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iTunes Match surprise

It's a positive surprise!

Firstly I've been really impressed with the service. I effectively carry my music around with me all the time, and share a single library at home, in work and on holiday - all without having to manage a VPN or streaming off my home server. The gotcha I found to look out for is if you have music on mix CDs - those mixed tracks will of course not match in iTunes. I removed them all here rather than upload them. If I want to listen in the future then I can go back to my old directories-on-disk storage system and play the MP3s direct.

But the surprise is the quality. I thought my library was pretty good, in recent years I've been pretty careful to rip CDs at high bit rates. With my own encoding I had decided that I couldn't hear a difference over 160 CBR, so went with a high-VBR setting.

Yet even with a track with MP3 VBR average over 200kbit/s, Apple's 256kbit/s AAC versions are audibly superior. I'm hearing notes and background sound in tracks that I'd just not noticed before. Side-by-side checks aren't obvious but confirm that improvement when there is background detail in the sound.

I'm not in any way an audiofile-$1000-cable type of person - I'm listening using cheap in-ear headphones off a MacBook.