Because most musicians prefer high quality recordings of their work, most shows you find here are also high quality audio files. These files are encoded into a ‘lossless format’ (a compressed file that retains the highest quality). Lossless formats include FLAC and SHN (compressed) and WAV and AIFF (uncompressed).
FLAC & SHN (Compressed Lossless) Files
FLAC is today’s compression method of choice. FLAC makes lossless files smaller for faster Internet transfer, but it does not degrade quality like MP3. Although FLAC files are still larger than MP3, many argue that the quality outweighs the smaller file size of MP3s (more info: sourceforge.net).
SHN is an older format similar to FLAC. Technologically, SHN is a step behind FLAC, but remains popular due to the large number of SHN recordings already in circulation. (more info: Wikipedia).
WAV & AIFF (Lossless) Files
Because WAV and AIFF files are completely uncompressed, they are high quality but very large. These files require no special software to be played on PC and Mac platforms, but their size makes them cumbersome.
MP3 & AAC (Lossy) Files
Lossy files like MP3 or Apple’s AAC are typically discouraged in the bootleg-trading community. Ripping a file to MP3 or AAC makes sense for personal use (like your own iPod), but not in trading or distribution. If you were an artist, would you want your CD to be the best quality available, or would you want it to be made of lossy MP3s?
We have been posting more live DVDs lately (something we like doing), but it has led to an influx of DVD-related questions and problems (something we don’t like quite as much). Different platforms, the sheer size of DVDs, and the wide variety potentially-useful software makes your questions hard to address, but here are a few guidelines that might streamline the process.
1. Firefox is preferable to Safari when downloading the DVD files. When downloading, Safari may add the extension TXT to the downloads, which may corrupt the files as they’re downloaded. You should consider switching for a lot of reasons, but especially if you plan to download DVDs here.
2. Take time to do the research. Since video files are enormous and take forever to download, you should educate yourself. Do not rush the process. Don’t be afraid to consult the all-knowing Google. Depending on your system or Internet Service Provider, it may also be best to download one file at a time.
3. Always right click (OSX: control-click) and “Save as…” or “Save target as…” to a location on your hard drive. In OSX, option-clicking will also transfer files directly to your default download location (check your browser’s preferences) without having to deal with right-click menu. There is a similar shortcut for Windows. You can also try the great Firefox extension DownloadThemAll to avoid swollen joints.
4. Download the DVD files in the exact same folder structure that you see online. This means that you should download BUP, IFO, and VOB files into a VIDEO_TS folder on your PC. Extensions of the files should always be BUP, IFO, and VOB, never MPG, TXT or anything else.
5. Once you have downloaded the files, try opening the VIDEO_TS folder with the program you normally use to play commercial (silver) DVDs. For example: in Apple’s bundled DVD Player software, you can open a folder using an option in the FILE > OPEN DVD CONTENT, and find the VIDEO_TS folder, or you can use the Apple-O keyboard shortcut. Then, press the PLAY button in the controller window. You should be able to do something similar on PCs.
6. Burning a DVD is kind of a different story. On my Mac, I have always used Toast. Here are the steps:
• For Toast 8 and up, in the left hand column, select “Video” and then VIDEO_TS under that.
• Drag the VIDEO_TS folder (or the folder containing the VIDEO_TS folder) into the main window.
• Burn the God-forsaken thing.
• Note: For versions prior to Toast 8, you will need to select “DVD ROM (UTF)” and add an empty folder called AUDIO_TS to go along with the VIDEO_TS folder.
On a PC, use ImgBurn (thanks, Jiminy!):
• Open the program and insert blank media into your drive.
• Select “Mode: Write.”
• Under “Source” select your target VIDEO_TS folder.
• Select your “Destination,” which is usually your default DVD burner.
• Press the big Burn button. (You can’t lose.)
• You should verify the disc, and you can select your write speed and the number of copies. This is a bare-bones program that is very good at doing what it is designed to do. There are also other features in addition to writing DVDs. I hope that helps.
Please email email@example.com if you have any tips, especially on how to burn DVDs on PCs. We will post relevant information here and give you a lifetime of free downloads from our site!