Apple have introduced a new system for higher quality downloads from iTunes, without charging extra for the download.  Read what they have to say about it below.

To maintain the high quality levels, they insist that only engineers on their approved list can master tracks for “Mastered for iTunes” and we are pleased to announce that we are now on the list!

Mastered for iTunes:

Music as the Artist and Sound Engineer Intended

Whether you’re a major label or a small indie, you provide the most important ingredient for iTunes—the music itself. It’s our job to faithfully and accurately deliver your songs and albums to fans around the world exactly as you intend them to be heard.

Innovation and Excellence in Sound

Apple celebrates a rich history and tradition of innovation and excellence in sound for computing as well as content creation. The original Mac was engineered fully capable of supporting audio without additional hardware or software, making it one of the first personal computers ever to ship with sound. In 2002, even before the launch of the iTunes Store, Apple received a GRAMMY Award® for technical excellence in music, the first and only such award ever given to a personal computing company. When iTunes launched, the, decision was made to standardize on AAC instead of the more popular MP3 format simply because AAC clearly provides superior audio quality compared to other codecs at similar bit rates. In working with Dolby and Fraunhofer, there have since been further improvements to AAC to get it to the level of excellence experienced on iTunes today. You can achieve dynamic range that’s superior to red book audio and a final product that’s virtually indistinguishable from the original recording.

Mastering for Digital Delivery

Digital distribution is no longer an afterthought. It is today's dominant medium for consuming music and as such needs to be treated with utmost care and attention. For decades, the standard for consumer digital audio has been the compact disc, and most mastering has been done with CDs in mind. In recent years the quality of digital music delivery has vastly increased, as has the number of digital music sales, with iTunes being a key driver of those sales. With more than 16 billion downloads encoded as AAC to date worldwide, AAC is the new standard for digital music. It only makes sense to create masters specifically for this format.

What is AAC and iTunes Plus?

AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) is a format for compressing and encoding digital audio. AAC achieves the portability and convenience of compressed and encoded digital audio while retaining audio quality that’s indistinguishable from larger digital files, such as audio from CDs. The iTunes catalog was initially offered in 2003 as 128 kbps AAC files, many of which were encoded from the original CD masters. They sounded great—in fact, these downloads led the industry in sound quality. More than 100 million songs were sold in this format in a little over a year, changing the landscape of legal digital music forever. But innovation didn’t stop there. 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.