2014 was the year that high-resolution audio (HRA) began to build-up a head of steam, with new products and services being launched to take high-res audio in to the mainstream.
The industry has been transformed by digital downloads from sites such as iTunes, marking a shift away from physical media like vinyl, tapes and CDs. Formats including MP3 and AAC make it easy to buy, listen and store our tunes.
With regards to sound quality, however, these formats just don’t cut the mustard. The use of lossy compression means that data is lost in the encoding process, which means resolution is sacrificed for the sake of convenience and smaller file sizes.
This might be fine on the bus when you’re listening to your iPod or smartphone, but serious music fans want better. This is where high-resolution audio – or HRA, as termed by the Consumer Electronics Association – steps in.
Astell & Kern, LG, Samsung, Sony and FiiO are among the companies to have launched high-resolution audio products this year, while several download sites now offer better-than-CD quality music files, with the likes of HDtracks and Qobuz now live in the UK. HRA also has the support of major labels and musicians.
What does high-resolution audio actually mean? Where can you get it? What do you need to play it on? Don’t worry – all your questions and more are answered on this page.
Check out this good primer from What HiFi: Via whathifi.com