HIGH-RES­O­LU­TION AUDIO

Qual­ity sound comes to your phone.

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - by Mar­cusWong

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.

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