And no, we’re not talking about some weird fusion of Silverchair and Bon Jovi. Instead, we’re talking about SLS, or Scalable To Lossless (we assume that there’s something lost in translation here), a music format that lets you buy a track at a certain bitrate, and then “add-on” all the missing sound at a later date.
The technology is from a joint venture from Singapore including Soundbuzz, Exploit Technologies and the marketing and commercialisation arm of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Soundbuzz has launched an online store in Singapore to sell the tracks for S$2.50 (about $1.98) for the standard compression, or S$3.00 (about $2.39) for a lossless file.
The SLS format is based on the MPEG4 audio standard, allowing lossless audio compression for your music. But what makes it special is the fact that it includes pre-encoding of the music files at different bitrates. So if you buy the standard file, you can "top-up" to lossless for a small fee. Alternatively, you can purchase the lossless file from the get go, then send a lossy file to your portable device (like a Motorola music phone), so you don't use up all that 256MB of your internal memory on a single song.
No word on when (or if) we'll see this format available
in Australia anywhere else in the world, but it would be great to see iTunes adopt this model. I'd happily pay an extra dollar to be able to upgrade those early purchases to a lossless file