The few audiophiles we know scoff at the idea of listening to anything lossy ("FLAC off!" as one friend put it), but most of us have libraries filled with tracks compressed as MP3s and AACs. If you're amongst those unsatisfied with the quality of audio offered digitally versus your memory of CD sounds, you might want to take a gander at the iTunes store and check out their latest venture, Mastered for iTunes...
Aiming to bring the iPod generation closer to the sensibilities of an audiophile, the special selection of albums in the Mastered for iTunes store offers albums/tracks engineered utilizing an updated encoding format to bring compressed digital music closer to polished CD remasters (details from Apple about this process is available here: Mastered for iTunes: Music as the Artist and Sound Engineer Intended):
Recently, using the most advanced AAC encoder, the iTunes catalog was upgraded to iTunes Plus: a variable bit rate (VBR) 256 kbps AAC encoding format. iTunes AAC encoders are now able to transparently encode high definition audio, creating files that retain the small footprint, portability, and ease of use iTunes is known for. And they sound amazing
With just 100 albums available at this time, the store within a store is still a niche offering. In an age where sound fidelity has been knocked down a notch, replaced by compressed and compromised digital audio files often listened in compromised conditions (on public transportation, while walking around in the city, etc), will younger users even notice?
More about Apple's musical migration at ArsTechnica's Mastered for iTunes: how audio engineers tweak music for the iPod age.