Rumor: Apple will tap Beats to introduce high-res iTunes music, improve In-Ear Headphones

By , May 13, 2014

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.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1496513068 Zach Krase

    To me, adding better sounding music files and them to cost more is silly. The sales in music are going down. They shouldn’t want to add more spending to the purchasing of music. Focus on the streaming.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      You get more for more. Lossless files cost more money but they give you more flexibility in terms of file conversion since you can start with a high quality file and convert it into whatever format you want. Where possible I always prefer higher quality files over compressed mp3 files or Apples m4a files but then perhaps I’m in the minority that still purchases music as opposed to leasing it from a streaming service…

    • http://www.ideaprison.com/ ideaprison

      Indeed. And the audio files would fill up your iDevice insanely fast too in comparison to current audio file sizes…

    • NaSty

      Yup you’re right sales are going down (because of streaming services), but im guessing Apple will really know how to market this new high-res music. It’ll get people to ‘try’ it out and hear the difference, and it may make people stick with Apple for a while longer

  • Chindavon

    Apple prepping for the next wave in music with this Beats purchase. Chess moves.

  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    Are they talking about the EarPods? Cause I think they sound great!

    • Godbfk

      No, apple sell some other headphones which are apparently terrible. I agree, EarPods sound great.

      • Tony Trenkle Jr.

        Ah ok. Yeah cause I was about to say.

  • Jeffrey

    who needs better music quality?!?! it’s not like video quality, which is always nice to get upgraded, but i hardly notice any sound quality difference… then again, maybe i will be blown away by the sound improvement;) let’s just wait and see…

    • Carlos Gomes

      We all do, Jeffrey. We lose a lot due to MP3 compression.
      I have no idea why can’t we play those music files play on current devices – I’m completely ignorant regarding that.

      • Jeffrey

        hahah can you explain your last sentence please?:P

      • Carlos Gomes

        Sure!

        “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”

        According to this article Apple (mobile) devices are not able to play these high-resolution audio files.

      • Jeffrey

        ahhh, but why do you think we need such a high quality music files?

      • Carlos Gomes

        The same reason for why we “need” high-definition movies, it improves and immerse you better into the whole experience. Try to compare the experience of watching the movie Avatar (from James Cameron) on VHS and blu-ray. If you watch that movie from a VHS tape, you wouldn’t be able to notice what made Avatar Avatar and all you’d get would be a silly story which resembles Pocahontas.

        So, yeah, we can say that MP3 is like watching Avatar on a VHS tape.

      • Jeffrey

        yeah hahahah but the difference between the old and new music format is comparable with 740p and 1080p on youtube:P which isn’t so much difference, and i’d like it more to have my current music format with 2.3 gigs of music rather than the new music format with 7 gigs of music… (new format is 3 times as large)

      • Infinite Production

        Well a computer is able to hold large pieces of information. If you worried about that, external hard drives are always the answer.
        Apple already has lower bit rate music conversions for their iDevices in iTunes, I don’t see the problem.

      • Jeffrey

        no we’re talking about the higher bitrate that may come to idevices, we’re not talking about computers….

      • Infinite Production

        Still the answer is the same, if you don’t want the higher quality, iTunes supports syncing lower bit rates.

      • Jeffrey

        ofcourse, i know that. the only question was why would you want a higher bitrate, that’s the only question i asked

      • Infinite Production

        Same question is, Why would you want a 4K movie on a 1080p TV screen?

      • Jeffrey

        that’s not the same question?

      • Fred Brown

        Because some people care about how precise there music is . But it’s the same reason at to why you would want a DVD player instead of vhs why you would want a uhd tv or 4k tv over an old box tv we are always trying to get the best possible experience from our electronics we want the most life like sound possible with our music . But you cant just get high res audio and play it on a cheap ihome speaker you have to get a good speaker dock like a zepplin air or my favorite the NAD VISO 1 BOTH PLAY HIGH RES audio files . If they aren’t set up for high res it will just sound the same

  • vivalaivsca

    Apple needs to offer a 128 GB device as standard if they acquire Beats for the sole purpose of showing off their music quality. Higher res sound will require more storage, which is one of the reasons we as consumers are switching over to streaming services in the first place, the pricing of the music on iTunes was never the problem, since many find ways around it, leaving the cheap Spotify, Pandora subscription unnecessary anyways. Either make a 128GB or throw in iTunes Match in with unlimited files.

  • Benjamin J Schwartz

    Current iphones and ipads can playback lossless ALAC at 24bit 44.1khz. As such, it makes more sense to use that format instead of a higher res 96 or 192. Further, lossless audio at 24/96 takes up close to a gigabyte of storage for a single one hour album. That simply wont fly with current flash storage capacities. Frankly, there is no viable implementation of mobile high res audio right now.

  • Fred Brown

    Well dre beats aren’t exactly great sounding either lol … They have over blown treble which pierces your ears and causes hissing and there bass is crappy as well . Bass should be punchy and hit . Beats headphones are way over priced they are in the price range of much better brands . HTC tried teaming up with beats and it proved to be nothing but hype and that’d all that beats is . Hype !! Compare beats beatbox to the Marshall stanmore speaker they are both in the same price and Marshall delivers much better sound a better soundstage and a more realistic listen … But for 100$ more you can get yourself the zepplin air or a genveva model M both speaker that crush the beats in every way … Why would Apple the biggest phone and mp3 company team up with an over hyped company like beats ?? Why not Harmon kardon or NAD , OR BOWER AND WILKINS ??? THE LIST GOES ON . I think Apple is looking more at the popularity of beats with the younger crowd and not the over all quality it produces be USe if they were they wouldn’t be putting out 3 billion plus on that crap !!

  • Fred Brown

    And another thing people fail to realize is yes high resolution audio is better than mp3s but those people who call it hifi are wrong you can remaster a previously recorded track into hifi sound the track can only be hifi if it was recorded in hifi . You can’t offer pure precise sound if it wasn’t originally recorded that way … Remastering the led zepplin cds, May offer better sound than what they were originally BUT you can’t turn the tracks into hifi which would have picked up every breath every pluck of the string , if the original equipment wasn’t made to do so … I’ve heard one track recorded in hifi and it is a whole other experience . I mean when a guitarist strums his guitar you can hear the pick pop through each string the sliding on the frets , you can hear the drummers fast paced breath … But as far as beats go it’s hard for me to take anyone wearing or using anything beats seriously as an audiophile or musician …. It’s nothing more than a over hyped over marketed and advertised gimmick . Young kids like it for its bass but there are cheaper headphones and speakers that are far better … Monster the original creator of the BEATS line has headphones that are half the price with more bass and better sound . But when it comes to 400$ for a speaker I’d rather grab the NAD VISO 1 OR THE ZEPPKIN AIR . Speakers that can actually deliver and sound good . Speakers that you can actually hear wether there’s 2 guitars instead of one , and you can make out every instrument in the track . Not audio that sounds jumbled together and crappy bass and over blown treble , the treble is so tweaked as well as the bass ,high treble only make the music clearer to a certain point , there are other factors involved . An accurate speaker or headphones should have a FLAT frequency not Super tweaked and all over the place … What Is Apple thinking . And this is why I would never buy an Apple phone . There are other phones such as Samsung and HTC who already have devices set up to play high resolution audio . HTC teamed with beats and then switched to Harmon kardon there’s a reason for that !! Beats Can’t deliver on sound quality !! There all about the money and popularity not the quality or sound …

  • Fred Brown

    Also in order to play high res audio you have to have a speaker that supports it . Both your phone or player and the speaker have to support high res audio other wise it just comes out sounding like an mp3 . In other words you Can’t just play the high res audio through you cheap ihome speaker and expect results . And as far as it taking up a lot of space in your phone both HTC one m8 and the Samsung galaxy and the galaxy note 3 support high res audio and they all are able to have the memory expanded 128 gigs of memory with an sd card . But of course like always Apple lets the other company’s do the dirty work And come up with the ideas and then they try to do it better or top it . But they are never the first to do anything everhthing Apple does is a copy of another phone or company … If you want cutting edge and the newest technology get an android …