High Definition Audio


High Definition Audio is the future of music.

Once you’ve archived your own collection of music you will almost certainly want to consider listening to some albums in high resolution. This is like feeding your amp and speakers royal jelly!

High resolution audio refers to audio that has a higher sampling frequency and bit depth than CD, which is 16-bit/44.1kHz. High-resolution audio files usually use a sampling frequency of 96kHz or 192kHz at 24-bit or even higher. That means up to half as much information again!

What’s so good about HD audio?

Obviously the main benefit of high-resolution audio files is that they are superior sound quality over compressed audio formats and CDs. It is worth taking a moment to delve back into this history of CD to determine why this is the case.

When music entered the digital realm the major driving factor behind new technology was convenience. By taking the analogue sound wave that was once pressed into vinyl, slicing it up, and converting it to 1s and 0s allowed it to fit on a small shiny Compact Disc. These were great because they could be played thousands of times without degrading, they weren’t so susceptible to scratches and fingerprints, were easier to store and were pretty cheap to manufacture. At the time there was a big hoo-ha that they just didn’t sound as good, and lacked all the great qualities of vinyl that music lovers and audiophiles had come accustomed to.

It might surprise you to learn that when they hit the market, CDs were actually the lowest quality music format – even 8-track tape was capable of holding much more information than this optical media. The dynamic range – the highs and lows in volume and subtleties of the music – as well as the underlying ‘noisiness’ of the recordings suffered, but to the average listener this didn’t really matter, and they were just so convenient that most people didn’t seem to care. In fact for a majority it was probably an improvement on worn out cassette tapes! But there were still those that remained firm that vinyl and the original analogue formats just sounded better.

Fast forward ten or fifteen years and welcome the MP3. Suddenly the prospect of having 10,000 songs in your pocket really appealed, and it was even more convenient to be able to buy an album without walking through the rain to the record store – or even better to discover amazing new music through the internet. But this required music to be chopped up in to even fewer 1s and 0s and compressed into even smaller spaces. This is when the music really started to suffer, all that chopping and compressing sacrificed even more dynamic range, squashing the subtleties, and adding noise in the holes where there once was music.

So how do we get back to the place where we left vinyl behind – all that great musicality and almost intangible qualities of the rich analogue sound – but still take the best bits of the new digital world? Step up the High Resolution Audio – the closest you can get to the master-tape of the actual recording; it doesn’t get any better and you really do need to hear it!

But How do I get HD Audio?

You can download albums from the internet from websites that sell HD audio. On the next page you’ll find links to some of the tried and tested sites that offer this service.

You can also listen to HD audio via subscription services like Tidal and Qobuz. Qobuz let you listen and if you like download the album. They’re also competitively priced.

Sometimes you can also buy HD Audio on a memory stick or packaged in some other collectable way.

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