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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hunting Bears

Following up on yesterday's post, I thought I'd share my feelings about another way of hearing In Rainbows: a web stream. Hearing a couple of tracks via NME.com's media player, I was reminded of how effective this can be. Seems archaic these days, but it can be a great alternative to all the endless hunting for a .zip file.

Sampling an album this way eliminates the worry about taking up precious hard drive space. Yes, I'm stingy about hard drive space because I don't have 250 gigs just waiting to be filled up. Though the bit rate is usually lower than 192kbps (the Radiohead tracks I heard were 128), I have an idea about whether or not I like the song. If I like what I hear, I'm more than likely to search for a CD-quality version of the album or even buy the CD itself.

And just to make myself clear: I don't mind previewing a song at a lower bit rate. I simply prefer to listen to a CD-quality version if I want to hear the song or album over and over again. But what factors into wanting to hear a song or album over and over again? All it takes is something to grab me. Sometimes it's just a small portion of a song. Sometimes listening to half of an album is enough for me. That's been the case with Wilco's last three albums and I bought every one thanks in part to the streams.

Yet in the case of bands who choose to stream their albums on MySpace, well, that's a different story. Maybe it's the MySpace player, but almost every song I've heard on there sounds like I'm listening through a wall with an aquarium in front of the stereo. In other words, the little nuances that make a song pop aren't there or heavily covered up.

All this said, I want to hear In Rainbows soon, but preferably in a CD-quality format. As much as I like almost everything the band has done, I don't listen to them as often as I used to. This isn't a situation of the band's music changing into total perplextion; I just don't find myself pining for it as much as I used to. Maybe now is a great opportunity to revisit.

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