Apple Once Again Rumored to Be Developing High-Resolution Audio Formats

hi_res_audio_logoApple is reportedly preparing to launch new higher-quality audio streaming in 2016, according to industry sources who spoke to Mac Otakara at this weekend's Portable Audio Festival in Tokyo.

According to several insiders familiar with Apple, whose products are exhibited at PORTABLE AUDIO FESTIVAL 2015, the company has been developing Hi-Res Audio streaming up to 96kHz/24bit in 2016.

The Lightning terminal with iOS 9 is compatible up to 192kHz/24Bit, but we do not have information on the sampling frequency of Apple Music download music.

The report also claims many audio equipment manufacturers are preparing their own third-party Lightning cables in anticipation of Apple's move toward improved audio quality.

Apple has long been rumored to be looking to introduce higher-quality audio formats for iTunes Store downloads and perhaps also Apple Music streaming. A year and a half ago, music blogger Robert Hutton claimed Apple was working to roll out high-resolution audio for the iTunes Store, and Mac Otakara made similar claims about an HD Audio format and new hardware being planned for release alongside iOS 8 later that year.

An even earlier flurry of rumors came in 2012 after Neil Young revealed that he and Steve Jobs had discussed ideas for improving the audio quality of iTunes Store content. Young ultimately went on his own in an effort to increase the quality digital music, releasing his PonoPlayer in early 2014.

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Top Rated Comments

QuarterSwede Avatar
111 months ago
Lossless doesn't cut it for me. I need the full raw uncompressed quality to hear it as it was mastered. Lossless dulls out some of the minute details, sharpness and punchy bass elements that you don't really get until you jump up past about 900k -- ALAC or FLAC is not good enough, you need AIFF or WAV to really hear it as it was intended...better yet, vinyl :)

Basically, anytime you add any kind of compression algorithm to the original it dumbs it down, fuzzes up the highs and makes the sharper elements of the bass less pronounced. It takes either a really good stereo system or high end speakers or headphones to pick up on this -- usually the larger ones with more bass response can differentiate the higher quality audio better from the compressed versions. With the bundled earbuds that come with the iPhone, they can't reproduce the higher end bass elements like a larger speaker system can, or even high end studio over-ear monitors, so you would not be be able to tell a difference.
You have no idea what you're talking about.

WAV/AIFF and ALAC/FLAC are sonically identical. They're both lossless, hence the term.

Besides, AIFF isn't what's stored on a CD anyway. It's technically CDA or redbook audio (another uncompressed format). Ask anyone who has mastered CD's (process of actually flagging the tracks to split them and creating a CD Master, not audio mastering).

On topic, increased dynamic range will make the most impact for folks. Unfortunately many pop songs wouldn't take advantage of it as they're so compressed as to be almost unlistenable at length (causes ear fatigue).

The next best thing they could do is train engineers better. In all my years of listening I can only point out a few perfectly engineered and mastered albums. Crappy engineering and mastering causes more problems than lossy compression.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SimonTheSoundMa Avatar
111 months ago
Could we just have lossless audio please. These higher bit rates and depth sound no different. Also, sort out dynamic range, that's the biggest problem right now.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mk2 Avatar
111 months ago
"Unfortunately, there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space."
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Four oF NINE Avatar
111 months ago
I think improved audio streaming is long overdue. I hope this works out
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JimmyHook Avatar
111 months ago
I need the performer in my house singing next to me. Compressed audio, lossless audio, or even original masters don't quite cut it. I won't be satisfied until Apple ships the performer to my house after I purchase the track. I won't even bother with your inferior algorithms.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HopefulHumanist Avatar
111 months ago
I have extensively been writing about this in several other threads on here...

Apple needs to make raw uncompressed, full-quality AIFF versions of their music available to download at the Apple Music Store. I would not have a problem paying extra for the higher quality audio, much like Beatport already has available,

The audio quality difference IS noticeable on good speakers, or good studio monitor headphones, but it is neglibible if none on the standard white earbuds,

I listen to all my music on a Yamaha speaker system. Recently I downloaded two versions of an album, one from iTunes at 256k AAC and one from Beatport at 1411k AIFF uncompressed. The difference in the quality, the sharpness, and the detail throughout the tracks on the album is astounding. Even the artist said in an interview he was upset about the compressed version only being available in this format from the Apple Store, mentioning that "two of the basslines in one of the tracks were just not even there" -- The difference is real, and 256k AAC just isn't that great compared to the original full-quality. You would be even better using your ripped CDs at Apple Lossless or raw than downloading the music from Apple.

So, I hope that Apple will start selling full quality uncompressed versions of the music. It's something I really hope will happen. Maybe like "iTunes Plus," they can do an upgrade fee if you already have an AAC file to get the AIFF for llike $1.00 extra. I would gladly pay extra for higher quality. I think other people feel the same way about this.
Uncompressed audio just wastes space. If they move to sell lossless music, they will use ALAC.

Lossless doesn't cut it for me. I need the full raw uncompressed quality to hear it as it was mastered. Lossless dulls out some of the minute details, sharpness and punchy bass elements that you don't really get until you jump up past about 900k -- ALAC or FLAC is not good enough, you need AIFF or WAV to really hear it as it was intended...better yet, vinyl :)
[citation needed]
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)