Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bad Bacharach: Sony's copy protection strikes again

I'm a Burt Bacharach fan. More than a fan. A student. I've studied his music extensively, and not only appreciate his compositions but understand them. I consider Bacharach one of the top composers of the 20th century.

This is why I was very much looking forward to Burt's new CD, At This Time, his first batch of all-new compositions in many a year. Unfortunately, the CD I received was encoded with Sony's brand spanking new copy protection scheme, which makes the disc totally unlistenable to my ears. The CD is being returned, and I don't get to hear Burt's new music. To say that I'm pissed off is an understatement.

Let me explain.

I rip all of my CDs to the hard drive on my Media Center PC, and then listen to my music digitally through an extremely high fidelity audio system in my living room. Every other CD in my collection ripped just fine, and I save the files in WMA Lossless format, which has an effective bit rate of 700 Kbps or so -- the same quality as the original files on the CD. But this Sony copy protection scheme messes with all that. First, you can't just rip the CD, you to run the little program on the CD and let it copy the files to the hard drive for you. Then, it copies the files in regular WMA format (not WMA Lossless) at a miserable 128 Kbps. Not acceptable! Maybe that's good enough for use with an iPod, but the sound quality is so poor as to be unlistenable over a quality audio system.

Why should I have to pay full price for a CD that, when played on my expensive Media Center PC-based system, offers significantly inferior sound quality? Why would any consumer put up with this bullshit? Just what are those rat bastards at Sony trying to do, anyway -- totally alienate their customers?

I'm doubly pissed off because I so wanted to listen to this album, and because Burt Bacharach albums (dating back to the legendary Casino Royale soundtrack) are usually a sonic treat -- not just great music, but extremely well-recorded music. I simply can't listen to this music presented in sub-FM quality. I'm not pissed at Burt, but rather at Sony. I vow never to buy another Sony CD again, until they reverse this policy of sonically crippling their new releases. (And I fault Amazon, to some degree, for not noting the copy protection in their item listing.)

So fuck you, Sony rat bastards. Cut the crap and give us consumers all the music we pay for -- with no restrictions!

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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