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Apple Reportedly Looking to Offer 24-Bit Music Files in iTunes Store
CNN reports that Apple is in talks with record labels to increase the quality of music sold through the iTunes Store, boosting the music from a 16-bit format to a 24-bit format.
Professional music producers generally capture studio recordings in a 24-bit, high-fidelity audio format. Before the originals, or "masters" in industry parlance, are pressed onto CDs or distributed to digital sellers like Apple's iTunes, they're downgraded to 16-bit files.
From there, the audio can be compressed further in order to minimize the time the music will take to download or to allow it to be streamed on-the-fly over the internet.
Many models of Mac computers can play 24-bit sound, and the iTunes program is capable of handling such files. But most portable electronics, and many computers, don't support 24-bit audio.
To make the jump to higher-quality music attractive for Apple, the Cupertino, California, company would have to retool future versions of iPods and iPhones so they can play higher-quality files.