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Neil Young: Apple was working on super high-def music

The popular recording artist says that he was working on a project with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to bring studio-quality digital recordings to the masses.

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Recording artist Neil Young today said that he was working with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on a project that would push the quality of digital downloads to studio-quality levels.

In an interview with All Things Digital at the outlet's D: Dive Into Media conference today, Young discussed the quality of digital recordings, chiding MP3s for having just "5 percent of the data present in the original recording."

The answer to that other 95 percent would be "high-resolution" digital tracks that are of the same quality as the original studio recording, Young offered.

There are technical hurdles involved with making that happen though, including larger files. Young suggested that these high-resolution audio files be made readily available, and able to be downloaded at a speed of 30 minutes per song, with manufacturers offering a device that could offer size for 30-such albums, something like an iPod.

When asked if Young had approached Apple about the idea, Young said that he had, in fact, met with Jobs and was "working on it," but that "not much" ended up happening to the pursuit.

Of note, Young made mention that Jobs was a vinyl fan, despite having helmed the company that would spearhead the way people listened to and purchased digital music.

"Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music, and his legacy is tremendous," Young told the crowd. "But when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you've got to believe that if he'd lived long enough, he would have done what I'm trying to do."

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on Young's statements.

A report from CNN last February suggested Apple and several of its competitors were in talks with record labels about selling 24-bit, high-fidelity audio recordings. Said recordings would come at a price premium, the report suggested, as well as requiring hardware manufacturers (including Apple) to make adjustments to future models to support the higher-quality files.

Apple's digital music offerings currently top out at 256 kbps, a quality level introduced as part of its iTunes Plus program in 2007. It began on EMI and trickled out to the rest of the labels, and the entire iTunes Store in January 2009. Despite that, the company has its own "lossless" format, whichwent open-source near the end of last year. Unlike the studio recordings Young was talking about, that technology was designed to provide a lossless copy of tracks ripped from CDs.