Apple Music's Digital Masters catalog helps you find high-quality tunes

It's not lossless audio, but it could be close enough.

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Chesnot/Getty Images
Chesnot/Getty Images

You'd be forgiven if you forgot about Apple's Mastered for iTunes program. It was supposed to offer near-master quality audio from compressed files thanks to clever processing, but it never became a major selling point and was eventually overshadowed by the rise of Apple Music. It's about to come roaring back, though -- Billboard noted the company has launched a Digital Masters initiative for Apple Music that puts all of its Mastered for iTunes songs in one worldwide streaming catalog. You won't have to wonder where to go to listen to tracks that theoretically rival the original recordings.

There's a good chance at least some music you like has already been given the Digital Masters treatment. About 75 of the top 100 US songs and 71 percent of the top 100 songs worldwide have been mastered this way, Apple said. You might not get this improvement with an indie EP, but it shouldn't be too hard to find mainstream fare.

We've asked Apple if there are more details it can share.

To some extent, this is about fending off competition from smaller services with high-quality options. Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal all have lossless options, albeit usually at a premium over regular subscriptions. Digital Masters isn't the same, but it might be close enough for people who have both discerning ears and tight budgets.

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