Apple iRadio to feature "high quality sound"?

2 Apr 2013

Apple iRadio

Universal Music says high quality digital sound will be the next stage of the company's business, as it hints at a new music service that's just around the corner – which could be the long-awaited Apple iRadio.

Paul Smernicki, Director of Digital at Universal Music, writing on the Telegraph website, said: "We’re now in a place where digital music and high quality sound work together.

"This is the next stage of the evolution of our business and I’m excited about what’s around the corner."

So what is Universal hinting is around the corner? The Verge reported that Apple hopes to launch its long-rumoured Apple iRadio streaming music service this summer, a Spotify/Rdio rival. Could it be that Apple's streaming service will look to major on high quality sound?

Any new service could potentially involve Beats Electronics, too – a company which has previously hinted at working with Apple on hi-res music.

Beats is set to launch 'Project Daisy', a new music service based on its acquisition of streaming service MOG, and Universal Music is a key investor. Last month Beats announced $60 million of funding for Daisy.

Pulling the two stories together were reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook had met Jimmy Iovine from Beats to discuss the streaming music. Reuters reported Eddy Cue, a key player in setting up the iTunes Store, was also at the meeting.

Beats Daisy

Paul Smernicki from Universal then name-dropped both brands in his piece, saying: "The incredible rise of Beats by Dre shows that people of all ages are willing to pay a premium for high quality headphones, and iTunes’ excellent Mastered for iTunes service has upped the game among the digital retailers." Even if we might argue with the blanket "high quality headphones" description...

And its not the first time that Apple and Beats have been reportedly working together on hi-res music. 

Jimmy Iovine said back in 2011: "We're [Universal] changing our pipes to 24-bit. And Apple has been great.

"We're working with them 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."

Last year we reported Apple was asking for hi-res music files for its iTunes service, and as far back as 2011 Apple was reportedly in talks over offering hi-res music.

Back to now, and Smernicki made it clear that plans were afoot, saying Universal was waiting "for a few more of the dots to be joined".

Will the dots join to become an Apple hi-res music service? Will Apple iRadio offer a jump in sound quality over Spotify? Will it all be powered by Beats Audio...? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Written by Joe Cox

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Apple's iTunes has always been able to carry 24/96 tunes and with the right ancillaries 24/192. If they start selling high-bitrate downloads, they will popularise the format and maybe all those 'sheep' will realise what they have been missing. Apple did not invent MP3 players, they just made them popular by making the first one that worked properly!

ALAC is now open source (if it had been from the beginning, it would be the go-to codec rather than FLAC) and AIFF carries more information than WAV. So if Cupertino gets involved with high-bitrate music, it has to be a plus. After all, if you don't like it, take your custom elsewhere (which you probably will until you find Apple is more convenient than anywhere else, which is why they are so popular).


No point moving to 24-bit or high resolution if you're still going to release the same dynamically challenged "loudness wars" enhanced rubbish. 3~6dB of dynamic range? Stuff it.

We want high rez, decent seleciton of surround titles, wide-open dynamic masterings.

I'll stick to Steve Hoffman, Bernie G, Kevin G for now and avoid anything with Vlado Meller or Ted Jensen's name on it like the plague. This madness has got to end.

"Even if we might argue with the blanket "high quality headphones" description..."

Well said, WHF.  Who would trust anyone who made such a crazy statement about fashion headphones and compressed audio?  They must all be deaf!

What the hell is empty3? The iTunes Store uses m4a/AAC, a much more efficient - and when at the same bit rate - much higher perceived quality than MP3. 

Apple was the big player in dumbing down sound quality for the masses on the planet by championing it's own propriary form of empty3. It took all the sheep, grazing on empty3, for mugs and made a mint out of them. I hope it never has anything to do with 24bit Hi Res which is alive and healthy without apple. Keep off my 24bit Hi Res apple! I don't want you near it.