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Apple reportedly cooking up new audio file format

The file format would adapt itself to high-quality or low-quality audio depending on the bandwidth and other conditions, says The Guardian.


Apple may be tuning up a new streaming-audio format that handle varying degrees of quality.

Citing an anonymous source, U.K. news site The Guardian reported yesterday that the format would offer "adaptive streaming" to iCloud users, automatically choosing between low-quality and high-quality sound based on the bandwidth and amount of local storage.

Users with lots of bandwidth could listen to a studio-quality recording, while those with minimal bandwidth would get more standard digital quality.

The source reportedly told The Guardian that Apple has reached out to a music studio in London to create audio files to tap into the new format. If true, Apple may use the format for its iTunes Match service, which creates a copy of a user's iTunes library in the cloud, then accessible from any iOS device.

Using iTunes Match, your entire iTunes library could transform from the default AAC format to high-definition, instantly improving the quality of your music, according to the source.

Assuming the source's intel is accurate, the new format may be introduced on March 7 when Apple is expected to unveil the next iPad.

An Apple spokesman told CNET that he declined to comment on rumors and speculation.

This latest report follows recent comments from rock star Neil Young that he had spoken with the late Steve Jobs about improving the quality of digital music.

The project, which Young said never came to fruition, could have seen digital music pushed to studio-level quality. An earlier report from CNN suggested that Apple was already talking to record labels about a way to preserve the high-fidelity sound of studio recordings for digital downloads.

Many audiophiles have long complained about the loss of audio quality as music wends its way from the studio all the way down to portable media players. In his interview with AllThingsD, Young claims that Steve Jobs himself would go home and listen to music on plain, old analog vinyl records.

Updated 7:30 a.m. PT with response from Apple.