Music:  Various Formats & Music Collections

Music is available in a variety of different formats. In addition to the various choices of formats, some people may wish to purchase collections rather than spend countless hours putting together a selection of titles one by one. What follows is an overview that you're welcome to peruse:

Music Formats

Aside from the ubiquitous libraries of millions of available titles of CD's, LP's, and lossy compressed downloadsthere other formats that you might wish to explore:


Music Collections

Undoubtedly you already have some music. And you may wish to augment your collection of music in the format or formats of your choice, one by one, over a period of time.

If you are into classical music you might wish to look at the list of Grammy Award winners over the years in the realm of classical music as it might give you some ideas of new music to explore. You also might be interested in seeing which artists have been chosen over the years to receive the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

While the most of the links below are for CD's, there are of course other format choices available for many of these recordings.

A Few Timeless Classics Classical Grammys Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Favorites


Music Collections for Music Servers

If you have a CD collection already it can be ported to a music server as uncompressed files. That way you can retain true CD sound quality for your Music Server files.

If you have a Music Server there are also a variety of preselected collections that are available for preloading, so that way when your Music Server is installed you instantly have whole genres of music ready to play. You can of course add any of those collections after your Music Server is installed tooand combine them with your present library of music.

ReQuest Music Server -  Music Collections Kaleidescape Server - Music Collections Music Collections - Preloaded on NAS RAID  


Shakespeare once said, "If music be the food of love; play on."

As everyone knows there is a vast library of recorded music titles available mainly in CD form—and also on lossy compressed downloads like MP3 or AAC (which Apple uses). And for most people, one or both of the above will be what they stick with for the foreseeable future.

However you can also build a vast library of vinyl records too. In fact we now live in the golden age of analog, as many of the records being pressed today are better than ever in terms of pressing quality. In addition the level of refinement of turntables, tonearms, and cartridges is higher than ever. Unless you've heard a high end turntable setup with an excellent pressing, you probably wouldn't believe how good vinyl can sound!

Another potential analog source is open reel tape. Though the selection of high quality titles that are available is very small, which definitely makes it the proverbial niche format for most anyone—(unless you are a recording engineer and make your own that is!)—for those aficionados who wish to be able to listen to them there are a handful available. To learn more click .

There are some other niche formats that actually have a goodly amount of music available on them—namely HDCD, DVD-A, and SACD—which were all designed to offer higher sound quality than standard CD's. If you would like to build a library around one or more of these formats we have assembled title listings so that you can see the breadth available in each format. You might be surprised at how many excellent recordings have been released in these formats! To read a bit more on high resolution formats click here and here.

But there are other ways to listen to music too. For instance, rather than play compressed formats like MP3 or AAC (Apple lossy compressed files) on a music server, you could instead play WAV or AIFF (Apple) files which are both uncompressed PCM files. You can obtain WAV or AIFF files by simply doing direct transfers from CD’s without doing any compression—which obviously has the benefit of being true CD quality. Or you could use a lossless compression scheme like FLAC or M4a (Apple lossless)—as in theory lossless compressed files only use about half of the storage space and don't lose any data as compared to any lossy compressed format. There is a possible theoretical disadvantage to lossless compressed in that they do use more computing power to compress/decompress.

Tip: Often when companies make claims about something being of "CD quality", it really means that it is not as good sounding as a CD but they are trying to convince you that it is!)

However with hard disk space being so inexpensive these days and the capacities becoming so enormous, there really is little reason today to do any compression. The only exception being if you wish to have 10,000 songs on an iPod where (until portable capacity increases at some point in the future) you’ll have to make the tradeoff between quantity or quality. In the case where you have both a home music server and an iPod or MP3 player however, what we recommend is that you assemble your library in uncompressed WAV files, and then do whatever compression you wish for your portable. That way for your home music server you won’t be reduced to playing lossy compressed files. If you don’t wish to do your own ripping and metadata culling, we do offer the service of ripping your CD collection in WAV while at the same time making a separate compressed duplicate library of your music for your portable player. One thing is for sure—with any sort of good quality playback system, whether it be heard through speakers or headphones—as compared to lossy compressed files, uncompressed or lossless compressed files definitely sound better!

The newest format is what is now being called High Resolution files which you can obtain either via download or on DVD-R's. These are usually available as either WAV files or FLAC files.  Essentially these files can be (and ideally should be!) bit-for-bit copies of the master recording.

The best example of these high resolution files are the HRx files from Reference Recordings which are the real deal, as they are in the original recording format of 176.4/24 and are bit-for-bit copies of Keith Johnson’s master recordings—and in addition are otherwise superb recordings in terms of sound quality. High Resolution files are playable on a properly specified Music Server—and are best heard through a high quality outboard DAC. However while most all Music Servers today can play lossy compressed or uncompressed CD format (44.1/16 WAV) files, as of mid-2009 only a very few can also play high resolution files. And even fewer can play high resolution files with the ultra-low jitter necessary to obtain the best sonic results. But that is in the process of changing as more models of music servers that can do all PCM resolutions—low resolution (lossy compressed), medium resolution (true "CD quality" 44.1kHz, 16 bit), medium-high resolution (including HDCD and other 44.1 and 48kHz files at 20 or 24 bit), and high resolution (such as 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz / 24 bit)—will soon be available. For more info here is a link to learn more about the components capable of playing High Resolution files as well as a listing of links where you can obtain these files.

If you would like to learn more you're welcome to call us for more information about any of these formats!


Music Collections for your ReQuest Music Server!

If you already have or are planning on having a ReQuest Music Server installed in your home—you can have various classical and jazz collections preloaded on to your music server. Here are 4 collections of classical music and 4 collections of jazz to choose from:


Music Collections for your Kaleidescape Media Server!


If you have or are planning on having a Kaleidescape Media Server installed in your system, you can have one or more of the following music genre collections preloaded on to your music server.


Music - High Resolution Files - Downloads or DVD-R - HRx


High Resolution files are usually available as downloads. However a few are also available on DVD-R data discs. Typically files are considered to be High Resolution at the following PCM kHz sampling rates: 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192. Most commonly these are 24 bit files, although 20 bit files are virtually as good—as the fact of the matter is that there aren't any A-D converters that can actually output 24 bits of audio information anyway. The state-of-the-art is about 22 bits—but a lot of A-D converters can't even do a full 22 bits.

An excellent example of High Resolution files are the HRx files from Reference Recordings. They are available as DVD-R data discs which means (that with the exception of a few disc players) that you will load them onto your computer music server in order to play them. HRx DVD-R data discs contain exact, bit-for-bit copies of the original Reference Recordings 176.4 kHz / 24-bit digital masters. From a technical level they have achieved a very high level of fidelity for two-channel sound. So when you listen to them in a proper setup you are hearing true high-resolution audio. If you would like to hear music at the absolute highest level of fidelity possible, then you owe it to yourself to experience some Reference Recordings HRX files. In the past when analog reigned, few people every got to hear a really good master tape. But now when listening to an HRx file you are hearing a bit-for-bit copy of a master recording, just like what the recording and mastering engineer heard in the studio! In fact Alan Taffel in the April/May 2008 issue of the Absolute Sound gave them the Best of the 2008 CES Show award for “Greatest Technological Breakthrough: Reference Recordings’ HRx ultra-high resolution (176.4/24) digital music format.”

Reference Recordings files are also available as downloads and the best sounding files are the ones that were natively recorded at 24-bit 176.4kHz sampling rates. Because the Pacific Microsonics Model Two A-D converter was used on these recordings you can hear how wonderful the state-of-the-art in analog-to-digital conversion can be! And if you download them it is recommended to do so at 176.4/24.

Here is a partial listing of sources for High Resolution files:

      - offers FLAC files; DSD files coming soon

      - offers


      - has Studio Master FLAC & ALAC 20 or 24-bit files (44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz)

      - offers 176.4/24 HRx (DVD-R) - or order HRx DVD-R's by calling us at 781-893-9000

      - offers 44.1/24, 96/24, 192/24 FLAC - plus DSD: DFF or DSF 1bit 2822.4kHz

      - (Canada & US) 88.2/24, 96/24, 176.4/24, 192/24 FLAC & AIFF; DSD DFF 1bit 2822.4kHz

      - offers and FLAC files (download). Gratis tracks and

      - FLAC files up to & also some gratis FLAC files

      - 96/24 () (note: choose STUDIO 24/96)

      - has 192/24 (DVD-R)

      - has 96/24 and 88.2 FLAC files

      - has "Studio Master Pro" files which are 96/24 or 88.2/24 FLAC

      - 88.2/24 WMA or AIFF

      - 96/24 WAV as well as DSD files

      - 96/24 WAV

      - 96/24 FLAC (download)

      - 96/24  DVD or FLAC

      - 96/24  PCM

      - 24 bit FLAC w/sampling rates up to 96kHz


Note: To play High Resolution files either they are downloaded or transferred from a DVD-R data disc to a computer or Music Server. Once they are transferred you can then play the music files through your audio system. In order to hear them at their full fidelity the computer music server should output a high quality, ultra-low jitter digital signal to an outboard high end D-A converter which can play these high resolution files. For information on a D-A converter that can play these files click here.

Note: 2L also has high resolution surround files to download.

Note: Linn also has high resolution surround files to download.

Note: In the future we expect Reference Recordings to offer some high resolution surround files.


Music - Medium Resolution File Downloads

It is debatable whether to call 20 or 24 bit files recorded at 44.1kHz or 48kHz true High Resolution filesnevertheless both formats exceed that of regular CD's (44.1kHz/16bit) so regardless of what you call them they are definitely still worth having. One could say that any file that is at 20 or 24 bits and 44.1 or 48kHz are Medium Resolution.

Here is a partial listing of sources for Medium Resolution files that are potentially still better than CD because they are 24 bit:

      - has 44.1/24 and 48/24 FLAC files (download) - featuring both popular music and the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra)

      - has 48/24 FLAC files (download)

[Note: When decoded by a D-A which includes HDCD decoding (like the Berkeley Alpha DAC, etc.), HDCD-encoded CD'sof which there are many thousands of titlesdecode as 20 bit 44.1kHz files.]


Music - CD Resolution File Downloads

It is an exciting development to see that Deutsche Grammophon has so much great music from major artists on their website for download as FLAC files. These are at the regular CD level of 44.1kHz/16bit and they use the FLAC lossless compression to make the files smaller so they will download about twice as fast as WAV files. If you have ever spent time transferring your CD's into a music server you know how much time you could save by simply downloading files so this is a nice alternative to have.

On the DG website they state, "We are committed to bringing back ever more out of print releases from our past as downloads from this site". Hopefully they will someday release their catalog as High Resolution files! And hopefully the other major labels will follow suit! Nevertheless having FLAC 44.1kHz 16 bit downloads from DG is still an important development, and while we are waiting for more high resolution files to become available these are still well worth having in the here and now.

Below is a partial listing of sites that offer CD quality downloads:

Note: Unfortunately Apple Mac computers using iTunes are not able to play FLAC files. So if you are using a Mac computer with iTunes here is a about how to download a FLAC file and change it into a file type that is Mac iTunes compatible. To maintain sound quality we recommend that you convert FLAC to either AIFF (.aif or .aiff) or Apple Lossless (.m4a) files. Alternatively if you are using a Mac and don't wish to use iTunes as your music server software you can download or in order to play FLAC files directly without conversion.

      - already has over 200 DG & Decca albums in 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

[Note that currently DG has a 55 CD set as a for $89 which works out to be less than $2/CD. It is a 15.3GB download of 732 files in total and includes many major artists. You can see the listing of artists and repertoire contained in this CD box set or FLAC download .] NOTE: For some reason this was discontinued.

      - 44.1/16 WAV, FLAC, WMA lossless, AIFF files (download)

 [Note: The Classical Shop has dozens of record labels in their . Currently a lot of their catalog is only available as MP3's, but hopefully they will continue to expand their lossless offerings.]

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

[Note: Hyperion has quite a large selection of FLAC downloads. For instance here is just the .]

      - 44.1/16 FLAC or WMA or Apple Lossless files (download)

[Note: The bad news is that Rhino is engaging in what is at the very least an unacceptable level of hype that threatens their credibility by calling their 44.1kHz/16 bit files Hi-Defas obviously they are at best CD quality. The files are available in FLAC, Apple Lossless, and WMA. The good news is that they have a large number of files! Also if you would like to ask them to please change their labeling from the (in our view!) totally misleading Hi-Def label to the proper labeling of CD quality you can email them at customerservice@rhino.com. At the same time you could ask them to start offering some true Hi-Def files at 88.2 or 96 or 176.4 or 192kHz and 24 bit. Now if they would start doing that it would be great as they do have some great popular music titles!]

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC / WMA Lossless / Apple Lossless - files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download)

      - 44.1/16 FLAC files (download) [Note; As of May 2010 it was still a beta site]

Note: bought MHS and so downloads are no more, but still has guides to & .


Note: Many popular bands have their own websites and you can download files from them. Some examples are:

      - FLAC files (download) Live Concerts from 2007 on (be sure to specify FLAC)

      - FLAC files (download) Live Concerts from 2004 on (be sure to specify FLAC)

      - FLAC files (download) (be sure to specify FLAC)


Music - HDCD

 Reference Recordings HDCD: SerenadeReference Recordings HDCD: Garden of DreamsReference Recordings HDCD: Mike Garson - Jazz HatReference Recordings HDCD: Organ Odyssey

Reference Recordings HDCD: Shakespeare's Tempest Reference Recordings HDCD: Joel Fan  Reference Recordings HDCD: LIVE in San Francisco - 1976 - VIRGIL FOX Reference Recordings: The HOT CLUB OF SAN FRANCISCO - Yerba Buena Bounce


CD titles marked "HDCD" have been recorded with an advanced digital recording system co-invented by "Prof." Keith Johnson. Essentially an HDCD CD is a 44.1kHz/16 bit recording but with an extra 4 bits of resolution encoded in hidden channels so that when it is decoded you are hearing 20 bits of resolution rather than the typical 16 bits. That is why HDCD can bring a higher level of accuracy and musicality to CDs. Heard on a standard CD player, their sonic superiority will be evident simply because the Analog-to-Digital Converter utilized was in most cases from Pacific Microsonics. However the finer levels of resolution, imaging, and spatial information will be revealed when these CDs are reproduced on players with HDCD decoding which are available from a number of manufacturers. One such manufacturer is Spectral Audio who manufactures the renowned SDR-4000SL CD Player which is considered by many to be the finest reference CD player available today—and of course it does an exemplary job of decoding any CD's that happen to be HDCD-encoded.

Alternatively HDCD CDs can be ported to a computer-based music server and then played back through an outboard high end DAC such as the new Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC which also decodes HDCD recordings.

There are well over 5000 HDCD encoded CD's available, and a substantial listing of HDCD recordings can be found here.

If you would like to hear what are probably the best sounding HDCD recordings ever made you can find a catalog of Reference Recording HDCD CD's .


Tech Tip: If you are going to transfer music from an HDCD-encoded CD's to a music server,  Illustrate's CDGrabber has a that allows tracks from HDCDs to be ripped to 24-bit WAV files. The files have a bit rate of 2116.8 kbit/x and are about 1.5 times as large as 16-bit WAV files. For example, King Sunny Ade's "Jigi Jigi Isapa" (from the od~ album) has a 16-bit WAV size of 58.5 MB, while the "24-bit" WAV file is 87.8 MB. Note that while the files will be listed as 24-bit, only 20 bits per sample contain actual data.

However if you are using a DAC that decodes HDCD (like the Berkeley Alpha DAC, etc.) it is unnecessary to convert the files to 24 bit. In fact it is preferable not to convert them but simply to transfer them as is. You can use to transfer the music to your music server which will ensure a bit-for-bit copy. That way when you play the file you will see the HDCD indicator light come on which can assure you that the files were accurately transferred. However we do recommend over Exact Audio Copy as the metadata comes out better.


Music - SACD

Although no longer being supported by Sony, well over 8000 SACD's have been released to date. And especially in Europe and Asia there are a number of smaller labels continuing to release new albums. So it looks like SACD will continue as a niche format.

Basically there are two types of SACD discs—Single Layer and Hybrid. A Single Layer is SACD only. Whereas a hybrid SACD is made up of two separate layers—with one layer carrying regular CD-format music and the other layer carrying the SACD  music information. Any Hybrid SACD title can be played on any CD Player, DVD Player or SACD Player. However a Single Layer SACD can only be played with an SACD Player. Within those two groups are Stereo, Mono and Multichannel SACDs. Stereo SACDs carry two-channel (left and right speaker) SACD information—and obviously a Mono SACD carries just one channel. A Multichannel SACD carries as many as six separate channels. To playback a surround sound SACD you will need an SACD player, the requisite number of channels of amplification, and a 5.1 speaker setup. However only some SACDs have Multichannel functionality, so look for the recording information of each title either on the SACD front or rear cover—or you research online.

For a substantial listing of SACD titles click here.

Music - DSD File Downloads

DSD files are now available and can be played on a music server. The easiest way to get DSD files is to download them from websites such as:

  • (just announced)
  • - HD-Klassik.com (German site)
  • - (German site)
  • DSDfile.com
  • (Japanese site)

You can also rip DSD files from your library of SACD discs in order to play them on your music server. For a substantial listing of SACD titles click here.

To listen to DSD files you need a music server that can play them. has designed their music servers so that they can play DSD files. In addition Media Center (Windowsand soon both Mac & Linux) and Channel D (Mac) are examples of music server software that can play DSD files into a DSD DAC. and (eventually) Amarra music server software are other options for the Mac.

For DSD DACs there are a number of high end models from companies such as dCS and MSB that can play DSD files. Plus the new  Luxman DA-06 USB DAC can play DSD files natively from a Windows music server with an ASIO driver. Alternatively if you are on a tighter budget check out who have several models. More technical information on music file quality, metadata, and cover art for a music server is available here and specifically with regard to DSD files here.


Music - Blu-Ray Audio

The Blu-Ray format was originally created for 1080p movies with higher quality soundtracks in mono, stereo, or surround sound. The soundtracks for genres such as movies, music videos, opera, dance, etc. are usually available in a variety of quality formats:

  • PCM (also called LPCM, Linear PCM, or Uncompressed )
  • Dolby TrueHD (lossless compressed)
  • DTS-HD Master Audio (lossless compressed)

PCM is usually 24-bit at 88.2, 96, 176.4, or 192 kHz sampling rates.

There is also a newer type of disc that is audio-only called Blu-Ray Audio. Not surprisingly sampling rates/bit depths are the same as the video/audio blu-ray discs. Record companies who have released Blu-Ray Audio discs include:

  • Universal

You can find Blu-Ray Audio discs at:


Music - DVD-Audio




Music on DVD Audio (also known as DVD-A) can be in stereo and/or surround sound formats. DVD-A's can only be played on a DVD player or transport that supports DVD-Audio playback. DVD-Audio 2-channel can be up to 192kHz/24 bit, whereas DVD-Audio surround sound tracks can be up to 96/24. Although no longer being actively supported by any record labels that we know of, over 1500 DVD-Audio discs have been released to date, and some of the recordings are well worth having. DVD-Audio discs have been released by Warner Bros, Universal Music Group, Reprise Records, EMI Capital Records, Rhino Records, Virgin Records, BMG, Silverline (a member of the 5.1 Entertainment Group), AIX Media Group, Chesky Records, Telarc, and a host of boutique studios so there is a good variety or material available.

There are two ways to play DVD-Audio discs, either with a DVD-Audio player—or through a computer/music server which feeds an outboard high end DAC such as the Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC. If you wish to transfer a DVD-Audio disc to your computer/music server here is a for some Windows software which one of our clients told us about.

To make it easier for you to build your collection, three substantial listings can be found here and here and .


Music - DAD

WEAVERS: Reunion at Carnegie Hall Art Davis - A Time Remembered SARAH McLACHLAN: Touch

Lorna Hunt - All In One Day Prokofiev/Rimsky Korsakov Alexander Nevsky - Slatkin/SLSOC Sims and Cohn - Either Way

Rushing and Hines - Blues & Things Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin'


DAD discs are actually the same as regular DVD-Video discs. The difference is that they are audio only. They have a stereo PCM 96/24 audio track which is on the same audio track as a regular DVD. So unlike a DVD-Audio disc which can only be played on a DVD-Audio enables player, a DAD disc can play on a regular DVD Video player. In once sense this is a niche product because there is only a small amount of software. But in another sense it isn't because DVD has become a true standard that will continue for the foreseeable future. Various labels have released them including , , , and . These are also available from which stocks various titles.


Music - HDAD

Cannonball Adderly - Somethin' Else

Villa Lobos - The Little Train of the Caipira Kogan/MSSO - Scheherazade Scriabin - Le Poeme dextase - Stokowski / Houston Symphony

de la Roche/Netania Davrath - Songs Of The Auvergne Vols. 1 & 2 Tchaikovsky/Symphony #5 - Sargent/LSO




HDAD discs are two sided discs. One side has 192kHz/24bit data which is only playable on a DVD-audio player—and the other side has 96/24 data which is playable on a regular DVD video player. So an HDAD disc is the combination of a DVD-Audio disc and a DAD disc. Like DAD, in once sense this is a niche product because there is only a small amount of software. But in another sense it isn't because DVD has become a standard format and will remain so for the foreseeable future. has released a number of classic recordings that were originally recorded by such labels as Vanguard, Blue Note, and Everest. also has released a number of classic re-releases. stocks these also.


Music - DualDisc

Hugh Masekela - Almost Like Being In Jazz


A DualDisc is a 2-sided disc. One side is a CD and the other is a DVD-Audio. However there is a caveat that you should be aware of and that is a DualDisc is thicker than either a regular CD or DVD disc. A CD is 1.2mm thick—as is a DVD disc, whether it be DVD-Video or DVD-Audio. Whereas a DualDisc is 1.5-1.6mm thick. So there can be problems playing DualDiscs on some players. In fact some manufacturers advise against using DualDiscs on some models, and in certain cases will void the warranty on their player if it is used with a DualDisc. So please check with the manufacturer of your player before playing any DualDiscs! To our knowledge this format is no longer being supported. However there are some good recordings available and so you might wish to check them out.


Classical Music - Grammy Winners

For your edification and listening pleasure we have compiled the Grammy Awards winners in the various classical music categories. It is interesting to see what was chosen—and you also might find some interesting music to explore!

In addition here is a link to the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners and, once again, it is interesting to see who was chosen and when. You can usually figure out why of course!


More Music - Some recordings to expand your musical horizons!

Last but not least, here is a variety of music that has been recorded over the years for your listening pleasure!


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