Apple and other digital music resellers are currently negotiating with record labels to sell 24-bit lossless audio, CNN reported earlier this afternoon. Stores like iTunes could offer the lossless audio at a "premium price", according to CNN's music executive sources.
Before the finished product is pressed onto a compact disc, audio engineers compress the studio recordings to a 16-bit recording, losing some of the data from the original 24-bit recording. Essentially, the majority of the albums in stores are compressed versions of the original master audio tracks.
"What we're trying to do here is fix the degredation of music that the digital revolution has caused," Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M, said at HP's TouchPad announcement. "It's one thing to have music stolen through the ease of digital processing. But it's another thing to destroy the quality of it. And that is what's happening on a massive scale."
24-bit audio will obviously sound a lot better than most of the lossless audio currently available. Music listeners will not be able to hear the difference unless the computer is equipped with the right set of speakers and the right audio card. 24-bit audio cannot even be played on compact discs, it takes a DVD to play elsewhere.
Most Macs will generally be able to play the 24-bit audio, as Apple has its own lossless format that it uses for iTunes and its mobile devices. Apple is also the exlusive online digital reseller of The Beatles' catelog, so this also marks the first time that this legendary music can be heard the way it was meant to.
"Most of you aren't hearing it the way it's supposed to sound," rapper and producer Dr. Dre said in a promotion video for Beats Audio, a audio system he helped design with Iovine and HP, "And you should -- hear it the way I do."