Before you pee your pants with excitement – this is a rumor about one of the most tight-lipped companies in the world, but more and more people are talking about Apple offering HD files via their uber-profitable, iTunes music store. The rumor comes as audiophiles en masse adopted the MacBook Pro as a trustworthy music source for audiophile systems during last week’s CES trade show. Most were using AIFF files ripped from Compact Discs into high resolution DACs. Others used software to transcode 24 bit 96 kHz audio from sites like HD Tracks or B&W’s Society of Sound over to iTunes.
If Apple really starts selling their music in HD formats like 24/96 stereo you will finally have the ultimate “killer application” for audiophiles. For the first time since the Compact Disc there would be a reason to buy your music collection all over again.
The rumor is believable for a few reasons:
1. Steven Jobs is an audiophile who also loves music.
2. Apple’s iTunes makes up over 20 percent of all music sold today according to recent reports.
3. Apple’s new cloud storage center in the South East can host the massive files needed.
4. EMI is reported to have converted all of their master tapes to 24/96 recently.
The rumor might be false because:
1. The bandwidth needed to stream 24/96 audio is bigger thus could bog down home networks.
2. With Net Neutrailty debates raging – players like Comcast, Time Warner and others might try to charge more to people downloading large files at some point in the future.
3. The music industry thinks that somehow people will steal these HD files even when people basically don’t steal files bought on iTunes in standard defintion.
To be clear – if music was to be sold in HD formats via iTunes – it is the single most important advance in high end audio since the launch of the Compact Disc. Apple has the power and the motives to do it. Pray that they do and then spend like a drunken sailor as 24/96 audio is not only worth owning for you high end audio system but its worth supporting those who support HD audio. C’mon Apple – do it.