Apple Music this week officially launched Apple Digital Masters combining all of its “Mastered for iTunes” offerings into one global catalog.
This is the company’s first public acknowledgement of the initiative, which it has been quietly unveiling for some time. In 2012, Apple started Mastered for iTunes, which created a set of guidelines and software tools (distributed for free) that allowed engineers to optimize their music for the digital download service format by encoding from high-resolution masters.
“By starting with the best possible masters we are able to offer our Apple Music and iTunes customers the highest possible quality audio. Our latest encoder can take advantage of every bit of the high-resolution masters that engineers are creating especially for us,” the Apple website reads.
“The results, both for streaming and download, are virtually indistinguishable from the original 24 bit studio masters,” it says.
The goal of the program was to create studio-quality sound files virtually identical to the original master recordings (aka “lossless” audio), which were then placed in a special “Mastered for iTunes” section on the app.
In 2012 Apple introduced the news quietly, and it was received mostly as a behind-the-scenes tech development. Critics then wondered why MP3s, which have always been seen by the industry and many consumers as a transitional product of compromised quality, would be deserving of any remastering.
While the high resolution recordings haven’t appeared in the Music app yet, Apple claims that most of the Apple Music top releases are ‘Digital Masters’. Approximately 71 percent of them in the Global Top 100 and 75 percent of them in the US Top 100 are under the program.
Edited from Billboard