Hear what you’ve been missing!
With high definition music, you get all of the sound you would hear on a CD version. In some cases, you get more. Even two or three times as much data. Now, that makes for big file sizes, with a goal of better sound. A compact disc contains audio that plays at a sample rate of 44.1kHz in 16-bit chunks. Significantly, this is the beginning of lossless or HD audio resolution. Therefore, HD music sites sell at least some of their catalog in a High resolution AIFF, WAV etc. format, encoded at least at a rate of 44.1kHz/16-bit.
Big file size and big sound.
By comparison, an 88.1kHz/24-bit FLAC file offers the potential of more musical information. This is twice the amount found on a CD. Think of the CD playing music vs. 88.1kHz/24-bit FLAC files as similar to the difference between watching a VHS video tape vs. a DVD disc on your HDTV. Stepping up again, 192kHz/24-bit FLAC files would be comparable to Blu-ray. Therefore, a DVD on an HDTV is going to look a lot better than a VHS tape, and a Blu-ray is going to look even better again!
True to the original.
192kHz/24-bit FLAC files are one route to virtual clones of the original master recordings. As a result, they potentially deliver the experience of sitting in the control room of the recording studio. Comparatively, Meridian’s MQA process offers a different technical route in that quest, taking psychoacoustics into account. In all cases, the goal is more accurately recreating the original musical event.
Now, the caveat is, the recording needs to have been mastered with quality to be able to even attempt to extract high quality playback. In some cases, a long and painstaking re-mastering process is required. Firstly, this involves employing state-of-the-art master tape to digital file transfers. Secondly, the best in Analog to Digital converters are used. This provides the highest quality music files possible.
This music can be unprecedented in quality. But, FLAC/HD files are only as good as what was there originally. For example, if the Master tape wasn’t produced in 192kHz/24-bit, the encode file format won’t enhance the recording beyond what it was to begin with. So, if the original master was at 16/44 – then that’s the best possible for that particular recording.
More than just music.
Regardless of these permutations, High Resolution music – in all of it’s technical forms, brings us something more in musical enjoyment. And that is a very good thing.
Most people access High Resolution music today via a streaming box. However, quite a few still go the route of downloading the music too. To this end, here are a few of our favorite links to quality sites for hi-resolution audio and music. This includes both for direct download, hard disc purchase as well as streaming. Furthermore, we’ve included iTunes too, because it will have to offer it soon! Remember, if you discover a new high res music site you like, please share it with us!
Just a few 24 Bit tracks available today
McIntosh High Res Streamer
Bluesound offers MQA and High Res Streaming
Arcam’s rPlay Play-Fi music streamer
The official Play-Fi explainer
Meridian Introduces MQA
Sonos is first with Lossless Streaming
High Resolution Music & Audio Links
|Blue Coast Records
|Bowers and Wilkins – Society of Sound
|Deezer Elite (16k/44bit Streaming)
|Gimell Records (96k/24bit, 48k/24bit)
|High Res Music
|High-res download test bench (free samples only)
|Internet Archive (dot org)
|Pro Studio Masters