iTunes Plus: How Does This Differ from the Standard AAC Format?

Definition of The iTunes Plus Format

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What is the iTunes Plus Format?

iTunes Plus refers to an encoding standard on the iTunes Store. Songs and music videos these days are all in the iTunes Plus format. The difference between this and the original standard is:

  • Downloaded files aren't encrypted with Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection.
  • The bitrate is twice the resolution of the original iTunes standard.

Compatible With More Devices

Before Apple introduced this standard users were restricted on how they could use their purchased digital music.

Now, with the iTunes Plus format you can burn your purchases to CD, DVD, and transfer songs to any compatible device that's compatible with the AAC format. This also means that you aren't restricted to using Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Higher Quality Music

Not only does the iTunes Plus standard give you the freedom to listen to your songs and music videos on a wider amount of hardware devices, but it also gives better quality audio too. Before the introduction of iTunes Plus, standard songs downloaded from the iTunes Store were encoded with a bitrate of 128 Kbps. Now you can purchase songs that have twice the audio resolution -- i.e. 256 Kbps. The audio format used is still AAC, only the encoding level has changed.

The file extension associated with songs purchased from iTunes Plus is:

  • .M4a

If you have songs in the original format you can upgrade these by subscribing to iTunes Match -- providing they are still in Apple's music library of course.

Alternate Spellings

  • AAC+
  • iTunes+
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