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Apple, along with a number of other digital music retailers, are reportedly working with music labels to offer higher quality music recordings for sale, according to executives involved in the process.
Currently, Apple's offerings, as with much of the rest of the music industry, are 16-bit. This is because the labels are already downgrading the quality of the files they're offering up for sale through their various channels, be it CD, iTunes, or anywhere else. Now, though, the labels are working to sell 24-bit versions, possibly for higher fees. While some might not be able to tell the difference between a 16-bit piece of audio and one recorded at 24-bit, if you're listening to music with good hardware -- whether high-end headphones, or a nice speaker system -- the audio will sound richer, as there's more information saved in the file to play back.
Music executive Jimmy Iovine discussed the higher-quality audio files during a recent HP news conference.
"We've gone back now at Universal, and we're changing our pipes to 24 bit. And Apple has been great," Iovine said. "We're working with them and other digital services -- download services -- to change to 24 bit. And some of their electronic devices are going to be changed as well. So we have a long road ahead of us."
While many Macs can already handle playback of 24-bit audio, iPods and iPhones would reportedly need to be upgraded to handle the extra musical wonderfulness. With such efforts already underway, it's only a matter of time before we'll all be listening to the best possible version of "Let it Be."