Apple Working on Higher Quality Music Downloads

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Apple, along with other digital music resellers, is working with record labels to negotiate a deal that would let customers download higher audio quality songs. The talks could eventually lead to 24-bit audio track downloads instead of the 16-bit quality consumers currently get.

Universal Music Group’s Interscope-Geffen-A&M record label executive Jimmy Iovine said his label is already working on bringing 24-bit music to consumers, according to CNN.

iTunes users may get higher quality tracks soon

“We’ve gone back now at Universal, and we’re changing our pipes to 24-bit. And Apple has been great,” he said. “We’re working with them and other digital services — download services — to change to 24 bit.”

Transitioning into higher audio quality won’t, however, be as simple as offering new files to consumers. Current portable media players don’t support 24-bit audio, which means they’ll have to be replaced before consumers can listen to the music files.

“[Some] electronic devices are going to be changed as well,” Mr. Iovine added. “So we have a long road ahead of us.”

Music downloads aren’t the only place audio quality is currently diminished. CDs only support 16-bit audio quality as well, limiting what music fans can actually hear when they listen to albums.

When asked why record labels reduce audio quality before songs are released, Mr Iovine responded “I don’t know. It’s not because they’re geniuses.”

There’s no word yet on when Apple and the record labels might reach an agreement, or when portable media players like the iPhone and iPod will be upgraded to take advantage of the higher audio quality.

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7 Comments Leave Your Own

ilikeimac

Yay! Music that is incompatible with current hardware! I can’t wait to buy all new stuff to play the new music and all new copies of my existing music!

MyRightEye

Though ilikeimac was being sarcastic, I AM looking forward to doing so. I am friend and advisor to many recording artists, and have helped many release their work as 24bit tracks at a little extra cost to the downloader. The audio difference is substantial! Especially on good gear!

cb50dc

Yay! Music that is incompatible with current hardware! I

Is this news to you?

If you’ve never acquired music by any means other than downloads, I understand. Otherwise, consider this list of popular recording media that often got recycled:

78 RPM vinyl.
33-1/3 RPM vinyl.
Reel to reel.
8-Track.
Cassette.
CD.
Digital downloads.

Further, during vinyl and CD domination, gobs of artists pumped out new remasters, revised collections, “deluxe” editions, etc. ? all duplicates, but better.

Jamie

Now that is something (for me anyway) to get excited about! Very happy to hear this, no pun intended. wink Oh, good quality audio, how I have missed you.

Warfreak2

If you can hear yourself breathing quietly during a rock concert, then you could potentially get some benefit from a 24-bit end-product. Otherwise nobody should care; as long as you dither the audio down to 16-bit then the only difference is that the noise (not distortion) will be at -144dB instead of the -96dB that you might hear (in place of silence) in ideal listening conditions. Any distortion left is your hardware’s fault, not the encoding.

They just want to sell you some songs twice - and you’re going to buy them again anyway, aren’t you? Because you’re absolutely convinced you can hear a big difference.

Ross Edwards

It’s times like this I’m glad I’ve lost enough hearing that I don’t care about replacing my audio tracks for an incremental, barely discernible improvement.

Jamie

Oh, but if you have good gear the difference is astonishing, warfreak. Not you necessarily, but I sometimes wonder if kids these days even know what middle range sounds like. wink Even CDs were a step down, though mastering for digital playback has come a long way. Maybe not important to the non-audiophiles who just want a song, but to the rest of us it’s everything.

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