Hi-Res Education

This year, the Digital Entertainment Group moved its Hi-Resolution Audio exhibit from downstairs in the Sands Convention Center to the greater-trafficked Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Pavilion contained four long display tables, each of which held three hi-res playback devices that could be auditioned via headphones. Exhibitors included Astell&Kern, AudioQuest, Autonomic, Bluesound, dCS, DTS, ELAC, Mytek, Onkyo, Samsung Electronics, Sony Electronics, and Westone.

There was also a "fully equipped" mini-simulation of the famed Capitol Recording Studio, which presented demos of five remastered-in-hi-res tracks. Sponsoring the whole affair, in addition to the 12 participating companies, were the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the Japan Audio Society, MQA Ltd., the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the Consumer Technology Association.

Attendance in the Pavilion seemed a bit light on the first day of the show. At least one exhibitor informed me, at the end of Day Two, that a lot of people he encountered thought that hi-res referred solely to streaming. This exhibitor found that visitors were quite attracted to the Astell&Kern portable audio players that were located near his exhibit, but pretty clueless as to sound quality of his far more expensive gear. One listener, for example, complained that he missed the digital edge he had grown accustomed to on his cheap little whatever. Which does not mean that the Pavilion did not fulfill its function to educate. Who said education was painless?

jimtavegia's picture

My students would tell me that I needed a pair of those...style over function. They now tell me I need Beats over my AKG K701s or 271's. Not even close." Mr. T, you don't have Kicker speakers at home?" Thankfully, no!!!

I'm glad someone is trying, but a high mountain to climb.

-Rudy-'s picture

I read a bit about the "announcement" by the Digital Entertainment Group at CES, and noted that it is very light on details. There is, all of a sudden, a big interest from the record labels and the RIAA ("Danger! Danger!") for high-res music. However, I could not yet find technical details. What sampling rate, what bit rate and more importantly, is this really lossless? Remember, the "industry" is the one that gave us the claim that 320kbps MP3s are "CD quality."

There was also an alleged study that to me, gave some very conflicting data regarding the public's desire for high-res music. Based on this Stereophile report, many consumers still don't "get" what high-res is all about. Yet this alleged "study" makes some rather unusual claims (again, all of a sudden) that 71% of streaming subscribers are interested in higher resolution audio. In this age of crappy Beats headphones and $5 earbuds, I find that hard to believe. I'll quote:

A new study commissioned ahead today's announcement by UMG, entitled "Global Insight: The Appeal of High-Res Audio (Studio Quality Sound)" presents a variety of data supporting a growing market for hi-res audio. The findings claimed that 85 percent of U.S. consumers say audio quality is "very important" to them; 48 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for better audio quality; and perhaps most significantly that "71 percent of existing music streaming subscribers are interested in the option of studio quality sound."

Source: http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/7647490/all-three-major-labels-pandora-and-riaa-announce-support-for-hi-res-audio

The Computer Audiophile site also has a mention of this same presentation (search for "DEG" on the page):


Don't even get me started on MQA. Sure, Tidal has it, but we still are completely in the dark as to exactly how it works, and what it offers us. The developers have been intentionally vague, have you noticed? Is it really lossless, or more smoke-and-mirrors (lossy)? What bit rates? What sampling rates? What is MQA offering in error correction? Let's see some details here.

As much as I want higher quality digital releases, until there is some clarity in technical specs, I'm not going to get excited about any of these announcements. I tend to believe more about the premise this article puts forth--most listeners still don't "get" high-res, and never will.

cries's picture

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