Quality sound comes to your phone.
What’s the one thing you reach for when you want to listen to music on the go? Chances are, it’s your mobile phone, and that’s just a sign of how far things have progressed on the mobile front.
After all, they’re always with you, they come with a decent onboard storage, and they now support the latest lossless audio formats, capable of high-quality streaming to wireless headsets.
What’s new for 2014 though, is an uptake of audiophile quality music through mobile, with a slew of devices announced or launched that support High-resolution Audio (HRA). The Digital Entertainment Group, Consumer Electronics Association, The Recording Academy and record labels define HRA as “Lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources.”
Technically, HRA is audio with a bit-depth and sampling frequency greater than the 16-bit/44kHz of CDs; most commonly 24-bit/96kHz to 24-bit/192kHz.
Melvin Pang, (Head, Field Marketing Division, Sony South East Asia), says that when you listen to music in HRA, it “presents you music characteristics that is as close to original recording as possible, just as artists intended it to.” Which means greater detail and sound texture, and less listener fatigue.
This all sounds good, but for the moment many music classics are still in CD quality recordings, and you cannot simply convert your own CDs into a HRA track. Rather, audio engineers will need to dig out original studio masters and recapture them in HRA, much like what online digital music stores HD Tracks, Naim Label, and Linn Records are doing.
For the audio enthusiasts amongst us, that means having to repurchase our favorite tunes, so it begets the question of whether HRA will find its way into the mainstream. But that concern could be moot if recording studios release all new albums in HRA, and start work on converting their best-selling ones.
After all, storage space is today is less of an issue, and high-speed broadband is rapidly becoming commonplace. With companies like LG, Samsung, Sony and FiiO releasing mobile phones and audio players capable of HRA playback this year, you’ll soon be experiencing studio masters anywhere you go, whether you can actually hear the sonic difference or not.