Dr Dre (Beats 001)

Apple’s purported acquisition of Beats Electronics, LCC has set the tongues wagging as pundits race to offer their armchair analysis of the grand strategy behind Apple’s alleged $3.2 billion deal.

The latest in the Apple-Beats saga comes via the rather reliable Japanese blog Macotakara which earlier this morning asserted that Apple will use Beats to introduce support for high-resolution audio files in iTunes and the iOS Music app and also improve sound quality of its pricey pricey $79 In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic

The Macotakara report [Google translate] also points us to a post by music blogger Robert Hutton who goes to great lengths to explain why high-resolution audio matters.

According to Hutton, Warner Music is readying a Super Deluxe version of Led Zeppelin’s three albums, remastered in the 24-bit 96kHz audio resolution which Apple devices and software currently do not support.

For several years, Apple have been insisting that labels provide files for iTunes in 24 bit format – preferably 96k or 192k sampling rate. So they have undeniably the biggest catalog of hi-res audio in the world.

And the Led Zeppelin remasters in high resolution will be the kick off event – to coincide with Led Zep in hi-res, Apple will flip the switch and launch their hi-res store via iTunes – and apparently, it will be priced a buck above the typical current file prices.

That’s right – Apple will launch hi-res iTunes in two months.

If that’s true, Apple could share the news at its summer developers conference that kicks off with a keynote on June 2.

Apple In-Ear Headphones (image 002)
Apple’s In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic.

Should the Beats buy get official, word on the street is that Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will see their grand introductions as Apple executives at WWDC.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Iovine will advise Tim Cook on creative matters, take over Apple’s content negotiations with record labels and Hollywood and actually revamp Apple’s whole music strategy.

Rumors of high-fidelity music in the iTunes Store date back to 2011.

If Apple is about to upgrade sound quality on iTunes to the 24-bit format with 96k or 192k sampling rate, the size of music files could increase up to three times, turning a 100MB album download into a 300MB one.

Beats by Dr Dre (white, ControlTalk)

Jimmy Iovine, a powerful music industry figure and one of the co-founders of Beats Electronics, LCC, was Steve Jobs’s friend and one of the early adopters of the digital music revolution spearheaded by iTunes a decade ago.

He persuaded Jobs to put the first iPod inside a music video by 50 Cent to help push the digital music player and also helped recruit music labels and artists to support the iTunes Store at its start.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2003 interview with Iovine:

I have a background as a recording engineer, so I think I understand what kids want, and when I saw the simplicity of the iTunes system, I said, wow, this is going to work. This is what they want, no muss, no fuss.

An outstanding music engineer who has helped produce a number of well-known acts throughout his rich career, Iovine would later criticize Apple’s music service and headphones for their sub-par sound quality.

“Apple got everything right except that ear bud,” he said last year, according to Bloomberg.

Dr. Dre, the other Beats co-founder, agrees:

“I spend months on a song and it sounds terrible,” said the musician.

Hopefully, Dr. Dre’s penchant for rich bass and impeccable sound quality will be put to good use by Apple because Apple’s in-ear headphones do sound terrible.