Frequently Asked Questions

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Check out this great article: Computer Audio Demystified

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Q: What are the differences between HDtracks and other digital-music services?
A: HDtracks offers music lovers the highest-quality downloads available anywhere on the web. Many digital music stores only offer heavily compressed MP3 files. When you purchase an HDtracks file, it is the same quality as a store-purchased CD. HDtracks downloads will play with no DRM on any device. In addition, HDtracks is the only site to offer full cover art and liner notes in pdf format.
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Q: What is an AIFF, an ALAC, a FLAC, and a WAV file? Which one should I choose?
A: AIFF is a studio-quality digital-audio format. It is an uncompressed studio-quality file that is compatible with several players, including iTunes.

Wav is also an uncompressed studio-quality file, compatible with different players like Windows Media Player and Winamp.

ALAC and FLAC are studio-quality lossless digital-audio format. This means that they does not lose data like other types of compressed audio files. Lossless compression still retains low-level resolution of a standard CD. The advantage of ALAC and FLAC is that it takes up less room on your computer than an AIFF or WAV. Additionally, FLAC will play gapless audio, an advantage for albums and playlists which feature segueing between tracks. Several players are compatible with FLAC, including Winamp, Media Monkey and Songbird. ALAC is compatible with iTunes, Amarra, and other players, and is the recommended lossless format for iTunes.
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Q: Do I need special equipment to play HDtracks files?
A: No, you can play these through iTunes (iTunes is not compatible with FLAC format files without a third party plugin), Media Monkey (MediaMonkey is not compatible with AIFF files without an addon) or Winamp on your home computer just like you would play an MP3 file. The only difference will be that the sound will be a lot clearer with the HDtracks file. To really get the most benefit of an HDtracks music file you could burn a CD-R and play it on your home Hi-Fi system. Another thing to try is to hook your computer up to a good digital to analog converter and plug that into your home Hi-Fi system.
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Q: What do I need to play 88/24, 96/24, 176/24, or 192/24 FLAC files?
A: Please keep in mind that you will need a media player that is compatible with both the FLAC format and 88/24 or 96/24 resolution files. We suggest a media player such as MediaMonkey (PC), Songbird (Mac/PC), or JRiver. In addition, you will also need a D/A converter that supports 88/24, 96/24, 176/24, or 192/24 audio.
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Q: Why do HDtracks files take longer to download than files from other digital music stores?
A: AIFF is CD quality that is the same file size as a normal CD. It is about 10 times larger than a standard 128 kbps MP3 file.
FLAC is a CD quality lossless compression file that is about 6 times as large as a normal 128kbps MP3 file.
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Q: Will I really hear the difference between the various formats?
A: You should hear a substantial difference when listening to the music on a home stereo. The music will sound cleaner, the bass will be tighter and you will notice a higher definition in all the instruments. If you are going to pay for digital music, you might as well own it in the highest-quality format available.
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Q: Why do you charge more for tracks?
A: Many web-based music downloading sites sell tracks for $0.99. However, they are selling you low-quality MP3-compressed files. Full CD-quality files use more bandwidth and storage space so our costs are higher. In addition, we use specialized audiophile encoding processes to get the best sound. With HDtracks you might pay more per download, but you are getting a much higher-quality product.
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Q: Can I play HDtracks on my iPod or other personal media player?
A: Most iPods (except the iPod Shuffle) will play HDtracks AIFF files. Please check to see if your portable player will play AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, or WAV.
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Q: What is DRM and why should I care that HDtracks offers DRM-free music?
A: DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It is a system that restricts people from using their music in a variety of ways and is generally frowned upon by music fans. DRM locks you into a certain hardware brand for the life of the music file. By cutting DRM out of the equation, we have enabled HDtracks users to play their files on any portable player system they wish.
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Q: I have downloaded a song or album from HDtracks. Where is my file?
A: HDtracks will create an HDtracks folder on your desktop. All of your HDtracks music will go there. Then, you can transfer these folders to anywhere you would like on your computer.
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Q: How do I import the album into iTunes, or another music player?
A: On iTunes, for example, you go to the first column File. Then, you go to the import folder. This will let you import any folder on your computer. Last, you go to the HDtracks folder and open up the album you want to import. Please note that the FLAC format is not supported by iTunes. If you would like to play AIFF format files on MediaMonkey, you will need to download a plugin that is available on the MediaMonkey site.
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Q: Which payment methods does HDtracks accept?
A: HDtracks accepts Visa, American Express, Mastercard and PayPal.
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Q: What is the user agreement?
A: The user agreement helps to protect the rights of HDtracks, participating labels, the musicians, and the composers (songwriters, etc.) Please contact us if you have further questions about this.
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Q: Why do I need the Download Manager?
A: When you download a complete album, you are actually downloading more than one file at a time. When the download manager application is installed, HDtracks can communicate directly with your computer and wrap the files in a way that tells your computer it is safe to receive this bundled package of files.
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Q: How and where do I get the Download Manager?
A: The Download Manager is an executable file that automatically launches when you click on the "continue" button after you have reviewed your order during checkout. You will need to install this program and run it on your computer in order to download your first purchase, and it will launch automatically on each subsequent purchase.
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Q: Why isn't my Download Manager working?
A: If your Download Manager does not automatically launch and start downloading your order, please check your computer for the following:
- You have sufficient rights to write to the target directory
- You have enough free space on your hard drive
- You have not changed the name of the target directory (it is named My HDtracks Music by default).
- Your Internet connection is active and working
- Your firewall is not blocking our servers (particularly if you are in an office environment).
- Your antivirus or Internet security program (such as Norton) is not blocking outgoing Internet connections.
If you still experience problems, feel free to contact us.
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Q: What if I accidentally erase my HDtracks from my hard drive?
A: We encourage you to back up all of your music files. HDtracks cannot be responsible for lost files. However, if you lose a file while the download is in progress, please contact us and we will help you to complete the process.
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Q: How can I play my HDtracks through my home system?
A: You can connect your computer directly to your home stereo just like you would a CD player. There are also several devices on the market, such as Squeezebox and Sonos that can create a wireless connection from your computer to your stereo system. Please look at our links for other devices which can hook up your computer to your home stereo system.
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Q: I live in a country outside of the United States. Are there territory restrictions?
A: Due to agreements with our member labels, there are certain restrictions on which territories we are allowed to sell certain content to. However, every day we are adding more territories to our agreements, so if you are able to see and order our content, then you may download it!
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Q: What are you doing with my e-mail address?
A: Your e-mail address is stored in our database, and we will only use it to contact you to confirm the purchases you have made at HDtracks.
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Q: How do I import my tracks into iTunes or Media Monkey?
A: To import your tracks into iTunes:
From the iTunes "File" menu select, "Add Folder to Library". Find your "My HDTracks Music" folder, it should be on your desktop. Select the folder you want to add and then click on "OK". You should be aware that if you move the "My HDTracks Music" folder from the desktop somewhere else after you've already added it to iTunes, you will have to repeat this process.

To import your tracks into Media Monkey:
From the "File" menu select, "Add/Rescan Tracks to Library". Find your "My HDTracks Music" folder. You will probably have to go to C: > Documents and Settings > (your user name on your computer) > Desktop Folder. Select the folder you want to import and click on "OK".

Alternately, for both players, you can drag the files into the Library window.
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Q: How can I set up an HD music environment?
A: HD files are the same thing as purchasing a CD but without the disc. You can burn your file to a CD-R or use a home music server ( there are some on our cool links page). The better your Hi-FI system the better your HD files will sound. A good Hi-FI system will translate into a good HD music file system.
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