Do we need another digital music format?

Zeppelin Air


According to What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision the music industry is getting together to launch another new digital music format.

The new downloadable format – currently called CMX – will provide users with more than just music. It will also offer lyrics, artwork and other bonus goodies.

There doesn’t appear to be any mention of sound quality yet – which worries us a little bit.

What do you think? Do we need another format? And if we do, surely it needs to offer high quality sound.


  • Justin M. Forbes says:

    Frankly, I am suspect of any packaging that is not open source. As for needing a new format, flac is lossless, so unless there is a major step forward in lossless compression, I see no need. Now if the new format would actually use lossless compression, and bundle the extras so that there is less to keep up with, it could be interesting. But not if it is a patent encumbered closed format.

  • Jason Russell says:

    I personally feel we do not need another format. this is just an attempt by the record companies and others such as the RIAA to further control digital formats and erode the public’s right to transfer the music they have legitimately purchased between devices.

  • Linus Larsson says:

    Seeing as FLAC is starting to get supported by most devices and software as standard, I see no need what-so-ever to develop YET another format.

    “There doesn’t appear to be any mention of sound quality yet – which worries us a little bit.”

    Indeed. The last thing we need is another lossy format that most probably also will feature DRM.

    Why can’t the rest of the music industry follow B&W’s excellent example? Why spend large amounts of money to develop something new when FLAC is Open Source and it supports embedded artwork and lyrics – as far as I know… I know I’ve managed to embed both to FLACs with a bit of tinkering in Foobar2000 with plugins.

    As Justin says, unless there is some sort of major improvement on the lossless compression, I don’t see the point.

    Another problem that will arise if they’re dead set on developing this new format – what will happen to “previous generation” devices? If these aren’t upgraded (firmware or hardware), they won’t be able to play the new format. So all they’re doing is forcing the masses to buy yet another media playback device (or update/purchase new computer software) to support this new format.

  • Nick Okasinski says:

    Something along the lines of FLAC, but with metadata to store high-quality liner notes, lyrics, photos, cover art, etc.

    We also need broad agreement on the metadata tag names and content formats. Not a technical problem: pdf, png, utf8 would do fine for example. The industry would have to agree on common, open standards.

    I will boycott any format which (1) is encumbered by DRM; (2) is encumbered by patents or trade secret; (3) won’t play on my computer or (4) tries to install software on my computer.

    SACD is a shining example of a digital format we don’t need.

  • Wouter S. says:

    I don’t think we would need a new one. But the rumor goes that Apple is also backing this new file format. Now imagine that the iTunes music store sells all it’s music in this file format (next to mp3 for legacy), and that all iPod/iPhone models get a firmware upgrade that plays this kind of files…
    There’s also an advantage in this for the customer: every song he downloads, he has automatically the album art, and the lyrics, and he can play them anywhere (on an apple product :) ).
    If the industry does enforce this kind of file format, please hope they make it open source…

  • Paul Hammond says:

    I would not dismiss a new format until we know more about it. It is possible CMX is of high quality. However lossless flacs, with no DRM and PDF of all artwork are already available. It’s easy to add a PDF to the file containing the flac you download.
    I think what we need is surround sound versions not just stereo flacs!

  • Rui says:

    I personally think that what we need is more vinyl, i mean good 180 gram pressings.

  • mog says:

    This was the beauty of CD’s…

    You just had to put this on your CD player, and there you went. Period.

    Digital formats were supposed to ease our lives. It is not doing so in my mind. I need to struggle with AAC, Itunes+, FLAC, WMA, and others.

    What a pain in the b*tt !

    Sorry, I am nostalgic :-(

  • Erik Thnik says:

    Isn’t it time they improved CDs to 24bit/96kHz or better that we can play this on a CD player; not via PC, iPod etc.
    None of the compressed MP3 crap thanks; give us high quality sound!

    We need a proper ‘Audiophile’ format to replace vinyl and still have not got one.

    So much for the so called ‘Digital Revolution’.

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