How long does it take you to listen to your favorite song, maybe three or four minutes? Well, consider that those artists and engineers can spend months, and sometimes even years, creating a product they feel passionate about and want to share with the world. By putting their blood, sweat and tears into the music, musicians want to ensure you hear their best possible work.
CEA and The Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing introduced www.qualitysoundmatters.com last year, and today they’re relaunching the new and improved website format and content. The goal of this site is to help consumers understand high-quality digital audio formats and equipment and why customers should demand them. The site offers information about how consumers can enhance the enjoyment of their music by seeking out today’s higher-quality digital file formats and using listening and storage products that help retain the sound of the music as the artists and engineers intended.
To celebrate the relaunch of www.qualitysoundmatters.com, we are giving away a quality audio product every day this week, culminating Friday with a grand prize of tickets to the GRAMMYs. To enter, simply visit the CEA Twitter feed (@CEA) at Noon EST each day, find that day’s question, and then respond correctly with the hashtag #QualitySound before 4 p.m. EST. Here are the fantastic audio products you could win.
Every Day: One-Year Grooveshark Subscription: Enjoy unlimited, ad-free streaming, experience exclusive themes and features and unlock native Android and iOS apps with this premium subscription.
Monday – Sony: MDR1R Hi-Res Headphones: Hear your music the way it was intended, while enjoying a harmonious blend of listening comfort, thoughtful design and pristine sound quality. In-line remote with built-in mic works perfectly with an iPod®, iPad® or iPhone®.
Tuesday – Core Brands: Korus Wireless Speaker : The V600s is the premier wireless home speaker in the Korus lineup and packs the muscle to make any room boom. This is the ideal centerpiece to your Korus system, perfect for your favorite room in the house. Or, take the system with you, just by switching to battery power whenever you can’t plug in. There's no complicated network setup or pairing process. Just plug the 30-pin, Lightning™, or USB compatible Baton audio transmitter that’s compatible with your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod® mobile devices, PC or Mac® computer and instantly play your favorite music, videos and games using the apps you use every day.
Wednesday – Denon Home Theater Receiver: Denon’s AVR-E400 7.1 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver provides powerful surround sound performance with advanced networking technology for Internet radio services such as SiriusXM and vTuner, as well as Apple’s AirPlay Technology, so you can enjoy music from your iPhone. The AVR-E400 also features Audyssey Bronze Package, included for easy calibration and optimization of your audio performance and tailored to your room environment
Thursday – Astell&Kern AK100 portable high-res system: Astell&Kern is the ultimate portable, high-fidelity audio system capable of studio Mastering Quality Sound (MQS). Able to handle up to 24 Bit/192 kHz playback of high-resolution audio files, this small player has raised the bar for what is possible with portable hi-fi.
Friday – GRAMMY Tickets: A pair of tickets to the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast, broadcast live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2014.
The concept of Hi-Res audio has been around for some time and we experienced various format modifications such as SACD and specialized online stores offering enhanced downloads for a “CD Quality” music experience. We are now moving into an era where Hi-Res audio files are available to a larger audience through a myriad of sources. Subsequently, new gear with the capability to provide playback of Hi-Res audio files is becoming readily available in smartphones and other devices without a cost premium.
The next generation of music lovers may have only heard about CD’s and occasionally caught a glimpse of an album in their parents’ music collection. We are poised at a critical junction whereby the music industry has the opportunity to potentially generate incremental revenue through the sale of Hi-Res downloads, many of which were previously purchased under older formats.
More importantly, we are at the threshold of introducing new music enthusiasts to a level of sound quality where they experience the sound as it was meant to be.
In the end, we all have our favorite music and we have it because we relate to the words and the sound in a way that is important to us as individuals. We enjoy the sound with enthusiasm because it strikes a chord that allows us to engage in the experience.
We experience this interaction because The Sound Matters!
Let’s bring others along for the ride!
Frank Parrotto is COO of Matrix Advisors, LLC, a Professional Services organization providing strategy and product development services to the Consumer Electronics Industry.
Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Matrix Advisors, LLC. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Matrix Advisors, LLC or any other party. Matrix Advisors, LLC makes no representations, warranties or other commitments to any third-party sites or resources accessible or linked to this site.
This season, the USA gets not one, but two CD-quality music streaming services: Tidal Hi-Fi and Deezer Elite.
Whichever service you ultimately choose, this is huge for music lovers. Going from a 320-kilobit-per-second (kbps) data rate to 1411 kbps overnight is the biggest sound-quality leap in music streaming ever, an improvement you will hear immediately. My casual direct comparison revealed that, in many cases, the streaming version sounded better than its CD counterpart. How is this possible?
A CD player is a machine with a lot of parts: laser components, laser drive assembly, disc drive motor, compact disc, disc loading assembly, power supply, digital audio section, analog audio section, internal wiring, external wiring, connection jacks, etc.
On the other hand, a streaming service just delivers the bits. Depending on the system, a streaming signal can stay digital all the way to the speakers. The fewer motors, jacks, electronics, moving parts, and wires you have between you and the music, the higher the potential sound quality.
Even if that’s debatable, one thing isn’t: Music is about to get fun again. Both streaming services boast in excess of 25 million tracks, meaning you will find something to like, guaranteed. (Who wouldn’t want to expand their music collection by at least 24.9 million songs overnight?) And what you like is going to sound amazing.
Which service should you go with?
Good question. One service claims to have millions more songs than the other. That may make a difference if you’re a completist. (How many ways can they repackage the same songs by Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Marley? Trick question. The answer is infinity.) But pretty much everything most of us want is on both services.
Here’s where you come in. Whether you’re a Consumer Electronics manufacturer, retailer, or end-user, CD-quality streaming should be a big deal to you. Audio was an essential part of our lives decades before video was even imagined. Yet, these days, too much of the home entertainment conversation seems to center around video. The recent explosion in headphones, portable speakers, and multiroom audio has introduced an entire new generation to the intoxicating allure of great sound, but the quality of online music hasn’t kept up.
Now we have a chance to level the playing field, elevating music software quality to the standard of music hardware, and at the same time swinging the attention pendulum a bit from video back to high-performance audio. Retailers know that there’s a slim chance of a customer walking in with their favorite CD, and that the chances of the retailer having the customer’s favorite music on hand (in full resolution) are also slim. With full-resolution streaming, you potentially have every song on earth — including your customer’s favorites — in your hand. For manufacturers, this means that your product can now be demoed with the quality control you’ve been missing for years. And for music lovers, this means you’ll be able to audition systems with music you know, allowing you to make truly informed buying decisions.
I’m positively blown away by the win-win-win prospects of better sound for manufacturers, retailers, and their customers. I now spend a good chunk of each workday basking in all the extra bits that my chosen higher resolution service delivers. Both new services offer a free trial, and that should be Number One on your entertainment to-do list.
By Charles Thompson for Sell-Through Solutions, Inc.