The Smiths now Mastered for iTunes

Comments indicate nobody really understands what Mastered for iTunes means.

For those of you who already have albums by The Smiths – as I understand it, if you bought them on iTunes you can delete your download and redownload them again for the new files. If you ripped them from CDs and use iTunes Match, you can delete the downloads and redownload them from within the iTunes software. Do not delete from iCloud.

It’s hit and miss on whether or not you get that pretty Mastered for iTunes badge. Krik Mcelhearn wrote about this before.

AURoundTripAAC – A/B Testing

If you missed the Mastered for iTunes tools that Apple released at the beginning of this year you should take a look and grab the AURoundTripAAC Audio Unit if you want to test if you can hear the difference between your source material and the resulting encoded file.

My results were about what I expected. I did VERY well hearing the difference at low bit rates.


16kpbs is like shooting fish in a barrel. If I bump it up to 96 things get a little tricker for me:


So I think 256kpbs AAC files will be just fine for my listening.

$9.99 for 99 Beethoven Tracks

Pretty good deal. And Mastered for iTunes.

Here’s something new, too. At least with this album, Mastered for iTunes is declared in the metadata:

Masteredforitunes beethoven

EMI Classics has been making a BIG DEAL about Mastered For iTunes. I assume that’s because classical listeners are still picky about lossy downloads. But this model works pretty well for classical music because it’s much less expensive to produce a 99-track download than it would be to make a box set of eight CDs.

Another stickler—grouping data isn’t filled out. I like being able to do this:


There can be only one iTunes track

Bobby Owsinski got some Mastered for iTunes questions answered directly from Apple representatives.

“Mastered for iTunes” is only an indication that a hi-res master was supplied; it’s not a separate product. There will always be only one version of the song on iTunes at the same price as before. “Mastered for iTunes” doesn’t mean you get to charge more, or that iTunes charges you more. Everything is like it was before, you just supply a hi-res master so it sounds better.

Which would indicate that anybody using iTunes Match is getting the Mastered For iTunes version of tracks. Good news if you thought you’d have to repurchase all those Pink Floyd albums for the Mastered for iTunes magic.

Also on sound quality:

Speaking of the sound quality, iTunes is now using a completely new AAC encoder with a brand new algorithm and the sound quality it produces is stunning. It provides an excellent encode if you use a few common sense guidelines (more on this in a bit), and if you do, the result is almost impossible to hear (at least on the music we listened to). I mean, there we were, mastering engineers Eddy Schreyer, Gene Grimaldi plus myself, listening in this fantastic listening environment, and we literally couldn’t tell between the source and the encode most of the time.

Mastering engineers, people who do this professionally for a living, have trouble identifying a 24/96 studio master from a 16/44 AAC file. Meanwhile, read any of the comments on these types of articles and you’ll find comments from people who think they have golden ears and demand FLAC, high-resolution downloads.

Why? Because higher numbers are better. It’s science!

They did the math, but they didn’t use their ears.