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I want to pay the $25/year for iTunes Match specifically to get my thousands of low-bitrate tracks "upgraded" to high-bitrate.

Will I be able to invoke the service, get high-bitrate tracks downloaded to my Mac, and sync it with my iPod Classic? Or is it only for iOS/iCloud streaming?

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If iTunes sells the high-bitrate copy you will be able to upgrade to that copy. –  Kyle Cronin Oct 8 '11 at 19:21
    
That does not answer the question. –  themirror Nov 2 '11 at 16:14
    
Now that iTunes match is out, maybe someone could test it out and give a definite answer to this. –  Nathan Grigg Nov 14 '11 at 19:02
    
What might need to be added to the answers provided to let you select one as answering your question? A higher acceptance rate shows you have resolved the questions asked... –  bmike Jan 28 '12 at 20:21
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3 Answers

Yes, this is possible. Once the cloud has matched your lower bitrate song, make a final backup and delete that song from your iTunes library. You can then re-download the "standard" version from Apple's servers.


Jason Snell has a great writeup on an easy way to keep track of the songs by using the power of smart playlists:

Make a Smart Playlist Create a Smart Playlist with the following attributes:

  • Bit Rate is less than 256kbps
  • Media Kind is Music
  • Any of the following are true: (to create this conditional, option-click on the plus button in the Smart Playlist window) iCloud status is Matched, iCloud status is Purchased

Delete all those files Select all the tracks in your playlist, and then hold down the option key while pressing Delete. Be sure to not select the box that would delete them from iCloud!

Bring ’em back All those tracks should still be [in the playlist]—but now they’re marked as being available only in iTunes Match. Select all of them again, then control-click on the selection and choose Download.

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Good stuff. Cheers. –  boehj Nov 17 '11 at 9:07
    
Sorry to dig this back up, but I followed your steps and now I can't seem to find the download option - it's just refusing to let me play the tracks (I tried it with just one album to make sure it worked) - any idea how I encourage iTunes to give me them back? EDIT: turns out my iTunes just didn't think it was connected to iTunes Match. -facepalm- –  George Pearce Jan 7 '12 at 14:29
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Yes, songs in your library that iTunes is able to match (either because you purchased them from iTunes, or because it recognizes them) will be available for download at 256kbps. Once downloaded, you will be able to sync them to your devices as usual.

Note that the copy that is on your machine already will not automatically be replaced by the 256kbps version. To get that you may need to delete that version and then download iCloud's (high bit rate) version. Since the iPod classic isn't an iOS device, this should do the trick once you have a copy of the higher bitrate music in your locally stored music library.

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At http://www.apple.com/icloud/features/, Apple announces that "It’s built right into the iTunes app on your Mac or PC and the Music app on your iOS devices." and "Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality."

So it looks like you're in luck, if the service as released has the announced features.

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That quote is ambiguous about whether it will playback in iTunes on Mac from the cloud with the high-bitrate version, or if this will only happen on iOS. –  themirror Oct 8 '11 at 21:06
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Here's a pretty thorough rundown on the topic. Might want to add the link to your answer: macrumors.com/2011/11/14/a-clear-explanation-of-itunes-match –  cksum Nov 15 '11 at 2:20
    
Having a local copy of the higher bitrate song is different than streaming it directly from the cloud. I would almost prefer to stream at 128k and re-download at the higher bitrate. Without specific action, the higher bitrate versions don't automatically replace lower bitrate versions as needed to sync to the OP's iPod classic. –  bmike Nov 15 '11 at 16:34
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