Audiophiles have so far snubbed digital music services because they are annoyed that songs haven't been made available in an uncompressed format, leaving some music fans forever out of the digital music loop - but this may soon change.

A report on AppleInsider claims that a new version of the company's iTunes Producer software allows for the compression of tracks into Apple Lossless format. This format offers equal sound quality to that available from CDs, but takes up approximately half as much space.

iTunes Producer is the software the iTunes team distributes to record labels and artists who are making their music available through iTunes Music Store. The software manages the compression, transfer and management of songs sold online.

Apple Insider claims that in a test release of iTunes Producer 1.4 this week, Apple said the software "now encodes music in Apple Lossless format, which produces larger audio files and will increase upload time."

The news may not be what it seems. AppleInsider points out that Apple's Lossless format doesn't yet integrate the digital rights management technologies labels demand in order to permit online music sales.

If Apple does move to make tracks available in lossless audio format, it will be attracting a brand new segment of users. Many iPod owners refrain from using iTunes, preferring to rip their own CDs as they don't like the compression technology used, saying the sound quality is inferior.

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