Downloads

The CD is slowly disappearing.
You don't buy CDs anymore; you download the audio from a website.
Most websites offers MP3. Slowly the bit rates are rising as bandwidth and the cost of storage becomes less of an issue.
The availability of lossless formats is rather limited but growing.

Hi-res

In the debunker style forums you can find claims like
‘High bit rate MP3 is indistinguishable from CD’ or
‘High resolution recordings (anything > 16/44.1) is indistinguishable from CD’
Some draw the conclusion that high bit rate MP3 therefore sounds the same as 24 bit/192 kHz recordings.

 

The only way to find out is to try.
2L offers a couple of highres downloads FLAC, DSD and DXD.

 

If you pay a premium for a Hi-res recording, you expect to get the same resolution as the master recording made by the studio.
This might be a bit too optimistic.
Often the audio is re-sampled to a common format like 24/88 or 24/96.
Sometimes there is no audio signal above 20 kHz. Obvious the original was not Hi-res but plain CD quality.
There is indeed a risk you are scammed now and then.
More can be found here.

An overview of downloads van CD quality or higher can be found on the What’s Best Forum

Search engines

Looking for lossless downloads?

Try these search engines.

FLACme is a search engine for finding CD-Quality (16bit 44.1kHz) music downloads in lossless formats such as FLAC, WAV, AIFF and ALAC.

 

Find HD Music

Find HD Music is a search engine for finding high-resolution music downloads on the web.

The search engine lists high definition (24bit) downloads that are available from the major HD music vendors such as HDtracks, iTrax, Linn Records, Naim Label, eClassical, The Classical Shop, Channel Classics and HIGHRESAUDIO as well as smaller sites such as Melba Recordings.

Shops

 

A website for musicians to sell direct.

They encourage using hi-res FLAC

Beside MP3 they offer WMA lossless, WAV, FLAC and AIFF.

The lossless part is by and large the Chandos catalogue.

 

Chandos does not use any Digital Rights Management (DRM) encoding to protect its music from illegal file sharing. Your agreement with Chandos Records Ltd on the purchase of an MP3 is that it is for personal use only and not for further distribution. DRM would allow for only one copy to be made and any further copies would be ‘digitally spoilt’, but this would not allow for copies for the car, for example, to be made. The only protection that Chandos wishes to use is the conscience of the purchaser.

 

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Their recordings are available in 320 kbps MP3, 24/88.2 AIFF,WMA and WMA surround (5.1).

Bower & Wilkins Music Club

16/24 bit FLAC at 44.1 kHz.
They suggest you get the studio masters but I wouldn't be surprised if the real masters are recorded at a higher sample rate.

Channel Classics

 

All Channel Classics Hi-Res Downloads are taken from our DSD (SACD masters) that are all recorded in pure DSD

The highest quality files are the 192 kHz/24-bit (labeled 192/24 or Studio Master HD ) files. These are generated from the original DSD recordings and capture the highest range of dynamics, imagery, and overall quality in a digital file. Because there is so much detail stored in these files, they tend to be very large. Most complete tracks at this quality level will average 2 gigabytes or more in size.

The Java Downloader we provide will make sure that you can get the complete files even if you have problems during the download session. Make sure your digital-to-analogue conversion software or hardware will be able to read these files before downloading them.

The Studio Master files are 96 kHz/24-bit audio files. This audio quality level is lower than the Studio Master HD, but is still far superior to CD Quality files. The Studio Master quality level is the most common "high quality" file available on the Internet.

We are also offering CD Quality audio files, which are sampled at 44.1 kHz/24-bit. These files are ideal for burning onto your own CDs and for listening on almost any CD player.

Deutsche Grammophon

DG is making its catalog available in FLAC.
No technical details found on the website but it is probably CD audio (16 bits/44.1 kHz).

HDTT

High Definition Tape Transfers specializes in rare classical recordings mastered with the best mastering equipment available. They are available in Redbook CD, 24/96 DVD and HQCD and 24/96 FLAC.

24/192 is also offered. Make sure your system can play back 24/192 resolution files, so you hear them at the correct resolution without them being down sampled.

 

ARE THESE RECORDINGS INFRINGING ON COPYRIGHTS?

ALL of the recordings we use for our transfers are in the Public Domain - which means that the public is free by law to openly use and distribute them - and have all been thoroughly researched by Government Liaison Services, Inc. ( http://www.trademarkinfo.com/ ).

There are two criteria that these recordings must meet in order for us to offer them as HDTT releases:

1) the compositions must have been published before 1924 (this is why most of our transfers are from the Classical genre), and

2) the recording must have been made prior to 1972.

In addition, many copyrighted works published between 1923 and 1964 would have had to have their copyrights renewed at the end of their normal 28-year terms; however, if the copyright owners failed to renew these copyrights, the works by law automatically revert to the public domain.

HDtracks has 88 kHz/24 bit and 96 kHz/24 bit files in FLAC.

They offer no information about the resolution of the source.

Sometimes they sell upsampled recordings as high res.

Highresaudio

24 bits audio with various sample rates including some 352.8/24 material
Beside some smaller labels Hiresaudio  features  ECM, Naxos and Sony.

 

Linn Records

One of the few ‘traditional’ audio brands who recognized the impact of computer audio early.
Not only do they have UPnP media players but also they offer lossless recordings for quite a while.

You can get various formats (WMA, FLAC, MP3) in 16/24 bits and sample rates from CD (44.1) to 192 kHz depending on the recording.

PlayClassics is a small company run by Mario Martinez, a Spanish recording engineer.
You donate a small amount and download a 24/96 FLAC
I tried the Albinez recording (solo piano).
It sounds very natural to me, indeed almost live like.

Excellent recording.

Qobuz albums sold as "Qobuz Studio Masters" are provided directly by the labels.

They are not re-encoded from the SACD and we guarantee their coming directly.

 

 

96 ≠ 192

A forum member was very enthusiastic about 24/192 recordings: Give me high resolution or remain silent.
Slowly it emerged, the Mac Mini used, is not able to play 24/192. All in excess of this will be down-sampled to 96 kHz. If you compare this with the same 24/96 recording, it still might sound different. Down sampling has its effect on the sound, the digital filter used can make a difference.

This I think is typical for computer audio, you hear a difference, you know the reason why but the real reason is something completely different.

Low-res

The Internet Archive: Listen to this collection of 78rpm records and cylinder recordings released in the early 20th century. These recordings were contributed to the Archive by users through the Open Source Audio collection.

Artists available here include Ada Jones, Caruso, Eddie Cantor, Edison Concert Band, Harry MacDonough, Len Spencer, Paul Whiteman, and many others.

 

If you like this, pay a visit to Sounds like Shellac too.