Some interesting follow-up news items in the wake of Neil Young's recent comments about MP3s and the quality of digital audio include an argument against 24/192 downloads, guidelines for 'mastering for iTunes,' and a new adaptive HD audio format in the works at Apple.
Here are some interesting follow-up new items related to my last blog post ("Neil Young: Say No to MP3s"), which discussed the quality of digital audio formats:
Why 24/192 Music Downloads Make No Sense: This article argues that a 24-bit/192-kHz audio format - while taking up six times the space - would actually be slightly inferior in playback quality to 16/44.1 or 16/48 formats. (This had me doing a double take too, until I read the author's reasoning.) Well worth a read.
Mastered for iTunes: It turns out that Apple is now providing recommended guidelines for mastering engineers to follow when preparing masters for iTunes. This apparently means optimizing master files to enable the best sound quality in the lossy compressed files available for download from the iTunes store - in other words, tweaking the mastering to optimize for the limitations/characteristics of the end music format, not unlike what was previously done with vinyl. I guess if I have no choice but to download music in Apple's 256-kbps AAC format, then sure, I'd prefer it "optimized." On the other hand, why waste time with this? Just give me the option to download lossless files already!
New HD Audio Format with 'Adaptive Streaming': Finally, it seems Apple has been busy on yet another audio format front - that involving downloading or streaming music from its iCloud service. The company is apparently working on a new audio file format that would adapt its quality to the end user's bandwidth or hardware capabilities. There was speculation that more details of this would be announced during the company's "iPad 3" launch event, but this doesn't appear to have been the case. A guess might be that this could be something along the lines of Fraunhofer's HD-AAC.
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Neil Young: Say No to MP3s
MP3: Audio boon or bane?
The death of high fidelity?
Video interview with MP3 co-inventor
Vinyl vs. CD myths refuse to die
Rolling Stone: Hi-Fi not dead after all