First, “The iTunes catalog was initially offered in 2003 as 128 kbps AAC files, many of which
were encoded from the original CD masters. They sounded great—in fact, these
downloads led the industry in sound quality.” -->> this discusses the original version, being taken from CDs and made digital. Thus, again, “CD Quality”, which was 128. If proof of that is really needed, ask and I will provide.
Next we have, in part this:
“Master for iTunes Plus
When creating a master, mastering engineers take into account the limitations and
characteristics of the medium or destination format, as well as the listening environment
of their audience. For example, a master created for vinyl is unlikely to be listened to in
an airplane or car, and therefore is often mastered for a listening environment where a
listener can hear and appreciate a wider dynamic range. Similarly, a master created for a
club environment might take into account the noisiness of the intended listening
environment.” -->> this explains that when you submit a “iTunes Plus” release, there are other factors that you give attention to, aside from just using a CD master.
You can see here, by looking at the initial methods of using a CD as master to taking other factors in consideration under the scope of “iTunes Plus” clearly means that there is in fact a difference in the mastering. If it is not clear to all, things like dynamic range, clipping, One must realize that thing like this are not a byproduct of playback, but a result of the mastering process. You get things like distortion and such from the process of mastering, not a result of the playback. You play what was created. Additionally, one must realize that encoding is a form of mastering. So even if there was nothing done aside from the standard “take the CD master and use it”, there is still a process being done here.
If we query the definition of mastering, we see " Mastering , a form of audio post production, is the process of preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device (the master ); the source from which all copies will be produced (via methods such as pressing, duplication or replication).". Now, lets us also look at encoding. During encoding, we are “preparing and transferring recorded audio from a source containing the final mix to a data storage device”.
So, on multiple levels, iTunes Plus is in fact mastered differently. Changes to things like loudness, clipping, dynamic range, etc are all a part of the mastering process. So if one is to consider these factors in the said processing, we obviously have a difference in mastering. Otherwise, iTunes files (ie iTunes Plus) would simply be a rip of the CD, which it is clearly not.
EDIT: As I think if I explained well enough, I want to add this. The “master” for the original iTunes was mostly a CD. That means the “master” was a CD. With iTunes Plus, the “master” is not a CD. The “master” is derived from earlier generations of the product. Thus, mastered differently, as a master that is different from another is in fact different.
EDIT 2: I quote “Mastering, which is the process of creating the delivery media that will allow the audience to access the material. In the case of iTunes, this includes encoding an Apple AAC file and adding the appropriate metadata.”. -->> So for those who understand the process, knowing that iTunes Plus is mastered differently than the original iTunes should not at all be something unheard of, but simply a given fact.
This thread was not really intended to be a education tool on how mastering works and what it is. There have been enough people telling me that I know not what I speak of, yet when it comes to facts, ignorant parties shine clear as day. There is plenty of overwhelming proof that MFiT is less significant than iTunes Plus as it relates to the end users product. So if a distinction is not made for iTunes Plus, a distinction, as this thread is titled “Invalid Disambiguation”, is not argumentative, but based on real facts.