At a Beats news conference on Wednesday to introduce six new products (five new headsets and an iPod/iPhone speaker dock — more about that in a minute), Mr. Iovine lashed out at the “digital revolution” in music and how it has degraded audio quality. “It just drives me nuts,” he said later in an interview. “We need a real file that can capture music the way it was intended to be heard. Labels have been dumbing down the music for years.”
Part of the problem, Mr. Iovine says, is the quality of music found on file-sharing sites. “You download an MP3 file off of LimeWire and it sounds like it’s been through a blender,” he said. When it comes to the dominant seller of music online, Apple, Mr. Iovine still sees flaws in the “digital ecosystem,” as he called it. “You have music labels sending Red Book” — the CD audio standard — “files to Apple. Why? Why not send something better? You have to get the file right to get the ecosystem correct.” Mr. Iovine said that Universal Music Group is working with Apple to increase the quality of the recording it sends to iTunes. “An audio signal is only as good as its weakest link,” he said.