Apple Music Launches 'Digital Masters' Initiative Out of Old 'Mastered for iTunes' Program

Apple Music today announced a new initiative called the "Apple Digital Masters" program, which aims to combine all of its "Mastered for iTunes" songs into one streaming catalog (via Billboard).

apple music august 2019
According to Apple, it's slowly been introducing Mastered for iTunes songs into ‌Apple Music‌ for some time. The company said that 75 percent of the Top 100 songs in the U.S. are Apple Digital Masters, and 71 percent of the Top 100 global songs are also part of the new program.

Apple began the Mastered for iTunes program in 2012, allowing engineers to optimize music for the digital download format by encoding from high-resolution masters. This placed the iTunes songs as close to possible as the original master recordings, and were designated specially as "Mastered for iTunes" in the store.

In ‌Apple Music‌, Apple doesn't designate whether a song is under its Digital Masters program or not. Still, for people who care about lossless audio, it's a good sign that the company has formally acknowledged a plan to move forward with adding more high-quality audio tracks to ‌Apple Music‌.

Numerous other streaming music services have lossless audio plans that are priced separately from the standard streaming tiers. Namely, Tidal offers a HiFi subscription for $19.99/month (compared to the base $9.99/month plan) that lets users stream lossless audio on demand.

Top Rated Comments

dannyyankou Avatar
19 months ago
How about the studio masters in lossless bit rate? That would be nice.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
happyprozak Avatar
19 months ago

Im still hoping Apple will just buy Tidal and input all the good from them into Apple Music..but I’m glad to see them start someplace

There are many claims from people that they believe lossless sounds better but there has yet to be a study where people can prove it in a blind test. It is very easy to be fooled into thinking something sounds better, a placebo type of effect occurs and people do not realize it.

Apple pushing properly mastered music does a lot more for sound quality than simply pushing lossless will ever do.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jonblatho Avatar
19 months ago
The article seems to muddy the waters on this, but Mastered for iTunes (and Apple Digital Masters, presumably) isn't lossless. People who "care about lossless audio," though I'm not one of them, are unlikely to be all that impressed by this. It's an improvement over standard Apple Music tracks, but the tracks are still certainly lossy.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CaTOAGU Avatar
19 months ago

There are many claims from people that they believe lossless sounds better but there has yet to be a study where people can prove it in a blind test. It is very easy to be fooled into thinking something sounds better, a placebo type of effect occurs and people do not realize it.

Apple pushing properly mastered music does a lot more for sound quality than simply pushing lossless will ever do.

Pretty much this.

Even on very expensive gear into the $10k range it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between a well encoded 256kbps AAC track and a lossless track at any bitrate/resolution. Correct mastering matters FAR more than simply releasing lossless tracks will ever do.

If audio quality matters to you, invest in a better pair of headphones and/or speakers. A good separates amplifier even a very modestly priced one will do a better job than the one in your phone. If you're using speakers, good quality cable matters, it doesn't really matter what (digital) coax, hdmi or optical cable you use. You can build from there if you want. Only after you've exhausted all those details to the point you're flat broke and close to ruin should you even consider lossless audio as an option, and even then you're better off spending the money on whisky.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jeffkoontz Avatar
19 months ago
If you want to get into the weeds of why mastered for itunes might be better than any old AAC file, Apple provides a pretty thorough breakdown on how their process limits clipping, aliasing, dithering, etc. here: https://images.apple.com/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/docs/mastered_for_itunes.pdf

Apple lossless through Apple Music (ala Tidal HD) would be nice, however, I do question how many people consider where their weak links are.. If you are listening to music via bluetooth through a car that doesnt event support AAC - you'd totally be wasting bandwidth. Even if you listen through proprietary Beats/Apple headphones/earpods via bluetooth you are still going to convert to AAC when the signal goes out to your phones. So, yes it would be great for everyone listening to Apple Music while wearing lightning connected headphones with a quality D/A converter, but what Apple is doing with Mastered for iTunes is probably really good for most real world use situations.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JeffPerrin Avatar
19 months ago
Backstory on 'Mastered for iTunes':

Lossy formats are unforgiving with loud audio levels or peaking near the clipping point. "Mastered for iTunes" gives producers the tools and information to encode and monitor their audio so that it does not clip or distort when encoded to iTunes' lossy format. It's pretty much about making lossy-encoded music suck less. :p

This latest announcement, however, is likely just marketing speak since Apple is ditching the iTunes moniker for it's Music service...
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...