In short, Apple are looking to offer “adaptive streaming” via a system, or new file format, that could provide either high or low quality audio files to a user – who would have to be signed up to iTunes’ iCloud service, which lets you access your iTunes library on the move – depending on the bandwidth and storage available on device they were streaming them through (for instance, an iPhone).
The Guardian‘s source claims that “Apple has asked a London studio to prepare audio files for a new streaming format that will adapt to bandwidth or hardware capabilities … All of a sudden, all your audio from iTunes is in HD rather than AAC. Users wouldn’t have to touch a thing – their library will improve in an instant”.
Potentially, it will allow an iPhone user to access smaller file types to avoid using unnecessary mobile internet bandwidth, but allow those without such restrictions to download or stream studio quality music. What’s unclear at this point is whether the file format will convert in real time, or if Apple will convert the master file to several different types upon submission to iTunes.
The aforementioned source also makes the point that if true, this could represent a real payday for mastering engineers. “There could be calls for thousands of albums to be remastered, and at over £1,000 to master a mainstream album, it’s going to be a healthy boost for the recording industry.”
When asked for comment on this story, Apple said it “does not comment on rumour and speculation”.