Apple plans to offer 24-bit audio over iTunes Music Store

24-bit audio offers theoretically better sound quality, but consumer audio equipment is unlikely to benefit

An Apple advertisement for the iTunes online music store.

An Apple advertisement for the iTunes online music store.

Apple is reportedly planning to offer 24-bit audio files for download on its iTunes online music store, complementing or possibly replacing the 16-bit audio files currently available. A CNN report claims that major music labels are in discussions with Apple to offer the higher quality audio files for purchase.

24-bit audio is theoretically superior to the compressed 16-bit, 256KBps AAC audio currently ubiquitous on the iTunes Music store; it is able to contain a wider range of audio frequencies than 16-bit, and most professional audio recording equipment operates natively in 24-bit. Releasing audio in a 24-bit format on iTunes would preserve the same sound quality as a studio recording, allowing iTunes users with high quality equipment access to uncompromised and uncompressed music recordings of their favourite artists.

However, the advantages of 24-bit audio are generally not important to the majority of music listeners — the wider theoretical frequency range and audio nuances can only be faithfully reproduced by high-end stereos and headphones. For example, Apple's bundled earbud headphones are only able to accurately reproduce sounds within the 20Hz-20,000Hz range that the 16-bit audio format already covers. The AAC audio format currently used on the Apple online store is also only a 16-bit codec, so the premium quality files would need to use a high quality codec such as Apple Lossless — which supports 24-bit encoding at high sample rates, but results in large file sizes.

It's likely that Apple's higher quality audio files would also attract a price premium over their compressed counterparts. According to analysis done by the MacStories Web site, Australian iTunes users already pay 69% more than US users for the same content.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?