Change to lesson downloads

johnb
April 21, 2011, 02:52 AM posted in General Discussion

Hello all,

This is just a quick note to tell everyone that we've changed the available lesson downloads, removing the "Radio Quality" MP3. We've done this for a couple reasons, namely because bandwidth is no longer the issue that it was years ago when we started offering two different versions of the lesson audio, and because offering two versions of the same file was consistently confusing. Thus we've decided to offer only the high quality file.

If your feed settings are currently set to download the radio quality you will continue to receive the radio quality MP3, as we will continue to produce the file for the time being (though this may change in the future).

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hamshank
April 21, 2011, 06:02 AM

My two pence worth....(for what it is worth)would be to keep the radio downloads rather than the high quality ones...

Does such a high bitrate make a lot of difference for spoken audio? In my opinion it doesn't. Also looking at the numbers, the average size of a radio lesson is around 6-7mb where as the CD quality are about 12-13...Over 1000 downloads that is about 6GB which is still a considerable chunk.

Having said all that, it is not something I feel strongly about, just thought I would chirp in.

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chris

I'm inclined to agree - download speeds for those of us in China are generally disappointing at best, which can mean waiting upwards of 15-20mins to download just one audio file (although admittedly speeds seem to have improved in the last couple of years, at least in Shanghai). This is the primary reason I only ever download the smaller radio files.

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bodawei
April 21, 2011, 10:01 AM

Consultation would have been useful.. ??

I cannot hear any difference between radio quality and CD quality so the change means a waste of time and space for me - after testing this a couple of times I always used the smaller file when working on the site. The higher quality is wasted on my ears I'm afraid (just my view.)

I don't follow one of the arguments for the change: I wonder how the two different qualities could be 'consistently confusing'? You identify them as 'Radio' and 'CD', and give the size of the files. I can understand some initial confusion for some people maybe, but 'consistently' suggests that people (how many I wonder?) never get it sorted out in their minds. I suddenly feel better about my technical ability. :) Maybe you mean that all of your new customers are thrown by it when they visit the site first?

I note Chris's comment above about Shanghai - where I live you have a choice of three speeds, and I buy the middle one. I think bandwidth maybe is an issue for some of your customers. But even if bandwidth isn't, maybe storage space on their MP3s is?

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calkins
April 21, 2011, 10:40 AM

Does this mean that Qing Wen and Newbie lessons are no longer free to non-subscribers?

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calkins

Disregard my comment. I just looked at a QW and see that non-subscribers can still listen (on site), just can't download the Radio-quality mp3 (obviously since it's not available now). Makes sense.

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watyamacallit
April 21, 2011, 10:46 AM

My iPod is full with Chinese Pod podcasts, and it is always a struggle knowing what to keep, and what to toss.

Now you are telling me I will only be able to store half the number of podcasts on my iPod.

So unlike the others, this is something I feel strongly about.

I have not been able to discern any difference in quality between the two formats.

Could you let everyone know how many unsolicited complaints you have received regarding this apparent confusion.

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cdcjripodtouch

What I did for my ipodtouch ( assuming that chinesepod wouldn't be coming out with the radio quality)....under itunes I would go to the import cd preference and then just choose a lower bit rate after that right click on the mp3 then choose create AAC version it will then create a 50-60% compressed version( normally you won't know the difference) after that I then copy the AAC version on to my ipod and with re: to the mp3 version I store it externally USB Flash drive and that's it.....saved my pc some space along with my ipodtouch....

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Pirmin
April 21, 2011, 11:34 AM

I would be interested to know how many users really were confused by the choice between radio quality and CD quality files.

I really would prefer to keep the smaller files instead of the big CD ones, they are too difficult for me to download and take too much space.

 

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fordbronco
April 21, 2011, 12:27 PM

I've listened to other podcasts that were encoded at 32 kbps. That's when I really noticed the difference in quality. However there are so many other factors involved, e.g. studio equipment, encoder, etc. The radio quality ones sounded great to me. You'd have to intentionally introduce noise in the encoding to make any noticeable difference between your radio and CD versions, at least with my ears which I consider to be pretty good.

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ashp
April 22, 2011, 03:43 PM

NOOOO! Keep the smaller files! Radio quality is fine. CD quality is unnecessary.

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watyamacallit
April 23, 2011, 12:12 AM

Firstly, since Chinese Pod seems to be unwilling to respond to these comments, does anyone know of a free resource that will reduce the size of mp3s?

Secondly, I would like to make a suggestion: Please run a poll before making future changes to the site. Present users with the poll once when they login, and require that it be answered before completing the login.

Judging by the comments, had a poll been run on this matter the Conservatives would have won in a landslide. Does Chinese Pod have it within them to admit they got it wrong?

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mark

I use goldwave to edit the dialog portion of the lessons down to 64kbs mono. That is about as good as my hearing under my usual listening conditions, and it lets me get them all on one mp3 to put in shuffle mode.

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cinnamonfern
April 23, 2011, 01:22 AM

Gosh, I wish I'd paid more attention when I set up the account. I'd have picked the smaller file sizes to start with. It would save me some space now on my crowded i-Pod nano. Too much hassle to go through and redownload everything though.

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cdcjripodtouch

If you synced your cpod thru itunes and not manually managed it you can then still right click and compress it using lower bitrate option in your itunes library then synchronize it with your nano......it will save you some space by around 50%++

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cinnamonfern

Mmm...but it makes a copy and moves it to the music folder. I'd like to keep them in the podcasts section. To do that I guess I'd have to manually replace the old files with the new compressed files. I guess that might doable.

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chris

Hi cinnamonfern, this is obviously all down to personal preference, but just to share my own experience....if i recall correctly it was around the end of 08 when i realised that my religious downloading of every lesson as it came out was maxing out my ipod. I realised that at any one time I'm probably only actively studying a handful of lessons/podcasts, so what I've done since then is just to keep those handful of 'active' podcasts on my ipod. I then use Chinesepod website itself as my master database, as it were. If I subsequently need to go back to a podcast that is not currently active, I just download it next time i'm online and then remove it from itunes again when I've finished. By doing this it helps keep my ipod and itunes libraries themselves quite clean with only a max of 10 or so podcasts at anyone time.

Of course, this strategy doesn't work too well if one rarely has the opportunity to get online (in which case it's probably more convenient to have all podcasts on your harddrive/itunes library). Also, if, heaven forbid, anything happened to the chinesepod website, there is of course the risk that you'd lose the podcasts if you don't have them separately backed up somewhere.

Anyway, just my two pence worth :-) chris

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cinnamonfern

Well, I've already compressed and replaced all the files this afternoon. It wasn't too hard, but it took a while. And I actually do something similar. I don't keep all the podcasts on my iPod. In fact, I delete the actual podcasts that I've already listened to because I figure the odds of my listening to them ever again is minimal (except the UIs - because I just started and those are very difficult for me and completely in Chinese).

My podcasts folder is CHAOS. So when I download new lessons I relabel them based on a system I have and then put them in playlists of the dialogues and lesson reviews based on the level. When they get old and I've reviewed them zillions of times, I move them to a different playlist for old dialogues and reviews. So if I really do run out of room, I can take the old ones off the iPod, but I haven't needed to do that yet. (Though I have removed all the Newbie reviews because I don't really need to go over those anymore.) And I still magically have room for music, not that I listen to it because I'm too busy reviewing podcasts... :P

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chris

haha, I can totally relate to the second half of your last sentence!

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bodawei
April 23, 2011, 02:51 PM

I've noticed two problems in the past couple of days and I wonder if or how they are related to the switch to 'high quality' files? First, I am unable to listen to the lessons directly from the site, which I used to do 95% of the time, because the sound is broken up, as though it is buffering. Second, my i-Tunes downloads are unsuccessful about half the time; they end in an error message. Sometimes when I refresh it they complete the download, sometimes they don't. 

I checked my preferences and apparently I have always had the i-Tunes downloads set to high quality (it doesn't actually say 'CD' and 'radio' in the preferences - just that the high quality one is optimised for iPod.) So maybe it is a recent problem with Internet speed. Never had this problem before; maybe the timing of the removal of the lower quality option on the site is coincidental. 

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johnb

I just responded to your PM on the same topic, but since you asked here too... the problems are almost certainly coincidental. We're continuing to publish the lower quality file for the time being to make sure such issues don't crop up, and so the on-site player is using the same file it was a few days ago, and your feed downloads are downloading the same files they were a few days ago as well.

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bodawei

Thanks for the quick response John, my you work late!

Agree with that except that I am now obliged to use the CD quality on the site - I never used this before. So the on-site player is not using the same file as before; I always used the radio quality before.

You are right about the downloads to iTunes - they are the same files as before. That is why I wondered if my problems (with my iTunes downloads at least) are coincidental.

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Pirmin

Hallo johnb,

please, if you still produce the radio quality files, bring them back onto the web site to let me decide by myself which to use (radio or CD). I don't use i-tunes and I want to be able to download the files manually. The CD files take too much storage and are difficult to download for me (they fail or take very long).

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watyamacallit
April 23, 2011, 04:24 PM

Is there anyone who will come forward and say that this is a welcome development?  Is there anyone who has been confused by the choice and who remains confused?

I wonder, is there another issue at stake here, such as cost-cutting?

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tingyun

Honestly, large amounts of people will get confused about things far simpler than this, but the population of people who actively post here is probably distinct from those likely to be confused by the choice.

Still, given the negative reaction here, perhaps Cpod will reconsider. Like bodawei pointed out, they really should consult with customers and solicit opinions before implementing these kinds of changes. Why would any business not take advantage of a free and ready focus group of its customers? Even assuming some non-represented ones are consistently confused, then they could at least know to accommodate both interests, maybe have each page at default only show the cd quality, but have a setting option that changes it to radio quality for those 'advanced' users who aren't confused...

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keyclick
April 23, 2011, 10:39 PM

Horrible idea. Absolutely no need for the higher bitrate files. I have enough storage problems as-is. This will make it worse. Most portable devices have limited memory 8gig or so, and are not expandable. I spend enough time dealing with the file management issues related to my devices, this will make it worse! Thanks for thinking about us, but this is misguided at best!!!!

 

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johnb
April 25, 2011, 03:32 AM

Hello everyone.

We've heard your feedback, and returned the radio quality download option. There was no ulterior motive, it really was to reduce confusion (re: the cost cutting issue -- if that were the case, we would have removed the CD quality, as larger files are both more costly to store and require more bandwidth to transfer), but we will go back to rethink the moves we made so that we can both reduce confusion and increase user satisfaction.

 

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bodawei

Well the events of the last four days will have educated current users about the options anyway. A few of us are more aware of the download options than we were. No bad thing.

Thanks for returning the radio quality option - and thanks for the run-down, John. Perhaps a short message in a mouse over next to each 'button' could make the options clear to all users?

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Pirmin

Thank you for bringing the radio quality option back!!

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cinnamonfern

Thanks for keeping the radio quality! I think you made a lot of very happy users!

Ya - like bodawei said or maybe a "?" button to click for those who are confused. I find those to be rather handy on fill-in forms.

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watyamacallit

Great news. And sorry for the cost-cutting jibe. That was just an attempt to prod someone into speaking up, because you were being quite silent on the matter.

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Purrfecdizzo

I also am happy that the decision was made to keep the radio files. I live in China, and the download speeds are not what I was accustomed to when I was still in the US.

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fordbronco

Options for 8-track and Vinyl quality might make things less confusing.

I'll be here all night, folks.

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pretzellogic

Always good to have people with a sense of humor on this site!

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kingbee

Thank you!

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Purrfecdizzo

How about training parrots.... "arrrkk!! Welcome to ChinesePod"...

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rods

Hi John,

Since you've already decided to keep the Radio version, this post is rather redundant but --There are a number of ISPs that are sticking their customers with ridiculously low data caps (I've heard of some as low as 20 Gigs/Month). Keeping the lower bit rate versions may help some of these poor downtrodden folks to avoid having to pay punishing overage fees.