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The ClassicalShop.net offers download files in three quality levels:

Mp3
A good quality universal format

Lossless
CD quality and available in 4 type’s dependant on your preference.

Studio
The highest sound quality available, made from the original master tapes

Select the format based on the sound quality and file size you prefer - the higher the quality the larger the file size.

For detailed definitions of each format please read the accompanying information.

For Windows PC users you should choose either Studio, Lossless (WMA, WAV, FLAC-[with appropriate player] ) or Mp3 files

For MAC users you should use either Studio, Lossless (AIFF, WAV, FLAC) or Mp3 files

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An MP3 (the accepted abbreviation for MPEG 1 audio layer 3) is a music file that has been compressed by reducing accuracy of certain parts of sound that are deemed beyond the hearing ability of most people.

This then enables it to reproduce near-CD quality music with a much smaller size file.

One minute of music is equivalent to about 2.3Mb of hard disk space at a bit rate of 320kbps, a size easily swallowed by an everyday modern computer.

Standard bit rate in the early download websites was 128Kbps, but the higher the bit rate the better the quality of the downloaded music. The Classical Shop uses a much higher bit rate of 320Kbps so that the quality of our sound is transferred to you, the customer, as accurately as possible with only a slight increase in file size.

This file type is a cross platform universally accepted format and should work with all computer types including PC, Mac and Linux.

WARNING
Due to a limitations with the mp3 file format, it is sometimes not possible to seemlessly join 'segue' tracks (music that flows without break from one track to another 'segway'). It is therefore recommended that if your chosen repertoire is 'segue', you should choose the lossless download type instead.

Lossless Files - CD Quality Format

Lossless is a type of format that allows the file to be compressed without losing any data, i.e. sound. It works by ‘zipping’ the file before compression, creating a smaller file but without loss of data, hence ‘lossless’. The sound quality is exactly the same as on a CD, with no deterioration, but the file size is roughly half that of a normal CD. For instance an album in mp3 would average 150mb in file size; the lossless equivalent would be 250mb. Download times vary between thirty-five minutes on a 1mb internet connection to only five minutes for an 8mb connection for an average CD. Needless to say, Lossless is ideally suited to classical music which requires the best possible sound quality.

We currently support four forms of Lossless Files:

WMA
WMA (Windows Media Audio) is a universally accepted format designed by Microsoft to give higher quality sound with smaller file sizes. It is a default format for Windows Media Player. WMA is now an accepted alternative to MP3, particularly as it can be played on most MP3 players without conversion. WMA Lossless files can be imported into most PC audio programmes including iTunes. iTunes converts into Apple lossless on import into PCs, making it compatible with iPods. However it is not compatible with MAC computers unless it is converted into a MAC friendly format.

FLAC
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an audio format similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed without any loss in quality. The sound is very natural and clear because FLAC is designed specifically for audio, and you can play back the files in your favourite player (or your car or home stereo, if supported by the device) just like you would an MP3 file. FLAC supports tagging and is supported on most operating systems, including Windows, 'unix' (Linux, BSD, Solaris, IRIX), BeOS, and MAC OS X. However, its does not play in Windows Media Player without a free downloadable codex plugin from Microsoft. Suitable FLAC players are Foobar2000, Media Monkey and VLC Media Player.

WAV
WAV (or WAVE), short for Waveform Audio Format, is the main format used on systems for raw and typically uncompressed audio. WAVs are compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. WAV files are quite large in size; the same as that of CD however, they are a commonly used, relatively pure, lossless file type, suitable for retaining first generation archived files of high quality, or use on a system where high fidelity sound is required and disk space is not restricted.
A useful point to note is that WAV files tend to cope with 'segue' tracks much better than other format types, if you having problems burning your segue tracks back to CD using WMA of FLAC files (i.e. clicks between tracks), try downloading the WAV files instead.

AIFF
AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) is most commonly used on Apple Macintosh computer systems. AIFF is a leading format (along with WAV) used by professional-level audio and video applications. Like any non-compressed, lossless format, it uses much more disk space than MP3 - about 10mb for one minute of stereo audio at a sample rate of 44.1 k and a bit depth of 16 bits. Apple uses AIFF files as the standard for iTunes on both the PC and MAC variants.

For MAC users we recommend the AIFF Lossless files which are fully compatible.

Studio Files - The Ultimate Sound Quality Format

If you want to hear the sound as it was recorded in the original professional format and are not worried about file size, then this is for you. With the increase in download speeds and hard drive storage space becoming cheaper, we are now able to offer perfect copies of original master tapes as downloads.

The majority of stereo professional recordings in the last 15 years have been produced using very high resolution audio formats. High sampling rates such as 192 kHz, 96 kHz and 88.2 kHz and bit-rates of 24bits or 20bits.

The increase in bit-rate from 16bit - CD quality to 20 or 24bit makes a considerable difference in the dynamic range, depth and space of a recording whilst the increased sampling rate refines the sound even further.

Certain other websites claim similar high resolution files which are in fact up sampled from normal CD quality; The Classical Shop does not partake in this practice as there is no benefit to the sound quality on offer. Our files are true original high resolution files direct from the studios.

Only a couple of formats support these high resolutions and we have opted for FLAC as it is compatible with all computer systems. Our FLAC Studio files are lossless and with sound identical to that of the original master tape they offer true 'studio quality'.

Please be aware, FLAC Studio files are very big files and will need a lot of storage space, approximately 1.5 GB per album. Plus, they are too large to burn on a CD and of course will not play on a CD player.

Although FLAC files will import onto many media players, Microsoft does not yet support Hi Res FLAC files so they will not play in Windows Media Player.

There are other options though; VLC, Media Monkey and Foobar2000 all play Hi-Res FLAC files (please note we do not directly support any of these applications). Mac Users can convert FLAC Hi-Res files using MAX (http://sbooth.org/Max/) or Songbird (http://getsongbird.com)

We will be continually adding more albums in FLAC 24/96, 24/88.2 and 24/44.1 in the coming months. See our complete list of Studio File albums here.

Studio Surround

For those that want to hear everything in surround sound, we are making a few recordings available in FLAC Studio Master Surround Sound. These files are extremely large, approximately 3.5 GB per album. But, if you want to hear the quality of the original studio masters in surround sound, then this is the format for you.

Please see Studio for further details on FLAC files.