iTunes to Go High-Res
Apple's iTunes music store will soon support audiophile-approved high-res files, according to CNN.
Music industry executives have been discussing the possibility with Apple, reports the news network. If the plan moves forward, it would allow consumers to buy music files encoded at 24-bit resolution, as opposed to the 16 bits used for CDs and compressed files.
Recording artists and producers are already hailing the news. "What we're trying to do here is fix the degradation of music that the digital revolution has caused," Jimmy Iovine said recently at an HP event.
But that begs the question: If artists have the option of releasing in 24-bit, will they also curb their use of smothering compression and screechy equalization? If not, the high-res files will sound little better than the low-res files. Consumers would merely be paying more (presumably) for the same sour milk.
Another potential hitch is hardware compatibility. While iTunes does support the Apple Lossless Encoder, no existing generation of iPods handles 24-bit files. Uh-oh, looks like Apple has just found another way to coax consumers to upgrade.
Still, production and hardware considerations notwithstanding, this is good news for audiophiles who have made the transition from disc-based listening. The best case scenario: If listeners rediscover the pleasure of high-res audio, artists and producers just might cater to them with a better product.