Apple and various other digital music retailers are looking to improve the quality of the song files they sell, at a premium. This means online music stores could eventually offer songs that sound truer to their original recordings. Albums are generally captured in a studio recordings in a 24-bit, high-fidelity audio format but they are downgraded to 16-bit files before transferring onto CDs or distributed to digital sellers. Some of these are further compressed in order to minimize their download time or to allow for easy streaming over the internet. Jimmy Iovine, the chairman of Universal Music Group’s Interscope-Geffen-A&M record label is now discussing the topic of improving the caliber of music offered by download services onstage to change to 24 bit, during a two-hour HP news conference unveiling the TouchPad and other products. Iovine also has a venture with hip hop artist Dr. Dre called Beats Audio, designing high-end headphones and other audio equipment. Many models of Mac computers can play 24-bit sound, and the iTunes program is capable of handling such files. But most portable electronics, and many computers, don’t support 24-bit audio. To make the shift attractive for Apple, the Cupertino, California, company would have to retool future versions of iPods and iPhones so they can play higher-quality files.
Apple went through an upgrade on the quality of its music catalog once before. In January 2009, the iTunes Store began offering most tracks in a bit-rate twice as high as its previous standard and free of copy-protection. One must salute their efforts to uphold the quality of music which seems to have been degraded over time with piracy issues. After all as Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” and we definitely don’t want poor quality mistakes.