Is iTunes About to Start Selling Hi-Res Music, or Is a Record Label Confused?

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I came across a curious announcement from Warner Classics this morning. They say that they will be releasing some music in high definition on iTunes. Talking about some remastered albums by Herbert van Karajan, they say:

This treasure trove has been painstakingly remastered at London’s Abbey Road Studios in 24-bit/96kHz from the original tapes, available for the first time as digital, high-definition releases via iTunes.

Two possibilities. The first is that the iTunes Store will start selling music in high-resolution, 24-bit 96 kHz. The other is that Warner Classics is simply confused, or is trying to pull one over on music consumers. They talk about these albums being “remastered at London’s Abbey Road Studios in 24-bit/96kHz from the original tapes,” which is generally the case for recordings that are remastered from analog these days. But I think they assume that, if the remastering was done at 24/96, then the resulting files on the iTunes Store will also be at 24/96.

If it were true that the iTunes Store were to start selling high-resolution files, this wouldn’t leak in a now day-old news release from a record label, but would be announced with a fair amount of fanfare by Apple. So my money is on a record label that either doesn’t understand, and are just talking about Mastered for iTunes tracks, which use high-resolution masters, or that is trying to confuse consumers to make them think that they’re getting high-resolution music from iTunes.

For now, none of these albums are available on the iTunes Store, so we’ll have to wait and see.

3 replies
  1. Julian Guitron says:

    Interesting observation. I have little doubt that there will be a gradual move towards high-res tracks, especially in some areas such as classical. I’ve noticed an increase in the release of albums at
    Hopefully the confusion will clear and sooner rather than later we’ll enjoy high quality sound!

  2. bj4wp says:

    Hey Kirk:

    1. I went to the link you provided. I hit the contact us link and sent this to Warner Classics:

    “Apple iTunes & 24/96 bit tracks?

    Does the following quote from your website mean Apple’s iTunes will be selling 24/96 bit tracks for this album?

    Thanks for your assistance.”

    2. This is what they replied:


    Thanks for your email.

    In answer to your question yes we will be selling 24/96 bit tracks for Itunes (these will be mastered exclusively for Itunes)

    All other outlets will be in HD and 24/44 bit tracks.

    If you have any other questions please feel free to email me.

    Kind Regards

    Warner Classics & Jazz
    12 Lancer Square
    W8 4EH

    This should be interesting … especially the part about “All other outlets will be in HD and 24/44 bit tracks.”

    Bill J.

    • Kirk McElhearn says:

      I still think they’re confused. I think they mean Mastered for iTunes, and they don’t really know what the numbers mean. We’ll see.


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