Higher quality music downloads may be on their way

Apple is part of the ongoing discussions about increasing digital files' audio quality

Several digital music retailers, including Apple, are in discussion with record labels about increasing the audio quality of music downloads.

Executives involved in the talks have reported to CNN that the companies may move to 24-bit files in order to offer songs at a fidelity that is more in keeping with the original recording.

Digital music files have traditionally been compressed to lower bit rates in order to keep download times as low as possible; however, there's a trade-off in terms of music quality.

High cost fidelity

The talks between retailers and labels may result in higher quality audio being offered by retailers at a more premium price point.

But it's going to be no quick jump to the higher quality files, with manufacturers like Apple having to "retool" future iterations of its music players in order to handle the larger, better quality files.

Although iTunes, Apple's music store, is able to handle the 24-bit files, but most PMPs don't currently support the format.

Jimmy Iovine, a music executive and chairman of Universal Music Group's Interscope-Geffen-A&M record label, told CNN: "Apple has been great. We're working with them and other digital services – download services – to change to 24-bit.

"And some of their electronic devices are going to be changed as well. So we have a long road ahead of us."