updated 12:50 pm EDT, Fri August 14, 2009
Dre and HP Beats Gear Soon
Interscope Records is enlisting the help of Dr. Dre as well as HP for an initiative that would boost the quality of audio on computers, the combination of a leak as well as some official information. While Interscope head Jimmy Iovine will only acknowledge that the label hopes to improve quality across the "entire chain" from the files themselves to listening devices, CNET hears from music industry contacts that HP will launch high-end notebooks, earphones and software with Dr. Dre's "Beats" label sometime in the fall. Specifics of the arrangement weren't included.
Iovine is quick to head off concerns about the partnership undermining iTunes and says he remains a friend of Apple chief Steve Jobs. Supporting this, one source claims Interscope would "love" to include Apple in the group. The iPod producer is one of the few to carry the Beats headphone line in stores but otherwise doesn't have a special link to the Monster-made listening equipment.
Rather than try to propose an alternative to iTunes' dominance, Iovine instead characterizes the new deal as an attempt to reverse the drop in audio quality that took place with the move to downloadable music. Songs from iTunes and similar stores was initially offered at a heavily compressed 128Kbps, while the now DRM-free iTunes and Amazon MP3 have only in the past two years pushed the quality up to 256Kbps. True lossless audio usually only occurs at a minimum 700Kbps with compressed but accurate formats like Apple Lossless or FLAC, leaving many buying tracks that miss some detail compared to CDs or vinyl.
Stores focusing on audio quality have usually floundered in the market, such as HDGiants, which declared bankruptcy in May. These have often usually depended on protected formats like Microsoft's WMA Lossless rather than more universal technology.