For years I’ve been asking people in the music industry “why can’t we get 24-bit or at least CD-quality lossless music online?”. Nobody could answer that, and knowing how the music business works, it’s no surprise that it took this long for someone to wake up and do the right thing.
When CDs were introduced in the early 80′s, they were marketed as having better sound because they were digital versus their analog vinyl counterparts. The reality is that CDs cut off the music at 16 bits, so although the CD was portable and dust-proof, it was still limited in sound quality when compared to vinyl.
With the digital age, I was hoping for years that we’d finally get 24-bit copies of the music we want to buy. Sure, some people won’t care because they listen with their earbuds, but for people like myself that invested a lot into audio playback, this is something I’ve wanted for a long time.
CNN is reporting that Jimmy Iovine, a long-time record executive, is working with Apple to bring 24-bit quality music to the iTunes store. “We’ve gone back now at Universal, and we’re changing our pipes to 24 bit. And Apple has been great,” Iovine said. “We’re working with them and other digital services — download services — to change to 24 bit. And some of their electronic devices are going to be changed as well. So we have a long road ahead of us.”
This means that right now, playback on some devices isn’t possible. I’ve synced my library with some devices that tell me the 24-bit music I have which works on my Mac won’t work on older iPods. That’s ok for now, but it’s going to be an issue moving forward, especially for third party devices if you want to play 24-bit music through them.
As for the cost, a CD at my local Best Buy costs about $13-$15, and that same album is about $10 on iTunes. I’d easily pay CD prices for a 24-bit digital download of that same album without blinking. It’s been said for years that CDs were overpriced so why not finally get master quality for that same price?
I’m hoping this happens sooner rather than later. I implore anyone that’s interested in music to find a friend or a store with a good setup and listen to the differences between CD and vinyl, or a 24-bit audio file and see if you can tell the difference. If you can, perhaps you’ll be more interested in higher quality music.