HIGH-RES AUDIO PLAYER OR A NEW SMARTPHONE?
24-bit audio is set to be hot in 2017 and so are in-ear buds, but the big question is, do you need to go out and buy an expensive High-Res Audio player or do music lovers simply go out and buy a new smartphone?
My bet is that a new generation of smartphones from the likes of LG, Samsung, HTC and even Apple will come with High-Res Audio capability. This coupled with new SD storage capabilities will be a game changer for smartphones in 2017.
The new LG Z20 which has Bang & Olufsen technology built in is one of the best High Res Audio smartphones we have seen this year.
Fuelled by increasingly more affordable storage, betterquality playback hardware and faster, more affordable broadband and 4G downloading, HRA is arguably no longer prohibitively too expensive, nor are its files too large to download and store when compared with MP3.
In a nutshell, the highest quality MP3 track has a bit rate of 320kbps, CDs are transferred at 1,411kbps and a 24-bit/192kHz file is transferred at a rate of 9,216kbps - the latter being the level now considered HRA.
The increased bit depth of HRA improves the dynamic range, basically giving you a greater breadth of things to hear from the recording.
What I found was that when we coupled the LG V20 with a good set of headphones the output was as good as what you get from a top end dedicated High-Res Audio media play which can cost you anything between $1,100 and $5,900 for a top end Astell + Kern player.
While smartphone makers have taken long strides in perfecting camera technology, it’s only now that they are investing heavily in offering hi-res audio quality to users without relying on expensive accessories to do the job.
One of the leaders in this field is HTC with their HTC 10, Sony has their Xperia Z5 Premium and LG their V20.
However, it was HTC with their HTC 10 smartphone who introduced the world’s first stereo 24-bit Hi-Res audio recording. This captures audio 256 times more detailed than standard recordings and covers twice the frequency range.
It’s not only about the audio that HTC 10 captures but also the one it generates. The phone is Hi-Res audio certified and comes with a unique headphone amp that’s probably way better than the ones in all other smartphones. The amp produces twice the power of a conventional headphone amp and can upscale 16-bit audio to 24-bit.
So, if you are thinking of buying a High-Res Audio Play my recommendation is to wait to see what comes in the new year because you could end up with a top end smartphone and a High-Res Media player for sub $1,100.