24-bit bandwidth costs

Billboard on this iTunes 24-bit thing:

Not stated is the fact that labels will almost certainly want to charge more for higher-quality files (as they already do today) and Apple will need to make more to cover the increased cost of transferring larger files downloaded from iTunes.

Not stated? What a strange way to get these details in there.

Let’s assume that 44.1hz, 24-bit files encoded at 256kbps AAC is what we’re talking about here. A 4 minute, 44/16 256kbps AAC file is roughly 8 megabytes. How much would a 24-bit file be? Another 5-8 megabytes, if that?

I can’t confirm because I can’t make a 24-bit AAC file on this Mac with Logic Pro, Max, Quicktime, Soundtrack Pro, iTunes‚Ķeverything saves a 24-bit file to 16-bits, although iTunes will convert a 24-bit AIFF to an Apple Lossless file with 24-bits – so maybe we’re really talking about iTunes going completely lossless.1

Meanwhile, I bought Riven for my iPhone in December for $5.99 (currently selling at $2.99). I can delete it and download it from Apple again with no problems. I won’t even get charged again. It’s over a gigabyte. Can’t do that with music and full albums are usually between 80-120 megs.

If anything my bet is that 44.1khz/24-bit files will be the new default, not a new premium option. It reduces a step on the engineering / administrative side: dithering.

I think what happened here is that people said “Hey music industry, you got a problem with your sound!” and they replied “Ok, we’ll work on that.” But they thought the conversation was about encoders, sample rates and bit-depth, not pop artists.


  1. But I doubt it.