Report: Apple Looking to Upgrade Sound Quality of Audio Tracks

In a new interview, Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine says his company is working with Apple to offer a 24-bit format option for music downloads.

According to a report, technology giant Apple is seeking to upgrade the quality of the digital music sold through iTunes and is currently in talks with at least one major label to increase the format size of audio files from 16-bit to 24-bit.

In a new interview with CNN, Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine reveals that Universal Music Group is working with Apple and other digital music services to offer high-fidelity formats. Doing so would require Apple to retool its mobile devices, which don’t natively support 24-bit audio files.
Music recorded in the studio is typically captured in 24 bits. Most internet music retailers, however, then downgrade to 16 bits both to decrease file size and increase the speed of streaming or download. An upgrade in audio quality will come at a price: a high-grade track is expected to cost more per download, and listeners may also have to upgrade their devices in order to get the full effect.  
While most audio-purists will be pleased when format shift occurs, it’s unlikely the average listener will notice much of a difference. Still, some artists, like Radiohead, who just released their latest album, King of Limbs, are offering their fans the option: $9 for the 320 kilobits per second, mp3 sound quality album and $14 for the uncompressed WAV file.