The Sound of Music

Visualize yourself staring at a beautiful large painting in a museum, constructed by several tens of thousands of images, colours and pixels coming together to form a single image. If you look closely, each one of these pixels reflect a meaning of its own, adding to the beauty of the larger image. Now when this painting gets scanned and multiple copies are made, to be sent to different places, the output quality of the digitally scanned image, though really good, will never come close to the original. This is due to  the loss of several pixels during the scan process. The copy of the image definitely represents the essence of the source, but there’s something about the original that makes it invaluable and vastly superior

The same thing happens while extracting a song as well. All those songs you have been listening to, over the years, in your computer, music systems, mobile phones and IPods was never the original, but rather a faithful replica, just like the scanned image. A replica in the form of a MP3, an extracted rip from the original recording, to fit into a 6MB file with a bit rate of 320Kbps as compared to the original file of 60MB with a bit rate of 1000+ Kbps (One of the reasons why, one gets to load 150 songs in a Mp3 CD but only 9-10 songs in an Audio CD). Unsurprisingly, it results in a tremendous loss of data during this compression, difference clearly visible in any decent music system .For all those music freaks, it probably compares to watching Avatar at home, in a DVD screener rip quality as against a Blu-Ray quality.

With rapid rise in music online streaming services (YouTube Jukebox, Hungama, Gaana.com and music apps like Spotify), Audio CD’s are now fading out as well and hardly available in very selected outlets and premium malls.  Hence the only alternative to hear the original version of the music with no data losses is FLAC.

FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec format and as the name goes, the format preserves the exact quality of the original sounds with absolutely no losses in data. Similar to the popular MP3 format, FLAC also adopts a compression algorithm to reduce file size, and at the same time without any loss in quality. The traditional Windows Media player, little known to people also offered a lossless data format called WAV while CD-Ripping. However this was without any form of 
compression and resulted in massive file sizes of several hundred MB’s. In comparison a FLAC song usually is only 40-50MB with the same superior bit rate of 980KBPS. This open source alternative acts like a permanent virtual copy of a cd and supported by almost all home theatre systems, media players and even android phones (OS 3+).The only exception being Apple products, that still follow their own music formats through ITunes and don’t support this.

Sadly, this most sought after song format is not available in any of the websites that offers legal downloads/streaming. This includes major Hollywood labels, Bollywood and Kollywood music sites.

The standard response from all these sites for not offering FLAC, includes lack of server space and bandwidth issues that prevents them from offering this high quality format, while they can store 6 MP3 songs instead of 1 FLAC song. Hence, one has to resort to manually ripping audio CD’s or track down the deep corners of the web to see if someone else has hosted it.

These points to a huge potential, that exists in this era of digital piracy. Ample opportunities are present for digital entrepreneurs and start-ups to seize and cater to a very exclusive audience, who seek super audio quality formats and be the exclusive leader in the market. Backed by the media houses and offered at the right price, this could definitely be the next game changer

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can  apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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