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iTunes masters.What's this all about...?


wappinghigh

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Got this link from the Linn forums..

 

http://www.apple.com/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/

 

OMG..Is this finally an acknowledgement of our hobby from Apple.

 

 

 

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It means that the studio can, using these tools, produce a result that sounds as good as you are likely to get on the low resolution, low bit-rate service that iTunes provides.

 

Put another way. Reducing everything to iTunes/iPhone/iPod/iPad/iEarbud 'best you can expect on them' mediocrity.

 

Another attempt by Apple at world domination, by dumbing down people's expectations in the hope that it will become the 'standard'. To the detriment of those who care about music.

 

There have been posts on this site and others, warning about "Mastered for iTunes".

 

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Did anyone actually acertain if "Mastered for iTunes" is any more compressed than (for example) the CD version of the same album?

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Anything about it being compessed? 'More' or otherwise.

 

Let's call it 'optimised' for iTunes if you prefer. A whole lot more than compression (or not). And there have been many warnings about it, in all sorts of places.

 

It's your 'compressed' straw man, and you just knocked it down.

 

And like it or not, it is becoming a 'standard', purely my very good marketing and the lowering of people's expectations. When such people hear well reproduced music, they are gobsmacked.

 

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Perhaps the title of my previous post should have been "Why let the truth get in the way of a good rant at Apple!!!"

 

Did you actually read the document in the link? Or did you just see it as a excuse for bashing Apple?

 

In my experience most people have never heard well reproduced music - growing up most people has Amstrad "stack systems" or a Roberts radio and that's how they listened to music. Do you really think that Dansette record players ubiquitous in 1960s teenagers bedrooms actually sounds better than the iPod and dock they have now?

 

For the average music lover, Apple (along with others) actually improved audio quality.

 

Yes there is a second issue of the general quality of recordings, but that (of which compression is a big issue hense why I mentioned it before) goes back a long way before Apple and iTunes got involved. Who exactly is to blame I don't think anyone really knows: everyone blames each other but at the end of the day it's about getting your music noticed...

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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... is that iTunes has a better SRC for downsampling than anythung else, and / but that e.g. 24/96 is squashed into 256 VBR AAC.

 

This, opposed to taking CD contents, and transform that to 256 VBR AAC.

 

The guy/gal who wrote the "brief" seems to know what he/she is talking about, never mind that I don't get much what the whole purpose of it all will be (ok, better sound from (mainly) HiRes while put into a lossy format).

 

The only real conclusion can be (should be ?) that iTunes has this better downconverter than any respected studio etc.

 

Well ...

 

(I still don't see where all that Hires will be coming from, which is ... not another matter ?)

 

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To agree (the implied) with Mark some, I of course started downloading the zip to see what it would be.

Sorry, Apple only ...

 

So yes.

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2.5      Ethernet^3     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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If the suppliers read Apple's 'Terms and Conditions'. If I am foolish enough to send them a useful suggestion, it becomes legally theirs, for example. Just suggesting it means I have surrendered my rights, whether they use it or not.

 

The purpose is to make it sound as 'good' (Ha Ha Ha) as possible on their very small boxes.

 

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I agree with the comments from others that this is really Apple providing better tools for down sampling 24/96 files to the AAC format...interestingly the document does not mention distribution methods for 24/96 files other than DVDA and SACD ( remember those ) so it does not recognize the proliferation of hi-res downloads in recent years. This omission may be a signal that Apple is not going to develop the iTunes store to carry those, which is depressing....but it may also be the diversionary pre-cursor to that kind of announcement that watchers of the company over the years have come to recognise. One reading of this is the contention that AAC is the same quality as CD, and new Apple tools may only degrade recording studio music files to that level. Does that recognise our hobby ( maybe passion or obsession might be a better word ) or not?

 

Thanks to Eloise for pointing out that the invention of the iPod means that more people listen to more music more of the time, and at higher quality than before...I am old enough to remember that at even in the Golden Years of Vinyl, a significant number of people, possible a majority, got their music from cassette, for convenience in mobile devices and the car, and were kinda content with that.

 

I suspect that like many people on this forum, I use ITunes as a library system and for downloading, but I rarely buy any music from the iTunes Store ( but use it a lot for audiobooks, video, TV programmes and the truly excellent iTunes University )

 

 

 

 

 

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WE all know what Apple trying to do, with this and everything else. It is naive to think they are not.

Yes... They are trying to make money.

 

They do that by building products/services which people find superior.

 

There's nothing more and nothing less to their desires. I really don't think Steve Jobs (nor Bill Gates for that matter nor Larry Page) want to rule the world! It's only conspiracy theorists and paranoids who think otherwise...

 

It's not Apple who decided that people wanted their music lossily compressed. They responded to market demand... As YOU (amongst others) are quick to point out when it suits your argument, Apple never invented anything - they just made products that the general population found easy to use and suited their needs.

 

Eloise

 

PS it's only a 1/3 who think Apple is all there is; the other 2/3 think it's all Google (Android).

 

PPS if you believe Neil Young; Steve Jobs was wanting to head towards supplying high resolution audio and was coming up against resistance from the record labels...

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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But there is a lot more to 'Mastered for iTunes' than compression. You seem to have got hooked (these fish again) on that.

 

Nor is there anything wrong with making money. I worked for IBM for 30 years, much of it in IBM's heyday. Had 80% plus of the market. As an employee some of that money rubbed off on me every payday.

 

But you seem more aware than many of what's going on in the broad 'music' business. So you must know that a lot of it is about dumbing down people's expectations to what what Apple and and others (Apple being the most successful) can do with the technology of the day to make profits. Often by minimising what they deliver. Unfortunately it gets dumbed down for more discriminating (or wealthy, or obsessive) people as well.

 

PS: Have you noticed that Rupert Murdoch looks more and more like one of these elderly, mad, dictators?

 

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Mark, I agree there is a lot of factors here. My point was, you're immediate response to "Mastered for iTunes" was "there goes Apple forcing everyone to listen to AAC compressed music". Or did I miss the point of your first post? My reply about compresson was more based on previous threads on the subject where it was assumed that a Made for iTunes track would be compressed and degraded to suit iDevice listening compared with (for example) the CD release of the same album - I've no idea if anyone actually compared any albums to see if this was a valid assumption.

 

While it would be nice for Apple to supply high resolution audio, this isn't going to make everyone suddenly appreciate HiFi and high quality reproduction. For one thing, most listeners will not pay more for higher quality. The average consumer already think that (less than) £10 for a CD is too much; promise of higher quality isn't going to convince them to spend £15/20/30 for a 24/96 (or higher) album.

 

Apple could easily make a 24/96 or higher device for the same money but of the 156million iOS devices sold last year, how many people actually care beyond the "good enough" sound quality currently offered?

 

As I said before, I really think that beyond the small Audiophile community, Apple with its iPods along with Sony, Samsung, Creative Audio, et al. have actually exceeded the expectations of the average joe ... If there is really a dumbing down of audio quality I think the blame is probably more placed at the feet of TV manufacturers - a modern TV has horrible sound quality!!

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I don't even know what AAC is. I have just seem a lot of criticism of 'Mastered for iTunes' all over the place Even Neil Young (not that I think he is so special) commented recently.

 

And the 'standard' now is much lower than the 'Perfect sound forever' (!) that we got in the early 1980's. We have gone backwards. The old Sony portable CD player sounds much better than an iPod (if you don't jump about too much).

 

BTW. My Samsung TV, about an 8 years old LCD with its analog output (thus its internal DAC) fed direct to my Naim preamp (which is how it is always used) sounds quite good. It I use its 'digital' S/PDIF output through either the Dacmagic or the Debussy it is worse.

 

 

 

 

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AAC is the (industry standard) compression codec Apple uses for iTunes in preference to MP3 (a closed standard). I may have missed some things you're read about "Made for iTunes" but most if not all I've seen have been along the lines of "oh my god... Made for iTunes; that's going to be horribly compressed audio" without any actual checking between the "Made for iTunes" version and any other version.

 

I disagree with you over portable CD: I would say my iPod (5th Gen) is vastly superior to a Technics portable CD player I had but it may just be that it was very old.

 

My comment about TVs applied only to their internal speakers... But given the depth of them it's not a surprise they sound so bad.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hi wap - Very interesting! There were some really nice things in the PDF about the value of higher sample rates in the production process, not up-sampling prior to encoding, etc... Thanks for posting this one!

 

Direct link to PDF -> http://images.apple.com/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/docs/mastered_for_itunes.pdf

 

P.S. Mark - Can you at least try not to be a buzz kill for every thread :~)

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

My Audio Systems | Audiophile Style Mastodon

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I was merely quoting widely held views, both here and elsewhere. Neil Young's view, which I referenced, was posted here just a few days ago. The OP is not (horrible phrase) a 'newbie', but he seemed to be under the impression from what he wrote that it was an Apple move into general better quality, which it is not. Apple, of course, pretend that it is, though it is merely various distortions, no more. 'Mastered for Tannoys' would be equally false. But I will take note of what you say, though in this case I felt a 'correction' was important.

 

Sony CD Walkman. Mine was partly from memory too, but I do own a 'restored' one (I have a small collection of old stuff). The Sony is as good as most 'mass market' regular CD players. To me, at least. From what I hear of JRemote, I might even buy an iPod, but I cannot imagine me ever loading any music to it. When I am out I would much rather hear birdsong and the like.

 

PS: Maybe I am being pedantic, but here is of the many examples why I dislike Apple. I just referenced the link you posted below. Since when has Handel's Water Music (for example) been a 'song'? Why do Apple have to dumb down absolutely everything?

 

PPS: (sorry) And why all these Apple lies? Since when has AAC 'Accurately delivered your music'? It discards about 75% of it.

 

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I think the overall tone of the report and its stated aims makes for very encouraging reading. If Apple get their way and the studios play ball, then they will end up with a library stock of well mastered, 24/96, files.

 

You never know, somebody might make the decision to start selling them to us!

 

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but I agree the final product is AAC, only Apple says they've got this "magical" process of putting Humpty back together again, it seems...

 

I wonder how much of this process is already in the new iPods? I did a bit of testing with mine a few weeks back, and was quite surprised how well it did in a direct comparo with a CA setup upstairs. Much closer than it should have been.

 

I have thousands of LPs, hundreds of CDs, and dozens of 24 bit downloads. I mostly listen to the downloads...

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"Provide High Resolution Masters

To take best advantage of our latest encoders send us the highest resolution master file possible, appropriate to the medium and the project.

An ideal master will have 24-bit 96kHz resolution. These files contain more detail from which our encoders can create more accurate encodes. However, any resolution above 16-bit 44.1kHz, including sample rates of 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, and 192kHz, will benefit from our encoding process.

Don’t upsample files to a higher resolution than their original format. Upsampling won’t recover or add information to an audio file. Don’t provide files that have been downsampled and dithered for a CD. This degrades the file’s audio quality.

As technology advances and bandwidth, storage, battery life, and processor power increase, keeping the highest quality masters available in our systems allows for full advantage of future improvements to your music. Also, though it may not be apparent because there may not always be a physical, tangible master created in LP or CD format, the iTunes catalog forms an important part of the world’s historical and cultural record. These masters matter—especially given the move into the cloud on post-PC devices."

 

That seems quite clear to me.

 

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