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Music Media Portables Hardware

Music Companies Bemoan New High-Cap Portables 347

Posted by timothy
from the that's-a-lot-of-lake-woebegone-days dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New Scientist reports: 'The music industry this week condemned the launch of two recording systems that will let people copy between 30 and 100 hours of music onto a single disc.'" The Sony system is supposed to use "ultra-efficient data compression system used in MiniDiscs" to fit "30 hours of MP3 music" on a CD-R. (I thought MD used ATRAC rather than MP3, and that ATRAC's standard bitrate was 285.3 Kbps -- can some MD gurus bring us up to speed?) Philips' system skips CDs, and instead uses a DVD burner, with the resulting disks playable in a to-be-released portable player. I wonder what kind of DRM features the companies will use to cripple each system.
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Music Companies Bemoan New High-Cap Portables

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  • Yeah, but it's hardly the first time hardware companies mix their tech terms, is it...?
  • so.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smashr (307484) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:13PM (#5521764)
    so phillips is going to charge me a good deal of money to 1) buy their dvd drive 2) buy their inevitably propriatary media and 3) buy their player all so i can listen to a ton of music on the go? hey, it sounds like an ipod or archos or nomad can accomplish that already.
    • Re:so.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by nfg05 (638727) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:54PM (#5522111)
      2) buy their inevitably propriatary media
      Here's what the article says about this:
      Philips's system uses a computer DVD recorder to save at least 100 hours of MP3 music on a blank DVD, which will play on a new portable DVD player.
      So, I'm not really sure what led you to believe that. Seems to me like it would make more sense and more people would adopt it if they let people use the blank DVD media (and recorders) that they already have (or will purchase because they can be used for other things as well).
  • ATRAC3 (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigethespe (548709) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:14PM (#5521766)
    Minidiscs do use Atrac3 but the newer MD players have adjusted the atrac encoding format (called MDLP) to allow for longer play times with marginal quality losses. try minidisco [minidisco.com] for a great resource and more info.
    • Re:ATRAC3 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ldspartan (14035) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:50PM (#5521925) Homepage
      More accurately:
      Before MDLP, minidiscs just used ATRAC, which (correct me if I'm wrong) is a psychoacoustic encoding with a compression ratio of around 7:1. At this point an Minidisc, with a capacity of around 120MB, can store as much audio as a CD.

      With the advent of portable MP3 players, Sony realized that minidisc would be drastically outmoded if MD could not store more. They came out with a considerably more lossy codec which extended ATRAC and called it MDLP. This codec was a lot more like MP3, as Sony presumed (correctly) that people would be willing to deal with the quality loss, since MP3 is not a hugely high quality codec. At the lowest quality setting its passable only for Audio Books, but it sounds pretty good (in my personal experience) at higher settings.

      This MDLP technology is what Sony is using to make up the statistics on this machine. I also bet they're quoting stats at the lowest, hugely crappy setting.

      --
      Phil
      • Re:ATRAC3 (Score:5, Informative)

        by JebusIsLord (566856) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:05PM (#5521972) Homepage
        I disagree about MP3 being a "not hugely high quality codec".

        MP3s encoded at 128kbps CBR (constant bit rate) using an encoder such as Xing WILL result in poor-quality mp3s, easily discernible by the averagle listen using poor quality equipment. However, an mp3 encoded using a recent version of LAME (i recommend 3.90.2) and "--alt-preset standard" will find that the resulting files are virtually indistinguishable from the source CDs (even to audiophiles), at an average bitrate of around 192kbps. This is superiour compression to ATRAC, and the LAME psychoacoustic model is significantly better tuned IMHO.

        For more information on ALL lossy and lossless codecs by people who really know their stuff, check out the message boards at Hydrogen Audio [hydrogenaudio.org].
        • Re:ATRAC3 (Score:5, Informative)

          by be-fan (61476) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @12:32AM (#5522220)
          virtually indistinguishable from the source CDs (even to audiophiles), at an average bitrate of around 192kbps
          >>>>>>>>
          I don't know about that. With my Sony D66's (not quite audiophile quality, but very nice) I can hear a significant difference between a 192 kbps MP3 and the CD. At 256 kbps, I really have to be looking for it, so that's what I encode at. Through my speakers (Klipsch 4.1's, again not audiophile quality, but nice as far as PC speakers go) I can't really tell the difference at 192 kbps unless it's a type of song that MP3 just doesn't encode well. I think the main thing here is that: a) headphones will reveal quality differences much more than comparably priced speakers, and b) PC audio systems suck enough that a good pair of speakers aren't the bottleneck when comparing compression standards. If you go to a pair of really accurate headphones (like the in-ear ER-4's) even non-audiophiles will hear the difference. And at less than $300, it's not like we're talking about some $5000 home theater system here.
          • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @09:02AM (#5523236) Homepage
            Mysteriously enough, most audiophiles hear what they want to hear. Somehow I trust the real double-blind studies I've seen with real audiophiles, with real audiophile equipment, that don't know if they're listening to a CD or an mp3 (up front I mean) much more than an audiophile that pops in a CD in his $$$ system and says "well listen to *my* system and you'll hear the difference.

            And those studies say a good mp3 encoding (192k/s VBR / 256k/s CBR) is as good as the CD. Worked on a couple of friends of mine at least... was shitting mp3, but they couldn't tell them apart when I encoded to mp3, decoded to wav and burned in random pairs (original/mp3 pair) on CD.

            Also as for b), blaming the PC equipment is very much redundant, as any serious half-audiophile will use the digital out to connect to a much better sound system than a PC audio card. Just don't start talking to me about gold plated radiation shielded bubblewrapped digital sound cables, please?

            Kjella
            • PARODY TAG ON
              Did you make sure to use gold plated power cords? That will keep any interference that minor power fluctuations might induce into the amplifier out of the system. Also make sure you have the green dots placed in the proper locations of the listening space. All the sounds that have a harmonic relationship with green light will be properly reflected and enhanced by the dots resulting in a much more realistic listening experience. Of course you can't forget to keep the humidity in the room wit
          • by swb (14022) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @11:23AM (#5523545)
            Most of my listening is done two places, either walking with a portable or driving in my car. My portable is a Teac mini-CD MP3 player (plays ISOs with MP3s on the small CDs), my car is the CD player that came with it ('01 Honda CR-V).

            While walking outside, there's so much background noise and my headphones (either the earbuds or my Koss Porta-Pro juniors) just aren't good enough to be able to tell a "really good" MP3 from an OK one. I have a ton encoded with the Xing encoder (most were done with VBR), and I couldn't tell you which ones were which, they sound fine to me. I can tell *damaged* MP3s (those with skips, bad warble) but not "bad" ones.

            It's even more true in my car. My car CDs are audio CDs but made from MP3 files. The car is such a noisy environment, that I don't see how you could tell a "good" MP3 from a "bad" one (again, damaged is another category).

            I think you'd have to do some serious, high-quality headphone listening in a really quiet environment to be able to tell the difference. I think the vast majority of people might be able to tell the difference in some places with A/B listening when coached, but if you just put the MP3 on and played it they'd never say "that sounds off, is it a 128k xing?"
        • by Rolman (120909) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @05:33AM (#5522998)
          When debating about lossy formats with variable parameters, it can easily get to the point of making a flamewar of "quality vs. bitrate", "MP3 vs. OGG vs. ATRAC vs. whatever".

          But you're missing the point. You are talking about Sony, a big consumer electronics company, not about esoteric command line parameters.

          On a regular Minidisc deck, you don't get to manage the ATRAC compression parameters and bitrate, and you get a very good quality and a real "guarantee" that if you are using all-Sony equipment, your recorded Minidiscs are going to sound just great. This is simple, and users love it.

          Now, MP3 is a format that almost nobody but experienced people understands. As you said: "MP3s encoded at 128kbps CBR (constant bit rate) using an encoder such as Xing WILL result in poor-quality mp3s". Want to bet how many people sharing their MP3s collections on P2P know that? Popular MP3s on the 'Net are of average quality, at best. Most of them are real crap (well, some songs may not deserve any better).

          ATRAC is a format users DON'T NEED to understand. Minidisc is a user-end oriented product, and a really good one at that. ATRAC even has full forward and backward compatibility, meaning you don't need to know which versions of encoded discs and decoder players you have for them to work perfectly.

          Now, as other /.er noted, the MDLP and NetMD features were created by pure marketing necessity, Sony basically noticed some people are too stupid and don't give a damn about quality when presented with silly figures like "X hours of music on a disk".

          MDLP and NetMD are there for a reason, it's comparable to the quality Kaaza lusers are used to from their crappy MP3s, while keeping the simplicity of the Minidisc format.
      • Re:ATRAC3 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ryan Amos (16972) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @12:22AM (#5522185)
        Well also helping sony here was the fact that MDs are pretty much exclusively used as portables (yeah, some guys like to master to MDs, but that's a totally different market.) Most people using portables have shitty $10 headphones because they use them while working out, sitting on the bus, etc. With crappy headphones, the difference between MDLP4 (think 60kbit mp3s) and ATRAC3 is more or less inaudible. With MDLP4, I can fit 4 CDs on one minidisc. Yes, they're all mono and crappy quality, but I use my MD while working out anyway, so I don't care.

        The problem with sony's codecs is that they're not "open." I'm not one of those zealots here, but ATRAC3 and MDLP have a significant amount of DRM associated with them. The NetMD software absolutely blows. Why? Because you have to "check out" your MP3s. You can only have a song "checked out" twice, then you have to check it in (delete it from an MD) to use it on another MD. There are ways to get around this (use Nero to burn MP3s to an image, mount the image then NetMD treats it like a legit CD) but it's largely a pain in the ass that accomplishes nothing.

        Also, there will probably never be a program that will put songs on an MD that's not written by Sony. ATRAC3 and MDLP belong to Sony, and you're almost assured to get sued if you release another program that doesn't allow them to use DRM to protect Columbia records (a Sony holding.) If it weren't such a royal pain in the ass, NetMD would probably own the market, but as it is, it's a bit too cumbersome for most people.
        • Re:ATRAC3 (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Zarquon (1778)
          About 8 months ago I was out shopping for a portable recording system. I had access to a laptop, and to coax spdif. I was looking at minidisc (the quality mikes I was able to borrow generally was mediocre), but noticed that 1) Most decks short of the big stereo console lacked digital outs, and 2) The USB interface was one-way and seriously DRM disabled.

          My solution? I bought an Eiderol UA-5. 96 khz, 24-bit audio. Very nice mic pre's, balanced inputs, optical and coax digital I/Os, phantom power, for abou
    • Anyone know whether this is remotely competitive with ogg vorbis? I really don't see it as likely, but one never knows...
      • ATRAC3 is pretty much the antithesis of ogg vorbis. :) Ogg is a free, open codec, while ATRAC3 is a closely guarded, definately closed standard. Sony is pretty much the only company that uses ATRAC3 (with good reason, they own it) and they're both used in opposing markets.. ATRAC3 where DRM is needed, ogg where it is not wanted.
    • by kjoonlee (226243)
      from http://www.audiocoding.com/wiki/index.php?page=ATR AC [audiocoding.com]:
      Codec is used in Sony's Minidisc recorders and the RealAudio 8 compression format.

      Versions used by Minidisc:
      • ATRAC1 Stereo (292 kbps)
      • ATRAC1 Mono (146 kbps)
      • ATRAC3 Stereo Longplay 2x (LP2) (132 kbps)
      • ATRAC3 Stereo Longplay 4x (LP4) (66 kbps)

      There are different implementations, they are called:

      • ATRAC-1 (ATRAC1 Version 1)
      • ATRAC-2 (ATRAC1 Version 2)
      • ATRAC-3 (ATRAC1 Version 3)
      • ATRAC-4 (ATRAC1 Version 4)
      • ATRAC-4.5 (ATRAC1 Vers
  • MDLP (Score:4, Informative)

    by DoctorPhish (626559) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:14PM (#5521767) Homepage
    MDLP recorders use high-density recording to record 2-4x more data on an MD, but it seems unlikely they can adapt something like that to CD-Rs...so you can pretty much rule that out unless they've managed to shoehorn some funky blue-laser to write extra data to existing CD-R media (or they're just lowering the bit-rate and blowing smoke out their asses)
    • Re:MDLP (Score:5, Informative)

      by megabeck42 (45659) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:27PM (#5521823)
      umm, no, the mdlp is atrac3, which is an atrac frame that encodes silence (zero's) followed by a hidden atrac3 frame which has the newer encoding algorithm. MD's algorithm is similar to MP3's (variable allocation of bits to encode the output of a few simultaneous DFT's into a constant bitrate stream - the most important features of the wave are encoded). This way, ATRAC3 discs will play as silence on non ATRAC3 compatible devices. The new NetMD recorders which attach via USB have the computer do the mp3->atrac3 transcoding process, then download the atrac3 stream. See the OpenMD project which is reverse engineering the NetMD usb protocol.

      However, I'd like to clarify that the md and mdlp units use the same media, with the same mechanical recording system - the change is in the bitstream and the playing software.

      I would suspect that sony is probably placing ATRAC3 on a CD and playing that. Simply an issue of software which is generally cheaper to develop than hardware.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:14PM (#5521768) Homepage Journal
    Temple priests criticize the distibution of paper.

    Printers try to squash the invention of the typewriter.

    Music companies try to licence tape recorders.

    We used to have fire, but the inventor died.
    • This isn't simply funny, it's insightful. To think that the cutting edge technology of the year 2003 will be the dead end of progress in the storage of any kind of information, be it audio, video, print, game, software, or whatever, is ludicrous. The rights-managers might as well try to stop the rain from falling and the wind from blowing.
  • I used to be a huge fan of MD, and shortly after I got out of the medium, a new version of ATRAC came out. I think it allowed for MD-LP. Is this the efficient version of ATRAC mentioned in the article, because for years, ATRAC was heavily criticized in audio publications such as Stereophile.
    • by fmaxwell (249001) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:00PM (#5521959) Homepage Journal
      ATRAC was heavily criticized in audio publications such as Stereophile

      Stereophile refuses to perform double-blind testing and have been taken in by hoax after hoax. They swore that coloring the edge of a CD green (with a product called "CD Stoplight") improved the sound. I used to subscribe but got sick of the $400 speaker cables, magic line cords, and other unscientific "tweaks."

      If Stereophile's reviewers go into a listening session and are told that they are hearing audio that has been subjected to a type of lossy compression, they have a preconceived notion that it will sound inferior. They want, desperately, to hear a difference to prove to themselves, their colleagues, and their readers that they posess both superior hearing and exquisite audio equipment. It's no way to do science and should be rejected as a methodology.

      • Indeed. anyone who makes claims about audio quality without ABXing (double-blind testing) should be ignored compeletely. The audio industry is full of rediculous claims by "audiophiles", convincing the rich and gullible to purchase absolutely useless shit. They're as bad as "alternative healers".
  • I'm an expert! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unterderbrucke (628741) <unterderbrucke@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:15PM (#5521772)
    ""ultra-efficient data compression system used in MiniDiscs" to fit "30 hours of MP3 music" on a CD-R. (I thought MD used ATRAC rather than MP3, and that ATRAC's standard bitrate was 285.3 Kbps -- can some MD gurus bring us up to speed?)"


    Read: "ultra-efficient data compression system" == ATARC. They're just saying MP3 because it makes people go "OOOOoooo!" and buy it.
  • In other news... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrpuffypants (444598)
    In other news.....

    Apple Released a 100 GB iPod, to much fanfare
    • I've thought about a DIY high capacity portable, but havn't had the balls to risk that kinda money. I'm reasonably sure it would be possible to take the HD out of my Archos Jukebox [archos.com] and replace it with a larger drive, as its my understanding that its core is just a standard laptop drive
  • dvd eh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trmj (579410) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nalrafcamt]> on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:15PM (#5521774) Journal
    Philips' system skips CDs, and instead uses a DVD burner

    More importantly than DRM is how much will this cost? DRM is important, don't get me wrong, but no matter how little copyright protection is on the thing, if the DVD audio player costs $250 in addition to the rest of the audio system, not many people are going to buy it unless it sounds better than all else.
  • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:16PM (#5521775)
    Sony has become a rather schizo company. Their consumer electronics division seems to want to make cool, sleek gadgets and their music division seems to want to prevent this from happening.


    My favorite quote from the article speaks for itself:



    Mike Tsurumi, a president of Sony Consumer Electronics in Berlin, insists that the move makes sense. "The music companies need to change their business model, he says.


    This is an executive within Sony talking, mind you. Fucking amazing. Is there any centralized coordination? Isn't there a CEO of Sony corporate who keeps his divisions in line with the goals (i.e. bottom line interests) of the company as a whole?

    • It actually is (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JWyner (653364) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:18PM (#5521786)
      The music division of Sony has sued the consumer electronics division multiple times. The CE division is no longer allowed to make MP3 devices (like an iPod).
    • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:22PM (#5521801)

      Isn't there a CEO of Sony corporate who keeps his divisions in line with the goals (i.e. bottom line interests) of the company as a whole?

      Japanese companies seem to have a thing for conglomerates. I suppose it helps to diversify, but how can something as scattered as Sony be said to have a coherent vision? The only unifying theme I can think of is tech - Sony makes just about anything that holds a computer chip, but they don't do snacks, and they don't do textiles. Strangely, they do make thermoses.

    • by limekiller4 (451497) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:39PM (#5521879) Homepage
      Fnkmaster writes:
      "Is there any centralized coordination? Isn't there a CEO of Sony corporate who keeps his divisions in line with the goals (i.e. bottom line interests) of the company as a whole?"

      I think this is what is known as "hedging your bets."
    • by M4verick (631831)
      Indeed... and it in fact makes great corporate sense. If you see the opportunities, attack/compete with your own company - if you don't, someone else will and you will lose all.
    • Isn't there a CEO of Sony corporate who keeps his divisions in line

      In other news, Mike Tsurumi, a president of Sony Consumer Electronics in Berlin, resigned from his post yesterday, saying he needed to "spend more time with his family".

      The president of Sony International praised Mr. Tsurumi as "one of the visionaries of the consumer electronics field. He will be sorely missed".

      Replacing Mr. Tsurumi is Mr. Weregona Getyerass, who last worked as a janitor at Sony Records.

    • This behaviour is not uncommon among large companies. Take IBM, for instance, who aren't quite sure whether or not they want to support Linux. On one hand, they put a lot of development and marketing into Linux, but on the other hand they didn't bother to beta test Websphere 5 for Linux before launch, but they did beta test the Windows version.
    • by Blondie-Wan (559212) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @01:33AM (#5522431) Homepage
      I was amazed at the same thing. Of course, if one thinks about it, it's possible he may be more insightful than anyone realizes...

      As Slashdotters have been saying for a while now, technological advancements like MP3, etc. will eventually force the music labels to change their business models, no matter how hard they kick and scream. They may win concessions that will piss off people like those here, but at some point they simply will not be able to sell nearly as many CDs at the same high prices they've been pushing, no matter what. Now, here are Sony and Philips, who not only sell creative works, but also sell the hardware needed to play the media. While their music publishing arms might suffer, the overall conglomerates still stand to stay in business even if music sales plummet to zero, since they'll still sell the hardware needed to play it. Suppose they decide to just write off the already-dwindling gravy train from publishing, and instead go all out on the hardware, seeing it as where the real money either already lies or eventually will?

      Of course, somebody will figure out a way to make money from the music itself (even if it can no longer generate the kinds of revenues it has in the past). Even so, tech changes should ultimately transform the business; tech changes have always signalled changes in business models, and while some will die, others will arise. I just hope the music publishers don't gunk things up too much with the legislation they'll undoubtedly buy in their death throes as they try to stave it off.

  • As usual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWyner (653364) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:16PM (#5521777)
    The record companies never learn. People want portable music. People want to choose which songs to listen to, instead of carrying an entire CD with 80% crap. So, of course, the industry will try and destroy it. If the record companies were to allow, nay, even financially support this kind of work, they would make much more of that green stuff they so desperately desire. Stop living in the dark ages, damnit...
    • Re:As usual (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Blue Stone (582566) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:26PM (#5521818) Homepage Journal
      ""It's a no-brainer. Anything which lets people pirate more music like this has to be very bad news for the music industry," says a spokesman for Britain's record industry trade association, the BPI."

      Because consumer copying, now equals piracy...

      ...even if you've bought the original music you're transferring.

      AOL (yes I use AOL and I don't care what you have to say on that subject) has on their exit screen an advert for the MusicNet thing.
      It says:

      "MusicNet on AOL: Burn CDs safely and legally with satisfaction guaranteed."

      Erm... since when was burning a CD illegal... or risky (assuming low burn speeds?)

      I mean... safely... is that a threat? :)
      • Re:As usual (Score:5, Insightful)

        by geekee (591277) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:15PM (#5521998)
        "Because consumer copying, now equals piracy... even if you've bought the original music you're transferring."

        No. The real problem is you can't protect against one without restricting the other. Record companies don't really care about backup copies. They're more concerned with downloading 100 songs from Kazaa and burning them, rather than buying the music.
        • Re:As usual (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Pharmboy (216950) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @12:33AM (#5522229) Journal
          No. The real problem is you can't protect against one without restricting the other. Record companies don't really care about backup copies. They're more concerned with downloading 100 songs from Kazaa and burning them, rather than buying the music.

          But they are willing to take away your right to backup in order to keep you from using Kazaa. Thats the problem. No matter what they spend, they can not stop it. If they make it impossible to record from disk, then people will make very high quality analog verisons, then digitize. It will still be good enough. But now you have pissed off your customers, who will delight in sticking it to you.

          Another problem: Much of the new music coming out on major labels is not much better than private label stuff out of some home studios, and freely available. They can't control that either.

          Until they realize that they can't put the toothpaste back into the tube and change their business model, they will have this problem. Someone here pointed me to emusic.com, which has a great model IMHO. Just not the absolute newest stuff. $10 a month for unlimited music.


      • > Erm... since when was burning a CD illegal... or risky

        Dude, at the speed and heat levels those new CD-ROMs operate at, a flaming, spinning CD could come flying outta there and cut your head clean off! Sure, the heat of the CD would cauterize the wound, but it wouldn't matter ... unless you're The Thing(tm).

        And if that's the case, then you're suddenly in violation of the DMCA - two people sharing one CD - that's piracy! Doesn't matter if one person is a head with spiderlegs and the other is a body (s
    • Re:As usual (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:46PM (#5521909) Journal
      The record companies never learn. People want portable music. People want to choose which songs to listen to, instead of carrying an entire CD with 80% crap. So, of course, the industry will try and destroy it. If the record companies were to allow, nay, even financially support this kind of work, they would make much more of that green stuff they so desperately desire. Stop living in the dark ages, damnit...

      Lots of people might want to have massive orgies, too. If you can look at only the upsides of something, and not the consequences, lots of things can come off as quite attractive.

      I don't know how the numbers wind up. I don't know whether it's actually the case that record companies supporting this would be good or bad for them. However, I do know that saying that CD companies would make money doing something just because people want it doesn't mean that it's a good idea, if it puts people in a game-theoretic position where music is a public good -- and stealing it is better for any individual, though it screws everyone over long run.

      So you can't claim that "people want it" is a good reason for a company to do something (particularly as people don't have perfect information, and tend to be short-sighted about the consequences of this). Think about the article that was run on Slashdot a while ago about what happened to the Chinese music industry because of mass piracy. It's not dead, no, but it's nowhere near as productive as the US industry, either.

      Heck, if people didn't want to do things that were stupid ideas, you wouldn't see people doping up.
      • Re:As usual (Score:3, Insightful)

        by g4dget (579145)
        Think about the article that was run on Slashdot a while ago about what happened to the Chinese music industry because of mass piracy. It's not dead, no, but it's nowhere near as productive as the US industry, either.

        Productive? In what way? In the sense of generating more forgettable junk than anybody else? There is good music in the US, but, if anything, the US seems to produce less of that relative to its size than other places. And the people who produce good stuff in the US benefit hardly at all

      • Re:As usual (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kaiguy (658316) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @12:20AM (#5522171)
        Actually, all any commercial company does is attempt to find out what people want, and provide it to them. We're not talking about a moral justification here, with consequences to consider, and an absolute right or wrong. We're talking about a potential service that a demand obviously exists for, and the music industry being too blind to recognize a potenial way to cash in on this demand. This is Economics, not Ethics.
      • Music? Food? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anubi (640541) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @12:21AM (#5522176) Journal
        Consider a restaurant run by the RIAA.

        They serve plates with ten things on it.

        You get no choice on what food goes on which plate. If you want fries, you get nine more food items as well, whether you want them or not, and pay full price for all.

        So you want a burger, fries, and a coke. That's three plates. Fries come on one, the other has a burger on it, and a coke comes with a third. You get a shitload of asparagus, beans, corn, some sort of goo claimed to be edible, along with other unwanted items.

        Tell me, honestly, would you eat there?

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:17PM (#5521780)
    Sony music came out saying that record companies had to develop new business models. It looks like they have decided that the tide can't be held back and its either surf the wave or be swept away.
    It will be interesting to see if this is the start of a trend, Innovators just saying no to hollywoods ancien regime. Or, if its just a one off fluke.

    Crash
  • by idontgno (624372) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:17PM (#5521783) Journal
    carefully avoided condemning the Sony recorder? Good political move. I guess it's piracy only if you don't sell the cd-burner. I wonder if there was any infighting in Sony's executive suite about this.

    Mike Tsurumi, a president of Sony Consumer Electronics in Berlin, insists that the move makes sense. "The music companies need to change their business model," he says.

    Now if only the "content industry" were to hear and believe this.

  • Philips (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spytap (143526) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:18PM (#5521785)
    Philips' system skips CDs
    Sounds like most of the Philips audio products I've bought...
  • It's a no-brainer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malor (3658) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:23PM (#5521806) Journal
    "It's a no-brainer. Anything which lets people enjoy music too much is bad for the industry. If they can just move their songs around anywhere they want, how are we supposed to make money selling multiple CDs? If music is too convenient to transport, we can't sell people whole stacks of different CDs at different locations. They'll be able to listen to all of their music anywhere they are. Can you imagine?

    "Further, we believe that people that listen to their music too much are also depriving the artists of revenue. If you listen to an album more than 10 or 12 times, you're morally obligated to go buy another copy. Anything else is stealing food from the mouths of starving artists."

    When asked whether artists were deliberately kept starving, the spokesman refused comment.
  • I'm sorry (Score:2, Funny)

    by bobbozzo (622815)
    How does this help me get my 90GB collection into a portable device?
  • by MP3Chuck (652277) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:26PM (#5521819) Homepage Journal
    ... they automatically assume it's going to be used to pirate music, and that it somehow makes pirating "easier". What if I want to put all of the MP3's I legitimately downloaded from MP3.com or 1Sound.com or Ampcast.com or Besonic.com or JavaMusic.com or... (see where I'm going with this?). Or even from someplace like like emusic.com where the music is paid for and everyone gets makes out well!

    Mike Tsurumi, a president of Sony Consumer Electronics in Berlin, insists that the move makes sense. "The music companies need to change their business model," he says.

    Seriously, if the industry hasn't gotten the hint at this point, I doubt it ever will...
    • by Tumbleweed (3706) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:20PM (#5522011)
      > What if I want to put all of the MP3's I legitimately downloaded from MP3.com or 1Sound.com or Ampcast.com or Besonic.com or JavaMusic.com or...

      You don't seem to get it. The RIAA doesn't acknowledge the _existence_ of legal MP3 files (or any other type of files - divx, etc.). To do so would make people see the gaping hole in their 'proof' that file-trading is the same as stealing a CD. Don't _ever_ expect the RIAA to 'get it'. They get it - and they're lying their asses off (and likely PAYING off) hoping the legislators WON'T get it.

      Yes, they could make shitloads more money by making use of new technology - that's not the point. The RIAA know this. Their big thing is CONTROL over the entertainment products (and the artists that create them). This is all about control, not the initial revenue. AFTER they have grabbed total control, THEN they can choke the money out of everyone. It's just like MS - they'll take a massive monetary hit in initial revenue to take over a market and destroy their competition. Yes, Xbox, I'm talking about you.
    • It will be used for piracy because it is a great mechanism for getting music from one's computer that has been downloaded through Kazaa to his stereo system, which these days is typically not connected to his computer
      • by Pyroja (616376)
        My computer has been connected to my stereo for... Well, ever since I had a stereo to hook it up to. Granted, I'm only 16, but still... I can spend a buck on a mini plug-to-RCA cable at Radio Shack and have everything playing through the stereo no problem. And why must it even be hooked up to the stereo? Nowadays with soundcards getting better and better and people going out and buy Klipsch (sp?) 5.1 audio systems just for their PCs, the PC becomes the Hi-Fi. Don't tell me the RIAA is going to go after mini
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john.oyler@NOspAm.comcast.net> on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:26PM (#5521821) Journal
    I'm sure most people have seen this poster...

    When you pirate MP3s you're downloading Communism [24.125.76.224]

    But I was inspired to update it to reflect the current administration's agenda...

    New and improved! [24.125.76.224]

    Only, I'm having some difficulty deciding who to put in the background, so I thought I'd let the Slashdot crew help.

    Who should star in this new public service announcement?

    A) A generic arab
    B) Osama bin Laden
    C) Saddam Hussein
    D) Richard Reid (aka the Shoebomber)
    E) Write-in: Please nominate someone

    As for the top right symbol, I think that should be up for debate, but to start the ball rolling, might I suggest a flaming jetliner? Or the twin towers?

    Thanks, I can't wait to finish it!

    PS Please take note, it's a work in progress, so cut me some slack if you notice some minor flaws...
  • that music industry realizes that they should charge the music, not for the media where it could be.
    • And how do you recommend they charge the people downloading music on kazaa.
      • Not sure if it would be practical, but once you can get music in whatever way, kazaa, friends, hear in the radio, a way to get everyone happy is some kind of honor system... you like something? enjoy some music, movie, book, whatever that you got without media associated? well, pay for it, have some clear way to send the money to who did that, without paying taxes several times, intermediaries, the media if you don't want/need it, etc.

        If it have some kind of media associated, like CDs, cassetes, minidisks

  • Sony's encoding (Score:5, Informative)

    by subsonic (173806) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:27PM (#5521827) Journal
    I'm a big user of minidiscs, however I'm not a profesed "guru", but here's what I understand of ATRAC and MD:

    Sony is currently using ATRAC3. It is capable of encoding up to 320 minutes of stereo audio at a bitrate of 36kbps.
    To quote from minidisc.org: "[ATRAC3]differs substantially from the original, existing ATRAC system, having twice the transform window size (1024 samples [23.2ms], vs. 512 samples [11.6ms]), encoding tone components separately from other spectra, splitting the input signal into 4 bands instead of 3, and using Huffman coding on the final bit stream to squeeze out redundancy." However, Sony has probably gone to a new version of ATRAC3 for this new application of writing to CDs.
    Sony has basically scrapped the idea of using minidiscs as a data storage medium, at least to the genral public. However, Sony did release a digital camera that wrote to MDdata discs, and there are some professional recorders that record multitrack MD data discs. It is interesting that they're only now starting to apply ATRAC technology outside of the MD format.

    For more info on MD and ATRAC encoding, i reccomend Minidisc.org
    • I mean c'mon Neo!!! uses them in The Matrix to give away (well actually sell) all his super 1337 hax0r shit! I know I ran out the next day and bought a drive just like he had.

      Didn't everybody else?

      But I thought...

      Nevermind
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:29PM (#5521830) Homepage Journal
    Steam propulsion will revolutionize the sea.
    You can keep building your clipper ships; we'll admire that intersection of form and function for years to come, to be sure.
    Ultimately, smart money will evacuate the market before it is crushed by better technology.
    Dumb money will stand around whining, or, worse still for all, attempt to prop up its impotence with lawsuits.
    Easy for me to say; it's not my career.
    Nevertheless, let common sense and long-term planning be your guide.
  • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:29PM (#5521832)
    Mini-DVDs. Like the small format mini-CDRs you can burn with ~200 megs of MP3s. I love my Memorex mini-CDR/MP3 player, for the portability of the discs, which I can easily carry 4 or 5 of in my jacket pocket when I go skiing. If they made mini DVD-R/MP3 players, I could fit my entire music collection on one mini DVD-R. And that would convince me to finally buy a DVD burner.
  • by magnum3065 (410727) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:31PM (#5521837)
    This article claims they can fit 30 hours of music on a CD using MiniDisc compression, which from what I've read only provides a 5:1 compression ratio, or about 6.7 hours on an 80 minute disc. In order to compress 30 hours of music into 700MB you'd need to compress it at about 53kbps, which I don't know of any compression format which provides decent audio quality at that rate. Even the claims of 100 hours of music on a DVD (assuming a standard single layer 4.7GB recordable DVD) would only allow for 110kbps which is getting kind of low.
    • Even the claims of 100 hours of music on a DVD (assuming a standard single layer 4.7GB recordable DVD) would only allow for 110kbps which is getting kind of low.

      Given that most people are fine with 128kbps MP3s, a better codec at 110kbps would probably do fine. The 30 hrs of music on CD is stretching it though.

    • which I don't know of any compression format which provides decent audio quality at that rate. Even the claims of 100 hours of music on a DVD (assuming a standard single layer 4.7GB recordable DVD) would only allow for 110kbps which is getting kind of low. Two words: Ogg Vorbis. VERY good quality as low as 45kbps, better than mp3 at 110kbps.
    • Actually, with modern codecs, 110 is plenty for "entertainment quality" listening.

      Some formats that sounds great at 96 Kbps:

      AAC-LC (from MPEG-4) (the one in QuickTime 6.1 is pretty good, but not the one from 6.0)
      WMA9 2-pass VBR
      RealAudio 8 Stereo Music

      Ogg Vorbis and a tweaked lame --abr can certainly do more than good enough for workout music at 96 Kbps as well.

      Some of the next generation stuff, like AAC-SBR, shoot for "sounds like CD quality" at 48 Kbps or lower.
  • by Entropy248 (588290) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:34PM (#5521853) Journal
    The RIAA sucks. Record labels suck. Payola sucks, and pretty much everything about the music industry sucks. This completes the technical analysis of the music industry...

    The popular music industry uses a unique business model. Talented (and untalented) people create songs. They then hire a manager or promoter to get them shows and introduce them to and represent their interests with record labels. The manager takes the artist's(') songs and sells them to record labels. Record labels help the artists record these songs onto some form of salable, distributable media. Record labels hire big name producers to assist the recording and creation process. Record labels then enable the artist to receive exposure on television, radio, and whatever format du jour that looks good. This promotion enables artists to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of their songs instead of just hundreds of copies. The money generated from these sales is divided three ways between the record label, the producer, the manager, and the artist(s). Why does the artist, who is creating the product, get the short end of the stick?
    Answer: If an engineer creates a product for Company X, and Company X sells this product and makes millions off of the idea, the engineer will not see a large percentage of the money generated from his/her idea.
    If an engineer came up with a brilliant product idea, but after one widget was sold, consumers could infinitely copy it... The engineer might be slightly upset if that began to happen.
    If an engineer creates a widget that sells millions of copies, and this widget was copied because the original widget broke, the engineer might still be upset. If you broke your widget, then you should have to pay to replace your widget. If you need a backup widget, you should just buy two. If you can't use your widget, then why did you buy it? Remember that if there is enough demand for alternatives to widgets, then someone else could create a wadget and sell to this new market.

    The music industry does not like this new technology because now it is not possible for an artist to sell a CD that is full. Have you noticed that some store bought audio tapes can hold up to 90 minutes of music? CDs are a bit of a step backwards. And, even though people recognize the superior audio capabilities of several audio formats, they are not being used or widely sold. Admittedly, that could be due to format wars. But, I would love to go to the store and buy a CD with every single song ever recorded by an artist. This is easily possible with MP3s. I might even be willing to pay more than $20, especially for prolific artists. I could live with the lower sound quality because of the quantity provided. This is not happening. I hate the music industry, which is determined to suicide by means of terrible public relations.
    • Have you noticed that some store bought audio tapes can hold up to 90 minutes of music?

      Yes, then I noticed that tape manufacturers came out with *100* minute tapes, which pretty much fit the average CD onto one side.

      Supply and demand rears it's ugly head again :-)
  • by RLiegh (247921)
    Not only do I see this being passed in a crippled form, but when it is; I fully expect to see the media we're currently using crippled even more.

    I'd imagine anyone who was using vynil when they made the push to CDs knows what I'm talking about.
  • Dirt Nap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DreamingReal (216288) <dreamingreal AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:43PM (#5521898) Homepage
    Someone please put a bullet in the goddamn music industry already. If the first reaction from these empty suits is fear of copyright infringement rather than excitement about new revenue channels, then they have overstayed their usefulness. Shit man, 30 or 100 hours on a single disc? The possibilities are endless.


    How about the Billboard Top 100 Singles by year on a single disc. As a huge fan of 80's music, I would rather drop $50 for each disc to get the hits from '84, '85, and '86 rather than several hundred dollars on individual discs or crappy compilations that are 80% filler anyway.


    How about releasing a band's entire back catalog on one of these discs, complete with liner notes, lyrics and videos for $100. The Complete Pink Floyd. The Complete Led Zepellin. The Complete Iron Maiden (no snickering).


    How about releasing The Essential Tour Compilation. Take the top 25 live shows from a band's previous tour and add travel diaries, interviews, and massive picture galleries. I'd drop a c note on that.


    The best part is that this will fit seemlessly into how I already use my music. I curse those stacks and stacks of CDs that take up space in my closet, no longer used because I prefer the freedom a 24x CD-RW drive, dual 100GB hard drives, and a RioVolt that plays MP3 CDs give me.


    The music industry has had its collective head up its collective arse for way too long. The technology is there just begging to be used in new and interesting ways, but they're still crunching the numbers with an abacus! Give me a fair price, flush the DRM bullshit and stop calling me a fucking "pirate" and maybe I'll help save your pathetic industry.

    • Re:Dirt Nap (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DanCo (576091)
      As a huge fan of 80's music, I would rather drop $50 for each disc to get the hits from '84, '85, and '86 rather than several hundred dollars on individual discs or crappy compilations that are 80% filler anyway.

      Ah, yes - that may be, but I'm sure the RIAA would much rather you plunk down several hundred dollars on individual discs, than $50 on one disc.

  • Y'know, like WalkMan and DiscMan. Give me a DVD-Man with 7 or so CDs worth of MP3s. Now yer talkin. Cheap and reliable (in theory).
  • OpenMG (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:46PM (#5521905)
    Sony's unit will probably use OpenMG for DRM, just like the NetMD enabled MD units do. What this essentially means is that the tracks on the disc will be encrypted in a way that only allows them to play on YOUR player, and "uploading" tracks will only be possible to the desktop machine that they originated on, and then only if there's still an encrypted backup of the track stored on the hard drive there. Even with that much restriction, the NetMD MD players limit the number of times any particular track may be downloaded onto a disc.

    Expect as least that much hassle with the Sony unit. Do a search for "OpenMG" for the full horror story.

    -P.
  • by kjoonlee (226243) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @10:52PM (#5521931)
    A CD is 1411.2kbps 44.1kHz 16bit stereo PCM, with basic error correction codes, with around 74~80 minutes of maximum capacity.

    30 hours means 1800 minutes, divide 1800 with 74, and you get 24.324324324, so that means 24x times compression. Divide 1411.2kbps by 24.324324324 and you get around 58kbps.

    One more try, divide 1800 with 80, get 22.5, divide 1411.2 by 22.5, get 62kbps.

    So basically, they use they're saying they're using approx. 58~62kbps ATRAC3 on a CD. Doesn't sound all that nice to me.
  • by hillct (230132) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:02PM (#5521966) Homepage Journal
    I look forward to reading more about the respective positions of Sone Electronics and Sony music with regard to these types of products. The article cited provided no further insight over and beyond what is esentially a product announcement. This raises a larger issue. As journalism covering technological subjects becomes more provasive in line with new technologies themselves, it appears that the calibre if journalism is declining at an ever-faster rate. Vary disappointing...

    --CTH
  • by StarTux (230379) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:50PM (#5522094) Journal
    Its just got to happen:

    Sony sue's itself due to percieved copyright infringement

    Sony uses the DMCA against itself in America.

    StarTux
  • No kidding (Score:5, Funny)

    by frdmfghtr (603968) on Saturday March 15, 2003 @11:51PM (#5522099)
    "It's a no-brainer. Anything which lets people pirate more music like this has to be very bad news for the music industry," says a spokesman for Britain's record industry trade association, the BPI.

    "It's a no-brainer. Anything which lets people enjoy their music on-the-go on their own terms is a good thing," says the general public.

    Why Sony should want to launch a recorder that might make piracy easier may seem surprising, as its Sony Music division makes and sells CDs. While Sony Music did not want to comment on its sister company's launch, Mike Tsurumi, a president of Sony Consumer Electronics in Berlin, insists that the move makes sense. "The music companies need to change their business model," he says.

    As if that was really news...Mike Tsurumi needs to talk to the head of Sony Music.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "with the resulting disks playable in a to-be-released portable player. I wonder what kind of DRM features the companies will use to cripple each system."

    Sony has beat them to it [storagebysony.com], this beauty is not only a portable CDR/RW drive, a DVD-ROM, but it also plays mp3's from CD/DVD or MemoryStick.

    A single DVD can contain 57 hours of 192kbps mp3, as you can imagine you could just hear the yells from the RIAA 20 blocks away when this beauty was released.

  • by be-fan (61476)
    You know, 4.7GB is probably a bit too much storage for a single disc. I'd really like to see one of those 1.5 GB mini-cds put to use in a small portable. It would be competition for the iPod, anyway, and much needed one at that.
  • by sbot5000 (562763) on Sunday March 16, 2003 @12:47AM (#5522284)
    Phillips' MP3/DVD portable may be yet to be released but the Sony MPDAP20U [sonystyle.com] has already been out for a couple of months. It seems like the Holy Grail of Portables: 24X/10X/24X CD-RW, 8X DVD-ROM (plays MP3/DVDs), USB 2.0, LCD remote, no DRM, and oh yeah, it has a Memory Stick slot, too. It's a little spendy at $299. Page 33 of the User Guide confirms that MP3 on DVD-R/RW is a go (and via Memory Stick as well). Here's a review [pcmag.com].
  • Musician's POV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by E-Rock-23 (470500) <lostprophytNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday March 16, 2003 @04:26AM (#5522884) Homepage Journal
    I'm a singer in an original band. If you ask me, this would be a great way to get music to the masses. We're already savvy enough to deal with the RIAA, and we also feel that P2P filesharing is a great way to get our music out.

    Yes, we own all the copyrights. But we don't mind the music being spread around for free. Four words: Word Of Mouth Advertising. Works wonders for any business. The more people hear it, the more people show up at gigs and buy CDs, T's, etc.

    A device like this is a musician's dream. When you want to move music around, you're limited to the capacity of CD-Rs and RW's. Well, us po' musicians, anyway. LOL. But I digress. A device like this would save us a WORLD of trouble. All band members record whatever they work on, passing it back and forth via handheld devices such as this, and their computers at home.

    The format to record and compress should be open standard, DRM-free codecs, like anything Vorbis. Since I'm the singer, but also something of a geek, I would much prefer Open Source options. Linux-based onboard OS? We know Sony's at least halfway Linux-friendly. They did put out a PS2 kit...

    That'd most certainly be something I'd use. Screw DRM. Oh no, I'm going to pirate my own music! Better stop me before I can! I don't want a whole bunch of encryption crap in my music, just the music codec itself. That's just being a pain in the ass, and you know Microsoft is going to lobby for proprietary control. No, no, a hundred times no. Open Source, DRM-Free.

    Oh wait. I'm sorry. Everything I stand for isn't what the RIAA/MPAA/MS want. This technology gives me more freedom, allows me to absorb some of the cost of getting a break, and makes things easier all-around. It lessens their involvment, and thus lessens the amount of bucks they deserve. That's bad, isn't it.

    I'm just a dumb, awe-struck-by-the-business musician, what do I know...
  • The development of a new interstate highway system is being condemned by leading automobile manufacturers as "a deadly blow to the industry's lifeblood". Manufacturers fear that without the income from the frequent repairs cars currently needs as a result of trying to use rough, unimproved roads crowded with sometimes dozens of cars, the industry will crumble. Says a spokesman for Nash, maker of the popular "Rambler", "These new highways are smooth, roomy, and safe. By making it easy for vast numbers of cars to go long distances with a much lower risk of accident, these Interstate Highways threaten to reduce the need for service and replacement parts drastically, cutting into the vital after-sales market the industry depends on for its revenue stream."

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