Mastering expert Bob Katz explains very well why the arrival of iTunes is changing everything for mixing and mastering engineers. The label 'mastered for iTunes' may sound like just another Apple marketing gimmick but it's actually a very serious effort which will make online music sound more faithful to the studio master than any CD ever was, despite the lossy compression. A few big names in the music industry have been lobbying and working with Apple for years to get better sound quality (Neil Young and Rick Rubin amongst others) and Apple is giving mastering engineers the tools to do that. If you mix and master music you have a duty to read this (very short) book as soon as possible to begin incorporating this new mastering discipline in to your work. As this is a cutting-edge subject and things are evolving every day, updates and discussions are available on the author's website, but the book remains an essential starting point. The enjoyment of the book is only spoiled by completely unrelated 'humorous' pictures of monkeys used as test subjects in the early days of NASA, which is in a bad taste that beggars belief.
The title suggests that this book is especially about how to master for iTunes. It is not. There is a minor part about the history and background of "mastered for iTunes"-Tracks and some technical points. And there is a lot more about metering, intersample peaks and other general aspects of mastering. If you already know about these general aspects the book is a little bit disappointing. Unfortunately the world of music technology is changing fast and the book isn't really up-to-date. Apparently the last revision of the text was done somewhat two years ago, aprox. 2012, despite the copyright says @2013. On the other hand, there is an invitation to Bob Katz's own website where you can find latest discussions and news about the topic.
I've wondered for too long what genetic make-up of iTunes. I've also read elsewhere that the audio fidelity in the now-defunct "Zune" was better than that installed in the iPod.
This book makes clear the distinction between Apple and it's audio hardware and it's digital store, iTunes against the industry standards.
*** While this is a story of what it takes to understand what iTunes and its peripheral products are about it is primarily about the mastering process involved with connecting to the iTunes ecosystem.
This is NOT a book about audio engineering or even about how to create music with or without iTunes. This book is for those who've created music and wants to know the specifics of how to get the best possible audio reproduction out of iTunes.
You have to have some knowledge about audio recording and file formats in order to make any sense of this book. It's definitely for the person behind the console.
I also have to mention that the book has a fascinating story of how Apple invested and brought in audio engineers not affiliated with Apple to improve the AAC codex.
This is not a big book, in fact, it's a very small book barely over a hundred pages, but it is an extremely important book if you're any way connected with music production and want to have your music listed in iTunes.