Apple Digital Masters

Looking to get your track herd on the Apple Digital Masters playlist?


What is Apple Digital Masters?

Apple Digital Masters is a combination of technology and best practices designed to create the best possible digital audio downloads for our customers by starting with the best possible quality masters.

Their latest encoders are now able to accept high resolution digital audio files to produce truly stunning results.  In addition, mastering engineers now have the ability to use the exact encoding tools used by the iTunes store to audition their work specifically in the format in which it will be listened to. The resulting high-resolution masters are then delivered to Apple for final encoding and distribution to millions of consumers all around the world.


Is Compound Audio part of the Apple Digital Masters Providers List?

We sure are.

We hold our very own “unique identifier” for when a label or aggregator would like a release to be “badge” and marketed as Apple Digital Masters.

You will need this information to give to your iTunes rep.

What do I need to do for a master to be considered
“Apple Digital Masters”?

  • The mastering house or engineer must be on the “Apple Digital Masters” Providers List.
  • The source for the master must start in high resolution. (44.1 kHz/24 bit)
  • The masters must be auditioned using Apple’s encoders.  (This is largely about setting an appropriate level for the encoder.)
  • The delivered master must also be high resolution. (44.1 kHz/24 bit)
  • The label or aggregator must provide the mastering information to iTunes.


What is the delivery specification for Apple Digital Masters?

The final deliverable is a high-resolution “PCM” digital audio file.  96 kHz/24 bit is the preferred or optimal resolution, but please do not up-sample to achieve this.

The appropriate resolution will usually be the native resolution of the project.  For instance, if a project was recorded or digitized at 48 kHz that would be the recommended sample rate for the master.  All Apple Digital Masters sources and masters must be at least 24 bit.

Can providers do their own encoding to 256K-AAC
and send these into iTunes?

No, Apple has a controlled environment and content QA process for every audio and video submission.

The only way to guarantee uniformity and manage encoder transitions in the future is to standardize on a dual-pass centralized encoding process for the entire store. By storing the original high-resolution “PCM” source files in Cupertino, we can effectively manage future transitions and innovation no matter where the technology and the efficiency curve takes us.