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Apple Music should offer high-res audio, says leading producer

Michael Sawh


Apple Music

Ahead of next week's Apple Music launch, New York-based producer, mixer and engineer Chris Tabron has suggested Tim Cook should have set the standard by offering higher resolution audio for its music streaming service.

Speaking on a panel at the iconic Jungle City Studios in New York, Tabron, who has worked with artists like Beyonce, Mary J Blige and Common was disappointed that Apple opted to go for the 256kbps bitrate, which is below the 320kbps offered by the likes of Spotify and Deezer.

"I think that a company like Apple has missed a bit of an opportunity with the new service that's coming, because with the iPod, iPhone and iTunes being so ubiquitious, it's a large reason why people are so used to compressed music," Tabron commented.

He added: "If Apple launched this service and then said, 'Okay, it's going to be in AAC in a lossless codec,' the average consumer who may or may not know the difference of high definition audio might not care but they'd value it. They'll think, 'I'm getting high definition for the same price as Spotify.'"

Tabron believes that by taking the higher resolution route, it would help users to accept listening at less compressed file format.

"Moving down the line, we could get people used hearing audio at a higher bandwidth," he said. "It's not going to be a real difference on the Apple servers. I don't think they're thinking about hard drive space!"

Apple Music, which has been built following its acqusition of Beats, will offer a Spotify-like monthly subscription for $9.99 or $14.99 for a family membership.

Giving you streaming acess to iTunes content, Apple is also offering curated playlists and a new Beats 1 radio live internet station led by former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe.

Related: Apple Music vs Spotify

To kick things off, the iPhone 6 maker is offfering a free, three month trial, a period during which it initially said it would not pay any royalties to artists featured on the service. Since then, a group of artists including Taylor Swift complained forcing Apple to announce it would offer reduced royalty rates during that three-month period.

Do you agree with Chris Tabron? Should Apple have set the benchmark and offered higher resolution audio? Let us know in the comments section below.


June 26, 2015, 3:41 pm

Tabron is obviously a Tidal shill (look who he's worked with).

Once again a non-controversy "controversy" about Apple Music so a website can get top listing in search engines. Um how is Tabron supposedly an expert and not know the difference between mp3 320kbps and ACC 256kbps which is Apple Music's format?

Hint there is none, or Apple's 256kbps might even be better at times. Yep - no audible quality difference because quality isn't solely dependent on bit rate, it's a soup made of encoding and bitrate, and m4a is far superior in audio "quality" than mp3. And I'm not even an "expert" and understand this basic idea when it comes to audio file formats.

Prem Desai

June 26, 2015, 3:57 pm

I don't think that the vast majority of people can appreciate the difference between 256kbps, 320kbps and hidef. This is mainly to do with the equipment used.

I'm sure Apple have crunched the numbers and have a solid business model in place behind their offering.


June 26, 2015, 3:58 pm

Besides, 99% of the iPhone users will listen to it with the crappy bundled headphones, or Beats by Dre headphones. Both of which won't justify the lossless bitrate.

Mike Walker

June 26, 2015, 3:59 pm

Totally agree if apple were offering 256kbps MP3 then there would be something worth reading about. ACC is a totally different (better) encoding format.


June 26, 2015, 5:20 pm

I thought blind A-B testing has shown many times that even 'audiophiles' can't tell the difference between CD and MP3s at 192kbps and above. Specs are one thing, but your ears are only so good.

Apple probably decided that 256kbps AAC is more than adequate, and lower bandwidth requirements just make the service more reliable on the move.


June 26, 2015, 10:12 pm

I truly believe that with the youth of today listening to music at overly loud levels, their hearing will have been somewhat impaired. I know that mine is, having been a Club DJ for many years and after a hearing test was astonished how poor mine was. My point is that unless one has perfect hearing, one would not be able to tell the difference anyway.


June 27, 2015, 7:31 am

You actually going are to notice more through head phones or a very good hifi speaker set up on than on an average pc speaker, phone or bluetooth speaker where you are unlikely to notice that much.

The most noticeable is where the sound becomes more muffled or hard to distinguish between say words being sung and the music playing, a bit like when you listen to a song and you cant always make out a word or a series of words - that kind of scenario.

Many go on saying about you cant tell the difference, well you can. I agree at first when listening it is hard to tell straight away unless you know what to listen out for, but when you play them side by side at different higher bit rates it makes a difference a major difference in quality of the overall sound. In my professional music studio if I was to master and sound engineer songs at lower rates through sound interfaces it would make the artist sound awful (although some naturally so sound awful hehe)..seriously it makes a massive difference.

I think the main issue here is apple can offer a much better quality codec and they just opt for the lower end for a premium price, it is always the same with apple it has to be expensive because its apple not necessarily quality. Bling is the word I would associate with apple ie appleBling pay more for less...


June 28, 2015, 2:14 pm

It's actually mostly to do with how efficient the codecs are. There are a few samples that "break" even the best lossy codec so you may be able to hear a slight difference, but for the vast majority of tracks, even the best "audiophile" ears listening to the best equipment won't be able to tell a 256kbps AAC file from the lossless original.

For the vast majority of people, listening in imperfect environments on equipment in a price range that doesn't involve remortgaging a house or selling a kidney (in the car, on headphones outside, on the bus, on the treadmill, or while doing any of a hundred other things), there is no incremental value in lossless encoding beyond placebo.

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