How Audio Is Engineered For The Digital Age

by Christopher Paul on February 22, 2012

From Ars Technica via Dan Frakes:

There are lots of people, myself included, that feel a CD and digital music in general, doesn’t sound as good as an analog recording. There’s some serious math that goes into the determining the amount of data that is generated during the recording process it’s not possible to store that amount of information yet. With advances in storage, it’s getting easier but we’re still a bit far from seeing that as a mainstream option. Ars Technica tries to simplify it:

“Compared to 24-bit 192kHz digital audio, a finished CD only has roughly 15 percent of the information captured during the recording process. Compressing the songs on a CD further into 256kbps AAC “iTunes Plus” format cuts the data down to just one-fifth of the size of CD audio, or as little as three percent of the original 192kHz recordings.”

When you put into those terms, you can easily see (or in this case, hear) why vinyl is making a comeback.

Another thing that caught my attention was a recommendation from Apple for recording studios to begin to upload a “master” quality file when submitting songs to the iTunes Music Store.

“Apple suggests submitting high-resolution audio files will become more important down the road. “As technology advances and bandwidth, storage, battery life, and processor power increase, keeping the highest quality masters available in our systems allows for full advantage of future improvements to your music,” reads their guide to iTunes mastering. “These masters matter—especially given the move into the cloud on post-PC devices.””

Translation: Apple will offer “master” quality audio files available over iCloud to stream to iOS devices.

I’d say its a matter of when and not if.

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