Digital releases

Yes, that is at least partially correct on the game soundtrack question. It is more trying to understand how those work, especially since I do not do games, thus no soundtracks for them either unless they are a normal music release, like a audio CD.

This is where I think NOT having enough concrete structure will fail. If I want to merge two releases and all of the data fields are a match and it is only in side notes where there is a difference, chances of that being missed are higher. If I look at a list of releases and I see the format of CD, HDCD, Digital-Stream and Digital-FLAC for example, I can see right away there is a difference and there should be no merge.

I think it is important to look at the main differentiating factors, the reasons one would create a separate digital release, and make such data easier to see like it is for physical mediums. CDs on the list of releases in a release group have the barcode and catalog number where digital releases do not. I mean, they can have such data, but that data is more on the not useful side. That barcode is printed right on my CD, but is not anywhere on my digital release, thus, not valid for me the regular user.

I might be wrong, and I do not want to put words into someone’s mouth, but I interpreted @Zas statement differently. I took “too much information” as trying to over specify, like having a listing for a 192, 44.1kHz, LAME MP3… vs simply MP3. If I am correct, I would agree things cannot be so detailed that the normal user is confused just by looking at it. In the cases that such information might be a critical factor, it could be added in annotations or similar. At least for me, if I read things in there I do not understand, I just ignore it and leave the whole release alone. I do not need to understand it, because the editor who did all of it knows something I do not, and I would assume that others with interest in it know some of the same.

I think it is more implied than explicit. I would think at very least there could be some sub-selections under Digital Media like Stream, Lossless and Lossy. But even as I say that, I ask myself… do all MP3 users know that is classified as “lossy”? Maybe it would need further description like Lossy (ex MP3, M4A, Opus, Ogg, etc) and Lossless (ex FLAC, AIFF, WAV, etc), and Stream (ex Spotify, YouTube, etc).

EDIT: As I think of what I typed… there is yet another flaw. M4A files actually can be lossy OR lossless, as M4A is only a container, not an audio format.

If you’re saying we should have some sort of visible field, eg format/s, then I agree.
I didn’t get that this was your main concern, because of all of the related discussion. You should open a ticket for the new feature and link to that.
Explicitly allowing new releases for different formats (currently considered candidates for merging by many editors) would be a related step.

Re. “too much information”, my point is that there is currently nothing stopping someone from adding a release for every format right now, as you say it may be ‘implied’ (I personally haven’t found any official mention), and yet it is not an issue.
I have added releases that distinguish between 192 and 320kb MP3 and I do not believe it has caused confusion.
As I say, without examples, it seems to just be a convenient argument (and potentially the only one available), and certainly one that could be solved with extremely simple UI changes (filtering or hiding digital releases for those who don’t like seeing them).

Well, a good quick and fast summary of my whole collective statement is more digital release information. All we currently have is to mark the medium as digital. Physical releases have barcodes and catalog numbers, different sizes of vinyl and types of CD, etc. I am a bit open as to how that “more” gets here, but there should be some structure.

You are right on nothing stopping people from adding separate releases for any criteria they want. One large example of this is adding a separate release for “Mastered for iTunes”. If we are not going to separate iTunes releases from all others, then Mastered for iTunes is no different, it is simply an Apple iTunes release, nothing more. All that it really says is that Apple has done a great job at branding as it really offers nothing to warrant a separate release that any other iTunes release does. If we look at Amazon and iTunes, a regular iTunes release is combined with an Amazon release, but the Mastered for iTunes is separate, that just makes no sense at all.

I mostly agree, however, there are no examples in the database for one reason of nuts like me do not add crazy stuff. The flexibility that is in MB at this time offers those like you who have added separate for 192 and 320 to do so, yet also allows users to combine anything not physical as the same. I think the flexibility to leave the option causes no issue really, but a guideline that uses too much detail is where the problem would be… and the above notes on Mastered for iTunes just proves that point. When you have information that people do not understand, it can get used incorrectly, although not necessarily causing a problem per se.

I would except that I see that as a part of the whole here. Those categories, if you will, need some thought and will require the input from this topic as a whole. In my prior post, I mentioned that a M$a file can be lossy or lossless. So having a Digital-M4A selection would/could cause a lossy and a lossless release combined into one, which MAY be against the intended guideline structure. There are also places like Bandcamp which can/could be lossless, lossy and stream all at the same time, so that is also hard to classify. But possibly the database would hold that release separately in multiple mediums… but we could also list it as a single release with 3 variations… stream, lossless and lossy. For me to put my thoughts into a ticket would be asking for a database restructure to handle, and since I know that is not going to happen, I am hoping that some sort of middle ground can be decided here with some give and take on both sides.

Replying to myself, I mentioned a database restructure for my thoughts. This is what I mean…

I organize my music by artist, release, track listing, format. So for example, I might have:
Kumi Koda - AND. Under the AND release group, I have standard and deluxe. Then under those I have the mediums like CD, digital MP3, digital M4A, etc.

So to place that in MB, using this prior conversation, that would leave the artist the same. The release group would be the release name with the track list variations as the releases. Then under each of those releases in the group, there would be variations of the different mediums/formats.

This offers an advantage that is currently not there. I could go in and say I want a release. Ok, I found it, I see it is regular/standard and deluxe, well I want deluxe. Ok, so I can get it in vinyl, CD or digital MP3 or digital M4A. To me, that is the actual structure of a release, since whether it is on vinyl or CD, it is the same release for that artist, just released in different formats/mediums.

So in that case, digital could be a single release with multiple variations. So a digital release could have variations of MP3, M4A, FLAC, MP3 320, Opus, etc. Whatever is appropriate to describe the specific source being added. They are all under the same “master” release because the group of recordings is the same for them all. This would also mean that a change to correct an error could be made once and be applied to all of the appropriate entities.

That is what I would do, if I were to make a new MB. It is really just the same as the source does, meaning the artist/label/record company/etc. YOu have an artist who makes a release, and that release is sold on various formats/mediums. The standard and deluxe are sort of sub releases, each getting their own list of available formats.


Currently, i can find one release in, at least, 15 different digital formats (various levels of compression, various containers, lossy or not, etc…) sharing the exact same metadata. I have very good reasons to think having 15 releases makes no sense at all.
And since that’s digital there’s no technical limit on the number of possible different formats, in the future more will appear for sure.

It is more or less the same thing with CDs and different pressings: we do not have one release per factory, for the simple reason it makes no sense.

BUT i wish those informations to be stored: for digital i think it is important to know where i can get the FLAC 192khz 24 bits, or the crappy (but small) MP3, in which online stores, etc…
For CDs i want to know where they are pressed (different matrix), even if released as ONE release.
MB has currently no good way to store such information, this is where @reosarevok is right, we need to define “how” to store these informations, there’s no question about the fact they are useful at least for certain users.

I already explained why it is a problem. I guess you don’t care, but it is all about being able to maintain the data, if we have too much data without good tools and enough people to maintain it, the database quality will decrease.
MB is all about having the quantity AND the quality.
You misunderstand me if you missed that i actually want to store information about all digital versions, but not by useless data duplication.
Currently MB doesn’t offer much choice in this field, it doesn’t mean we don’t have to imagine better ways to do it.

And my feeling, being in computer science since 40 years, is that extra duplication will cause more harm than you think on the long term.


Two short comments:

  • For release formats, once the release attributes are in, we could use that to specify formats (same as we can now specify, say, work keys). Whether we use it to say “this release is available on all these 15 formats” or to say “there’s a noticeable difference between these releases: the format” or something in between is an open style question that we should talk about though :slight_smile:

    • I realize formats are theoretically per medium, not per release, but I think this makes more sense than waiting until we have some sort of medium format attribute, since I expect there’s few cases where there’s two digital media in a release that have different formats.
  • This new post is related to this, so opinions?: Almost identical Spotify releases


I think sub-categories under digital media would do just fine. With a guideline to use a ‘various digital formats’ sub type, or just the ‘digital media’ type, when multiple are available.
I don’t think you need to worry about details like what can be packaged in a m4a. Not that I don’t find it very interesting, but it is complicated, and I think the main thing is that a user can tell a release apart.

You explained a few times why it could be a potential problem, absolutely, and I’m not saying it’s impossible. But unlikely. If it is an actual problem, please show it to me.

I’ve already said I don’t want duplication for the sake of it, that data quality need not be affected any more than with physical releases, and that ‘variations’ may indeed be a fine and workable addition. I’m not going to rehash it all.

I think we are on a similar page, except that I would LOVE to see 15 well added and distinct different digital releases per release group. What an incredible and unique (for now) resource!!

I agree completely on data duplication. But for this purpose here, it could all be solved with the proper O-O database structure. Example, where there is a duplicate track listing, that track listing should be shared and not duplicated on releases. In this method, different releases differing only by format would only contain data relating to their respective differences, not a duplicate of all the data.

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In this case though, one is lossless and one is lossy. There are already some who have commented in these thread(s) on the distinct differences for the difference between lossless and lossy. The only issue being that the container of M4A is not unique to one or the other. Is it technical, yes. But if there is to be a distinction between lossy and lossless, the M4A container cannot be a distinguishing factor, along with a few others too.

After some non MB discussions and audio testing, I wanted to add a starting point for digital media. First, I talk here under the premise that MB is a music database with the end user, the music listener, as its target.

As it relates to FLAC files, which could be considered to encompass all variations of lossless media, I personally see no reason to have a separate release for a 16 bit FLAC and a 24 bit FLAC. This would be great for use in the idea of having release variations, but as far as the end listening user is concerned, and generally speaking, these are the same thing. In fact, one could make a point that the 24 bit FLAC is worse than the 16 bit FLAC, again with the use of listening to it in mind.

As it relates to iTunes and the Mastered for iTunes releases, I again see no reason to make those a separate release. I do however see it as important to specify the mastering engineers for the recordings as there is a mastering difference. This may cause issue though as there is no good way to indicate such things as it cannot be applied to the recording and there is no current method to assign relationships on the track level of a release. This again would be good as a variation vs a separate release.

The reasoning behind the notes above are actual differences in the product. The differences between a 16 and 24 bit FLAC are just not relevant to the listening user, and in fact, can actually sound worse for some for many reasons including sending audio in frequencies they are not designed to reproduce and forcing conversions to take place in order to reproduce the content. For the Mastered for iTunes case, this is somewhat meaningless as it relates to this portion. Yes, it is different than the standard iTunes, but what it is really doing is using a master that was mastered for its end product. This SHOULD have been done anyway, just like the master for vinyl and CD should be different. It is only a first phase in the end goal of having 24 bit audio on iTunes, but regardless, that 24 bit master is still ending in a lossy compressed M4A file. That is really a product improvement vs a new product.

I am a large supporter of adding more detail to digital releases, but even I cannot see the above examples worthy of separate releases. Not to mention I have recently personally tested a release in MP3, iTunes M4A, 16 bit FLAC and 24 bit FLAC. That said, it is hard to argue against actual results. I do want to again state that these files were used as-is, no modifications, as the intent is the differences to the end listening user.

A lot of different CD releases sound exactly the same for the end user, but we still add different releases.
Along those lines, there may be elements beyond what the listener simply hears that is worth storing. Limiting the data that MB stores to what a listening test discerns is not a direction I want to see MB heading in.


I understand what you are saying, but are you then suggesting that each and every encoding variation be a separate release? This is why I mentioned the variations in my statement. It is my understanding that MB would prefer not to use a separate release for each type of digital file.

Should you suggest a separate release for each type of digital file, I would support that personally, but I think that is not going to gain any support. One big reason is that the expectation that users know the differences is not so realistic. I think for users that do know, the variations proposal would work, where I might note such things along with the reference, so I have something like this is a lossless release, and this variation is for a 24 bit FLAC and this one for a 16 bit FLAC, for example.

Personally, for audio files I have for the intent of listening to only, I don’t even keep or want 24 bit FLACs. They are a waste of storage space and offer me nothing in return for that space. As a music consumer, I would even go as far as calling the sale of such things a gimmick to make more sales at higher prices, but that is my opinion I will say with 100% honesty that if I have the option of getting a 16 or 24 bit file set with my purchase, I want the 16 bit. Now this assumes that they come from the same source master, which is a whole different discussion, I speak assuming all else equal.

The reasons as I understand them on listing CDs under separate releases is not at all due to the musical product, but that CDs, and cassettes and vinyl as well, is differentiated by the printing and packaging, not the musical product. So you can have CDs of differing sound quality be considered the same release whereas 2 CDs with a insert printed at two different companies can be a separate release. I personally disagree with this, but I understand what MB is and has done and it is just a different view point. If you want to apply that same logic to digital, I can help there, but we will need a different release then for each and every variation in files. For this, I would be happy to assist in identifying all of the possible package differences for digital files.

@aerozol - This does not change the intent or message of your post, as a side note, just to be clear, a “listening test” is not what was done. Yes listening is a part, but, for example, the 16 and 24 bit FLAC were both opened, aligned, then one inverted and played together. The result of this, is basically the difference. The result achieved here was total silence, including no indication of sounds looking down to -60db. Regardless of what you hear, this shows that there is no detectable difference, nothing that the said test can detect anyway. This is a step above a ABX type listening test, since those are different per person and can also be thought to be different, etc. All of which makes them a test of perception vs fact.

Again, I know your point and I understand, but I wanted to make sure that what I am saying is also clear. I do a lot of ABX testing as well on many things, but the results of those tests are only valid for individual use, or as an aggregate.

Sorry to the group for yet another post, but I had a conversation a few hours ago on this topic, as it relates to non MB topics. Anyway, there is simply no tangible difference between a 16 and 24 bit FLAC file, and the same applies to a standard and Mastered for iTunes M4A file. The same also applies to a CD and a HDCD or any of the sorts. A CD is played in a CD player, which has DACs that do the work. DAC meaning Digital to Analog Converter… I believe Burr Brown are still the top class. This goes far beyond, I think, of MB, but it most likely ends up at 16 bit anyway. Then you have the quality of the cable, the preamp, the amp, speaker cable, then speaker. Or I guess the output jack, headphone cable and headphone transducers. But there is more difference between a iTunes M4A and a amazon MP3 than there is with a 16 bit and a 24 bit FLAC. I just speak honest facts, although I would love to believe that a 24 bit FLAC is better. It is just not the case.

I will make a disclaimer, that on a second generation+ remastering (the FLAC is a mastered file after all), there is in fact a difference. I doubt that is in scope of MB though. But as is well known, you cannot master a master without being destructive.

4 posts were split to a new topic: Audiophile chatter

I like that idea. I have added a number of releases where only the barcode changed and amazon has a new release date. When I see that I add a comment in the note on the add release. Some times the back art changes only in adding in extra imprints due the merging of labels, but lately I have seen re-releases where nothing but the barcode changes, all the dates, imprints, etc, stay the same.

9 posts were split to a new topic: Digital promo releases

I know this is an old topic, and I’m not sure if there’s been new/more concrete ideas or plans being thrown around since (please point me in the right direction if so), but something like this makes a lot of sense to me.

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I dunno about plans but I see potential in something like this since the variant grouping could be made automatic if two releases share all recordings between them. I think this could help solve a problem with “too specific” digital releases which really grinds my gears even though I like the current level of precision.

Imagine a situation where you want to add a “purchase for download” link to a digital release and find out that there exist two digital releases already with identical tracklists but both having different barcodes. The store you want to add your url for doesn’t provide barcode info and even the release date shown is the original release year from 1970s. Should you create a new release for this link? If you wanted to add another url for another store with a similar situation, would you add it to this yearless stub or should you play it safe and create yet another release?

If variant groups had url relationships and those could be easily moved between a variant group and its releases, the beforementioned problem wouldn’t exist. A variant group could have a release from which it takes its tracklist (compare to setting a release group cover art) and so it would act like a normal release. This would help taggers who don’t know or care which specific release is the absolutely correct one for their purposes but don’t want to put potentially incorrect info in their files.


Something like this is currently going on with RTJ4.

As of now, there are 5 (known) different “barcodes” for a single release event for the same album

  1. US official free download
  2. UK official free download
  3. US official paid download
  4. Spotify/Deezer
  5. iTunes
  6. [Every other digital store without an accessible barcode]?

That’s potentially 6 (maybe more!) releases for a single digital release event where you wouldn’t even be able to say which one you had if you only looked at the files on your computer.

Now to some, the distinction in barcodes is signficiant, and worth documenting, so I won’t argue that. However, for the majority of music consumers, I don’t think this is the case and I believe the differences should be taken to a ‘deeper layer’ of the database and out of the initial release group presentation.

My dream layout:

  • RTJ4 (release group)
    • Original Album
      • Vinyl (I don’t know a ton about vinyl releases, but you get the idea)
        • Europe pressing
          • Red
          • Green
      • Digital
        • Official download barcode
        • Spotify/Deezer
    • Deluxe
    • Original Remastered by Hi-Tech Sound
    • 20th Anniversary Double Disc

Where a ‘master release’ is based on tracklist and mastering and nuances are displayed in sub-releases or variants. Arguably, this layout is much more readable when looking at any release group and less intimidating for any users that maybe just care they have a digital version of the original album. All sub-releases would inherent all data from their parents and change or modify as required.

Note to top dogs: I have a background in computer science and may be able to provide more info/help if required.