If you’re a music lover, you might want to hear the most of an original recording and if you’re not you might be surprised to find out that current compression on probably the largest music distributor these days - iTunes - brings just 3% of the original sound. Neil Young was the first to voice his disgust with the state of the music industry today and blamed the eroded sound quality as one of the main reasons while traditional music genres suffer in popularity today when compared to bass-driven contemporary genres. The reason? Young said you can practically only hear the bass in the tracks anyway.
"We live in the digital age, and unfortunately it's degrading our music, not improving it," Young concluded.
Apple was one of the companies that should have taken the blame for this, but it kept quiet and - turns out - for a good reason. The company has been working on the “Mastered for iTunes” section. This is a collaboration between Cupertino and artists allowing Apple to make the shift from traditional AAC-compressed 256Kbps iTunes Plus files based on 16-bit 44.1kHz CD sound. Now, the company will use full high-res 24-bit and 96kHz files as the base for encoding which should make a huge difference.
Apple has also released a white paper detailing the changes and saying how tracks should be submitted, so that users get the best quality available. The new standards really show the path to the future - with more bandwidth, better quality sound equipment, Apple is moving in the right direction from the lossy tinny-sounding compressions of today.