SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF MASTERED FOR iTUNES

Since it launched on March 1 with the tagline, “Music as the artist and sound engineer intended,” there’s been much discussion — along with a plethora of questions — circulating within the audio community about Apple’s Mastered for iTunes initiative.

The Producers & Engineers Wing was one of many entities that worked with iTunes over the course of approximately 18 months as the program took shape. Several P&E Wing members, including Eric Boulanger, Bob Ludwig and Andrew Scheps, consulted on the initiative’s earliest “test case” releases: Colbie Caillat’s All Of You, the entire Pink Floyd catalog remastering, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto, and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ I’m With You.

Mastered for iTunes launched in March. By the end of April, an informal P&E Wing survey of several top mastering engineers indicated that most of the major label releases they handled were MFiT.

While some confusion has surfaced, Mastered for iTunes is, in effect, a simple digital audio workflow, encoding and submission process that includes a series of guidelines and tools designed to help users achieve increased dynamic range and less distortion in the iTunes versions of their music. The P&E Wing applauds Apple for its commitment to make higher-quality audio available to consumers.

“There has been some confusion that MFiT is a new format. It’s not,” says Boulanger. “It’s more about righting the wrongs of the last few years when masters created for CDs at 16-bit/44.1 kHz were being used for iTunes releases. MFiT is an example of our industry acknowledging that digital downloads are no longer secondary to CD releases, and that we can move forward into distributing better audio overall.”

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