Your iTunes library might get even more hi-fi soon, as CNN reports that Apple alongside other digital music retailers are in the process of trying to knock a few music publisher skulls together and upgrade the sound quality of digital music files.
When an album is recorded, it is generally done in a 24-bit audio format. Before being passed down to iTunes, though, this is downgraded to 16-bit files. Part of the reason is to accommodate legacy hardware, even though most modern Macs, and iTunes itself, can handle 24-bit sound. Your iPhone and iPod Touch, though, can’t.
If Apple succeeds in getting the music publishers to up the quality of the tracks available for sale through iTunes, you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the change at first unless you were on a modern Mac. Additionally, if Apple did not improve the hardware in their iPod line-up, you’d still be consigned to listening to 16-bit songs, presumably through an on-the-fly downgrading process when syncing.
This wouldn’t be the first time Apple has drastically upgraded the quality of its iTunes library. It did the same thing back in January of 2009, doubling the bit-rate and also offering DRM-free tracks for the first time.