Amazon MP3 album downloads

The Amazon MP3 store has come to Europe – well, to the UK actually: logging into the site from a Dutch IP address lets you browse but not buy… nothing an ssh tunnel to a UK machine can’t fix ;). The cool thing is, as soon as I got to the site, it offered me an Amazon MP3 Downloader deb-package built for Ubuntu 8.10, and there are also packages for Debian 4, Fedora 9, and OpenSuse 11. It’s nice being treated as a first-class citizen. US users knew all of this already I guess, having had Amazon’s MP3 store around for a while.

It’s not all roses and other good stuff though (whatever the saying is, I don’t recall!): there are no source packages and so we need to make do with the provided binary packages. The Intrepid package has dependencies that are satisfied on Hardy, too, but it’s been built against i386-libraries. To get the required libraries set up on my amd64 system, I resorted to a script called getlibs. Note that I wouldn’t usually endorse using scripts found on a forum, and I won’t do it now either. I’ll just say I scrolled through the script (you’ll find it uses some sudo calls – I think I like that they are inside the script, this helps in tighter log-keeping) and I decided it looked like good work to me. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

(To be totally honest, I didn’t completely trust my own judgment, so I also checked after running getlibs whether it really only did what I thought it did, using primitive checks like find with the -mtime switch…)

Well, after installing the deb with dpkg with the –force-architecture switch, and running getlibs on the amazonmp3 binary twice, things worked like a charm. I bought a Coldplay album for 3 pounds, a price at which I’m more than happy to accept lossily compressed (but DRM-free!) files.

Of course I can’t say anything about the other couple of million tracks on Amazon MP3, but the ones I got seem to be archival quality MP3s. Here’s EncSpot’s output (EncSpot is a tool that prints encoder settings from the file headers, I’m not sure it’s still current – I remembered it from years ago when I spent a lot more time at the HydrogenAudio forums – but there’s a deb-package available at RareWares):

me@laptop:~/Amazon MP3/Coldplay/Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends$ encspot 01\ -\ Life\ In\ Technicolor.mp3
01 - Life In Technicolor.mp3

 32                                                     0.0%
 80                                                     0.0%
112                                                     0.0%
128                                                     0.1%
160                                                     0.3%
192     ||||||||||||||||                               13.9%
224     ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||       33.3%
256     ||||||||||||||||||||||||                       20.2%
320     ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||         32.2%

Type                : mpeg 1 layer III
Bitrate             : 256
Mode                : joint stereo
Frequency           : 44100 Hz
Frames              : 5707
Length              : 00:02:29
Av. Reservoir       : 90
Emphasis            : none
Scalefac            : 6.3%
Bad Last Frame      : no
Sync Errors         : 0
Encoder             : Lame 3.97

Lame Header:

Quality                       : 97
Version String                : Lame 3.97
Tag Revision                  : 0
VBR Method                    : vbr-old / vbr-rh
Lowpass Filter                : 19500
Psycho-acoustic Model         : nspsytune
Safe Joint Stereo             : yes
nogap (continued)             : no
nogap (continuation)          : no
ATH Type                      : 4
ABR Bitrate                   : 32
Noise Shaping                 : 1
Stereo Mode                   : Joint Stereo
Unwise Settings Used          : no
Input Frequency               : 44.1kHz

--[ EncSpot Console 2.0 ]--[ ]--

So that’s Lame at almost ridiculously high-quality settings.

I hope Amazon decide to open the source to their download tool, and thus get it included in the repositories of the various distros. Better yet, it could then be integrated as a plugin for, say, Quod Libet or Banshee or [insert your media player]. The other minor issue is pricing: except for a few “loss leaders” that go for 3 pounds, most download-albums I came across cost about as much as their CD-versions. Given that Amazon will ship those CDs to your door for free if you don’t mind a few days of waiting, the download option doesn’t sound too attractive for the money.

I don’t think you can download your files again if you lose them, but since they’re DRM-free, you can always just reload backups without nasty surprises.

Anyway, I’ll stick around for the three-pound specials… :)


2 Responses to “Amazon MP3 album downloads”

  1. 2 yungchin 11 December 2008 at 23:08

    An interesting take on what? Thanks for stopping by, anyway…

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