Q: I heard that iTunes Store allows you to download songs from the iTunes Store at a higher format? How do you set a higher quality format for downloading tracks from the iTunes Store?
A: The iTunes Store does offer certain tracks from specific artists or labels in a higher format known as “iTunes Plus.”
The iTunes Plus format is encoded at 256kbps AAC and is free from any digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, meaning that you can use these files on any computer or other audio device that supports the AAC format, or you can freely convert them to another format such as MP3 to playback on virtually any software application or hardware device.
iTunes Plus content was originally released this past spring, and sold for a premium price of $1.29 per track as opposed to $0.99 per track for the standard 128kbps DRM-protected version of the same song. Recently, however, iTunes has lowered the pricing on their iTunes Plus content to the standard $0.99 per track pricing.
You can identity iTunes Plus tracks by looking for the small “+” symbol that appears next to them in the iTunes Store track listing:
Further, you can get a listing of all tracks that are available in the iTunes Plus format simply by clicking the “iTunes Plus” link found in the “Quick Links” on the right-hand side of the main iTunes Store page:
Once you access the iTunes Plus page, you will also see an “Upgrade My Library” option in the top-right corner, providing you with the opportunity to upgrade ALL of your existing iTunes tracks to iTunes Plus, possibly for a small fee:
At one time iTunes also provided an iTunes Plus preference setting in your account settings page to allow you to choose whether you would prefer to see the normal iTunes tracks or the iTunes Plus tracks when browsing the iTunes Store. This has been removed with the recent price drop, since there is no longer any advantage to purchasing the older 128kbps DRM-protected tracks at the same price.
It should be noted that despite the lack of DRM restrictions on iTunes Plus tracks, they still contain information embedded within them identifying the name and account from which the track was originally purchased.