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Thoughts on High-Resolution Audio

As of the writing of this blog entry, Eat Crow is available exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music. Why? Because the production team favours minimal processing. We like that iTunes and Apple Music accept the original, high resolution masters for conversion into compressed AAC files. The band prefers to record in no less than 24 bit 48 kHz audio — and ideally in 24 bit 96 kHz audio when the hardware can handle it — so it irks us to compress and dither into a 16 bit 44.1 kHz file before delivering to stores, knowing that those stores will compress it further into mp3 format. In double blind tests, we have been able to correctly identify the mp3 versions from the AAC versions nine times out of ten. We realize that debates still rage amongst engineers as to the benefits of 24/48 or 24/96 versus 24/44.1 (or 16/44.1 for that matter), and that AAC and mp3 are similarly lossy, but it's harder to deny the benefits of eliminating the steps between the master recordings and the final retail product. We will likely release our material to other stores eventually (so as not to favour one store or device type over another) but we will always consider the Apple version to be the truest representation of the original master recordings apart from the master recordings themselves. It ain't perfect, but to date it is the most feasible and acceptable balance between portable storage capacity and audio quality.