“In Rainbows” MP3s Will Be Encoded At 160KBps

inrainbowssssss.jpgE-mails about tomorrow’s release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows have started to trickle out from W.A.S.T.E., and not only do those e-mails let people who bought the album just exactly when they’ll get their e-mitts on copies of the album (“tomorrow morning UK time,” which means I’ll start keeping watch on my RSS readers at about 11 p.m. ET), they let out some information on just how the MP3s will be encoded:

THANK YOU FOR ORDERING IN RAINBOWS. THIS IS AN UPDATE.

YOUR UNIQUE ACTIVATION CODE(S) WILL BE SENT OUT TOMORROW MORNING (UK TIME). THIS WILL TAKE YOU STRAIGHT TO THE DOWNLOAD AREA.

HERE IS SOME INFORMATION ABOUT THE DOWNLOAD:

THE ALBUM WILL COME AS A 48.4MB ZIP FILE CONTAINING 10 X 160KBPS DRM FREE MP3s.

MOST COMPUTERS NOW HAVE ZIP SOFTWARE AS PART OF THE OPERATING SYSTEM; IF YOUR COMPUTER DOES NOT, YOU NEED TO GET WINZIP OR ZIPIT INSTALLED PRIOR.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THEM HERE:

PC: http://www.winzip.com/
MAC: http://www.maczipit.com/

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR PROBLEMS DOWNLOADING YOUR FILE, PLEASE CONTACT OUR DOWNLOAD CUSTOMER SERVICE TEAM AT
downloadinrainbows@waste.uk.com

160KBps is a far cry from the 320KBps-encoded offerings that Radiohead’s released up to this point, so I’m guessing the proprietor of Kids Pushing Kids elected to go the “free download” route, as the site’s proprietor asks, “Wait, am I getting what I paid for? I hate getting what I paid for.” And the folks on Radiohead’s message board aren’t too happy, either (sample comment: “That’s a bit crap, isn’t it?”). But I’m not that surprised–again, this whole digital-release run-up is seeming like the most well-orchestrated press campaign ever, although I’m wondering if this news is going to inspire more blowback than it does sales of the discbox.

160 KBPS In Rainbows tracks? Radiohead? What is this, 1996? Or: wait, am I getting what I paid for? I hate getting what I paid for. [Kids Pushing Kids]

idolator
  • Ned Raggett

    More than anything I’m *really* amused. (Par for the course, I realize.) It just shows what the level of expectations are and how they’ve shifted completely in those eleven years. Tempest in a frickin’ teapot.

  • Sniffle

    What’s the big whoop on 160? How much clarity do you need to hear a bunch of bleeps and blips and Thom Yorke whisper-mumbling?

  • Stafford

    Eeeeh, 160 versus 320 does make a difference. I don’t think it’s anything to get uppity over though. 160 is the low end of sounding good. Most people don’t have a lot of room to complain though, considering they didn’t pay a whole lot, if anything besides the processing fee, for the album. So yeah, a higher bitrate would be nice, I won’t argue that. But, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have noticed too much if it hadn’t been brought to my attention.

  • afriedman

    dude nobody can tell the difference between 160 and 192 except audio engineers and audiophiles.

  • pantsonfireliarliar

    @Sniffle: actually that’s exactly why i’d want better than 160. there’s more subtlety in their music than say daughtry and i wanna hear all the little details.

  • loudersoft

    my speakers can tell the difference and, consequently, so can i. i think i fall into the “audiophile” category though.

    nonetheless, 160kpbs seems like total fuckery, but considering how many people will not pay for the album it seems totally fair.

  • brainchild

    if you want higher than 160, you could always opt for the discbox, or even better… wait for the regular release in december. but y’know, no one believes in waiting for anything anymore.

  • King of Pants

    If this thread isn’t indicative of the entitlement of early 21st-century culture, I don’t know what is.

  • brainchild

    @sjc: amen. however, i do think the bitrate should’ve been announced when the preorder began.

  • Ned Raggett

    @sjc: Ain’t that the truth!

  • Lucas Jensen

    You have to consider bandwidth issues on this. Most people will listen to this on their ipods or in cars or on crappy speakers anyway, so unless you are rocking the studio monitor set up, I don’t want to hear how you got ripped off by a band that potentially gave you the album for free.

  • Stafford

    @afriedman: Guilty as charged.

    @sjc: Can’t deny that. Really creeped up fast didn’t it? “Not only do I want my album for next to nothing, I want it to cater to my personal wants and desires.” I think its funny how one little detail that doesn’t go people’s way can cause them to turn on a completely, and indisputably good thing. One week it’s “Wow, thanks Radiohead, you’re the best band ever!” The next it’s “Duuuuude, you guys suck, I want a higher bitrate for theoretically nothing!” Don’t worry folks 160 will allow for you to hear all those subtleties. If you just don’t listen to it thinking “Gosh, I sure wish these 320 kbps,” you’ll never know the difference.

  • The Mozfather

    It’s pretty much the perfect bitrate from their perspective: high enough that it won’t be really crappy, but low enough that the music nerds will definitely shell out for the CD when it comes. By that time, after all, the internet will be swamped with low bitrate versions of all the songs, making it harder for wannabe pirates from getting the better bitrate for free.

    They really know what the fuck they’re doing, don’t they?

  • loudersoft

    @sjc: the band doesn’t owe any of us anything, but they could certainly use a good album under their belt (being that the last radiohead and thom yorke solo records bored the piss out of me).

    instead of signaling some sweeping industry change with this method, this is just the band taking the reins on the pre-release culture of their own accord.

    if they actually wanted to do something that was earth-shattering, they should release the best encode of the record they can tomorrow and see who buys it then. then we can call them pioneers.

  • Mike

    @mozfather hits the proverbial nail

    160 is a good show for £3.45 I think.

    I’ll be liveblogging the release at my UK mp3 blog.

  • mikeymix

    I very strongly disagree that 160 is even acceptable. I don’t know what the deal is with 160, but I’ve heard more files at 128 that sound good, than at 160. It’s as if 160 tries to reach higher levels of fidelity than it is technically capable of, where as 128 simply does the best it can with that many bits per second. Obviously, there are exceptions, but I can almost always spot a 160kbps file within a few seconds of it starting. Having their “paradigm shattering” name-your-price downloads in this crap format is really sad…

  • afriedman

    @mozfather that’s a good point — it’s likely nothing better than 160 is getting out until the proper release, which means at least some people will have to buy it for better quality.

    but we all know the 320 will leak in a week and a half anyways.

  • Anonymous

    @The Mozfather: well said. unlike their contemporaries in the music biz, they know the technology, and they’ve thought about certain implications in advance.

    @mikeymix: and here’s that sense of entitlement, mixed with a little blunt-force ignorance. if it is your opinion that 128k sounds better than 160k, fine. but don’t try to argue that 128k is technically superior for any reason. it’s not. it’s a higher bitrate, which allows for more of the original data to be encoded in the file. end of story, not open for debate.

  • MonsieurCS

    when exactly did this become the “improper release”? I thought that they were releasing the album tomorrow? Now you’re trying to say that I should be waiting for the “proper release”? You people are so old as to say that the only proper release is on a hard format – don’t you see that this is exactly the outdated way of thinking that’s killing the industry? Radiohead could have done this right – and released a perfect quality version of their record. I want to know why they called the audible. I can go on WASTE right now and buy any old Radiohead record I want. Do you know what the bitrate would be? 320kbps. So why the change?

    And what are we calling this stunt now? An album preview, for whatever price you want to pay? Is that that story now?

    I paid for the record – not for a preview.

  • Ned Raggett

    The bitter tears I weep for you are immeasurable.

  • Charlie Kerfelds Jetsons Tee

    @MonsieurCS: And you could’ve paid nothing. C’est la vie.

  • Chris Barrus

    I’m still roffling at people who claim to notice a difference between 128/160/320 bit rates while still using their lousy iPod/Zune/whatever earbuds.

  • loudersoft

    @quartzcity: agreed. that assumes that the person in question is using an iPod/Zune/etc earbuds.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @quartzcity: Exactly. Like most people, I listen to half of my music on computers with crappy speakers at work. I doubt I could ever tell the difference, and I think I’ve got a better ear than most.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @brycerton: Ultimately, it was the band’s decision and nobody else’s. If they are wrong, so be it, but it’s what they wanted to do. So they are deciding now that the way the album should be heard is 160kbps. I mean, there’s no other option, so for now, that’s it. There really is no should involved because we haven’t even been presented with alternatives for the next two months.

    You can get the vinyl/CD version or just steal it like the rest of the audiophiles come Dec. 3 if you desire an uptick in bitrate.

  • Anonymous

    I think I probably speak for a lot of forum-goers here when I say this:

    1. I paid a decent amount for this digital release, enough to believe I’m not stealing it.
    2. I listen to music on a decent system, or at least decent cans if I’m going to use a portable (I use Grado SR 80′s.)
    3. I’m upset about the bitrate change. It will make a difference.
    4. I’m now reluctant about paying for the album again in hardcopy at a higher bitrate, if it turns out that Radiohead’s attempt to “bypass” the traditional music production industry turns out to be totally self-serving. What exactly are they pioneering except a way to alienate fans that just want to hear the music the way it *should* be heard?

  • konstantConsumer

    maybe that’s the bitrate they wanted. it’s possible their plan is for the album to not be a pristine item. it’s similar to when a band records in an old house, or a barn, and lets you hear the floors creak and cars drive by. radiohead is obviously into the technology, so maybe they want you to hear it.

  • zackbowman

    Woo! It’s there but it’s stopped at 8.06mb. Grr.

  • zackbowman

    Now it’s sending me an html named TOOMANYDOWNLOADS of the same size.