Download help

Information on downloading

What does download mean?

Download means to get music from the internet and save it on your computer. You would normally download music from a 'digital music store'. These are online shops where you can usually listen to the music before you buy, get recommendations from experts and other customers and choose music from a vast catalogue of recordings across different genres. Nothing ever runs out of stock and digital music stores are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Isn't downloading just for kids?

Completely the opposite is true. As you generally need a credit or debit card to download from a digital music store, almost all customers are over the age of 18 with the age groups being relatively evenly represented.

What do I need to download music?

To download music from the internet you need the following:

1) A computer, preferably not more than 5 years old and ideally running Windows XP/Vista or MacOSX. It is possible to use older machines and other operating systems but this will limit the range of digital music stores that you can use. If you want to listen to music from your computer you will need speakers, headphones or a cable to connect to a home stereo. Most tracks that you download can also be 'burnt' onto a blank CD provided you have a CD burner on you computer. You don't need digital music players such as an iPod, but it will increase the options you have for listening to music that you've downloaded (see below)

2) Broadband Internet access is very useful if you're going to download music. The files are not that large but using an old dial-up internet connection would still be very slow

3) A credit or debit card is essential when buying from most digital music stores. However a few stores support other methods of payment such as billing to your phone account, Paypal or prepayment cards

What are digital music players and iPods?

Digital music players are portable devices that store music that you have downloaded or copied from CDs. You simply transfer music from your computer onto the digital music player. Most people listen to them through headphones although you can also connect to a home stereo and in many cases connect to your car's stereo. iPods are digital music players produced by Apple but the word has become an almost generic term for any digital music player.

How can I listen to music that I've downloaded?

Most digital music stores will let you listen to the music that you've downloaded on your computer, transfer to a certain number of other computers, transfer to a certain limited number of digital music players and burn to a CD. However the exact limitations depend on the policy of the store and record company. And watch out which store you buy from if you intend to use a digital music player - most players only work with certain stores.

Some digital music stores also let you take out a subscription, which means you download as much music as you want but must keep paying the monthly subscription otherwise the music you downloaded will not play.

What about sound quality?

In theory the sound quality of music that you download from the majority of digital music stores is not quite as good as CD. It is 'compressed' so that it easier to download and takes up less space on your computer. However for most listeners in most situations it is absolutely fine and the sound is as clear as you would expect from a CD.

We would recommend that you invest in a decent pair of headphones if you're using a digital music player, as the ones that come with players don't tend to be very good and are the weakest link in the chain.

What is streaming?

Streaming is a method of accessing a file (music or video) via the Internet without it actually being downloaded to your computer; you are playing it across the Internet. The speed of your internet connection will determine how well streaming works on your computer. A good example of streaming would be listening to the radio using your computer.

What is Digital Rights Management (DRM)?

DRM is technology that limits what a user can do with digital content such as digital music. For instance, it is DRM that will restrict the number of times you can burn downloaded music onto a CD. More and more digital music stores are dropping DRM meaning files will work on more players. iTunes has recently removed DRM from its music so now you can play downloads from iTunes on any music player that supports AAC files.

What are formats?

This is the confusing bit. We are all familiar with listening to music on CD and expect a CD to work in whichever player we put it. The same is not true however of downloaded music, and if you have a digital music player it will normally only be compatible with music from certain stores.

You will most likely come across three music formats:

AAC: The only major store to sell music encoded in the AAC format is the iTunes Music Store.

WMA: Some digital music stores only sell music encoded in WMA (Windows Media Audio). WMA files are compatible with a wide range of digital music players but not Apple's range of iPods. Most music encoded in WMA includes digital rights management to ensure the music cannot be illegally copied.

MP3: This is becoming a more popular file format choice for digital music stores as most players support this file format. The leading stores selling music encoded in MP3 are eMusic and Amazon

FLAC: This is a lossless format which provides very high quality. However not all players support it and you may need to download free software to play them. Consult your manual or help pages of the digital music store that you are downloading these from.

What does Kbps mean?

This is the bitrate of the data in the music file. The higher the number the higher the quality. 128Kbps is standard and 320Kbps is considered high.

What is the difference between the digital music stores that Mariinsky titles are available from?

iTunes
- iTunes 256Kbps AAC files (plays on player that supports AAC files)
- Pay per download
- Available worldwide

eMusic
- 192Kbps MP3 (players on any player that supports MP3 files)
- Subscription service
- Available worldwide

Amazon
- 256Kbps MP3 (players on any player that supports MP3 files)
- Pay per download
- Available in the USA and UK

Passionato
- 320Kbps MP3 (players on any player that supports MP3 files)
- Lossless (high quality) FLAC (plays on some players. Can require special but free software. Please consult your device manual)
- Pay per download
- Available UK