Is hi-res audio worth the price?

As Onkyo plans to expand its hi-res music store to the US, it’s time to decide if hi-res downloads are worth paying more for than CD-quality files.

In recent times, we’ve seen more focus on the quality of music files online. For music lovers who enjoy digital music, this is a welcome change. Folks like musician Neil Young are taking a stance against the low-quality downloads that consumers are used to getting from online stores like iTunes.

“We live in the digital age, and unfortunately it’s degrading our music, not improving,” said Young.

To combat crappy digital music, Young launched his Pono device and its corresponding hi-res audio store online. Now, Japanese consumer electronics company Onkyo is planning to expand its hi-res audio store, e-Onkyo Music, to the US, and hopefully tap into the same audiophile market that prefers purchasing higher quality files.

CD-quality audio is better than low-quality files, and hi-res audio is considered to be even better than CD-quality audio in terms of bandwidth and dynamic rage. But when the two are compared in listening tests, even to high-bitrate mp3s, a lot of people can’t hear the difference. For this reason, the question of whether hi-res is truly “better” for listeners than CD-quality is still under debate. (Try comparing them for yourself!)

So how much do places like Onkyo and Pono charge for a hi-res album in FLAC format? Here’s an example, compared to the price on murfie.com for CD-quality FLAC.

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Pono eOnkyo Murfie
quality 48kHz/24bit 48kHz/24bit 44.1kHz/16bit
price $22.99 ~$31.00 $16.00

The Diana Krall album is a new release. How about building your back catalogue with an old favorite?

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Pono eOnkyo Murfie
quality 192.0kHz/24bit 192kHz/24bit 44.1kHz/16bit
price  $24.79  ~$30.00  $3.00

High-quality music is great, but it would be outrageous to pay for a hi-res album if you can’t hear the difference between that and CD-quality audio, which is already high. Some have even claimed that the hi-res movement is profitable trickery aimed at elitists and audiophiles.

Ultimately the choice is up to you, the listener. Find out what you can hear—and can’t hear—and make the choice that makes sense for you. When you choose to buy an album from Murfie, you’re buying a real CD that you can download (FLAC, ALAC, mp3, aac) and stream on different devices (320kbps mp3 or FLAC). Then choose to store the physical disc with us, or have it shipped to you.

For us, quality is key, along with providing access to your music that isn’t limited by any brand or device. Since everything released on CD can be ripped and downloaded in FLAC, Murfie just might be the largest source of high-quality FLAC music online. See for yourself!

Album Preview: “LP1” by FKA Twigs

 
LP1

Album
LP1

Artist
FKA Twigs

Release Date
August 12, 2014

Label
Young Turks

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
FKA Twigs may have earned her name from the way heThe xxr bones crack and pop, but she’s anything but old. The 26 year old Brit, born Tahlia Barnett, is set to release her debut longplay, the aptly titled LP1, next week. Though she originally moved to London to be a dancer, she ultimately quit the profession to write and record her own music. Her first products, the also-aptly-titled EP1 and EP2, showed her honing her own brand of dark, seductive R&B.

LP1 picks uGoodiesp properly where her two EPs left off. Its two pre-released singles, “Pendulum” and “Two Weeks,” have both earned Pitchfork Media’s “Best New Track” stamp of approval. They’re intriguing, ear-pleasing pieces of music, reminiscent of the vocal stylings of Ciara and Janet Jackson and the minimalistic intimacy of label-mates The xx.

LP1 comes out next week on Young Turks. It’s sure to add a nice layer of zesty, fluid R&B to a label already brimming with budding talent.

A teaser from LP1

Preorder your copy of LP1 at Murfie today! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.

This Week in Music History (July 31 – August 6)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

AaliyahJuly 31: On this day in 1994, Aaliyah and R. Kelly secretly eloped in Rosemont, IL. Aaliyah just 15 at the time, so the marriage was later annulled.

Brothers in ArmsAugust 1: On this day in 1987, MTV launched MTV Europe. The first video they broadcast was Dire Straits‘ classic “Money For Nothing,” taken from their 1985 record Brothers in Arms.

August Are You Experienced2: On this day in 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first of five nights at New York’s Salvation Club. The setlist included hits like “Foxey Lady” and Purple Haze” from their debut, Are You Experienced?.

The Smile SessionsAugust 3: On this day in 1963, The Beach Boys released “Surfer Girl,” the first single that gave production credit to Brian Wilson. He would remain as the band’s producer until he gave up on the Smile sessions in 1967.

Purple RainAugust 4: On this day in 1984, Prince began his 24 week stint of topping the US album charts with Purple Rain. The album has since gone on to sell over 20 million records worldwide, and is currently the sixth best-selling soundtrack of all time.

NirvanaAugust 5: On this day in 1959, guitarist Pat Smear was born. Smear would grow up to play in the bands Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

Whitney HoustonAugust 6: On this day in 2001, Whitney Houston signed a new deal with Arista that made her, at the time, one of the highest paid musicians in the entire world. The contract was said to be worth more than $100 million.

Find these musical gems in our CD marketplace, and own your own pieces of music history. Each album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.

Album Preview: “Sand + Silence” by The Rosebuds

Sand + SilenceAlbum
Sand + Silence

Artist
The Rosebuds

Release Date
August 5, 2014

Label
Western Vinyl

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
The Rosebuds Make OutThe Rosebuds, a dance-folk duo out of North Carolina, formed their marriage and musical endeavor in 2001. Composed of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, the duo was recognized by local indie label Merge Records two short years later, and subsequently released their debut record, The Rosebuds Make Out.

Gayngs RelaytedWhile the band has been prolific throughout their tenure, releasing six full lengths and three digital LPs in eleven years, they’ve worked tirelessly with other groups as well. In 2010, Howard contritubed his skills to Midwestern R&B supergroup Gayngs‘ only release thus-far, Relayted. And in 2011, The duo also toured with Bon Iver behind their enormous release, Bon Iver, Bon Iver.

Bon Iver, Bon IverJust before the release of their fifth LP, 2011’s emotionally devastating Loud Planes Fly Low, the husband and wife announced they had filed for divorce. While the divorce would surely mark the demise of other music groups, Howard and Crisp have continued to make music together. Next week marks a new chapter for the duo, as they’re set to release Sand + Silence, their first album since the split and the first for for their new label, Western Vinyl.

A teaser from Sand + Silence:

Pre-order your copy of Sand + Silence on Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 

Album Preview: “Lese Majesty” by Shabazz Palaces

Lese MajestyAlbum
Lese Majesty

Artist
Shabazz Palaces

Release Date
Tuesday, July 29

Label
Sub Pop

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
Shabazz Palaces, an experimental hip-hop duo consisting of Ishamael Butler and Tendai Maraire, may not have released their first songs together until 2009, but they’ve been a part of the rap scene longer than some of its members have been alive. Butler got his start MCing in the early 90s with the jazz-rap collective Digable Planets, a trio who went on to release two full lengths—Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) in 1993 and Blowout Comb in 1994—but split in 1995 due to creative differences.

All stayShabazz Palacesed quiet on the duo’s front until two mysterious EPs popped up in 2009. Aptly titled Of Light and Shabazz Palaces, the exploratory EPs immediately caught the eyes of the big wigs at Sub Pop Records. They signed Shabazz Palaces that year as one of the few hip-hop acts on a rock-oriented label.

Of LightIn 2011, Shabazz Palaces released their debut LP, Black Up, an album that finds the duo continuing to craft forward-thinking hip-hop both lyrically and sonically: its beats blow your mind—and make you want to move too; Butler’s lyrics could stand solo as poems and they’d still be pretty darn great.

Shabazz Palaces will release their follow up, Lese Majesty, next Tuesday. Based on what I’ve heard, it appears the collective is again shifting sonically forward. When Black Up was released, it felt like hip-hop made for another planet. Excitingly, Lese Majesty sounds like it was made for another galaxy.

Murfie Preview

Video Transcript

Kayla: Hey everyone, a new album release is coming to Murfie on Tuesday, July 29th. Shabazz Palaces are coming out with Lese Majesty. So James, you’re a fan—what are your thoughts on the new album release?

James: It’s a wonderful surprise. I had no idea they were coming out with new material until it was announced. And that’s actually how I discovered them in the first place. I was at my local record store and the owner said, “Hey, do you like Digable Planets?”—Which I did, I really appreciated their fusion of jazz and hip hop. And he said, “Here’s some new material by that guy from Digable Planets.” He was referring to Ishmael Butler, or “Butterfly.” The album—this was a few years ago—it was Black Up by Shabazz Palaces. It’s a fusion of experimental electronic music and hip hop, and it’s unlike anything else from that time. The new album proves to be more of the same—more of a lush astral electronic landscape with Ishmael Butler’s socially conscious rhymes.

Kayla: Awesome. You guys can check it out for yourself—it’s on our pre-order page, murfie.com/preorder.

Soundcloud Version

A teaser from Lese Majesty:

Pre-order your copy of Lese Majesty on Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. 

Album Preview: “The Voyager” by Jenny Lewis

The VoyagerAlbum
The Voyager

Artist
Jenny Lewis

Release Date
July 29, 2014

Label
Warner Bros.

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
Jenny Lewis‘ third solo album, the soon-to-be-released The Voyager, is aptly titled. The singer-songwriter is now entering her third decade of releasing records, whether it be under her own name with a rotating cast of supporting musicians, with Rilo Kiley or with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice. Yet regardless of the who she’s playing with (or as) Lewis has been both consistent and brilliant, cranking out quality alt-country tunes in automaton-like fashion.

The Execution of All ThingsSurprisingly, Lewis’ first taste of the limelight didn’t come from music, but television. She began her professional career as a child, starring in a Jell-O commercial and a handful of teenage flicks. In fact, it wasn’t until 1998 that she decided to start a band. Rilo Kiley resulted, a band that delivered memorable melodies over a blend of country and indie rock.

In 2002 Rabbit Fur CoatRilo Kiley released The Execution of All Things on Saddle Creek Records and was subsequently signed to Warner Bros. The band went on to record two records under their contract, and in the process they smartly shifted the focus to Lewis’ vocals and lyrics. In 2011 the band announced that they had officially split up.

Acid TongueOne musical endeavor usually isn’t enough for an artist as talented as Lewis, and in 2006 she ventured into solo-artist territory. She released Rabbit Fur Coat to critical praise that year with her backing band, The Watson Twins, and with the help of Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Lewis released her follow-up to Rabbit Fur Coat in 2008 with Acid Tongue, a record that further established the singer-songwriter as one of the most reliable and hardworking artists of the decade.

Lewis is set to put out her third solo record, The Voyager, next Tuesday. And while The Voyager is her first solo release in six years, it doesn’t miss a beat: Lewis’ new song-set is spot-on; the record is a satisfying experience, both musically and lyrically.

Murfie Preview

Video Transcript

Kayla: Hey guys, another album release is coming to Murfie on Tuesday, July 29th. Jenny Lewis is coming out with The Voyager. So John, what are your thoughts on Jenny Lewis?

John: I absolutely love Jenny Lewis. I’ve been a long time fan of her work, most people will know her from Rilo Kiley, a band that put out a lot of popular indie albums. They’ve unfortunately broken up. She’s come out with one other previous solo album called Acid Tongue, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, but it had a lot of great country-influenced indie rock songs. But she’s put out a few singles for this new album that are promising, including “One Of The Boys” which has a really fun music video. So I’m stoked, I’m ready for this album.

Kayla: Awesome. Well you guys can see for yourself, it’s on our pre-order page, murfie.com/preorder.

Soundcloud Version

A teaser from The Voyager:

Pre-order your copy of The Voyager today at Murfie! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.  

Album Preview: “Mandatory Fun” by Weird Al Yankovic

Mandatory FunAlbum
Mandatory Fun

Artist
Weird Al Yankovic

Release Date
Tuesday, July 15

Label
RCA

Pre-order Link
Pre-order album

Preview
Very few artists are able to successfully splice comedy into music, yet Weird Al Yankovic has enjoyed a prolific career spanning over three decades. From his humble beginnings with comedy radio in the late 1970’s, Weird Al has established himself as the uncontested King of Pop Parody.

Michael Jackson even worseWeird Al has sold over 12 million albums and has won 3 Grammy Awards. He is a cultural chameleon: The 1980s saw Weird Al portraying comical caricatures of Michael Jackson and Devo. The 1990s brought iconic parodies of Nirvana and Coolio. Recently, Weird Al earned his first Top-Ten Billboard album with his 2006 release Straight Outta Lynwood

Weird Al - Off the Deep EndThe release of Mandatory Fun has been shrouded in mystery. Weird Al himself began to release mysterious images and teaser trailers only last month. Al commented on his own Facebook page, “A lot of people have been wondering when I’m going to release the lead single for “Mandatory Fun.” Well, here’s the thing… there IS no “lead single” for my new album. I’ll be releasing 12 “singles” all at once on July 15 – so you can decide for YOURSELF which songs are the hits!”

The Essential Weird AlAdditionally, Weird Al plans to release no less than 8 new music videos to promote the album. It seems safe to say that Mandatory Fun will be a massively entertaining and extremely listenable satire on today’s pop music.

Pre-order Mandatory Fun today on Murfie, and get it in your collection on July 15th! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.