New iPods soon to feature AAC audio; up to 40GB capacities

A varied collection of sources are now telling MacDailyNews that Apple will soon to debut new iPods with up to 40GB capacity and AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) audio support. While none of these reports can be confirmed conclusively, they all contain the 40GB and AAC information as common threads. The inclusion of AAC support for the iPod has long been awaited since the debut of QuickTime 6.

Information about AAC from Apple’s site:

AAC was developed by the MPEG group that includes Dolby, Fraunhofer, AT&T, Sony, and Nokia companies that have also been involved in the development of audio codecs such as MP3 and AC3 (also known as Dolby Digital). The AAC codec in QuickTime 6 builds upon new, state-of-the art signal processing technology from Dolby Laboratories and brings true variable bit rate (VBR) audio encoding to QuickTime… what most listeners don’t realize is that MP3’s compression technology is more than a decade old. In those ten years, many advances in perceptual audio coding and compression have been achieved. AAC takes full advantage of these advances, resulting in higher quality output at lower data rates, allowing even modem users to hear a difference.”

When compared side-by-side, AAC proves itself worthy of replacing MP3 as the new Internet audio standard. Take a look at these AAC advantages over MP3:

– Improved compression provides higher-quality results with smaller file sizes
– Support for multichannel audio, providing up to 48 full frequency channels
– Higher resolution audio, yielding sampling rates up to 96 kHz
– Improved decoding efficiency, requiring less processing power for decode

In numerous comparison tests, AAC comes out on top. Check out these impressive results:

– AAC compressed audio at 128 kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be “indistinguishable” from the original uncompressed audio source.
– AAC compressed audio at 96 kbps generally exceeded the quality of MP3 compressed audio at 128 kbps. AAC at 128 kbps provides significantly superior performance than does MP3 at 128 kbps.
– AAC was the only Internet audio codec evaluated in the range “Excellent” at 64 kbps for all of the audio items tested in EBU listening tests.

Visit the AAC website for more information.

Anecdotal evidence supports the possibility of the new iPod release soon; most sources agree that the release will happen before the end of the month (March). Sketchier information suggests that the new iPods and the debut of Apple’s rumored Mac-only online music service integrated with iTunes are not necessarily tied together. The iPod can and probably will be released before the online music service is announced.

You can sample AAC audio quality for yourself (with QuickTime 6) here.

17 Comments

  1. re: Mack’s question

    Yes, you’ll need to re-encode them

    Otherwise, you’ll just encode an already encoded file, not good

    AND … read something somewhere alluding that current iPods *may not* be able to handle AAC/mp4 — seems was something to do with the ‘processor’ in the current iPods … guess we’ll find out, hope sooner than later

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