The commercial success of Apple’s iPod, as well as their iTunes music store, is undeniable, but the wreckage in the music industry looks like the finale of a Terminator movie. Local record stores are long gone and the compact disc is the best-quality audio that most consumers can find. Meanwhile, Apple is selling downloads that are one-quarter to one-fifth the resolution of a compact disc’s audio and calling the resulting sound HD. Audiophiles are screaming foul and Apple’s Steven Jobs should know better than to sell anything less than CD-quality audio for the powerful iPod, Apple TV and beyond.
The good news is that there are companies, most notably AIX Records, that are selling music at far higher than CD resolutions to consumers with media servers and media center PCs. These tracks are better-sounding than SACD and DVD-Audio and can be sold by the entire genre or by the album or even by the song. Record labels need to embrace the idea of the HD download, as the files are copy-protected and hard (if not close to impossible) to pirate.