Report Claims Apple has Plans for Hi-Res Audio Music Streaming

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Apple is reportedly working on ramping up to Hi-Res audio streaming for music at some point in 2016. If true, that means the fourth generation Apple TVs we just bought are about to be out of date and our broadband data usage is going to take a serious hit for very little gain.

Apple may be planning higher bit-rate audio for Apple MusicAccording to sources speaking with Macotakara, Apple is working on 96kHz 24-bit streaming audio. That shift, they say, is coming in the next few months.

Assuming Apple really is planning to increase the audio quality for the music it streams, get ready to plug your headphones into a Lightning port because the standard headphone jack used today won't support Hi-Res audio. Sending audio data through the Lightning port instead of headphone jack would let headphone makers use digital analog converters to handle the higher bit rate audio.

Apple TV users, however, will be out of luck because the set top streaming media device doesn't support higher audio bit rates.

This isn't the first time rumors of Apple working on higher bit rate audio encoding have surfaced, and just like those previous reports, this one may not pan out, either. The short explanation is that Apple could increase its audio files above the current 44.1kHz, 16-bit encoding used today, but you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

The slightly longer explanation is that in most cases our ears won't be able to pick out the changes in the audio, and most people don't use speakers or headphones capable of reproducing the sound. In essence, we'd take a bigger bite out of our monthly broadband data caps in exchange for songs that don't sound noticeably better than they did before.

There's more to it than that, and TMO's Dave Hamilton has already done an excellent job of explaining why increasing the bit rate and sample rate for songs doesn't sound like a great idea. Instead, remastering original recordings will get us more bang for our buck—or bang for our bandwidth.

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Sure, Apple could increase the sample rate and bit depth for music, but it doesn't make sense because the big thing we'd really notice is the hit to our bandwidth usage.

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Jon Jonny

well Mr young started the 192/24 but the standard is now 384/32
The evidence being all of Yamahas and Sony’s new receivers sample at that new rate

Apple can’t supply that

Gigi's Gig Rescue

If you listen to music through mainstream stuff like Apple and Android devices then of course you won’t hear an improvement. That stuff is designed to play general audio at low bitrates. Apple probably spends $4 for their entire audio signal chain in a device. It’s just a phone that does millions of others things, it’s audio is crap.

Buy a real player like a PonoPlayer or an external DAC and Amp and you will hear amazing improvements at 24bit, especially on acoustic and naturally-recorded music (not EDM and autotune pop).  Those devices play ‘lossless’ 16/44 files amazingly well also, since there isn’t that much 24bit material released yet.

If you are real music lover you probably knew this already. If you’ve ever been in a recording studio you probably knew this already.  MP3 is horrible, and phones or laptops aren’t hi-fi.  We’ve downgraded our consumer audio substantially in the last 20 years, and mac users (and xiph org believers) are a primary reason for this.

Listen to a real hi-res file played by real humans on a real player and you will know immediately that 5800k sounds better than 256k, and usually sounds better than 1000k (CD) too.

ezraz - if you want to learn about audio and not be ignorant, or worse, misinformed like most posters online: I’ve been all over this story for years now. Apple has been accepting and asking for 24bit masters for years now. They immediately compress them and sell/stream the compressed copy, but they keep the masters for future upgrades.

Ignore anyone who says there’s no difference in 24bit masters. Assuming the artist/producer/engineer doesn’t totally suck, you can achieve much more quality and realism at 24bit than 16bit. But you need a real player to play it - a laptop or phone can only play 24bit poorly, you need proper audio hardware to do it justice.  Play ≠ Play Correctly.

Also they will replace the minijack with lightning so they can put DAC’s in the headphones instead of in the device.  If the DAC is in the headphone you can just sent it data and it will decode and play sound. With the DAC in the device you have to get it to the speakers, and wires are far better at that than bluetooth or wifi.

If this stuff interests you and you want the real facts, not agenda driven consumer nonsense:

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