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Mastered for iTunes and iTunes Match

Kirk McElhearn, experimenting with CD rips, tries to figure out what exactly iTunes Match doles out once music has been matched in the cloud.

If you rip a CD, match it, then download one of the files from the cloud, you don’t ever see the Mastered for iTunes badge. I have a handful of CDs for which only Mastered for iTunes files are available from the iTunes Store (these are new releases where labels only provide files for this format). I added them to my iTunes Match account, matched them, deleted my originals, then downloaded the matched files. I compared them with my original rips (using the methods described below), and saw that these files were not the same; I was clearly getting the Mastered for iTunes files from iTunes Match. But the files don’t display the Mastered for iTunes badge.

So for files that are matched, then downloaded, if there is only a Mastered for iTunes version on the iTunes store, the files you download will be in Mastered for iTunes format; yet you won’t know that. The Mastered for iTunes badge is displayed only when there is a bit of metadata in purchased files that tells iTunes to display it.