why apple hates you, or how to get itunes to encode mp3s properly (with screenshots)

30Nov06

I’m sure for many people, this is a no-brainer, but having helped a minimum of three of my music collecting friends with this issue - who sadly had already encoded significant portions of their library - I consider it a public service of sorts to spell out with some detail how to get itunes to rip your cds into 320kbps mp3s instead of 128kbps(!!!) mp4s as it defaults too.

First, a word about bit rates as they relate to the quality of your rips: converting CD quality audio files to 128kbps mp4s during a rip represents a serious degradation in quality to your treasured CDs. Sure, you save some space on your hard drive, but really, why f*#@ up your rips (which essentially amount to backups) and waste time copying your music to your hard drive with anything less than the highest quality? Coencidentally, this is why I have generally negative feelings towards the itunes store as well – why buy tracks in a format that is (a) protected in such a way that your ownership rights are murky and (b) comes in a quality so low that aliasing can commonly be heard? As much as I would like to toast some more haterade to itunes in this article, I shall attempt to refrain – but believe me, I have a few more full glasses of the stuff. . . for the record, while I do admit itunes has its pros and cons and it makes a fascinating subject in light of the rapidly developing sales of music via the internet, until such a time I when harness my vitrolic prose to spew forth venom freely on the subject, I will have to refer you here and here.

Put simply, the idea is to rip your music into the highest quality format. I frequently rip into wave files (or FLACs) myself because I have had far too many CDs lost or stolen and I refuse to shed any more tears over irreplacable music disappearing. Ripping to 320kbps mp3s is going to be far more practical for most people and is nearly identical to lossless wave files so don’t despair. Plus, if you decide to make the jump to ripping directly to waves, the menu is accessed in the same method I am about to describe.

The first step is going to be different from Mac to PC, but everything else will be the same. On a Mac, you can access the Preferences menu from the Apple menu… on a PC you’ll find it under Edit>Preferences.

From the Preferences menu, choose the Advanced tab, then select the Import tab. Next, choose “Mp3 Encoder” from the “Import Using:” drop down menu that by default is set to “AAC Encoder”. Finally, choose “Custom bit rate” from the “Setting:” drop down directly below.

Now you are cooking with gas! The best settings for Mp3 encoding on this menu are “Stereo bit rate: 320kbps”, “Sample Rate: 44.100k”, “Channels: Stereo” and “Stereo Mode: Normal”. The two boxes underneath should be unchecked. Although 48k is a technically higher setting, CD wave files exist at 44k and no higher – if you were to set your encoding to 48k you may limit the compatibility of your files with some mp3 players and potentially your computer depending on the soundcard you have while gaining no actual benefit in audio quality from a cd rip.

And this, my friends, is why Apple hates you: one of the most fundamental settings if not THE most fundamental setting of a widely adopted program designed to organize and back up your music is hidden, what, four layers deep under an “advanced” menu and you have to choose the “custom settings” to set the mp3 encoding to the highest possible setting while itunes would have you believe that 192kbps mp3s are “high quality”? Personally, if I were to indulge in the adornment of a tin foil hat for a moment, I might be lead to think that Apple wants you to buy the same damn CD three times throughout your lifetime because you failed to back it up properly before it was hijacked by a former roommate once again… of course, in actually its just that Apple is working as a tool of the music/movie industry and that’s what they want. I mean, why else would Apple sell you files that you have to burn to a CD and re-rip if you want a DRM free copy anyway? This is addition to the aforementioned fact that what you purchase in the itunes store is lower quality than the same file you could buy on a used CD (in many cases for the same price or less) and rip yourself while having the benefit of a physical copy to have and hold. Don’t be a tool: rip your CDs in 320kbps at a minimum and try to avoid the itunes store unless its an emergency - fellow Djs will know exactly of what I speak.

I hope this tutorial/rant/public service announcement has proven to be somewhat informative to my fellow music lovers out there. I just wan’cha to hold on to what you have: stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold…

high times on planet earth: the return of the space funky

28Nov06

If you are like me, your first exposure to Jamiroquai may have been something along the lines of ‘WTF with the crazy buffalo hat’? Other acceptable associations are: ‘nice voice’, ‘wow, my chick really loves this album’ and ’sounds like disco’. As Jamiroquai grew on me, I think the initial phase of my acceptance was one of the more interesting – reconciling their popularity and style as an offshoot to rave culture (via acid jazz), yet their organic vibe and funk simply defied the rigid constraints of popular dance music in the early 90s.

Through the years, Jamiroquai have proven themselves as a band capable of longevity by evolving in a very fluid fashion. Always an outfit with an intensely distinctive sound, they have drifted unapologetically between various production styles and modes of songwriting all while being respectful of the essence that garnered them a strong following in the first place. What “High Times: Singles 1992-2006″ really highlights is a band that started out with a groovy pimp strut and only continues to gain confidence in their walk over the years.

Face it, if ya don’t dig what they’re about, I’m not going to change your mind. As with any artist, there are points of critique that could be lobbied, but the idea is that any one of the songs off this album, when juxtaposed well with a similar song by a soul, funk or disco contemporary, is going to hold its own: a great compliment to your party mix shuffle in other words. This best of definitely nails the focus of what Jamiroquai does – bouncy, funky, fun music that sounds genuinely inspired. It’s a great springboard to the rest of their collection as well: if you happen to find yourself drawn to one era or another via a song on this album, you are going to know exactly where to start.

By the way, the two previously unreleased tracks, “Runaway” and “Radio” are sure to please, both are class tracks that compliment the rest of this collection well. . . I’m just loving “Radio” in particular, great turnaround hook in the chorus and rock-funk movement of the track is sweet.

In conclusion, my hope is that a similarly well thought out collection of remixes is released on CD as a compliment, seems like a remix best of could fill two discs easily.

Jamiroquai - Alright Mp3
Jamiroquai - Seven Days In Sunny June Mp3

Buy “High Times: Singles 1992-2006″ at Amazon

get your buttrock on with some goddamn style!

26Nov06

BulletBoys first albumI first purchased the BulletBoys self-titled debut on cassette when I was in middle school - this was just prior to me getting into Depeche Mode and New Order (via 101 and Substance respectively). Indeed, what a beautiful swan song for my teenage buttrock/hair-metal days. I always loved this album from start to finish, it’s a solid chunk of highly listenable 80s metal that never fails to satisfy. . . I mean, if you are the type of person that would pay good money to see David Lee Roth perform in Vegas, remembers the first time they started appreciating Ratt, or feels sincere lament upon having heard of the Darkness going splitsville.

The recorded performances are inspired to be sure, some pitch perfect production from the era by Ted Templeman as well, but what makes the album as enjoyable as it is for me is knowing that in this day and age, the smooth song arrangement, effortless energy and rock-out-with-your-cock-out spirit that permeates each track with no exceptions through the approx 35 minutes of this release are a hard to come by commodity in this day and age.

BulletBoys – Smooth Up Mp3
BulletBoys – For the Love of Money Mp3
Purchase “BulletBoys” at Amazon

separated at birth: blondie and elvis costello?

25Nov06

A few years back I noticed a startling similarity between “Hanging on the Telephone” by Blondie and “No Action” by Elvis Costello. The first time I noticed this, it seemed like the two songs were having a conversation with each other… Debbie Harry pleading:

I’m in the phone booth, it’s the one across the hall
If you don’t answer, I’ll just ring it off the wall

and Costello replying:

I don’t wanna see you ’cause I don’t miss you that much
I’m not a telephone junkie
I told you that we were just good friends

I always wondered which song was written first, turns out both albums, Blondie’s third - and fucking fantastic - “Parallel Lines” and Elvis Costello’s second, equally amazing, “This Year’s Model” were both released originally in 1978, apparently a good year for prototypical new wave songs revolving around telephones (Update: 1976, the Nerves FTW!)

Blondie - “Hanging on the Telephone” Mp3
Purchase “Paralell Lines” at Amazon

After reviewing the lyrics for the both the songs, it sounds like “Hanging on the Telephone” perhaps is the younger twin: it very much captures the impetuous, unfettered attraction that compels oh-so-many torrid affairs. “No Action” is very much the flip side of the coin - a couple of weeks have passed, maybe a month or two and Costello reveals to the listener inner torment concealed by a cold exterior with lines like:

“And I think about the way things used to be
Knowing you’re with him is driving me crazy
Sometimes I phone you when I know you’re not lonely
But I always disconnect it in time”

Elvis Costello - “No Action” Mp3
Purchase “This Year’s Model” at Amazon

Interesting other similarities between the songs: both are album openers, both clock in under 2min 30secs and both tempos are ballpark ringers for one another, around 155 bpm.

Though these songs were from LPs released in 1978, to me they easily represent some of the best things that were going on in the early 80s: informed, sweeping pop, warm and crisp analog engineering, great songwriting, super tight, inspired bands and “style without stylists”. Blondie’s best of album is right up there with Duran Duran’s as far as essential 80s party must-haves and Elvis Costello (aka the OG Napoleon Dynamite) later went on to lead a cult of brainiac songwriter-chess players, collaborate with Burt Bacharach and marry a gifted jazz singer/pianist. . .

May God bless us every one.

In conclusion, “Parallel Lines” and “This Year’s Model” are remarkably consistent timepiece albums with classic singles - but it’s the deeper cuts that will leave a sting - and sweet as honey production. Also, both have reissues with liner notes and unreleased tracks - in the case of “This Year’s Model” a whole CDs worth of bonus material.

hello technorati, thehypemachine and elbo.ws

25Nov06

Just signed up for my technorati profile and filled out the forms for the exhaustive mp3 aggregators thehypemachine and elbo.ws so let’s get this party started. I’ve got plenty of exclusive music to post. . .

if journey and death cab don’t cheer you up, you are hopeless

24Nov06

One of the handful of reasons I wanted to start a widely syndicated, well regarded and generally impromptu kegger party of a blog was to have an outlet for the occasional bootleg I tend to maneuver. Frequently I team up with my partner RareMatthew on these endeavors. . .thus making the original title of this post, “Ben Gibbard is having my love child and it’s Steve Perry’s fault” seem self-centered. Actually I did the Journey boot myself but RareMatthew was very influential on the Death Cab mix and its alternate version.

Journey is a very hate or love band, but if you haven’t stopped believing and don’t own the hits by now - get them - you’ll thank me upon relistening to the opening riff to “Who’s Crying Now” or Perry’s sinewy tenor on “Lights”, ’nuff said.

Playfel vs Journey - Streetlight People

As far as Death Cab goes, I wish I could play them up more but I don’t own the album “Soul Meets Body” is from or its predecessor. “The O.C.” darlings that they are, I recall a *very trippy* video and reasonably well constructed song for the follow up single to the point where I was singing along with it in my car at one point but I can’t remember the damn song is called at the moment. Regardless, I love Gibbard’s voice and his lyrics generally tend to be evocative such a way that as Cleveland from Family Guy might say, “Oh, Ben, that tickles me in a way, that if Loretta tickled me in that way, I’d say, Oh yea… that’s nice … that’s the spot.”

Playfel & RareMatthew vs Death Cab for Cutie - Soul Meets Body (Hard)
Playfel & RareMatthew vs Death Cab for Cutie - Soul Meets Body (Soft)

So yeah, Ben Gib rah rah rah, his guest vocals on Jenny Lewis‘ cover of “Handle Me with Care” are super sweet and to really dig up some lovely old skeletons, listen to his My Bloody Valentinesque ode with the precursor to Postal Service known as DNTEL on the single “(This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan”. Oh, tickle me Ben:

“He then played every song from nineteen ninety three.
The crowd applauded as he curtsied bashfully.”

Great wikipedia entry on this song I just dug up, I didn’t realize the Cat Power/Final Fantasy portents so evocatively spelled out in “Evan and Chan”. By the way, if you get the single, the Barbara Morganstern and Superpitcher mixes are NOT TO BE MISSED. Utterly classic.

i got lost in the supermarket and ended up in amsterdam

23Nov06

Periodically I like to shuffle through the used bins at Amoeba in a complete hypnotic trance. During my last visit I found this gem. If you didn’t hit the link, discogs says: “This CD was released as a gift at Gsus first store in Amsterdam (Holland). Limited to 1000 copies.” Hot damn, I guess it’s a really good find, considering it doesn’t suck. Actually, its pretty far from sucking. . .

One of my favorite parts of coming back from any sort of prolonged record shopping is listening to the various question marks I purchase. To expound, during the shopping exercise itself, I consistently gamble with a healthy percentage of my purchases in an effort to expose myself to music I wouldn’t ordinarily come across. Buying compilations is a good way to do this because usually I can identify a few tracks that would make the purchase worthwhile even if the accompanying tracks happen to be garbage. In the case of this comp I was buying it on the strength of “Moments in Love” by Art of Noise, a Thomas Dolby track I’d never heard (actually overlooked from my vinyl of “The Flat Earth”), the novelty of “Jesus is Just Alright” by the Doobies and “Family Affair” by Sly and the Family Stone.

Thomas Dolby - “I Scare Myself”

After a few listens, I found the awesome Dolby “I Scare Myself” was just the beginning, and I loves myself some Dolby (blogging & touring – check for local shows). Whoever supervised this comp gets major points with me, it is remarkably refreshing and well rounded IMO. Lots of loungy, funky and kitschy stuff, a great overall mood with liquid 80s production a few tracks, hyper-organic bossa/salsa/Mancini sounds on others plus some smooth, 70s cream to glue it all together. There is far too much on this comp to write about in one post, plus I owe it to myself to research the bands I am clueless about lest I sprain my bullshit muscle trying to sound informed.

Basically I bonded pretty hard with the Lewis Taylor track “Lucky” first… turns out he’s a real find, every write up I’ve found on the web has been overwhelmingly positive, lots of comparisons to Marvin Gaye, the Beach Boys and Stevie Wonder with the words “psychedelic soul” peppered about. I can see some of that in the track “Lucky” but apparently it’s off his debut album and there are a number more newer releases to investigate. I’m definitely hooked after this track, perhaps some Lewis Taylor albums might be able to help my stave off the wait for new Cody Chesnutt material.

Lewis Taylor - “Lucky”

Another obscure find for me was “Waterfall” by Wendy and Lisa, yes that Wendy and Lisa. This their first single from their 1987 self-titled debut and the pop craftsmanship is easily on a par with Prince’s material from that era - maybe a little more restrained but no less melodic or carefully produced and arranged. Plus their voices are just so classic, it’s hard to wrong there. Great track overall, doesn’t jump out at first but the power chorus + the sentiment pays out more than the price of admission. I’m definitely going to be looking into their discography, the the 1991 Re-Mix-In-A-Carnation relase featuring mixes by Gangstarr and Nellee Hooper will probably be the first thing I seek out.

Wendy and Lisa - “Waterfall”

delta patrol for the soul

23Nov06

Ahh chiptunes… My inner 8th grade geek (circa 1988 or so) is screaming at me to write a detailed account of the significance of this track but I don’t think it would enhance 99.76% of most people’s enjoyment of it. Pretend its some obscure Pink Floyd meets Tangerine Dream or something, do a bong hit if that will help you get in the mood and appreciate the absolute-fucking-astrophysicist-genius of Rob Hubbard performing one the themes for the SCHMUP Delta on his axe, the legendary 80s synthesizer known as SID. . . note to the purists: the SID recording was provided via emulation.

Rob Hubbard - Delta

“witty biography/mission statement title goes here”

20Nov06

I’ve had the cleansing and funny feeling dataenema.com domain for about a year and a half now, but its not until I started configuring Wordpress for this blog that I finally felt like I was building something of value on the previously unimproved digital real estate. Now look at me: I’m bandwagoneering with all the other talented music geeks/bloggers/podcasters out there as I submit myself to the wiles of teh internets and make every effort to provide frequent capsulated updates to the mysterious formation carved into the ether that I like to think of as “my blog”.

To say a few words about myself: I’m a music obsessed producer and DJ. I live in the stately Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. I believe the children are our future. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to separate myself from the pack with this site but I’m hoping somewhere between the stream of consciousness discourse and musical selection ranging from “highly obscure” to bordering on “painfully obvious” with my own special blends sprinkled throughout I will have provided a resource worthy of your attention.

In a gesture of goodwill towards mankind and celebration of this momentous occasion, I present to you, my loyal readership, a track I wrote in October for my Dubbed-Out Funk project. I have a complete LP sketched for this project and am hoping to complete it early 2007. “Breakdown Blue”, the first single from Dubbed-Out Funk, is available now in the shop for immediate download. The complete download includes two additional exclusive tracks. At this time I believe all these tracks will be only be available on this single release.

Dubbed-Out Funk - Breakdown Blue


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Mp3 blog of and news, downloads and information for LA based producer and DJ I. Read.

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Mp3s are for assessment only and will taken down per request of the copyright holder. I strongly support the artists whose music I post and recommend purchase of their product in the highest quality format.

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