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Friday
Jun172016

Podcast #744: Hi-Res Symposium 2016

Representatives from Universal Music Group, The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing and Sony Electronics met recently to underscore the variety of marketing and educational programs that are currently underway to promote the benefits of Hi- Res Audio devices, content and services to a broader audience.

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Hi-Res Symposium 2016

Representatives from Universal Music Group, The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing and Sony Electronics met recently to underscore the variety of marketing and educational programs that are currently underway to promote the benefits of Hi- Res Audio devices, content and services to a broader audience.

The event, which was sponsored by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group was held at Capitol Studios in LA. It featured a number of speakers, presentations and demonstrations that were conducted by these organizations’ representatives.

A research study conducted by Music Watch and the Consumer Technology Association was presented at the symposium that showed that nearly 90% of 18 to 54 year olds want higher sound quality, and over 60% of them are willing to pay more for it. So there is a market for the content and further, the industry is willing to produce such content. Currently there are about 10,000 titles available from 12 online providers and more than 100 manufacturers offering hi-res capable devices.

But the question is, how does the industry educate consumers about hi-res and convince them that the higher quality is something that they want to spend money for? Look for manufacturers and retailers to create Hi-Res listening centers within stores to demonstrate the difference. There are also new logos to identify Hi-Res content and players:


So the question is why? From the point of view of the content creators it's all about more revenue. Likewise, manufacturers would like you to upgrade your equipment as well. We have discussed at length that we don’t think Hi-Res is any better than CD so we won’t go into it here. If you are interested we have a video that covers the topic analytically which is available on Youtube (https://youtu.be/8xotaf4aN_g). It's clear to us that the music industry is learning from the movie industry. Create a “Better” format and charge people a premium to buy their music again.  

If you decide to go down the path to Hi-Res recordings consider a few things:

  • Digital equipment today is better than when CDs first came out - This means that you may hear a difference in digital music that is remastered today. Don’t confuse that with hi-res audio. Many songs in the early digital days were not necessarily mastered very well. Fixing those errors alone and putting it back on a CD will do more than simply taking the same master and adding bits.

  • Don’t let your eyes do the listening - If you know that you are listening to a hi-res audio product there is a very good chance your eyes will tell your ears that they are hearing superior sounding audio. Double blind is the best way to test. If you can hear a difference then, congratulations! You are in the top 2%.

  • SACD sounds better and it's higher quality - From Wikipedia: In September 2007 the Audio Engineering Society published the results of a year-long trial, in which a range of subjects including professional recording engineers were asked to discern the difference between SACD and a compact disc audio (44.1 kHz/16 bit) conversion of the same source material under double blind test conditions. Out of 554 trials, there were 276 correct answers, a 49.8% success rate corresponding almost exactly to the 50% that would have been expected by chance guessing alone. If you hear a noticeable difference with SACD it may be due it being a 5.1 mix vs a 2 channel mix. Be careful not to draw the conclusion that it sounded better because of the higher bit and sample rates.


Before you spend a lot of money setting up for Hi-Res audio do yourself a favor. Make sure you can hear a difference at home. You can buy a decent headphone DAC for about $250, then you’ll need to allocate about another $250 for headphones but then you’ll just be scratching the surface of the gear you will buy in the future. Do some serious A/B test on your own with no one pressuring you. ABX Shootout is a great SW package that can help you do this. If you don’t want to spend at least $500 on gear to help you decide whether Hi-Res is worth it, then you may as well stay with what you have.


Download Episode #744

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