Commentary on MP3 Files and Compression
I am old fashioned when it comes to music. I often buy the CD / album, then digitize the files on a laptop so the library is available when I travel. This makes the laptop a large and heavy MP3 player. With the digitized library, I have a backup of the music and I have the obvious flexibility to move the files to other devices. Ultimately, I suppose I treat the MP3 copy as the master and the original CD becomes the backup.
When digitizing the music, I Rip the music at the highest bit-rate (highest audio quality, uncompressed - 192kbs - the largest allowed by Windows Media Player WMP).
The reason is simple: Hard Disk space is cheap and I want these files to retain as much fidelity as possible. With this, an average MP3 track is 6 to 8 MB and an album checks in around 100MB - making these sizable files.
Problems in MP3 Land
Storing all original MP3's at their highest quality has its problems. Backups on the entire library is now approaching 30GB.
But more importantly, moving an album to our portable 4GB MP3 player means the player can only hold about 25 albums. If the files were stored at a moderate 96kbs (plenty of quality for a portable player), then I could store twice as many on the same MP3 player. While jogging or driving, most could not tell (nor should they care) about the lower-quality difference under those conditions.
In other words, I have two conflicting goals. One is to have a long-term, high-fidelity copy of the original music and a second is to have smaller versions of the same music stored on the portable music players, where smaller files means more music.
Of humor, years ago, people were concerned when a track occupied 30K. 10 years from now, a terabyte will be inconsequential. (More than likely, 10 years from now, nobody will own their own music - they will just rent it -- but that is another issue with its own problems.)
What I really Want: Record every track twice
Imagine if your media player (iTunes, WMP, etc.) recorded all tracks twice: Once at full-fidelity and a second compressed copy, suitable for less-capable devices.
If the Computer's media player were playing, it would use the uncompressed copy. If it copied the files to a portable player or downloaded them to the network-aware car-stereo, then it would download the compressed versions. We could have our proverbial cake and eat it too. But the software does not do this.
Yes, this would take more hard disk space, but on some devices, disk is cheap. I wish there were a way to manage this.