HIGH-RES AU­DIO PLAYER OR A NEW SMART­PHONE?

SoundMag - - Editorial - BY DAVID RICHARDS

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.

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