An unusual moment of confusion from the NYT's estimable Jon Pareles: "Even at 160 kilobits per second (Kbps), In Rainbows is a sonic notch above the standard 128 Kbps iTunes download, and on a portable MP3 player through good earphones, it has plenty of detail."

But when it comes to measuring the fidelity of compressed digital audio, bit rate is not the only relevant criterion. Other things being equal, files compressed at 160 Kbps definitely sound superior to those compressed at 128 Kbps. But other things are not equal. The In Rainbows tracks are in MP3 format, whereas iTunes tracks are compressed using the superior AAC codec. To my ears (and I'm not alone), AACs at 128 Kbps are sonically equivalent to MP3s at around 192 Kbps. I am surprised that Pareles doesn't understand this, given how smart he is.