[caption id="attachment_11667" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Rick Rubin attends an opening at MOCA, Los Angeles, CA, July 2010. Photo: Stefanie Keenan/WireImage"][/caption]
Producer Rick Rubin is well-known for discovering musicians (Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C.) and reinventing their careers (Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks). So it’s not a shock to learn that the forward-thinking producer created a specially mastered mix of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album I’m With You specifically with iTunes customers in mind. According to Apple, Rubin, who also produced the RHCP record, used “high resolution sourced audio,” something that audiophiles will surely take note of, even if their Chili Peppers allegiance has remained under the bridge.
It’s surprising that it’s taken someone this long to create a special, higher fidelity sound for the iTunes customer. All digital retailers sell music in compressed formats that are, as Neil Young will tell you, substantially subpar to the lossless audio that exists on CD. Second, it's a litlte surprising that, even though Rubin’s an old-school producer, he hasn't scoffed at digital music himself. You’d expect something like this from a Radiohead or a digital pioneer like Diplo. (Though, as we mentioned above, he's both old-school and open-minded). Third, for those that worry about the lossy, compressed quality that exists at the root of most digital files, fear no more. Bands with big studio budgets and producers who embrace digital retailers could certainly follow in Rubin’s footsteps to ensure higher quality audio gets out there.
Of course, whether other digital retailers or producers really do follow suit remains to be seen. Then again, this notion of “high resolution sourced audio” could just be a clever marketing technique to make those Chili Peppers’ think Flea’s rich bass really is still that rich. [Stream I’m With You here.]