Apple asks for hi-res music files for iTunes

31 Oct 2012

Apple iTunes Mastered

Apple is asking for hi-res music files for its iTunes service, according to one sound engineer, fueling rumours that iTunes hi-res downloads could become a reality.

Rumours have long persisted that Apple could add hi-res music downloads to iTunes and the latest nugget of hope comes from legendary sound engineer Tony Faulkner.

Faulkner, speaking to via email, reports being asked for a higher quality file than usual by Apple for iTunes.

"My hopes rose when I was asked to remaster some of our past hi-res LSO [London Symphony Orchestra] Live recordings for iTunes," said Faulkner via email.

"They were originally recorded at 176k4 and iTunes asked for 96k/24 uncompressed wavs. So far they have only appeared as new 'Mastered for iTunes' lossy 44k1 downsamples."

iTunes 11

We first reported that Apple were in talks to provide 192/24-bit hi-res files on iTunes all the way back in February 2011.

Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M, told CNN at the time that, "[Universal] were working with [Apple] and other digital services – download services – to change to 24-bit. And some of their electronic devices are going to be changed as well. So we have a long road ahead of us." Clearly that hasn't happened... yet.

Neil Young noted that Apple had back-tracked on this apparent commitment to iTunes hi-res a year later, in February 2012, and has since launched his own hi-res music service and range of portables, called Pono.

Despite good intentions, Linn Products' managing director Gilad Tiefenbrun dismissed the Pono project as "misguided" and doomed to "ridicule and failure".

Regardless, there's clearly some reason that iTunes 11 has been delayed... could it be?

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Apple Lossless (ALAC) at CD quality is more likely, but Hi-Res would be most welcome.

The other reason for the delay could be the new streaming service, intended to compete with Pandora, Spotify, XBox music etc. They are rumoured to be tying up the deals with the major music labels.

Hi-res will only be interesting if the mastering is good. I bought various popular 2012-albums in 24bit (Grizzly Bear, Lana Del Rey,...) and they all had the cd-master (DR5-DR6). So, it was clearly a waste of money.

I do not think the delay is related to hirez. Hirez itunes is unlikely to happen. Cd quality alac a tiny bit more likely but I can only hope.

Everything Apple comes at a price.

I do hope they offer Hi Res downloads, I've used itunes since it first came out but only bought downloads if I could not source the music on CD, but would be willing to start digital download purchases if Hi Res was available, and as even the high end hifi separate makers are all getting into digital streaming with itunes compatability its a large untapped market which could keep Apple ahead of the game.

Actually I can't believe this isn't already a reality, with all types of music and genres. This common limitation with online music is what has kept me away. True quality conscious music lovers don't care for lossy formats. Yeek!

This is very promising. I wonder if they will offer a service to upgrade your itunes music at a price.