Weighing on the debate over whether or not Apple should offer 24-bit downloads.

These past few months I’ve mainly been changing diapers and trying to fit in freelance ad work, so I am out of the loop in a major way regarding the music blogs I follow (actually, follow is about all I do nowadays, I read a headline, then a baby erupts, and I gotta go). Just this morning, though, I had a bit of extra time and read a fair bit about Jimmy Iovine’s push for 24-bit files on iTunes and other music download sites.

First off, let me just day I’m for it. I hate the fact that the only files available to me from iTunes and Amazon are MP3s. Why does this bother me? Mainly because I know I’m paying near full pop for only a small portion of the actual data I receive (an MP3 gets rid of about 90% of the data in the original recording). I much prefer buying a CD, ripping it, and creating the file formats I want, based on the environment in which I will be doing my listening. I know, I do not represent the masses, but that’s not the point. The point is that I, as a sonic geek, should have the option of being able to purchase 100% of the data I want. Further, I wonder if an MP3 is really legal. After all, I am buying the right to listen a recording, should that right not be for the whole recording?

Now, a lot of folks out here are saying that Iovine’s nuts and no one cares very much about audio quality. Further, they accuse him of simply pushing the agenda of the Beats audio brand he’s started with Dr. Dre. On the first point, I think the naysayers are wrong; there are plenty of people out there willing to pay more for better audio quality. On the Beats thing, I agree. Beats to me just Bose all over again. Mainly, I think it’s about EQ and slightly better speaker drivers, not truly better gear.

Here’s what I would like to happen:

• Apple spruces up the iTunes app so it can handle SACD-quality files (24-bit / 196 kHz in stereo) and starts being clear about which computers in its lineup can handle SACD (maybe they all can already, I don’t know).

• iTunes and Amazon start selling SACD files/albums (they can charge a premium).
(Failing the whole SACD thing, then let’s just go with Blue Ray audio, which is capable of handling the SACD spec. Obviously, not all music would be available at such a high quality level, but a lot would be, given all the work that has already been done using SACD, DVD-A and Blu Ray. What’s more, I could rip my SACD and DVD audio discs into iTunes.)

• I would be able to filter my search results on iTunes and Amazon for SACD downloads (or Blu Ray audio, etc.) and off the the races I would be. Other folks, who don’t care as much, could choose 24-bit / 96 kHz AIFF files or high-rez MP3s.

Oh, and for everyone who says such a shift is too hard (updating iPod hardware, iPhones, etc.), please. It could happen in a few years, no big deal.
BTW, please visiti my new Cerebellum Blues Facebook Page and Like it! Thanks.)