Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Rdio Makes Me Appreciate iTunes

Rob Weychert spent a year using Rdio, and came away with mixed feelings:

But subscribing to Rdio is a different kind of investment. Rather than investing in one album, I’ve invested in all the albums, which is the same as investing in none of them.

For Shawn Blanc, Rdio essentially nuked his use of iTunes:

Since signing up for Rdio, I’ve bought a mere 7 albums off iTunes. I used to buy an album about once per month. I’d then proceed to listen to that one album pretty much nonstop for 30 days until I had it memorized and I was nearly sick of it and we needed some time apart from each other. And so I would buy a new album and repeat.

I signed up for a free trial of Rdio to get a feel for it, and I came away with a totally different experience than either of these fine writers: I disliked it. The quality of the streams bothered me most — I could immediately tell that the files I was listening to were heavily compressed. According to their support centre answers, Rdio uses different compression settings, with their highest quality being a 192 kb/s stream. That’s good, but I noticed some tracks were of significantly lower quality (possibly down to 96 kb/s). That’s not to say that a lossless stream would be a necessary solution, as most of my library is imported in LAME’s V0 setting. This is something that likely won’t bother most people, but it did bother me.

I also disliked not owning my music. The chances of Rdio removing an already-available track from my region’s allowed streams are probably slim, but I noticed a lot of tracks that were not available in Canada. And, while I don’t listen to too many barely-known artists, there were some noticeable omissions from both the indie and mainstream artists I checked with.

Rdio is a nice complement to iTunes, but it doesn’t replace it. At least, not for me.