Stupid White Boy Blabble

Higher Quality, but Higher Cost? (UPDATE) | February 22, 2011

I would say most people would be willing to pay a little more for higher quality made possessions. Look at Blu-Rays. People have been scooping them up despite their higher price tag.

And now Apple rumor mill is turning once again. This time with its focus on iTunes. The rumor is that Apple, and other music download services, might start offering higher quality music. Mashable has an article detailing the story with a quote from Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Universal Music Group’s Interscope-Geffen-A&M record label:

We’ve gone back now at Universal, and we’re changing our pipes to 24 bit. And Apple has been great… We’re working with them and other digital services — download services — to change to 24 bit. And some of their electronic devices are going to be changed as well. So we have a long road ahead of us.

It is great that Apple, and more importantly record labels, might start offering lossless formats of music. If you haven’t noticed, we have been paying basically the same price for music of lower quality from iTunes as opposed to CDs. But therein lies the problem.

UPDATE: Apple specifically wants to use 24-bit audio, the same quality found in recording studios. CDs are compressed to 16-bit. More here.

iTunes came on to the scene in January 2001 and changed the way we purchased music. It was $0.99 a song and $9.99 an album. A total steal for most people when CDs were $15-18 a pop. Plus it was instant, no need to  drive to the store. But what Apple and recorded labels didn’t tell you is that the quality of this music didn’t touch those of CDs. Apple first released songs in 128 kbps. It now releases all music in 256 kbps. Music quality is a very technical and sometimes difficult subject but know that CDs produce a much high quality sound than 256 kbps.

Here is the thing though, most people who download from iTunes, or other download services, don’t care about higher quality. You don’t need a survey or study to know that. Just look at the popularity of these download services. Millions of tracks downloaded. The people who use these services are happy with the convience and selection that is offered. Plus 256 kbps is a respectable quality while maintaining a small file size. Which is another thing with lossless music. The file sizes are huge, almost four times larger than 256 kbps. So not only does that mean more hard drive space but also a longer download time.

On top of all this, you would need a very good stereo system to even hear the difference between lossless and 256 kbps. Your computers speakers certainly wont be able to produce the highs and lows that is associated with lossless formats.

So would an average iTunes user be willing to pay more for higher quality? My guess is that they wouldn’t.

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About author

I'm Jeff. I like PR, sports, politics and traveling. Not in that order. Oh and I also like cats and sharks. Go Cougs!

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