With high definition audio, 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. 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, and is the beginning of lossless or HD audio resolution. 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, 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. 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, potentially delivering the experience of sitting in the control room of the recording studio. 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 employing state-of-the-art master tape to digital file transfers using the best in Analog to Digital converters to provide the highest quality music files possible is required. This music CAN be unprecedented in quality, but FLAC/HD files are only as good as what was there originally. If the Master tape wasn’t produced in 192kHz/24-bit for example – the encode file format won’t enhance the recording beyond what it was to begin with. If the original master was at 16/44 – then that’s the best possible for that particular recording.
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. Here are a few of our favorite links to quality sites for hi-resolution music, both for direct download, hard disc purchase as well as streaming. We’ve included iTunes too, because it will have to offer it soon! If you discover a new high res music site you like, please share it with us!