High Resolution Audio (HRA) has been getting lots of attention in the last couple of years. Hmm. . , curious, ’cause it ain’t new. But finally consumers seem to be taking heed, or more likely, it’s just a new wave of media hype. We all appreciate better sound, even if we haven’t noticed or claim not to care. High Definition video is stunningly sharp, and 4k is brutally sharper. We don’t really need that kind of resolution, but it sure looks good. And we don’t need great sounding audio, but it sure makes listening to music more enjoyable and exciting.
Now, if you’re a regular reader, you might be waiting for the next shoe to drop. Not dropping it. HRA, whether 24bit/96kHz, or 24/192, or DSD, is beyond good, and without question necessary for producing the highest quality recording, digital processing, and mastering. The headroom provided ensures the most accurate capture, the cleanest signal processing, and the finest originals—no exceptions, no qualifications. As a critical listener to both the aesthetic quality of music and the technical quality of sound recordings, I hail high resolution formats throughout the recording process.
For us, the end user, we haven’t any control in the audio chain until it comes to the final playback. Now, with the final playback, we have to choose between formats, compressed MP3, standard CD (16/44), HDCD (20bit), SACD (2.8mHz Direct Stream Digital [1bit]), 24/96kHz, 24/192kHz, and even higher multiplies of double & quad DSD. But here is where HRA’s place in the audio chain is challenged. Questions arise. What difference does a 24/96 or DSD file make on the final playback? Can your playback equipment produce (and handle) ultrasonic frequencies? Does HRA improve more than bandwidth and signal to noise ratio? Was the original recording or digital transfer high res, or has it just been up-converted? And most important, does music contain a sufficient quantity of ultrasonic content and a wide enough dynamic range to make the gigantic files worthwhile for final playback?
The following links provide some answers. While there’s plenty of overlap, each has something to add to the discussion. You might find a shoe dropped here and there, but it wasn’t me.
[What’s this HRA?]
[Selling HD Audio]
[A blend of objective and subjective measures]
[Couldn’t be clearer] [Rarely are forum discussions worth beans, but here’s one not half bad]
[Cool your jets to 0° Kelvin] [A basic lesson on digital audio]
[The Boston Audiophile Society report]
[Stereophile Chimes In way back in 1999]
Still need more?