Ask any hi-fi buff their beef with iTunes and the world’s other music download services and doubtless they’ll complain about audio quality. That looks set to change, however, with record label execs apparently in talks with Apple and others to bring 24-bit lossless downloads to market.
It all means that you’ll potentially be able to snag a better quality version of the album you’re buying, but at a premium price. The release of Radiohead’s The King of Limbs saw a similar pricing strategy, with ‘CD quality’ copies of the album available for £9, while an MP3 copy sold for £6.
While a move to 24-bit for iTunes, Amazon and 7Digital would be great, it would provide something of a headache for Apple. Because although Macs can throw out 24-bit audio, iOS devices can’t. That means we could see 24-bit support coming to the iPad 2 and iPhone 5, with Cupertino looking to get a jump on its rivals.
Record producer Jimmy Iovine, who works for Universal Music Group, suggested such changes were likely, saying, "We're working with [Apple] and other digital services - download services - to change to 24 bit. And some of their electronic devices are going to be changed as well."