Apple Working on Higher Quality Music Downloads

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.