Today, there’s word that Apple is now accepting high-resolution music files for iTunes, perhaps in advance of selling music in such a format. Apple is asking sound engineers for 96 kHz, 24-bit WAV files, possibly to process it’s own “mastered for iTunes” versions, but also to perhaps start selling music in “better than CD quality” resolution and format.
The sound engineer that audio website Evolver quotes is Grammy-award-winner Tim Faulkner, one of the most respected classical music sound engineers around, with over 3500 recordings to his credit.
“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 in an email to audiophile site, Evolver. “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.”
Audiophiles and the rest of us may wonder why the iPhone doesn’t already play these high-resolution sound files. According to the sound engineer, the higher amount of digital information that needs to be converted to audio eats up the battery life of modern devices like the iPhone way too fast.
Faulkner admits to hearing rumors about lossless and 96k downloads to begin appearing for sale in iTunes, but that the battery issues still abound. “Battery life of a cellphone should not uniquely define the parameters for the quality of the reproduction of music,” he said, “not in my book anyway.”
Perhaps the solution isn’t one to be found in the iPhone directly, says Evolver, but in an iPhone-controlled audio module. Regardless, until the battery issue is resolved, iPhones won’t be able to handle these high-resolution files. Computers, though, can, and perhaps that’s where we’ll see higher-resolution iTunes audio first.
Artists like Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jackson Browne, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash are all putting out high-resolution audio with an audio platform called Orastream, which points to the artists, at least, working with technologies to make digital music sound better. Neil Young is a huge proponent of high-resolution audio, pushing a standalone device called the Pono Player.
Do music fans really care? Not all of them, of course. But enough, perhaps, to make high-resolution audio a priority, perhaps even at Apple. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.