HI RESOLUTION AUDIO TAKES THE STAGE AT CES
By Marc Finer
Hi Resolution Audio Takes The Stage at CES
Hot topics at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics show, held in Las Vegas January 6-9 for 150,000 attendees, included everything from Ultra Hi Definition TV and smart watches to 3D printing and driverless cars.
In the midst of all of this, another initiative was unveiled that created particular excitement among music enthusiasts. Generally referred to as High Resolution Audio (HRA), it raises a number of implications about the future of music, audio devices and digital delivery.
HRA arrives more than a decade after the launch of the first MP3 music players and download services. While MP3s were a convenient way to carry a thousand songs in your pocket, that benefit came at the expense of sound quality, resulting in an entire generation of music enthusiasts who have never had the opportunity to experience music in full fidelity.
So do consumers still care about sound quality? Well, according to a recent study by the Consumer Electronics Association, nearly ninety percent of those surveyed cited sound quality as the most important criteria when it comes to their listening enjoyment. Moreover, sixty percent are willing to pay more for better sound, provided they don’t have to sacrifice convenience.
High res audio recordings have actually been available for a decade in formats like DVD-Audio and SACD. But in today’s world of downloading and streaming, millions of people don’t use physical media to meet their entertainment needs, and until recently, digital delivery systems and home networks lacked the bandwidth and storage capacity necessary to make HRA a reality.
All of this has dramatically changed, thanks to a variety of new HRA products entering the market. During CES alone, nearly 50 manufacturers displayed a wide range of HRA capable devices, from headphone amplifiers and USB drives that connect directly with your computer, to shelf top systems that come complete with amplifier and speakers. There were also HRA enabled Blu-ray players and home theater systems, along with enough digital to analog converters (DACs) and servers to delight any audiophile.
These new products are more compatible, convenient, and compelling than before and offer outstanding sound and value for consumers. Most of these devices can automatically play virtually every available hi-res audio format. They also support WAV and FLAC files as well as, along with low resolution codecs like MP3 and Apple Lossless.
These products simplify the way you transfer files to your entertainment system. Plus, their controls have been designed to be more intuitive, making it easier to access, organize and store your music collection. Many models also utilize metadata to deliver a wealth of supplemental information about the artist and the recording. And they incorporate the latest, most advanced USB and Wi-Fi technology, for greater speed and efficiency.
Best of all, there are thousands of high res music recordings now offered by major music companies and independent labels. Titles span every category and genre and are readily available from digital retail stores such as HD Tracks.
Within The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing, leading producers and engineers are fully engaged in hi-res audio. This will enable digital enthusiasts to get closer to their favorite music and experience it the way the artist originally intended.
It all adds up to the incredible HRA experience that was dramatically on display during CES. But for high resolution audio, this is only the beginning. There’s much more to come!
NEIL YOUNG DEVELOPING HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO FORMAT
DISCOVER #QUALITYSOUND AND ENTER TO WIN A TRIP TO THE 56th GRAMMY AWARDS!
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.