Music industry veterans have been waiting for Apple for years
A code review of Apple’s latest beta of iOS 14.6 by 9to5Mac shows that Apple’s high-resolution audio version is indeed on its way. The new code added to the Apple Music app specifically mentions “Dolby Atmos,” “Dolby Audio,” and “Lossless,” high-fidelity audio terms that had never been part of the iOS ecosystem before. This is leading to serious speculation that the company will finally pull the trigger on its long-awaited high-fidelity audio level.
High resolution is good resolution
Part of the reason anyone who cares about high-quality audio will rejoice is that Apple’s catalog of high-res songs will undoubtedly be much larger than anything available. In 2012, the company began requiring that all submissions to its iTunes Store be what they called “Mastered For iTunes,” meaning the resolution should be at least 24-bit, with preference for the rate. sampling at 96 kHz. This means that the masters submitted to the service were pretty much the same final masters that came straight from the recording studio in terms of level of quality.
As noted above, Apple never decided to launch a dedicated high-resolution tier for iTunes or its Apple Music replacement, but other services like Tidal and Deezer have. These services charge about double their normal lossy subscription rate at $ 19.99. There are reports that Apple won’t go there, instead deciding to stay at the same price of $ 9.99 as its lower resolution level.
Streaming Wars Strategy
This is the strategic move that many have been waiting for. Making the high quality level available at the same price will effectively raise the bar for all other services. Why pay $ 19.99 for hi-fi streaming when you can get a bigger catalog for half the price on Apple Music? If you hear the difference, why go to Spotify when the same songs sound better on Apple Music?
But this is also the problem – if you can hear the difference. Many users won’t be able to do this because their playback systems will be inferior (Apple is already taking steps to ensure that playback on equipment in its ecosystem will be up to the task). With music, you might not hear the difference because of the way it was recorded and mixed. Then there is the case where some engineers / artists / producers themselves do not hear the difference and still refuse to go to a higher resolution when recording, even if this would make their catalogs sustainable (sort of ‘anti-vaxxer approach).
The music industry will celebrate
Music makers have wanted this to happen for years. Anyone who has spent time in the studio and knows what their music looks like in the best possible conditions is often dismayed at how negatively it can be transformed once it hits a streaming service. Engineers who take pride in their craft may be reduced to tears when they hear their precious audio project mutilated by a streaming codec. Yes, we’ve all gotten a little used to it, but that doesn’t mean anyone likes it.
That said, by the time Apple makes this announcement, there will be a celebration in the music creation community. We’ve waited a long time for this to happen and now the average user will finally be able to enjoy what we’ve been hearing from the start.