BIS Logo
Apple buys BIS: With this unexpected move, Apple is once again investing in the best sound - on the software side (Photo: BIS)

Apple buys BIS: another audiophile label from the high-tech group

Apple is obviously serious about its own ambitions in the world of high-end sound. And so now it is said: Apple is buying BIS – and with it one of the most audiophile classical music labels on the market.

No one doubts the determination of the world’s most valuable company. But this foray came as a surprise even to insiders – here and there, in the Apple world and in the classical music industry. Apple has yet to issue an official press release, but the BIS label has confirmed the deal and posted the facts on its website. This is where label boss and founder Robert von Bahr says goodbye. BIS has now been involved in the audiophile classical music recording market for 50 years, and von Bahr himself recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

Apple buys BIS: the special features of the label

It was only in August 2021 that Apple surprisingly took over the Dutch portal “Primephonic”. 2018 already the talent scouts of the start-up “Platoon”. And now a primeval growth of good sound from Sweden. In fact, BIS is the leading record label for classical music in Scandinavia, with its headquarters near Stockholm. Their fame began in the vinyl era, but really took off in the 80s. The sound engineers at BIS dispensed with any form of dynamic compression. The original experience was to be transported from the concert hall to the private home without any post-production or control at the mixing desk. Which could sometimes become ultra-quiet and equally ultra-loud. Which is why BIS put warning stickers on its CDs – sensitive speakers could be damaged. BIS later established itself as a pioneer of the SACD and won many prizes, especially for the complete recording of all Sibelius works and all Bach cantatas, two mammoth undertakings.

BIS Bach
One of the great moments at BIS: the recording of all Bach cantatas – naturally in outstanding sound quality (Photo: BIS)

What is Apple doing with the purchase? Obviously they want to acquire the thousands of recordings by the Swedes and publish them in Apple Music Classical. But that would only be a small part of the deal. The strategists from Cupertino are interested in the know-how of the BIS sound engineers for future projects. Apple will expand its sound ideal of Dolby Atmos and 3D audio – in high resolution, of course. We recently published a background feature and interview on this topic. Since the full magic only works with in-house components, Apple will also be hoping for an increase in sales of its headphones. In this scenario, the prognosis for BIS is also easy: since Apple swore off CDs early on, BIS will no longer produce any tangible sound carriers and will only exist entirely in the streaming world. In the currently updated website, BIS has already dispensed with naming the worldwide distributors and only lists the most recent recordings with online links – which will probably also disappear, as Apple has no interest in serving the business model of Spotify and Amazon. If you click on the “Privacy Policy” at BIS, you will be taken directly to Apple’s privacy policy.

Both parties have agreed not to disclose the amount of the sale. Industry experts estimate the sum to be in the double-digit millions – a tiny amount for the trillion-dollar company. Will Apple allow the BIS brand name to survive? Difficult to unlikely.

Suzuki Back BIS
Conducted the gigantic Bach undertaking: Masaaki Suzuki (Photo: BIS)

Company founder Robert von Bahr says goodbye to his former business model – but assured his fans of the audiophile values and the stability of the recording team: “Apple has taken numerous steps recently to further promote creativity in the classical field, not least the release of Apple Music Classical earlier this year. Apple and BIS also share a fundamental belief in the importance of preserving audio quality. As you all know, BIS has always been about exceptional sound quality, and I have followed Apple’s commitment to sound and spatial audio with interest. BIS becomes part of Apple Music Classical and Platoon. As proud as I am of this milestone, I am even more proud of the fact that the entire BIS staff, including myself, has been retained. We all look forward to a future full of new music and artists in the golden sound of this growing force of classical music.”

More from Apple:

Apple Music Classical / 3D audio to be expanded
Test Apple AirPods Pro 2: serve, set and match
Apple StaffPad: Mozart’s secret love

Autor: Andreas Günther

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Der begeisterte Operngänger und Vinyl-Hörer ist so etwas wie die Allzweckwaffe von LowBeats. Er widmet sich allen Gerätearten, recherchiert aber fast noch lieber im Bereich hochwertiger Musikaufnahmen.