Apple set to launch ‘HD’ music files
Apple has apparently been in talks with record companies about new ways of ‘enhancing the quality of song files it sells and possibly charging a premium rate for the high fidelity tracks’.
Music is usually recorded in studios in a 24-bit audio format but most tracks are reduced to 16 bits to be put onto CDs. This is still uncompressed ie all the recorded information is still present but at a slightly lower quality.
Mp3s are made smaller still – often they are a tenth the size of the original recording, and although clever algorithms are used to disguise this data compression as much as possible, the sound quality is significantly worse. The public, though, has been trained by the music industry over the last few years to find this crap quality acceptable.
Jimmy Iovine, Chairman of the dinosaur Universal Music Group said recently: ‘We are trying to fix the degradation of music the digital revolution has caused. It’s one thing to have music stolen through the ease of digital processing but it’s another to destroy the quality of it. That’s happening on a massive scale.’
Holy shit. Firstly, there’s the tired old mantra slipped in there about ‘stealing’ of music and then he tries to blame some un-named other person for the fact that mp3s are essentially shit compared with uncompressed audio. Who is selling the mp3s? Oh, yes – his label. Rather than Universal deciding to stop selling this music with its ‘destroyed quality’, they are clearly happy to continue selling it but use this as an excuse to sell the same music again at decent quality but bump the prices up.
Radiohead’s critically aclaimed (but actually predictable and tedious) new album was released in 24 bit format this month. Good for them, though, in one sense. Finally, the public can get hold of music at a quality near to that heard in the recording studio. I see no reason, though, why Universal or Apple or anyone at all should be bumping prices up. Greedy, thieving bastards, the lot of them. A forward thinking label would say: ‘We’re going to release everything at 24 bit and at current prices’. They’d probably make a fat profit for a while before the music industry bandwagon-jumpers followed suit a year later.
It’s still unclear from the limited information whether Apple are planning 24 bit but compressed audio (sort of a super mp3) or 24 uncompressed audio (WAV quality) which would be vastly superior. Let’s hope they make the right decision, selling at a sensible price. Let’s hope the big four fossil record companies don’t scupper it by being as resistant to progress as they always are.