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Mastered for iTunes ‘sounds closer to the the CD’ – I’m calling BS – UPDATED

by Ian Shepherd



You may have come here expecting to see me claiming that “Mastered for iTunes” is “BS”.

Just be clear, this is not my opinion.

So why did I say it ?

I said it when nobody knew what Mastered for iTunes was. We know now that MFiT is:

  • Getting the best possible encode quality for lossy downloads, from high-quality sources
  • Offering guidelines for getting the best results, and
  • Supplying freely available tools to help with testing and quality control

But when I called it “BS”, the only information was the publicity surrounding the launch of the Red Hot Chile Peppers’s “I’m With You” in August 2011. The hype was that this album had been specially mastered in a different way to overcome the “limitations” of Apple’s AAC format.

That’s what I thought MFiT was at the time – “adaptive mastering” to make sure your AAC file sounded OK. You can see why I thought that, by reading this.

But when MFiT was launched by Apple six months later, it was immediately clear that this isn’t what MFiT is, as far as Apple are concerned. MFiT is just a set of guidelines and tools to get the highest-quality AAC possible, which will actually ensure that “adaptive mastering” isn’t needed !

As soon as I read this new information, I updated my original post to reflect it, and added a new post -

Mastered for iTunes – the saviour of great sound ?

to set the record straight.

Unfortunately, by then the horse had bolted. The original video and post had gone viral, and despite my attempts to correct the confusion, Google had indexed all the media posts repeating my “BS” headline.

I really regret this. Particularly because MFiT is actually a really good thing ! If “I’m With You” had been released without all the misleading hype, the first I would have heard about Mastered for iTunes would have been the 2012 launch, and I would have been it’s biggest supporter.

But that wasn’t the way it panned out, and the best I can do now to redress the balance is this post.

(And hope that more and more people follow the guidelines…! )

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