If you want fast food, you’re going to sacrifice on the quality of said meal; the same applies to music. Over the years the digital music revolution has indeed made digesting tons of good music easier, but it came at the expense of quality.

Apple is looking to rectify some of the quality issues by potentially allowing the use and download of 24-bit audio files; the current industry standard is 16-bit audio.

What does this mean for users like you and I? Does this mean we’ll end up paying more for our music? Check inside as we mull over the possibilities…

For starters, lets talk about 16-bit audio versus 24-bit audio. It’s likely that your average person who listens to their iPod via Apple’s stock ear buds isn’t going to notice much if any improvement.

For those of you who fall into the audiophile segment, you will no doubt appreciate the fuller, richer sound offered.

It’s almost like asking your grandma to tell the difference between a .wav file and a 320kbps .mp3 file. Chances are she’s not going to know the difference, although you probably will.

But the extra data comes at a cost, because it will come in at roughly 3+ times the size of your average 16-bit file. Hence, a 100mb album download all of the sudden turns into 300mb. See the issue here?

While storage has reached the point where a few hundred megabytes isn’t going to raise too many eyebrows, the bandwidth required for the extra data could present it as a legitimate concern.

And don’t think that Apple isn’t going to pass some of that cost over to you, the consumer. Likely they will have an option for a premium service of sorts where you can either pay extra per track, or front them a yearly fee similar to Amazon Prime.

The question is, will the increased audio quality really be worth the inevitable rise in cost? For me, that’s a no, because if I cared about a particular album that much, I’d just buy it on vinyl instead.

What about you?

[CNN]

  • Andrew

    I refuse to buy music from itunes until they provide at least lossless files. I’m not paying $10+ for a compressed low quality version of an album. If I’m basically paying full price for the music, I should get full quality.

    You compare fast music to fast food. Then they should charge less, like fast food joints do. McDonalds isn’t trying to charge you $9.99 for a cheeseburger like a restaurant, they are charging you only $0.99 because they are giving you a crappier quality burger. People wouldn’t pay the same price as a high quality restaurant burger just because it’s fast. If itunes is going to give us crappy music files, they should lower the price far below the cost of the high quality files.

    But I guess if you can’t hear the difference, or don’t regularly use equipment capable of showing the differences, then it’s all a moot point.

  • Pete

    Can I ask how did you arrive at the “triple the amount of data” assumption? Logically, if it’s 16bit now and you add another 8 bits – ie. 50% – to make it 24bit, the amount of data should only grow by 50% (or 1.5x). I don’t see a reason why it should be more.

    Anyway, as pointed out by Andrew, providing lossless music would IMHO improve the quality more than providing lossy 16bit.

    On the other hand, if we’re talking about lossless 24bit music, then the data size would probably grow even more than 3x.

  • Pete

    (I meant “than providing lossy 24bit”)

  • Igeek

    I agree with you all… The biggest thing is loosing your music then having to repay $1.25 again to get the same damn song… My phone has 500… Only 70 songs are paid for… I just stick to frostwire, limerain is gone :(….. And apple needs stop messing with people.. Sony is ready to pull out… There goes probably 25-50% of our music

    • soccerkrzy

      Nice, publicly admit you steal music.

      • actually, depending on the artist, many artists allow there music to be downlaoded freely.

  • SirAlSmooth

    I mainly download .flac whenever possible and re-encode to 320 bitrate. Anything lower sounds horrible in my opinion. About time apple got the ball rolling on this one as this is long overdue.

  • lawrence091

    It would be nice if they offered FLAC but it’s more likely if they offer a lossless format it would be their Apple Lossless format. I hate paying money for compressed music. When I convert the flac to .wav and burn on a cd it sounds so much better in my car stereo than mp3s. There is full dynamic range of highs and lows. Subs hit harder, highs jump out of my speakers. I would pay for lossless formats..actually I opt to buy the cd vs. AAC version on iTunes.

  • The only thing about the vinyl argument is that you wouldn’t be able to play it in your car, on the bus, on the train, at the mall – just about anywhere else but home.

    I would pay more for selects songs and/or albums that I would like in that format. My dabbling in DVD-Audio and SACD has given me a better appreciation for formats richer than the 16-bit experience.