Author Topic: Lossy torrents.  (Read 4669 times)

Offline cfmwh

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Lossy torrents.
« on: October 27, 2007, 02:45:53 PM »
Wasn't sure where to stick this post, so figured if I stuck it in here, a mod would find a home for it!

This post has been forming in my mind for the past couple of months now. Some of you are probably going to read it and part way in are going to form an opinion against it…..but hear me out will you? Get to the end; think about it for a while and THEN post your comments. No knee-jerk reactions.

It started with Simon sending me a copy of his excellent list. I had more than a passing interest in this, having done some large B&P’s for him in the past. He’d commented some time ago that a number of the shows I'd sent were lossy. With his list in front of me, I could see the scale of the problem.

A week or so ago, someone requested a show for seeding on this site. The response was that it was lossy and therefore couldn’t be done here on Crowstown, but may be upped privately at some stage. This got me thinking hard about the problem.

I fully understand the reasons for NOT seeding lossy shows and applaud the efforts to maintain the high standards, but I can’t help thinking that there is a place for them.

When I first thought about seeding here, I made a mental list of some of the great sounding shows that I wanted to share with others. Checking Simon’s list showed that I couldn’t as they were lossy. And there’s the rub…….we’re getting shows that are only B or even C rated being seeded, some with known glitches, but we’re avoiding shows that I would rate as A quality due to them being lossy. Which would you listen to? Some poor sounding, lossless gig, or one that kicks ass but is lossy? I’ve listened to some 450+ Crows shows and I’ve gotta tell you, I reach for the better quality ones each time, regardless of the fact that they aren’t all lossless. My ears can’t tell the difference. Especially after the first few bars have kicked in and I’m caught up in the music.

The next thing that got me thinking was a couple of recent requests from people who’d attended certain shows and could I help them with B&P’s? I check Simon’s list again…..two of the shows were lossy. The Crowstown stance is that if they can’t be seeded, then try asking for a B&P. The end result is that lossy shows are still circulating; just slower.

Simon mentioned that before he’d checked many of his shows, he’d seeded them over at Bootcity, so again, lossy shows have been circulated elsewhere already.

Having mulled it all over, I wondered if an answer to the dilemma was the following:

The dedicated sites such as Crowstown, Jane Music, the U2 torrent site (can’t remember what it’s called) etc. all cater for the true fans. Those who visit these sites (us!) are usually the ones who want to hear more than just the occasional show by the bands. Should we, the big fans of the groups be deprived of downloading great sounding but lossy shows, especially if they are obtainable by other slower means anyway?

Is it not possible to have a specific forum for lossy shows here, so that people who are building up their collections can download and hear the good stuff, or those that just want a copy of the gigs they’ve been to can download them regardless? Maybe apply some kind of rule that every track file has to include the word lossy in the name and that the torrent name and text file emphasise the point?

We’ve seen just this week that upgrades to old shows occur (Viper Rooms….thanks Stanrifle!). If a lossy show is seeded and assumed to be the only source, but subsequently a lossless version turns up, the torrent could be removed from the lossy forum and the upgrade would then be the only version available to download from Crowstown.

I don’t want to undermine anything that’s been done here with this; it’s just a suggestion and I’m interested to read what people think about it. I know that all those that put the site together and maintain it have invested a lot of time and effort and I don’t want them to think that I know any better. Please, don’t wade in and shoot the idea down in flames. If you think the idea sucks, say why. If you have a variation on it that you think may work, speak out.

At the end of the day the idea is just to share as much great music by a great band with as many people as possible.

So that’s it. Be gentle with me!

Geoff

Offline tigger165

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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2007, 05:06:56 PM »
I think you make a lot of very good, valid, well thought out points.

Personally, I have no idea what shows in my collection are lossless or lossy. My live collection stretches over 160 pages. I don't have the time to rip and test every show I own on cd. Ask any old school trader, we traded for cassettes, we traded for vhs, later on we traded for cd-rs. Nobody ever asked these questions because the technology didn't exist. Let's face it most of these were analog recordings and we were just happy to have the damn things.

I understand the newer collectors and audiophiles who take a hard stance on not muddying up the waters with lossy shows but in the context of live recordings, I would venture that people couldn't tell the difference with their ears about 85% of the time. From a collector / archive position I would rather have a show available that's lossy over not having it available at all.

Also, I think the world of i-pods have made hypocrites out of a lot of us. So we can have 5000 songs on our ipod in a lossy format but live shows that we download can't be this way? And I won't even go into how many of us convert the live stuff we have onto our ipods on a daily basis.

I may be burned at the cross for this and stoned publicly but as long as the recording is properly labeled then why not give the people the choice. Even the majority of bands selling their live recordings are making them available in an MP3 format. Nobody turned down a Linkin Park concert this summer because it was MP3 sourced. People were at the concert and wanted to have it on disc. They took the MP3 soundboard recording and honestly you couldn't tell the difference.
Just my 2 cents but Geoff is right.

Offline Simon

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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2007, 06:34:14 PM »
Thank you Geoff for opening such a discussion. We already had a few in the past regarding this matter.

I totaly agree with all you wrote infact i am and was always in favor with still seeding the lossy shows. Anyhow i still do care about a show being lossless because that is the way it should be BUT again if mistakes have een done in the past we can't change that. It is more of an eductional isse with bootlegs instead of not seeding them. I got into this lossy vs lossless thing of when i was seeding my bootlegs over bootcity. Some of them were being pulled because at the time i didn't know i was seeding lossy stuff and it was going against their rules. Many other sites still do not allow lossy music to be seeded on their trackers even if sometimes they go trough. I honestly have no problem if WE (i get into it later) open a new forum and seed the lossy shows separatly. Like that we can share the whole collection and as you know already there are some really good shows being in a lossy format. However i am sure that some people who have been into this will not agree and wouldn't like this idea. One of those person is Andy Last which we both know very well in this bootleg buisness. He even had some fits with sites like hummingbirds's nest over this mp3 issue. I will not get into that matter again but i taught you should know.

We and i mean We means not just myself. I am starting to get really annoyed seeding stuff by myself. I am basically giving my bandwith to crowstown and this is not fair. I have seeded tons and tons of bootlegs already at Bootcity and the old crows town tracker and only a few seeds from time to time. Those people who already got my shows need to start seeding what  they got on the old sites since they all must be seeded here. I cannot do this on my own which i already did and still do alot for this site. It is like when i seed something new, an upgrade or a good show everyone thank me and all the BS! I want people to atleast seed their stuff... A bootleg every week, every month it doesn't matter, atleast you are seeding and contributing to the site. I hope i made this clear even if i am sure a handful of people will read this since it is not a bootleg!!!!

So geoff, imagine if all agree that we open the lossy issue to be seeded in here, which i think we should but that is more work for me if nobody starts seeding and help me sharing!

Regards

Offline ImDez

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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2007, 07:03:14 PM »
I would rather have a great sounding show than a lousy one or nothing at all.  Last year I went through my collection and just deleted all  concerts that sounded horrible and that was over half of my collection!  I refuse to download and then save lousy sounding shows anymore and I don't care how memorable the show was.


I want great sounding shows.
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Offline philjw

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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2007, 07:14:20 PM »
Here are my thoughts for what it's worth.  If they look way too long, and you know all the general issues, then skip to the end ;)

Lossy vs. Lossless (in general, when you have a choice):  Just for the benefit of anyone who decides to chime in on this conversation, I think it is worth mentioning why some people get so worked up about this.  Some people have a bias against *any* lossy file because they are (or at least consider themselves to be) true audiophiles or genuinely have sensitive ears and the $50k stereo systems that allow them to hear the difference between CDDA and a 320kbs compressed file.  Others are biased by bad experiences with the crappy mp3s that everyone was trading on napster back in the day.  Now for me personally, given current technology, my not as sensitive ears, and the fact that I often listen to much of my music on the go (i.e., car or ipod), I generally listen to either 192kbs variable bit rate LAME encoded mp3s or sometimes 256 or 320kbs cbr mp3s.  They sound pretty good to me on that equipment, and yet they are small enough that I can fit a ton of music on my ipod nano.  That said, I still keep the original CDs, or in the case of live stuff, the original lossless files.  I also have begun to archive my whole music collection in lossless formats (in addition to mp3s) for the sake of my home stereo and the realization that hard drives keep growing, etc. and soon I might as well ditch lossy files altogether when possible because it won't cost much more to have the best quality.

Lossy vs. Lossless (live music trading, when you have a choice): When I first started trading music online (mainly U2, the site is u2torrents, but also dime, tdd, etc. but then counting crows as well, mostly here) I didn't understand what everyone was so worked up about, given my previous thoughts.  So I researched, and just for those who might not understand, in the days of trading tapes, etc., you lost quality with every copy.  So generations mattered (e.g., 5th copy sounded worse than one copied directly from the master).  Of course, the tapes and equipment used mattered too.  Well with lossy files, like mp3s, you might not lose any *audible* quality for *most* people with first encoding.  But then what inevitably happens is that someone takes those mp3s and burns a regular CD.  Then someone takes that and encodes it again to mp3.  Generations of cassette tapes got worse, but generations of lossy encoding get a lot worse.  Re-compressing a song that was already compressed doesn't just introduce hiss or noise, you actually lose more and more of the original music! Somewhere online you can find a site where they take the same music and let you hear a compressed mp3 vs. one that has been re-compressed 5 or 6 times.  The difference is astounding, even for non-sensitive ears.  Thus, while I will listen to live music in lossy formats for my own convenience, I only trade the best source I own, to keep the trading pool as pure as possible.  That's also the rationale for so many of the policies on sites like this, and I completely understand.

Lossy vs. Lossless (when you have no choice): Now we get to the real discussion at hand (sorry).  Some live shows are only available in a lossy format.  Many concerts were recorded on minidisc, which uses its own lossy format (ATRAC) for recording, except for more recent hi-md recorders that can record in PCM mode.  Thus, no truly lossless copy exists.  These are allowed on most sites, so long as they are the originals (i.e., not a minidisc copy of a show available in better form).  Even here at Crowstown, I have downloaded such shows despite the policy.  Other times, the original source has just disappeared or (in some well known cases) been kept out of public trading circles.  In these situations, I AGREE that the trading community would be best served by trading the best known copy of these shows.  As pointed out in prior posts, a crappy recording that happens to be lossless will lose everytime in my book against a masterfully recorded show that only exists (for us) as a lossy source.  There are ways to prevent people from trading re-encoded versions of these sources (md5 checksums, etc.).  It is so true that these are being traded anyway via snailmail, and that just seems silly with such technology available.  A separate forum sounds like a great idea, however, as we would want to clearly delineate between the two types of sharing.  If a lossless source turns up and someone thinks, "oh, looks like this show is already in circulation," then we all lose.  It would have to be clear, and I would advocate the sharing ONLY of shows generally known not to be available in lossless format (e.g., Simon's list, traders like Geoff).  Maybe I'm just being selfish as a fan who does not have some of these shows, but I think everyone would benefit from a separate forum, and I don't see the downside so long as we 1) determine which shows qualify, 2) share only what seem to be the best sources we have, 3) clearly separate these from the lossless stuff (with begging for upgrades), and 4) use some type of checksum to avoid the future re-encoding problem.

Finally (for anyone still with me), I want to say thanks again to Simon for all his efforts.  I wish I could seed more here, but I lost my boot collection several years back, and it is actually only through the generosity of this community that I've been able to not only rebuild, but acquire so many new shows.  I've seeded the only stuff I have that's not already here, but I'm sure there are those of you who have stuff (maybe even from Simon!) that you could share.  If torrents are too complicated for you (they can be tricky), I'd be happy to walk you through it.  If you don't have the time, hard drive capacity, bandwidth (comcast people, that's you), etc. then perhaps you could mail a copy of the show to someone like me (this is an open offer!) with the condition that I (or any of you) will then seed the show here.

That's it for now,
Phil

Offline philjw

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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2007, 07:16:37 PM »
Quote from: ImDez;10497
I would rather have a great sounding show than a lousy one or nothing at all.  Last year I went through my collection and just deleted all  concerts that sounded horrible and that was over half of my collection!  I refuse to download and then save lousy sounding shows anymore and I don't care how memorable the show was.


I want great sounding shows.



A key thing to remember is that sometimes lossless shows sound like shit, and a show that is only traded lossy sounds amazing...  These are overlapping, but not identical issues!

Offline cfmwh

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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2007, 07:27:29 PM »
Well so far I haven't been banned from the site for heresy......so that's good!

Simon.......I really want to help.......I haven't forgotten your offer to talk me through my screw-ups and get me seeding properly; since the op I just haven't been fit enough to get to and move the Crows boots box until yesterday. You said not to bother you over weekends, so I was going to contact you next week. Hopefully I can help a bit.

Jim and Dez....thanks for the comments. Jim's point about us older traders is true. We just wanted the music, in any format, in LARGE quantities!

I'm not sure what the answer is, hence the discussion. I just feel that there's the potential for it to work and to make a lot of people happy if it's thought about carefully and done right.

There should still be an emphasis on lossless, but the option to download what is potentially the only source of a show in lossy form should reside with the downloader I feel.

I hope that more will contribute to this debate; after all this site is used by a LOT of people.

(Simon....sorry if this has covered old ground, but I seem to have joined here too late to have seen the threads in question)

Offline cfmwh

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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2007, 07:28:44 PM »
Quote from: philjw;10499
A key thing to remember is that sometimes lossless shows sound like shit, and a show that is only traded lossy sounds amazing...  These are overlapping, but not identical issues!


That's one of my key points.
Bit of a no-brainer really isn't it.

Offline Simon

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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2007, 07:42:02 PM »
Quote from: cfmwh;10500
(Simon....sorry if this has covered old ground, but I seem to have joined here too late to have seen the threads in question)



Don't be sorry.... I am glad that you opened this debate again.

However i would like to see other opinions especially from people like, Rob, Graham, Christine and a few others that has a good amount of boots. Then we can decide all together if we should open up a new forum in the audio section. Also we would need to write a policy for it and if someone seeds a lossy show they have to include some stuff on the text!

Offline jgsgtr

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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2007, 09:16:32 PM »
I believe quality sounding lossless shows [A-B rating] should be allowed. Something simple. One show a week from an external link. The shows details should be introduced a week before the download is available. Just to make sure no lossless versions exist or even a superior sounding lossy version from someone else's collection.

And there needs to be someone who determines who's .mp3 source is of the highest quality. Plus the biggest problem with lossy format is that every time it's copied it losses fidelity. So these files should be converted to flac.

I do like the idea of introducing certain policies and including proper text files. Maybe even a 'special' qualified moderator to see that all those details are seen through.
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Offline philjw

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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2007, 09:40:13 PM »
Quote from: jgsgtr;10503
I believe quality sounding lossless shows [A-B rating] should be allowed. Something simple. One show a week from an external link. The shows details should be introduced a week before the download is available. Just to make sure no lossless versions exist or even a superior sounding lossy version from someone else's collection.

And there needs to be someone who determines who's .mp3 source is of the highest quality. Plus the biggest problem with lossy format is that every time it's copied it losses fidelity. So these files should be converted to flac.

I do like the idea of introducing certain policies and including proper text files. Maybe even a 'special' qualified moderator to see that all those details are seen through.


I do have to disagree with the idea of converting to flac just for sharing's sake.  If the show is lossy in flac format, that's fine.  But if all anyone has is mp3s, then that should be shared.  Copying an mp3 does nothing to the file.  The problem is converting the mp3 to flacs, cdda, etc. and then re-encoding to mp3.  If we convert mp3 to flac just for the sake of sharing, then if someone wants to convert it to mp3 for personal listening, they end up with a worse copy than if we just shared the mp3 to begin with.  Not to mention making the downloads much bigger than necessary and wasting bandwidth.

Offline cfmwh

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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2007, 09:43:40 PM »
Phil....not sure how it happened, but when I posted my second comment in this thread, I didn't see your essay!  Big thanks for that. I think it covers just about everything I wanted to say, plus bits I missed. In fact it is better worded than my efforts, covering all viewpoints.

I have wondered why there was no MD5 checksums here (not that I have a clue what the f*ck they are!), as I've seen them on so many other sites.

The topic of MP3 was raised.......I somehow feel that the majority of lossy shows around are from mini-disc recorders.  If a show is MP3 and can be proved as such by a spectral analysis, then I would expect there to be a better copy in existance and perhaps we should not seed them here. I know next to nothing about that stuff, although I did find the wave editor on Nero this afternoon, so I'm doing better! Is it easy to distinguish between MD and MP3?

Certainly, Graham, Rob, Christine and anyone else should add their comments.
What concerns me a bit is I'm seeing mostly the same old names adding their thoughts to this. It's a bit like the downloading........a number of people will download, but only about half will continue seeding.....and I'm willing to bet that if anyone checked, the usual names would be the seeders.

I've gotta say....thanks guys.....I really thought I was gonna get trashed on this one.

Offline philjw

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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2007, 10:42:34 PM »
Hey Geoff,

To respond to your distinction between MD and MP3, there are ways to do it, but evaluatinng FAs and SAs is an inexact art and not easy for everyone to do.  My previous comment included talk about mp3 only because I think there are some Crows shows that got compressed early on and the lossless originals never circulated (perhaps intentionally, perhaps the taper just disappeared, etc.).  For Minidisc recordings, I am all for allowing the seeding of master copies of shows, even without a separate forum.  That is the way it is on several other trackers (providing its a true copy of the original MD).

For example, here is the official policy from TDD (http://www.thetradersden.org):

11. Mini-disc is accepted ONLY if it's from the original source master.
Quite simply, mini-disc uses a compression format which decreases the quality of a recorrding slightly from true CD quality. Since there are many excellent sounding MD sources in circulation, these are accepted provided that the original recording was made with an MD. Converting from other formats into MD and then to lossless audio is prohibited. Also, shows that have been through multiple MD generations are prohibited. Please seed your MD masters directly to lossless files, but keep the quality as good as possible by not seeding multiple gen MD stuff.

As far as MD shows go, they're already here, whether the admins realize it or not.  For example, http://www.crows-town.com/showthread.php?p=340#post340 was recorded with an MZ-R700, a pre Hi-MD Sony MD recorder.  Another example was posted by Simon here: http://www.crows-town.com/showthread.php?t=1037, this time with an MZ-R900.  There are many more...

I have no problem with this.  There are an awful lot of shows out there that were only taped on MD, and for a long time MD has been a recommended way to tape, especially for beginners.  So long as we only share true copies of the orginal taping.

Offline kphamilton

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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2007, 11:57:54 PM »
Quote from: Simon;10496
We and i mean We means not just myself. I am starting to get really annoyed seeding stuff by myself. I am basically giving my bandwith to crowstown and this is not fair. I have seeded tons and tons of bootlegs already at Bootcity and the old crows town tracker and only a few seeds from time to time. Those people who already got my shows need to start seeding what they got on the old sites since they all must be seeded here. I cannot do this on my own which i already did and still do alot for this site. It is like when i seed something new, an upgrade or a good show everyone thank me and all the BS! I want people to atleast seed their stuff... A bootleg every week, every month it doesn't matter, atleast you are seeding and contributing to the site. I hope i made this clear even if i am sure a handful of people will read this since it is not a bootleg!!!!

Simon, you know we all really appreciate everything you do for us. I am new to the community and this has been my first experience with sharing Counting Crows boots; therefore, I do not have any shows that are not on this site. I have still wanted to contribute to the community itself, but other than leaving all of my torrents open 24/7, I could do very little. All I have been able to do is have tigger mail me shows and seed them for him. I will continue to do this if people who do not EAC Extract and want to share the shows, but I just wanted to let you know my situation and why it might not have seemed that I was sharing new shows. It is my goal to contribute as much as possible to this community and if you have any ideas as to how I can do this better, please let me know.
 
Okay, now about lossy/lossless... It would be an understatement to say that I do not know what I'm talking about as far as lossy/lossless. I do agree with the statement that if a show is available in only lossy format, I would love to have a copy of it. Something is better than nothing. Also, if a lossy format sounds better than any lossless format, why not make the better sounding copy available? I know that this is clearly not up to me since I am so new to the community, but I would love to have all the shows that are possible to have. If a new community was started, I would be ready and willing to get involved. As I stated above, I do not have many shows, but if I got a few good base shows at the onset of the new community, I would be able to seed almost 24/7 and whatever else it takes the make the community stronger.
 
Understandable if this post seemed useless, I just wanted to say how I felt about it.
 
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Offline Rob

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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2007, 01:23:19 AM »
Wow, not to sound precious – but here we go again.

Everyone on this thread has raised valid points on the lossy versus lossless argument. They are essentially just 2 sides of the same argument:

a.   Preserve the greater “pool” by only seeding lossless; or
b.   Preserve the reputation of the shows by seeding the best sounding

Over the last couple of years we have had these arguments probably 5 or six times (seriously that is, not just passing comments). One of the main problems of having the debate (argument sounds too harsh) is that in the main, crows traders are inherently uneducated and blaze about it all (myself included, to an extent). I’ll address some of what has been said in different parts of this post.

LOSSY VERSUS LOSSLESS
For me, this is simply a case of technology moving faster than the traders, the tapers, and the scene. Back when trading and taping of crows began, no-one understood lossy versus lossless formats. As someone (I can’t be bothered to go back and read who) correctly pointed out, trades we mainly done via mail, consisting of cassette, VHS and a burgeoning CDR format. The only priority back then, was whether it sounded good. New technology has given us new priorities about these shows.

It’s kinda like smoking. Until it was discovered that smoking was a health hazard, no-one gave a fuck. Everyone smoked. It was glamorous. It was encouraged. And all people cared about was how it tasted. Now, we know smoking is bad, we have a whole raft of explanations as to why, and we’ve moved our priorities in this area.

So, now we have a generation of people who are clever enough to figure out whether a show is lossy or lossless. Fine. Problem with that, is that the greater CC trading community doesn’t give a fuck. There are some that do, but most don’t. I guarantee you that if I post a great sounding mp3 sourced show (read: shim sham 2003) and advertise that it is lossy, it will get more downloads than a lossless C rated show. It just will. Because peoples priorities lay in what sounds good. It’s a stark truth for the audiophiles and protectors of the trading gene pool to understand. I understand and respect the policy of this site that only lossless should be posted, but to quote Tony Soprano “you can’t put the shit back in the donkey”. It’s already out there, and while not directly doing so, this site is still aiding that. Read below.

TRADING LOSSY SHOWS VIA POST
So we have a fantastic site with wonderful mods and admins. They have all worked hard on developing the site, the technology and the policies for this place. They are all fair and reasonable pople (even you Simon). And they have come up with a relatively simple policy that says no lossy shows to be seeded.

BUT, we also have a number of examples where people (mods, admins, myself included) ARE openly willing to trade lossy shows to other members via post. This is hypocritical in the extreme, because as someone rightly said, the trading pool is still being diminished by this act. Not to go all analogy happy, but it’s kinda like a vegetarian not eating meat because they care about animal welfare, but dressing in imported leather. But again, I think it shows the underlying ethos of CC traders, that they just want to hear the best quality shows. It just gets hard to hold the moral ground when on one hand we are saying “no lossy shows” and we are slipping them in the post with the other.

Personally, I am happy to go with whatever the policy of the site is, mainly bacuse I am tired of the whole debate over what is right and noble etc etc. the thing we need to remember is that the CC trading community is a fickle one, and these problems will always be there.

IS THERE A SOLUTION?
Probably not. One thing that simon has been very vigilant about is identifying the shows that are lossy. I think this is great, but I think that people still need a chance to hear these shows (although not via this site). Why not gather up all these shows, burn them to DVD as data and trade them that way. I’m sure there’s hundreds, but at least people would be able to easily distinguish them. And they would be able to be identified on peoples lists also. There could be like, 10 volumes of DVD data for lossy CC shows. Make it official or something. Set it in circulation that way and end the confusion. At least we could keep track of them.

I’m sure there’s lots more to say about this issue, especially in a technical sense. I don’t have the energy to go into all the technical areas of the debate, because I don’t think they matter that much. All that matters is how it sounds. And if it sounds great, them we need a way to share it.

I didn't spell check or re-read this one........so go easy.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2007, 09:56:19 AM by acwk »