In the early days of the internet, connection speeds were slow and therefore file sizes had to be kept small. This meant that MP3 files had to be heavily compressed, and as a consequence the sound quality was often poor. While the standard rate of encoding is 128 kbs (kilo bits per second), Chandos now encodes at 320 kbs which gives near perfect CD quality.
As connection speeds have increased it is now possible to have larger files and much less compression, which is where Lossless comes in. Lossless is a 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, hence ‘lossless’. The sound quality is exactly the same as on a CD, with no deterioration. However, the file sizes of Lossless are much larger than MP3 files. One 600 mb CD of music will reduce at a compression rate of 2:1.
Download times vary between 35 minutes on a 1 Meg internet connection down to only 5 minutes for an 8 Meg connection. WMA Lossless files can be imported into most PC audio programmes including iTunes and Windows Media Player. iTunes converts into Apple lossless on import into PC’s, making it compatible with iPods. We currently support three forms of Lossless:
WMA, or Windows Media Audio is a universally accepted format designed by Microsoft to give higher quality sound with smaller file sizes. WMA is now an accepted alternative to MP3, particularly as it can be played on most MP3 players without conversion.
WAV (or WAVE), short for Waveform audio format, it 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, however, it is a commonly used, relatively pure, i.e. 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.
AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format). The 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, as unlike the better known lossy MP3 format, it is non-compressed and lossless. 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 44.1k and a bit depth of 16 bits. Apple uses AIFF files as the standard for i-Tunes on both the PC and MAC variants.
For MAC users we recommend the AIFF Lossless files which are fully compatible.
Needless to say, Lossless is ideally suited to classical music which requires the best possible sound quality.