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Apple Reportedly Developing High-Definition Audio Format with 'Adaptive Streaming'

The Guardian reports that Apple is currently working on a new audio format that could allow the company to offer "high definition" audio via iTunes. The format would also integrate an "adaptive streaming" component that would allow music being accessed from iCloud and iTunes Match by portable devices to be automatically adapted to fit bandwidth or storage constraints.
Apple is working on a new audio file format that will offer "adaptive streaming" to provide high- or low-quality files to users of its iCloud service. [...]

The new system would adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device.

It is believed that Apple will use the new file type to upgrade its iTunes Match service, which allows users to re-download music from iCloud to their Apple devices.
According to the report's source, Apple has asked one London music studio to prepare audio files in the new format, which would allow Apple to instantly and automatically improve the quality of iTunes Match content. The source is unclear, however, on whether Apple would transcode the higher-quality files on the fly to match a given bandwidth/hardware setup or if it would simply maintain several versions of the track at different qualities and serve the most appropriate one for a given situation.

Given the timing of Apple's work, the source suggests that the company is likely preparing the new format for a demonstration at its iPad media event rumored for next Wednesday, March 7.

The new report comes less than a month after Neil Young revealed that he had worked with Steve Jobs on a high-definition music format for the iTunes Store but that "not much" had ended up happening with the effort. Apple has also recently begun a significant expansion of its Mastered for iTunes program. The initiative encourages recording professionals to utilize high-quality master recordings of songs and albums as the initial source material for iTunes Store submission, processing them using Apple's guidelines and tools to achieve file compression allowing for the highest-quality sound available.

Top Rated Comments

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35 months ago

Because I need the highest quality sound for Apple's craptacular earbuds that come with all of their products... :p


Because I'd like the highest quality sound for plugging iPods/iPhones into my high-end home system, and even my high-ish end car system when I can't be bothered changing CDs.
Rating: 14 Votes
35 months ago
This would be great. Having a higher quality audio is always better.

Although now with the 64GB iPhone i was just starting to think I could carry a majority of my music... looks like I'll have to decide which is better more music or higher bitrate...

... giveth and  taketh.
Rating: 9 Votes
35 months ago
A better compression scheme is always welcome. Can't wait to hear it.
Rating: 8 Votes
35 months ago
Please just natively support at least 24/96 with Airplay / the AppleTV2/3....
Rating: 8 Votes
35 months ago
I have been waiting for this for a long time. The concept of storing a flac or other high quality format file for home use and an mp3 always annoyed me. Being able to use one format that works for both in an iTunes library would be fantastic!!
Rating: 8 Votes
35 months ago

Actually if you wear them the way they were designed to be worn they’re perfectly adequate, most people don’t though.


You're holding it wrong
Rating: 8 Votes
35 months ago

I wonder if this is finally the commercial introduction of AAC-HD, which allows for an lossy AAC core scalable up to lossless.


I've been hoping for a while that Apple implement this. It's an ideal replacement for the "Convert to 128kbps" option when syncing - you have the full lossless audio for iTunes and in-home streaming, and the 128-256kbps core for portable devices.
Rating: 7 Votes
35 months ago
What good will this do if the Loudness War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war) continues regardless? HD crap-tastic sound?
Rating: 6 Votes
35 months ago

This is an interesting find...

Is this site legit?

Fraunhofer is one of the groups of people behind MP3, AAC and a bunch of really well known codecs.
Rating: 5 Votes
35 months ago

With all due respect, what the heck do we need another audio format for? It's insanity. 256kbps AAC is already good enough - good enough that the format's quality exceeds that of the playback capabilities of any of Apple's products (which are less than spectacular by the way). Any of the compressed formats stream just fine.

If you are using a Mac (or PC) with optical audio outputs, then there is uncompressed (AIFF) or Apple Lossless (ALAC) audio for environments where you might actually be able to tell the difference.

And we all know what happened with SACD and HDCD formats - they failed, miserably. Apparently 16bit digital audio (standard CD) is more than good enough for humans (those claiming otherwise are nuts - human hearing tapers off after 15kHz). Dogs may have a different opinion...

So, why on earth do we need yet another format?


There's already quite a niche market in the audiophile circuit for 24bit/96 lossless FLACS (hdtracks.com (https://www.hdtracks.com/index.php)) and extremely expensive components to stream those files to your receiver.

Having the files available in iTunes and the ability to stream them to a cheap $100 AppleTV would really shake the market.

Most recordings are already in 24bit anyhow so it would just take the studios re-encoding the masters.
Rating: 4 Votes

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