May 2016 Hi-Res Audio
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What is Hi Res Music?
Some say vinyl is the best audio source you can get, others CD’s.
But is there another source of high quality audio delivered via the same means as today’s poor quality audio?
Currently the most popular streaming services on the internet deliver us music that is so compressed that quality is sacrificed for speed of delivery. Should we be accepting this?
Why is music so compress? Full production quality audio files are large, very large.
A decade ago if you were to download these files, on your average broadband connection, it was going to take a while. You wouldn’t of been able to stream it either without some occasional buffering and who wanted that. Smaller files were needed. They needed to be compressed. However now as we have faster broadband speeds and greater storage capacity isn’t it time to listen to the original recording? To read more on the technical side of compression and file formats check out our Appendix to our newsletter on our website.
What is High Res Audio?
Basically high-res audio is "Loseless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources."
Where can I get this music? Check out these sites: HD Tracks: A site offering music from a wide array of genres. You can choose format and bit-depth/sample rate, although there's a premium for 192KHz content.
Qobuz: A French site that promotes lossless downloads. Not all of its tracks are 24-bit – far from it – but it is very into lossless.
ProStudioMasters: This boutique store offers a relatively small selection of albums aimed at the older listener.
Tidal: Jay-Z's high-profile streaming service makes a big play of its high quality audio offering, which is offered via a £20 per month subscription. It has a catalogue of 25 million tracks and streams at 1411kbps.
Other streaming services and download stores that offer high-res audio files: Naim Label, Linn Records, Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound, Neil Youngs’ PonoMusic, 2L, 7Digital, Gimell, and HD Klassik.
How to play Hi-Res Files? Well you may be surprised to learn that you probably can already play this music on most of your existing equipment. All you need to do, before downloading a file, is just check what type of files your equipment can play. Sonos can play FLAC, Apple Loseless, WAV or AIFF files. As can Denon Heos. Even your iPhone will support WAV, AIFF and Apple Losssless, unfortunately not FLAC not directly.
Storage issues Please remember these files are very large, much larger than any MP3 file so it’s going to take up a lot more storage space. iPhone’s are probably not the best place to store them. We recommend a Network Storage Device (NAS). We recommend Synology NAS drives.
Lastly the most important thing Most importantly if you’re going to play Hi-Res files make sure you’re playing them on great sounding speakers/headphones. When the artists first listened to what they recorded they didn’t use Bose! If your serious about music take a look at the Bowers and Wilkins CM Series. Very special.
Can we help? I hope this has given you some helpful advice on Hi-Res Audio. If you found it useful why not sign up to our full mailing list for all future monthly newsletters and back issues. Lastly if we can be of any help or you would just like to have a chat about any of the above please feel free to call on 0800 878 6168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks Andrew Jackson Co-Founder The Electric Playground