iTunes download formats?

After digging around, I can find NO INFORMATION in iTunes Help on changing format for downloaded music from iTunes Store - is it fixed at AAC and 128kbps? HELP?
The AAC files downloaded from iTunes Store are DRM protected and therefore, cannot be converted to any other format within iTunes.
More digging. Sidssp is correct about DRM protection of standard iTunes files. Also, Apple has introduced another download format called "iTunes Plus" that downloads AAC files in 256kps format that are not DRM protected.

The good news is these "Plus" files definitely sound better than regular 128 kbps AAC files (but still not Apple "lossless" or AIFF level of content), and cost the same 99 cents as regular songs. You can find the link to the iTunes Plus page in the Quick Links box in the upper right hand side of the iTunes Store's home page.

The bad news is that only 90 albums of the iTunes inventory appears to be available to download in this new higher quality format. Apparently all other iTunes titles are currently only available as 128kbps AAC files. This is probably not a big deal if you principally download songs for use on your ipod. For use on pretty much any home HiFi system, I think you will notice a significant drop in quality compared with redbook CDs, or better.

I like being able to download individual songs. Are there other Internet venders that sell a wide selection of individual song titles available for download in higher quality/larger file formats (WAV, AIFF, lossless or similar)?

RE protected files?
Simple just burn em to CD and reload at the lossless codec.

you might want to recheck that price point of the 256 ACC files... I was charged 1.30 for the PLUS files. OR maybe I should yell at ituens... course they don't often listen to folks without MACs or IPODS.

I do have to say in their favor, that they did allow me to redownload over 1000 files for free. Once. Just once. I was very grateful for that although the redone files still did not cover the whole loss... but it sure did help a lot. I've since burned/backed up to DVDs.

In fact, recently I went to download something I had lost or misplaced and was notified about 100 + files I had previously downloaded in the 125 AAc format were available in the 256... and was given a one time upgrade price of about 27.00. so I opted to do it.

one reason was i saw I had lost about 20 or 30 files that were in the list itunes provided me from their list of my previous purchases... so for 30 cents to obtain a replacement, and a better quality at that, I went for the deal.

RE: higher res downloads
Linn offers some from their website... John Atkinson makes mention of another website too in an article he did on music servers... I'm sorry I can't remember exactly which article but I did remember the Linn part. The other was not a common named site IMO.

I would think pretty soon higher res downloads will be available... or should be available from any number of sites offering 128 downloads now. The only caveat I'd think would be the biggest portion of the cherry picking public (like me) might well not opt for the added price/quality in the long run. natuarlly I'd prefer some lossless downloads other than symphonic & operatic tracks. that would be super IMO.
Here is what I do know:

Amazon also offers 256K downloads. They are in MP3 format which is supposed to be a little lower quality than Apple's codec but they sound decent to me. They also will play on any machine whereas iTune's won't. Apple has by far the larger catalog but Amazon's prices tend to be a little better, at least on albums.

The Apple+ tunes at 256k are now $.99 each and are DRM free.

DG (Deutche Grammophone?) now has a big catalog of their classical material in 320k MP3 format online.

Walmart has some at 192k (others at 128k) for 89c but their catalog is weak and much of it is wma which does not play on Ipods. Besides, Walmart sucks.
Thanks for the feedback and info. Interesting that iTunes "Help" has no references I can find regarding iTunes Plus downloads.

I am wrong about the number of albums available in iTunes Plus format, there are many more than 90, at least hundreds.

Blindjim, how exactly did you go about upgrading some of your existing inventory of titles to "Plus" format - did iTunes check your library and automatically offer to upgrade when you made a purchase? Were you prompted? Curious to see how I might do this.

What did you
musicgiants dot com has full resolution downloads, many of them not DRM. They stock music from major labels, so that's also a plus.

Yep. that's right. I went to get a huey Lewis & The News track off their greatest Hits cd... Once I put it into the cart I got the pop up saying this file and a number of others were available in the PLUS (256) format... and did I want to upgrade the existing ones now available in the PLUS or higher bit rate.

Then clicking onto the link the cart then displayed all the titles of the (for me, missing) tracks and some I still had.

The one thing I did notice was there wasn't any cherry picking going on at that point though... it was an all or nothing deal then. Either yes I'll buy em all for the 30 cents or so each... OR Nope... leave me alone choice.

the reason I mentioned " re-check that pricing on PLUS file downloads" was because some time back when they first were available, there was indeed a cost diff. Either 25 or 30 cents more per track.

That may not be the case now however... but I'm unclear on that particular point. All I know is I was charged additionally for the PLUS files just then.

If you want I can send you a list of those 256 files. Let me know. it sure didn't seem like they were spotlighting any particular genre... as some of the artists were Dean martin, Odetta, Charles Mingus, maysa, Third World, Trace Adkins, rick Braun, Huey lewis, etc.

It does seem odd to me they'll sell a better quality file for the same price as the 128's, though. but it's OK with me, I'll take them instead everytime. Rip & reload into lossless.

Good luck

Thanks, no need to send me the list - they have a lot of albums available in Plus format, but just none of the ones I have in iTunes. Most of my collection is on vinyl and CDs.

Apple changed their policy and now sells Plus format files for 99 cents a song. They do still charge a 30 cent per file upgrade fee to convert from 128 to 256.

Pschoi, I looked at musicgiants dot com, and it looks great. A lot of titles and individual songs available at $1.29 each for what they call "HD" format. Will experiment to see how well it works/performs.

Thanks again.

Super! Such is life on the bleeding edge.

I really need to get a better relationship with paitience.
On a side note, if you truly want to test your systems capability, you can download truly high-res studio masters in FLAC format from Linn Records and then convert them to Apple Lossless with a bit transparent converter called Max so that they will play in iTunes. The music selection is small, but the quality of the files are equal to that of a SACD.
A news item from yesterday's WSJ:

Amazon has signed with Warner Records and now offers their music online - DRM free and at 256k. This includes the Asylum, Atlantic, Elektra, Lava, Reprise, Rhino and other labels. It raises their catalog to 2.9MM songs, and now includes Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Sean Paul. It's good news to see another major label go DRM-free.

This announcement came out as Warner released its latest quarterly earnings which showed a 58% drop in net income.