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    The Computer Audiophile

    High Resolution Audio Isn't Coming Soon From Apple

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    Any day now Apple will flip the switch and offer high resolution downloads. That's what many people have said over the years since Apple first began requesting high resolution material from record labels and artists. The reasons given for this high resolution switch flipping have been countless and reported incestuously (yes, this is the correct word I want to use). Some tech sites will do anything for an attention-grabbing headline, even if it means citing another site who cited a blogger with no credibility. Pretty soon these sites may even cite themselves accidentally by using links that go through a number of URL shortening services. What follows is my opinion, not citing any other site, third party, or anonymous source close to Apple. Some of us have opinions and aren't afraid to share them without hiding behind the veil of "this just in from one of my sources." I could be absolutely wrong, absolutely right, or somewhere in the middle with my reasoning. I know for sure I'll be right or wrong with my conclusion that high resolution audio isn't coming soon from Apple. I'll even go one step further and opine that Apple won't release high resolution downloads for purchase or even a lossless CD quality streaming subscription service in the next three to five years.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

     

     

     

     

    The World's Most Valuable Company Can't Do Everything

     

     

    Apple has so much cash in its reserves it could likely attempt to do what ever it wants. As everyone knows attempting to do something is far from delivering a finished product. Apple could attempt to offer high resolution downloads for purchase or subscription streaming without putting a dent in its quarterly financial results. However, here are my seven reasons why the high resolution speculation has been incorrect and why high resolution downloads won't happen in the next three to five years, if ever.

     

     

     

    One. Wireless Carriers Don't Want High Resolution Downloads (Or Lossless CD Quality Streaming)

     

    Apple has a tight relationship with US wireless carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. These wireless carriers would be irate if Apple offered a service that increased the use of bandwidth by a factor of roughly ten for high resolution music downloads or streaming. Even if consumers were willing to pay for much more total throughput per month, the carriers' networks can't handle the increased data for high resolution downloads or even lossless CD quality streaming for as many customers as Apple could enroll. As an AT&T Wireless customer with an unlimited data plan (no longer offered) I receive text messages from AT&T when I've used 5GB of throughput each month saying my download speed will be throttled because I'm in the top 5% of wireless data users. This quasi-data cap is easy to hit when downloading lossless CD quality music let alone high resolution. Other companies such as WiMP and Qobuz can offer this streaming because there is no tight tie to a wireless carrier. Online retailers such as HDtracks can easily offer high resolution downloads because 99% of its customers download music from a home computer using wired Internet access, and the volume isn't nearly as large as Netflix who has recently paid off Internet service providers to stop limiting traffic to its customers. In addition, synchronizing iPhones with computers, if Apple high resolution downloads were offered and purchased via a wired computer, is yesterday's news. The vast majority of iPhone customers never connect the device to a computer, not even for updates, backup, or any other reason. Also, Apple is all about the user experience and seamless integration. There is no way the company would only enable high resolution downloads via WiFi or a wired home computer. Plus, Apple's main customers are iPhone users, as evidenced by the fact that it has sold 500 million iPhones, 200 million iPads, and its Macintosh install base is only 80 million.

     

     

    Two. Record Labels Want Control And Revenue Again

     

    Ever since Apple persuaded the record labels to allow it to sell music for $0.99 per lossy track and roughly $10 per lossy album, the labels gave up control and revenue. Apple has essentially owned the music business. Record labels have one last shot at retaining control and increasing revenue from purchased content. This shot comes from sales of high resolution music. The record labels aren't going to let Apple flip the high resolution switch until they have wrung every penny out of high resolution sales through non-iTunes avenues. If Apple were to offer high resolution downloads it would likely price them near $10-$12 per album and $2 per track. Apple wouldn't shock its customers with majorly increased prices. This low priced and per track purchasing scenario would be déjà vu for the labels. Rather than allowing Apple to sell this content per track and at such a reduced price, the labels are going through online retailers such as HDtracks, Qobuz, and HiResAudio. Prices from these retailers are much closer to $20 or more. It's likely the customers purchasing high resolution right now would have purchased this music from iTunes had it been available for almost half price. Thus, the labels are wringing out every penny while they can. The PonoMusic Store will also be a major bonus for the record labels. I believe the labels will benefit more from high resolution sales through PonoMusic than any other outlet. There is a very harmonious and tight relationship between PonoMusic and the labels.

     

     

    Three. Beats

     

    Apple purchased Beats for its streaming service. Period. Apple is now a streaming company. Period. Apple has needed a lossy streaming service for years. As Steve Jobs said, "If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will." Tim Cook should have heeded this advice and started a streaming service earlier, even though it would have cannibalized the iTunes purchasing business. iTunes Radio was a terrible attempt at boosting sales of purchased music. It failed and most people should have known it would fail. The Beats purchase is all about streaming. Apple is going to let its purchase model die a slow death as it attempts to migrate users to Beats. It's a no-brainer for users. Pay $10 per month for 25 million albums or $10 for a single album or $10 for six to ten tracks. Apple will have no trouble migrating users. Apple is a streaming company now. High resolution music doesn't make sense for its business model when considering its move to streaming and its aforementioned relationships with wireless carriers. Apple didn't buy Beats for the hardware. Apple could have created its own headphones by outsourcing the audio design to a great company like Sennheiser and having Jonny Ive design the look and feel of the devices. Apple has talked to well known engineers from high-end audio companies and dangled job opportunities in front of these engineers as well. Apple could have its own headphones and components easily. Apple didn't buy Beats for Jimmy Iovine or Andre Young (Dr. Dre). Dr. Dre doesn't even have a role at Apple. He isn't a company guy who is used to working for somebody. In fact, he said he'd do "as much as it takes" for Apple. Talk about a noncommittal answer and unenforceable agreement. Apple could have hired these guys for far less than $3 Billion dollars. It would also have made more sense for Jimmy and Dre to accept a huge signing bonus and the paycheck from Apple to work for the company, and continued to shop Beats around for a different $3 Billion dollar deal if the two wanted to sell. Or, just hang on to the company and collect from Apple and Beats. Maybe nobody else would have paid $3 Billion for Beats and the other companies rumored to be in the Beats sale discussions wouldn't have been interested without Jimmy and Dre. I don't know the answer to this one. In addition to this Apple purchased Beats for streaming because Beats gives it much needed Cloud credibility. Like it or not, Apple is a failure with its Cloud services and needs credibility. Remember Mobile Me? Steve Jobs admitted this was a failure. Think iCloud is the answer? After three years iCloud Document synchronization still doesn't work. Apple history shows they don't get the Cloud. In fact its Cloud based services thus far run on Microsoft Azure? Thus, Apple purchased Beats for the streaming service and this doesn't lend itself to offering high resolution music downloads or even CD quality streams.

    Note: It's entirely possible Apple purchased Beats to use up $3 Billion dollars. The company's shareholders have been clamoring for years about Apple returning money to them and using some of its huge cash reserve. The Beats acquisition could have been one way to take $3 Billion dollars off the shareholder discussion table. I believe this is a great additional reason for the Beats purchase rather than the sole reason. Apple has to do something with Beats. Apple can't just let it linger because it wanted to spend some money.

     

     

    Four. Apple Has The High Resolution Content Only Because It Can

     

    Apple has asked labels and artists for high resolution content, for its mastered for iTunes program, for several years. The company may have had an idea for high resolution offerings when it started collecting this content. However, I believe it's more likely Apple views it as simply better to have high resolution material in case you want it some day, even if there are no plans to use it. Thus, Apple doesn't have its massive internal library of high resolution content in order to flip the high resolution switch and begin offering this music to customers. A high resolution master in the hand, is worth two still at the record label.

     

     

    Five. Apple Isn't A Specs Company

     

    HTC recently released its new HTC One (M8) mobile phone and has been touting the ability to play 24 bit / 192 kHz music on the device. Apple doesn't care. Apple isn't a specs based company like all the companies selling Android devices. Apple has too many other selling points to worry about specs. Plus, specs aren't related to emotions. Apple sells by appealing to emotions much more than other tech companies. Beautiful looking devices, a genius bar, it just works, sleek looking iOS and OS X, etc… That is what Apple is all about, not touting chip specs as a major selling point. Apple doesn't even have specific model names for its computers other than something like Mac Book Pro retina mid 2012. Even though I'm typing on a Mac Book Pro version 10,1, most consumers will never know their Macs have such a number. How does this relate to high resolution downloads not coming soon? Apple won't increase music resolution to play the specs game if most of its customers don't care. Even if the iPhone 6 supports high resolution playback, this won't be an indication of anything other than Apple did it because Apple can or the chip the iPhone 6 will use likely doesn't come in a standard resolution version.

    Note: Apple certainly offered the upgrade to iTunes content several years ago, moving music from 128 kbps to iTunes Plus 256 kbps. This step wasn't about specs. It was about sound quality audible by a large percentage of Apple users. But due to the size of high resolution music and all the aforementioned reasons, there won't be an iTunes HD upgrade path.

     

     

    Six. Not Enough Apple Customers Care

     

    High resolution music takes longer to download, that's a fact. Switching from 4 MB downloads to 100 MB downloads will impact the user experience for something about which iTunes users don't care enough. The same can be said for lossless CD quality streaming. There can be a delay compared to lossy MP3 quality streaming. High resolution and CD quality lossless streaming is coming to the US already and Apple won't join in because its customers don't care. Its customers won't wait the extra few seconds to load the content. Apple customers may like quality, but the majority doesn’t like taking a step backward in convenience and usability.

     

     

    Seven. iTunes Doesn't Support Native Automatic Sample Rate Switching

     

    The shrinking percentage of mainstream Apple customers who still use iTunes on the desktop, rather than iOS device, wouldn't be happy to learn they purchased high resolution content, but it's being resampled to a different rate because iTunes was locked in to something like 44.1 kHz. Yes, Apple could enable auto sample rate switching, but that would go against its reasons for not offering this feature. Macs need to play all kinds of audio at all times. Apple won't give iTunes exclusive access to USB DAC audio output because it causes confusion with end users when no sound comes out from a different application. Without exclusive access the sample rate could be changed by any app playing any sound at any time. It doesn't appear that Apple wants to make a change to enable auto sample rate switching. This could / would have been done long ago. Resampling everything is just a simple way to do things for Apple.

     

     

    Conclusion

     

    Apple isn't going to flip the high resolution download switch. There are too many reasons why Apple won't offer these downloads, including but not limited to, wireless carrier push back, record label desire for control and revenue once again, and my belief that the Beats acquisition is all about streaming and so is Apple. Sure, some of my seven reasons are weaker than others, but nonetheless there is some validity to each of them. There are also counterpoints to be made to each of my reasons. As a lover of music and sound quality I hope I'm incorrect. However, I stand by my conclusion that Apple won't release high resolution downloads for purchase or even a lossless CD quality streaming subscription service in the next three to five years.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    $14.99 to purchase this single album.

     

    I'm streaming it lossless via WiMP right now for one monthly fee. I'm also streaming all the other releases that came out today and many of the 25 million tracks available for lossless streaming.

     

    P.S. I see you're on your iPad. Would you download this album to your iPad? Probably not. Many people access music via mobile device now. Streaming is the only way.

     

    "$14.99 to purchase this single album" and still a lossy file!!

    What a ripp-off!

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    "$14.99 to purchase this single album" and still a lossy file!!

    What a ripp-off!

     

    Everyone thinks that now.

     

    That's why something has to give with Apple. They're not dumb. Yes, streaming is here and hot but it can't be the only way to get music over computers and the current pricing and lossy nature of their HUGE library is untenable. They know this.

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    $14.99 to purchase this single album.

     

    I'm streaming it lossless via WiMP right now for one monthly fee. I'm also streaming all the other releases that came out today and many of the 25 million tracks available for lossless streaming.

     

    P.S. I see you're on your iPad. Would you download this album to your iPad? Probably not. Many people access music via mobile device now. Streaming is the only way.

     

    Chris, how are you gaining access to WiMP, if you don't mind my asking? I am using Qobuz, the French version of which they kindly extended to me though the service is not yet available in the US - I'd love to try WiMP, as well, if there is a means to do so.

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    Chris, how are you gaining access to WiMP, if you don't mind my asking? I am using Qobuz, the French version of which they kindly extended to me though the service is not yet available in the US - I'd love to try WiMP, as well, if there is a means to do so.

    Hi John - Unfortunately it's unavailable in the US right now. I've been given access as a member of the press. I can't wait for WiMP to finally get here so everyone can use it. Services that aren't available to the majority of CA readers are neat for me personally and for research, but can frustrate readers. I get it completely and try not to mention it too much just yet on the site.

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    Hi John - Unfortunately it's unavailable in the US right now. I've been given access as a member of the press. I can't wait for WiMP to finally get here so everyone can use it. Services that aren't available to the majority of CA readers are neat for me personally and for research, but can frustrate readers. I get it completely and try not to mention it too much just yet on the site.

     

    I know we'll all be happy when lossless streaming is more widely available!

     

    I like being able to *choose* lossy for performance reasons (while mobile on 3G or LTE, etc.), but lossless downloads / streaming at home / home office is heaven :)

     

    I find I am making much better purchases over time because I have the opportunity to listen to new releases, etc., at my leisure before making the purchase (or not) decision.

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    I know we'll all be happy when lossless streaming is more widely available!

     

    I like being able to *choose* lossy for performance reasons (while mobile on 3G or LTE, etc.), but lossless downloads / streaming at home / home office is heaven :)

     

    I find I am making much better purchases over time because I have the opportunity to listen to new releases, etc., at my leisure before making the purchase (or not) decision.

    I agree on all points.

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    Hi John - Unfortunately it's unavailable in the US right now. I've been given access as a member of the press. I can't wait for WiMP to finally get here so everyone can use it. Services that aren't available to the majority of CA readers are neat for me personally and for research, but can frustrate readers. I get it completely and try not to mention it too much just yet on the site.

     

    You seem to have an awful lot of things on your plate right now.

    I look forward to having a chance to hear WIMP when it becomes a reality in

    The USA.

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    Maybe I'm being naive, but I still think that hi-res could take off with the right marketing. The going rate for new releases on vinyl these days seems to be about $25, and people are apparently more than happy to pay that. I'd much rather pay $18 for 24/96 myself.

     

    I don't know how the vinyl industry managed to convince everyone and his mother that "analog always sounds better than digital," but the message certainly seems to have stuck. I've even seen people touting the sonic benefits of cassette tapes because they are analog.

     

    It's going to take over 10 years to get EVERYONE that uses a computer/mobile device to have a 24 Bit DAC internal to their device.

     

    It's a hardware issue first. If you don't have 24 Bit DAC in your iPod, IPad, IPhone, Android phone/tablet, Windows phone/tablet, etc., then there is no reason to buy 24 Bit.

     

    It's a growing number of people that are buying external USB DACs, but it's no where near any significant percentage of the population by any stretch of the imagination.

     

    It's going to take over 10 years to get 24 Bit internal DACs into the hands of 90% of the population that buys audio content.

     

    It'll take Apple about 5 years from the date they first start to spit out 24 Bit internal DACs. when that is I haven't a clue, I was hoping they would have at least started doing that, but it may be later this year or the end of next year. I know it's going to happen, it's just a matter of when. then it's going to take them about 3 years to finish their side of the transition and then another 2 to 3 years until THIER user base has 24Bit internal DACs.

     

    For Windows, since there are so many players at various price points, I could easily see the Windows install base taking more than twice as long, and the same thing for Android. They simply can't put a 24 Bit internal DAC in a smartphone that sells for $100 to $300 and expect to make any money on the hardware. Pono isn't making any profit from selling their unit, they are just trying to give the product away so people sign up and buy content through their service, but I expect Pono will go out of business. They only got less than 20,000 users signed up in the first 30 days and that is NOT going to be enough people. Their run rate for attacking new users isn't going up, it's going down. I predict they'll be out of business within around 2 years.

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    I'm nursing my iPod classic until my Pono arrives in october. I'm stoked about the ability to use 128 gb sd cards. I heard a pono at a local event and the difference was incredible. I A/B'd an ALAC song on my phone with a 192/24 identical song ("Old Man" by Neil Young, ripped to my iPhone from the Harvest DVD-A). I was not prepared for the HUGE difference in quality, because it seemed to sound fine until I heard the alternative.

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    If I received a dollar for every time I've been told this is be retired on the beach. People have been saying this for so many years.

     

    I'm going back and forth with mastering right now on a 96K remaster for iTunes of an album I produced ten years ago. If you must insist on having all of the right answers all of the time, then I feel very sorry for you.

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    I'm going back and forth with mastering right now on a 96K remaster for iTunes of an album I produced ten years ago. If you must insist on having all of the right answers all of the time, then I feel very sorry for you.

    Providing a 96k album for iTunes has nothing to do with Apple releasing high resolution.

     

    Do you actually think Apple would let every artist and pro music person in the world know its plans for high resolution well before it happens? I don't. It's like Apple telling iPhone case manufacturers five years ago the dimensions of the iPhone. Doesn't happen.

     

    I don't have to be right. I just look at all the evidence and make an informed decision. It appears you have looked at what Apple tells you and skewed that into meaning something else is coming.

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    OK, I'm sorry. You're right. I have no idea what I'm talking about and you do. I'm not talking about just random artists and I'm not just a random pro music person. And I've been dealing with this issue with two of the top mastering people in the world. But sure, you run a blog, you must now what you're talking about. You've looked at the "evidence". So, I'm going to go back to work now and let you roll with this column, I don't have time to deal with this nonsense.

     

    Providing a 96k album for iTunes has nothing to do with Apple releasing high resolution.

     

    Do you actually think Apple would let every artist and pro music person in the world know its plans for high resolution well before it happens? I don't. It's like Apple telling iPhone case manufacturers five years ago the dimensions of the iPhone. Doesn't happen.

     

    I don't have to be right. I just look at all the evidence and make an informed decision. It appears you have looked at what Apple tells you and skewed that into meaning something else is coming.

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    So let's see, the last time octopus dive bombed a thread with this "I know what I'm talking about but not at liberty to say more, Apple is doing hi res" stuff was August 2011. Hey, if you're right (in less than 3 years this time) that'll be great. Won't excuse the rude tone, though.

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    Oh, sorry about the rude tone. I was merely responding to the all-knowing, all-seeing author of this article (and editor of this blog). But sticking to the topic here, and let's use the word "if": If Apple had plans to release 96k albums in some manner, they would be starting with a catalog of almost nothing. In most cases it takes anywhere from 1-3 days to master an album, if you include revision notes from the producer, artist, etc. Apple would need a fat number of albums in the can at 96k before they could go live with such a program. Such a thing would take a little while. And I would humbly suggest to the author of this article, in similar fashion to the Iwatch which everyone knows is coming, it's not a big secret that they are collecting 96k album masters and remasters, and began doing so a few years ago. Maybe I'm wrong and that they are doing this so that their AAC files are directly from 96k masters (which I know is partly true), but tying up mastering engineers for months at a time for remastering seems a bit serious for such a thing....

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    Oh, sorry about the rude tone. I was merely responding to the all-knowing, all-seeing author of this article (and editor of this blog). But sticking to the topic here, and let's use the word "if": If Apple had plans to release 96k albums in some manner, they would be starting with a catalog of almost nothing. In most cases it takes anywhere from 1-3 days to master an album, if you include revision notes from the producer, artist, etc. Apple would need a fat number of albums in the can at 96k before they could go live with such a program. Such a thing would take a little while. And I would humbly suggest to the author of this article, in similar fashion to the Iwatch which everyone knows is coming, it's not a big secret that they are collecting 96k album masters and remasters, and began doing so a few years ago. Maybe I'm wrong and that they are doing this so that their AAC files are directly from 96k masters (which I know is partly true), but tying up mastering engineers for months at a time for remastering seems a bit serious for such a thing....

     

    Now that was both much more measured and much more informative. Thanks.

     

    (BTW, I didn't read Chris as adopting an omniscient point of view here - that was my take on it, anyway.)

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    Interesting article, I've been skeptical of the hi-res move from Apple myself. They can't even get together the iWatch or iTV that have been talked about for years in the rumor mills. I just personally don't think there is enough interest, everyone I talk to about hi-res literally knows nothing about it, only on audio circles like this or Head-Fi is it even really understood, most people could just care less unfortunately and will buy whatever is cheapest, whether it's streaming services like Spotify or cheaper lossy iTunes downloads.

     

    Apple can talk about what they are playing around with, but when they actually release something is another story. Sometimes, they have to buy other companies or play with various technologies before they are ready to announce something. Tim Cook mentioned last year I believe it was that they weren't going to release a SmartTV because people don't replace TVs as often as they replace computers and it might not be prudent to have a SmartTV where the computer portion gets old but the user won't replace the entire product as quickly. Personally, they could do an upgrade module for the computing guts, but I don't know if they want to do that. There are also other reports coming in about other SmartTV's where people actually don't really use the computing portion of the TV and they pretty much use it as a dumb TV, so unless they can make something people would actually use, why bother in that highly competitive market.

     

    As far as the iWatch, Apple never mentioned WHEN they were going to release the product, the rumor milli is only so accurate. Usually nothing more than maybe 50% hit or miss, sometimes less, sometimes more.

     

    Now with 24 Bit resolution files, I doubt they will ever release lossless due to the file sizes and the cost of delivery. If they do, it will be AAC versions. When? Don't know. They have several things to consider. First is that they would have to upgrade as many of their products with 24 Bit DACs internally and that will drive up the mfg costs per product a fair amount if they want to have a decent quality DAC inside. Two, their mobile products would have to get internal storage increased to handle larger file sizes. Three, content. Do you have any idea how much content is REALLY available and how much they would actually sell? There's hardly any 24 Bit content, we are talking about thousands of albums worth, not hundreds of thousands of albums. To Apple, selling $1 Million worth of songs is chump change. To them, selling $10 Million worth of songs in a year is chump change. To them $100 Million worth of songs a year is chump change. How much potential business is there, REALLY? A lot less than $100 Million a year worth of sales in content. That's chump change to Apple. Remember, iTunes did around $8+ BILLION in sales in 2013. How much could they possibly sell in 24 Bit versions with the little content that's available? Not enough to worry about. I think it's a content issue myself. There simply isn't enough for them to worry about.

     

    I was hoping they would start this year. There is still a few more months left in the year of announcements since they usually make all of their announcements before November, but I don't know if they will. Maybe next year. or the year after. I just don't see that many of the 800 Million iTunes account holders bothering with 24 Bit audio for a while. Most of them simply won't pay the high prices they are charging for 24 Bit through places like HD Tracks and other stores.

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    Oh, I agree that the vinyl resurgence is a fad. I even know people who collect vinyl and don't even own turntables; but I still wish I had a nickel for every person that has robotically repeated to me that vinyl always sounds best because it is analog.

     

    If only 24/96 could become the next fad...

     

    If they could put 24 Bit DACS in all computing devices that were decent and they didn't charge over $1.30 for a 24/96 file and 90% of the content that's currently on the market was remastered with 24/96 then it wouldn't be a fad. Obviously any content that was originally done at 16 Bit won't sound any better unless they come up with a way to upsample and run through a filter that actually does make it sound noticeably better, then there really isn't much they can do with the older 16 Bit other than taking out the compression they did during the mastering and then release those and that's about all they can really do with all of the 16 Bit recordings, which is the majority of the digital content already released.

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    Kind of off topic, but I enjoy some of these "editorial" threads that let us discuss and debate without the benefit of facts, just experience and opinion. It kind of blows off some steam and (most) folks take it as such...nobody knows the future but we all enjoy speculating. Far more in depth and knowledgable than Mac Rumors, for example.

     

    Nice work, Chris, your "op/ed" pieces are very interesting...

     

    Best,

    John

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    Kind of off topic, but I enjoy some of these "editorial" threads that let us discuss and debate without the benefit of facts, just experience and opinion. It kind of blows off some steam and (most) folks take it as such...nobody knows the future but we all enjoy speculating. Far more in depth and knowledgable than Mac Rumors, for example.

     

    Nice work, Chris, your "op/ed" pieces are very interesting...

     

    Best,

    John

    Thank you very much John. You got it 100%. That's why I write them.

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    Interesting article, I've been skeptical of the hi-res move from Apple myself. They can't even get together the iWatch or iTV that have been talked about for years in the rumor mills. I just personally don't think there is enough interest, everyone I talk to about hi-res literally knows nothing about it, only on audio circles like this or Head-Fi is it even really understood, most people could just care less unfortunately and will buy whatever is cheapest, whether it's streaming services like Spotify or cheaper lossy iTunes downloads.

     

    I just stumbled across this company and once you look at what they have out and what they are going to release in terms of music players, it might change your mind.

     

     

    VOX | Feature-Rich Music Player for Mac

     

    Go to the Vox for iPhone and take a close look at the photo of the iPhone 6. Look at the file type, bit and sample rate.

     

    It's coming out soon and it's FREE.. They'll have more information on this when they do the final release, but rest assured, the company told me that the iPhone 6/6+'s apparantly do have 24 Bit capability, it's just the s/w has been turned on. My guess is that Apple is either just letting the 3rd parties run with 24 Bit either indefinately or until Apple can get enough content at 24 bit resolution. My guess is they could be just collecting as much 24 Bit AAC but are not ready to release them due to getting the hardware in the hands of the install base and collecting enough tracks to make it worth while. But in the mean time, us early adopters with a capable iPhone will soon be able to play FLAC, 24 files we are collecting from other sources.

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