Last year saw Dolby launching it’s Media Generator, with much surrounding hype. The service is Dolby’s way of compressing music files a huge amount while retaining very high quality. The company claims the techniques it uses are so advanced that the only way you’ll notice the difference is if you hook the track up to a multi-thousand dollar soundsystem. And today, mobile and on-line streaming music service Rhapsody has announced that it will be using the Dolby Media Generator to optimise pretty much its entire catalogue of tracks.
Dolby doesn’t need much by the way of an introduction (if you’ve ever been to the cinema, or like great sound quality when you’re watching movies at home). You may not have heard of Rhapsody, though. It’s a part of Real Networks, but last month Real announced that it was spinning Rhapsody out to become a fully independent company. The service works much the same as Spotify and Grooveshark – the idea is that you should be able to stream any track you want straight to an internet-connected device… like your mobile.
The difference here is that Rhapsody has been around in one form or another since 2001. It has come through the dark days of insanely restrictive digital-rights management, and is now one of the growing number of companies who sell DRM-free MP3s to it’s users.
What we think?
Digital rights and legal wrangling aren’t the only contentious points in mobile music right now (although Rhapsody has had a lot of experience in both, particularly due to its habit of streaming music to iPhones). It’s a hotly contested area. Services like Rhapsody and Spotify are kept at arms length by both operators and Apple. Operators don’t like them because they stream music directly to your device, jacking up the amount of data you use hugely and adding to their infrastructure problems. Apple doesn’t like them because they directly compete with one of the the core functions of the iPod – playing music. Although, with other smartphones becoming just as good as iPhones at playing music, Apple may have to rethink things somewhat.
However, from a consumer point of view, I’m all for this. If you can offer me great sounding tracks alongside low data compression, I will thank you very much.