Apple Music launches Apple Digital Masters collection of high-quality songs

Posted:
in General Discussion
Building on its previous 'Mastered for iTunes' program, Apple Music has a new initiative to promote the creation and sales of higher-quality songs on its service.

Apple's current free tools to help make optimised high-quality music
Apple's current free tools to help make optimised high-quality music


Apple Music has launched a new initiative called Apple Digital Masters, which is intended to bring all of the service's highest-quality recordings into a single place. These are currently the tracks that have been produced using Apple's free Mastered for iTunes tools.

According to Billboard, this is the first public acknowledgement of a plan that has been underway for some time.

Reportedly, Apple says that the 75% of the current US Top 100 tracks -- and 71% of the worldwide Top 100 -- are already Apple Digital Masters.

The Mastered for iTunes program gave producers and musicians drag-and-drop Apple Audio Mastering Tools that let them preview how their music would sound after it's been encoded for Apple Music.

The news of the new push to expand the use of this facility comes after rival service Tidal announced it was providing 'master-quality' tracks.

It's also likely that the move to Apple Digital Masters is because Apple is stepping away from using the term iTunes in favor of Music for its forthcoming macOS Catalina.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    mobirdmobird Posts: 220member
    I would like to see Music replace all artists, albums, and songs in my Music library with the HiRes / Apple Digital Masters versions automatically. Glad there is competition out there (Tidal) breathing down Apple's neck. What I hope is not the case is that Apple only adding titles on a go-forward basis and limited to Apple Digital Masters. Many people including myself are streaming to higher end audio systems in the home and using HomePods as well, these systems benefit from higher quality streams and audio files/formats. The long standing argument by some that higher quality audio formats were not needed because people were using inferior playback devices such as  BT speakers, Airpods, and headphones (Beats) along with the environment that they were listening in were not justified should be put to rest. Obviously Tidal, HD Tracks, record labels, Qobuz and now Apple to name a few have realized that there is a market and demand for higher quality music.
    P-DogNCScot1TrueNorthAppleExposedAndy.Hardwakelostkiwi
  • Reply 2 of 16
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 421member
    One question:
    Are the files ALAC or some lossy format?
    Second:
    Are they rental only?
  • Reply 3 of 16
    hydrogenhydrogen Posts: 225member
    I will never understand why they are so late in this direction, which is the obvious way to go, whereas they have they have all necessary ingredients, know how, resources, etc ... to make it work (and indeed, for this reason, I have too subscribed to Tidal).
    edited August 7
  • Reply 4 of 16
    hydrogen said:
    I will never understand why they are so late in this direction, which is the obvious way to go, whereas they have they have all necessary ingredients, know how, resources, etc ... to make it work (and indeed, for this reason, I have too subscribed to Tidal).
    I’m on a Tidal trial and have used Deezer, too. I prefer Apple Music’s interface but find the sound quality a  less well-defined at times, the bass in particular muddled when compared to lossless services. An improvement with AM is most welcome - shelling out for two streaming services isn’t affordable 
  • Reply 5 of 16
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,469member
    The reality is that most people don't give a crap and even if they did and in spite of what Mobird says, most people are not listening on high quality audio systems (and IMO, Home Pod is far from a quality audio system).   So based on the systems most people have, IMO (as an ex-recording engineer), there will be no perceptible difference.  But for those who do have better systems, the question is what is Apple's process?   Is it higher bit rate, higher resolution, uncompressed?   For all we know, it could be nothing more than a slightly higher bit rate and some EQ and compression algorithm that someone at Apple decided sounded good.   IMO, most of today's recordings out of ProTools sound like crap anyway - artificial and tremendously over-level compressed so everything sounds too loud without dynamic range and excessively harsh.  

    The other issue in these discussions is what is the source file, especially for older recordings.   Because the source file used is going to be the highest quality one can achieve.  If one takes a CD Redbook 44.1/16 recording and remasters it to 96/24, it doesn't improve the quality one bit (sic).   And we've learned recently that the big fire at Universal some years ago and an earlier fire at Atlantic has destroyed thousands of multitrack and 2-track masters of classic recordings, so we can never get back to original quality again for those albums.   Only existing current duplicating masters can be used and in the cases where those no longer exist, new masters will be made from CD's.  

    AAC is already pretty good.   I wonder if in a blind A-B test, very many people could tell the difference between AAC and whatever Apple is now doing or Tidal. 


    baconstanglolliverlostkiwi
  • Reply 6 of 16
    davgreg said:
    One question:
    Are the files ALAC or some lossy format?
    Second:
    Are they rental only?
    I’m wondering about the format too. 
  • Reply 7 of 16
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 787member
    mobird said:
    I would like to see Music replace all artists, albums, and songs in my Music library with the HiRes / Apple Digital Masters versions automatically. Glad there is competition out there (Tidal) breathing down Apple's neck. What I hope is not the case is that Apple only adding titles on a go-forward basis and limited to Apple Digital Masters. Many people including myself are streaming to higher end audio systems in the home and using HomePods as well, these systems benefit from higher quality streams and audio files/formats. The long standing argument by some that higher quality audio formats were not needed because people were using inferior playback devices such as  BT speakers, Airpods, and headphones (Beats) along with the environment that they were listening in were not justified should be put to rest. Obviously Tidal, HD Tracks, record labels, Qobuz and now Apple to name a few have realized that there is a market and demand for higher quality music.
    I agree with the need for higher quality music and I am excited about this.. .but how exactly is Tidal breathing down Apple's neck?

    Tidal has around 4.2M paid subscribers... 
     
    Spotify around 100M paid subscribers

    Apple Music around 60M paid subscribers


    StrangeDayslolliverwatto_cobraphilboogie
  • Reply 8 of 16
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,376unconfirmed, member
    mobird said:
    I would like to see Music replace all artists, albums, and songs in my Music library with the HiRes / Apple Digital Masters versions automatically. Glad there is competition out there (Tidal) breathing down Apple's neck. 
    This MYTH just won't die!

    1. Apple doesn't give a sh** about competition.

    2. Mastered for iTunes existed long before Tidal.
    StrangeDayslolliverlostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    Niallivm said:
    hydrogen said:
    I will never understand why they are so late in this direction, which is the obvious way to go, whereas they have they have all necessary ingredients, know how, resources, etc ... to make it work (and indeed, for this reason, I have too subscribed to Tidal).
    I’m on a Tidal trial and have used Deezer, too. I prefer Apple Music’s interface but find the sound quality a  less well-defined at times, the bass in particular muddled when compared to lossless services. An improvement with AM is most welcome - shelling out for two streaming services isn’t affordable 
    Someone who likes Apple Music’s UI!!!

    Stay where you are, you’re unique! We must come and study you. 

    The UI is the reason I won’t use Apple Music. It’s pathetic. Lacking basic features, still!! One of the worst things Apple have produced. Period. 

    Thinking in it, pathetic may be too generous. 
  • Reply 10 of 16
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,244member
    Niallivm said:
    hydrogen said:
    I will never understand why they are so late in this direction, which is the obvious way to go, whereas they have they have all necessary ingredients, know how, resources, etc ... to make it work (and indeed, for this reason, I have too subscribed to Tidal).
    I’m on a Tidal trial and have used Deezer, too. I prefer Apple Music’s interface but find the sound quality a  less well-defined at times, the bass in particular muddled when compared to lossless services. An improvement with AM is most welcome - shelling out for two streaming services isn’t affordable 
    Someone who likes Apple Music’s UI!!!

    Stay where you are, you’re unique! We must come and study you. 

    The UI is the reason I won’t use Apple Music. It’s pathetic. Lacking basic features, still!! One of the worst things Apple have produced. Period. 

    Thinking in it, pathetic may be too generous. 
    What basic features?

    I have zero problem using AM. Playlists, genres, artists, albums....it's pretty darn easy.
    NiallivmfastasleeplolliverAppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,244member

    hydrogen said:
    I will never understand why they are so late in this direction, which is the obvious way to go, whereas they have they have all necessary ingredients, know how, resources, etc ... to make it work (and indeed, for this reason, I have too subscribed to Tidal).
    Because few people give enough of a crap to demand it as a feature or wish to pay for it. Really do not careless about higher fidelity when most of the time my music is in the background and is not being expertly consumed in a dedicated listening room while enjoying a snifter of cognac.
    lolliverlostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16
    davgreg said:
    One question:
    Are the files ALAC or some lossy format?
    Second:
    Are they rental only?
    It uses 256 kbps AAC, and 24 bit source material:

    https://www.apple.com/itunes/docs/apple-digital-masters.pdf
    GG1lostkiwiphilboogie
  • Reply 13 of 16
    xyzzy01xyzzy01 Posts: 39member
    Comparing Apple "Digital Masters" to Tidal Masters makes no sense.

    TL;DR: Apple "Digital Masters" is marketing, telling that the original music was at the quality of Tidal Masters before you downsampled it into the music consumers actually get.

    Details:

    Tidal has a Hi-Fi subscription tier , which provides lossless audio. On this subscription tier, you can also access even higher quality encodings of music encoded with MQA. I've got it, but I don't have any meaningful way to play it on the one system where I have high quality components, speakers and head phones - neither the Sonos Connect, the built in HEOS, Apple TV or AirPlay can handle this AFAIK. And lossless is good anyways.
    Apple Music "Digital Masters" is just marketing indicating that you started with high quality source material before you downsampled it to 256 kbps (16/44.1).

    If Apple added a high quality tier (lossless), I'd upgrade my subscription on day 1.
    mobird
  • Reply 14 of 16
    xyzzy01xyzzy01 Posts: 39member
    sedicivalvole said:
    Someone who likes Apple Music’s UI!!!

    Stay where you are, you’re unique! We must come and study you. 

    The UI is the reason I won’t use Apple Music. It’s pathetic. Lacking basic features, still!! One of the worst things Apple have produced. Period. 

    Thinking in it, pathetic may be too generous. 
    What basic features?

    I have zero problem using AM. Playlists, genres, artists, albums....it's pretty darn easy.

    There are some questionable choices in AM...

    1. The mixing of your own playlists with the AM playlists. Finding your own playlists can be really hard, especially when using CarPlay. They should have a folder level structure to handle this.
    2. Mixing streamed files with your own files on Mac - same locations. Some times, your own music files can go missing.

    philboogie
  • Reply 15 of 16
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 421member
    rbnetengr said:
    It uses 256 kbps AAC, and 24 bit source material:

    https://www.apple.com/itunes/docs/apple-digital-masters.pdf
    So that would be a lossy format. No thanks.
    Apple really needs to give us the option of buying in ALAC (used to be called Apple Lossless).  

    Some recordings just are not the same in the world of compressed, lossy audio and it is not about being a snob. There are differences between a $3000 guitar and a $300 guitar and you are not going to hear that in such a format. Those who play or have listened to a lot of live performance understand what I am saying.

    Now if you listen to EDM or Hip-Hop/Rap, it really does not matter. Sounds the same on Wal-Mart’s finest audio. Trap beats will make you want to pull your hair out either way.
    mobirdGG1
  • Reply 16 of 16
    rzrrzr Posts: 1member
    If somebody thinks that you can’t get any better quality sound than redbook cd, 2 things could be wrong:
    bad ears
    bad music system!
    Try listening to a good hires album, or even better, most DSD or MQA albums.
    Tidal is the only streaming source that has MQA and to me, is the minimum requirement now when choosing a streaming source.
    Apple set the standard for the music UI years ago and is decent today, but Roon surpasses everybody’s UI.
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