Does Apple Lossless Encoding signal future addition of CD-quality tracks to iTunes Music Store?

“I’d been disappointed for months with the sound quality of the music I’ve added to my iTunes collection from most of my audiophile CDs. The compressed audio wasn’t as good as the original CD sound,” Al Fasoldt writes for The Syracuse Post-Standard. “But my enthusiasm got a boost this spring when Apple introduced a new version of iTunes for both Mac OS X computers and Windows PCs. Almost hidden away in the improvements in the current version is a new, lossless method of compressing audio for your iTunes collection.”

“If you use the new method, called Apple Lossless Encoding, you can reduce the size of CD audio tracks by about 60 to 70 percent without any corresponding loss in sound quality. That’s simply amazing,” Fasoldt writes. I’m just guessing, but I expect Apple to add lossless audiophile albums to the iTunes Store before long.”

Full article here.

23 Comments

  1. Maybe it should work out that way, don’t know about bandwidth costs. But definetly they should offer a low quality version (the current aac), and a higher quality (the new codec)

  2. If they really are going to up the price of the tunes, changing the encoding to Apple Lossless Encoding is the least the Labels can do. It’s the only way a price increase would be accepted.

  3. Wash your keyboard out with soap Al. The price of tunes should go down if anything. Never up. All it is costing is bandwidth to distribute and store maintenance costs after all. No CD, No Jewel Case, No Printing, No Trucks and shipping, etc. The labels are greedy sleeze balls.

  4. Seems like it would be reasonable to see the aac as 99c and the lossless for more ($1.25?). Upsell, Upsell, Upsell. You can by this song now for 99c, or you could get better quality for $1.25. Then at least you would have the market research to know the market value of the better perceived qualty.

  5. Apple could also be considerate by offering the HQ version for only $.25 if it is already in your “Purchased Music” play list.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve already has all of the tracks encoded in a lossless quality and announces this option in his next keynote.

  6. so i used the new lossless encoder for the first time recently. Here are the results:

    Arvo Part “Alina” (really minimalist music) – encoded between 300-350 kbps
    Bach “Cello Suites” – between 550-600 kbps
    Someone you don’t know (heavily produced pop music) – between 950-1100 kbps

    Files sound great, file size varies depending on the rate noted above. Could someone here explain the process of lossless encoding to me? I see that where there is less music it is more easily compressed but i don’t understand how that is determined.

  7. Human ears can only hear certain wavelengths of sound. A recording contains all wavelengths of sound. In lossless encoding you just remove only the wavelengths that no human can hear.

    You will not see the difference but your dog sure will bitch about the change.

  8. “Can’t figure out why I have a couple of tracks at 96 kbps that sound better than many 192’s.” – Less is More

    Did you try comparing 96 kbps and 192 kbps of the same song ripped from the same track? If not, it could be one of these reasons I can think of.

    Maybe the sources are better than those you ripped to 192.

    Or maybe the tracks contain information covered mostly at 96 kbps while the others contain info that got thrown away even at 192 kbps. That is the thing with compression. You can always find examples that make even the worst compression format or low bitrate look good.

    Or maybe the info thrown out at 96 kbps is like filtering out bad audio.

  9. “In lossless encoding you just remove only the wavelengths that no human can hear.” – AI

    Umm, no. What you just said is the steps for lossy encoding. Basically, they built a model of human auditory system and use that to eliminate data we are unlikely to hear. Comparing the decompressed and uncompressed tracks shows differences due to the loss of data.

    In a lossless encoding scheme, all data is preserved. The encoding scheme is usually dependent on what you want to use it for. Generally, they look at the pattern in the data. Comparing the decompressed and uncompressed tracks shows the exact same thing, hence lossless.

  10. David,
    You said if AAC sells for $.99 then its reasonable that lossless should sell for $1.25. If this happens, now you are paying more to download music than to go to the store and purchase the CD. I agree that lossless should probably cost more. The problem is that AAC songs cost too much now. Sell the lossless at $.99 and sell the AAC songs at $.69 – $.79.

    Unfortunately, the record labels will never do that and a lot of the customers on iTMS either don’t care or don’t realize that the prices they are paying for inferior sound costs as much as purchasing the cd’s now or pretty soon in the future.

  11. Jeff … full heartedly agree with you … the Lossless option already exists … Buy CDs. Encoding technology is moving so fast that buying songs encoded in the current lossy format makes no sense. At least with CDs you own the Master and can re-encode later with the improved codecs

    just a thought

  12. 60-70% size reduction using lossless encoding? I find that hard to believe. Or does he mean that the resulting file is 60-70% the size of the original? That would make more sense.

    As I understand it, Apple says the lossless encoded will reduce the size by “up to 50%”, but most reviews have found about 30% being the norm.

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