and above all, the quality of the MUSIC I´m playing rather than go overboard with files and other technical aspects of it.

  22. My philosophy? If it sounds good, play it! I like old school stuff mostly (early 90s-mid 2000s) and a lot of the things in my collection aren’t available ANYWHERE as anything more than a 192kbps mp3. But it may still sound great. Remember that the majority of the people you play for are not going to be able to tell the difference (or care if they can) about whether you’re playing a WAV, MP3, FLAC, AIFF, etc. Let’s say you have a show with 50 people. You’d much rather please the 49 people there with a good track that’s a 192kbps mp3 than the 1 audiophile scoffing at you, correct? If there’s one thing I must say to back up that numbers aren’t everything, Armin Van Buuren, the world famous producer & dj who is notorious for having EXTREMELY good sound quality in his productions, and a man that cares about sound, has stated that he cannot tell the difference between a lossless WAV and a 192kbps MP3. :) As Phil always says, use your ears.

  23. well, looking at what the average DJ does with the gain levels, the EQ settins and the use of compressor/limiters, I would argue that even the highest quality lossless format file would be of not that many use. Yes, some mixers have headroom left even when driven at +10 dB .. but it shows how tech savvy the DJs are. So don’t complain about al this kind of artefacts etc.

    When it comes to mix-”tapes” it’s a diffeent story though.

    My creations end up as mp3/128kbis. and nobody complains.

  24. Ive just come across this issue after figuring out wav cant tag (<<digital noob). After some research i found flac can tag correctly, which is important for me as i like my collection to be neat and tidy.

    However after converting some wav to flac, and redownloading some purchased files as flac i notice i cannot change the star rating. Everything else changes correctly.

    Is this normal? The rating issue i use is pretty important the way i use it in Traktor.

    Cheers all

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