iTunes Plus lets users upgrade individual songs

No longer will users who want to upgrade music to a higher bitrate be forced to swap out all eligible music. Apple now lets them choose which songs they want at a higher quality.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval

File this under: now you tell me.

On Wednesday, I paid $30 to upgrade some of my iTunes music. That's the only way iTunes Plus allowed me to do it: swap out all the songs in my library eligible for upgrade or forget about getting any of them at the higher bitrate.

But on Thursday I read at Macworld.com that iTunes is now enabling users to upgrade on a per-song basis. What are the odds?

If I would have just waited a few hours, I wouldn't have had to pay that 30 cents for "The Shock of the Lightning" by Oasis, a song I once loved but have been oppressed by lately as the tune is now played everywhere. But just before I started writing this, I checked out the upgrade feature on the iTunes front door and it offered me the chance to receive higher-quality versions of three new songs: two by Brit band Kasabian and one by A Tribe Called Quest.

I passed on Tribe and paid the 60 cents for the two Kasabian songs. The upgrade menu now looks just like the standard iTunes purchasing interface. A buy button sits next to each song.

Here's the rub: I still can't notice the quality difference at 256 Kbps.

I know I'll probably be able to hear it with better earphones or listening on good speakers. I just wish I could notice something with my stock Apple earbuds.